In the orbital hybridization theory, the $s$ and the $p$ orbitals are said to combine to form hybrid orbitals which are degenerate in energy.

  1. How does the linear combination of the $s$ and $p$ orbitals result in (in carbon, for example) four degenerate orbitals?

  2. Why is this configuration is more favorable than separate $s$ and $p$ orbitals?

  3. Is the energy of the four hybrid orbitals between the energy of the non-hybrid $s$ and $p$ orbitals?

  4. How would I go about verifying that this orbital configuration is more favorable?

  • $\begingroup$ Hello Charlie, welcome to Physics.SE! As it stands, the question is a bit broad, so you might consider splitting up the four questions in it. $\endgroup$ – heather Feb 18 '17 at 14:51
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    $\begingroup$ The hybridization theory is just a hypothesis which worked well in explaining many observed compounds. However, it is not accurate and does have a lot of exceptions. The most accurate theory we have for bonding as of today is Molecular Orbital Theory. $\endgroup$ – Yashas Feb 18 '17 at 15:00
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    $\begingroup$ It's just a theoretical model that happens to explain many things accurately, like bond angles. Orbitals are not real, tangible/physical things. $\endgroup$ – xasthor Feb 18 '17 at 16:38
  • $\begingroup$ Even given that orbitals are theoretical models and not physical objects, I think the OP's questions are still reasonable. I would love to hear from some experts in the field. $\endgroup$ – electronpusher Feb 19 '17 at 2:14

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