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-   -   Length of the vector (electrostatic cylinder) (http://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=653368)

 Blastrix91 Nov19-12 10:04 AM

Length of the vector (electrostatic cylinder)

http://img842.imageshack.us/img842/2...avngivettz.png

My problem is that I'm confused about a hint I was given in this problem. I usually use the law of cosine to find the length of $\vec{r}-\vec{r'}$. But the hint here says that I should make it $[r^2 + (z - z_0)^2]^{1/2}$

Where does this come from? I can't quite get my head around the geometrical idea of this hint. Can't the law of cosine be used here?

 mikeph Nov19-12 10:16 AM

Re: Length of the vector (electrostatic cylinder)

It's really hard to answer these questions when you don't specify what any of the terms mean, so I can only guess at what r-r' even is. It looks like a Pythagoras approach to give you the hypotenuse of the triangle with sides r and z-z0.

How would you use the law of cosine, and what problem would using it solve?

 nasu Nov19-12 01:26 PM

Re: Length of the vector (electrostatic cylinder)

I don't know how the hint is specifically formulated but I think the best way here is to use cylindrical coordinates.
It may be that r' is the cylindrical radius of the charge element.
The point P has r=0 and z=zo.

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