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Curl of an electric dipole field

by Identity
Tags: curl, dipole, electric, field
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Dec18-09, 04:01 AM
P: 150
Is the field of an electric dipole conservative?

Initially I thought it would be, for no particular reason but that's just what my high school intuition thought. (haha I thought everything would be conservative apart from friction)

But I was reading up on some vector calculus and discovered

[tex]\mbox{curl}(\nabla f) = \mathbf{0}[/tex]

If you put a positively charged rod in an electric dipole field, and fix it at the right orientation, it will rotate. Does that mean that the field is not conservative?

EDIT: I just realised it would also rotate in an electric monopole field lol

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Dec18-09, 06:43 AM
Sci Advisor
P: 1,258
It just means you have to include rotational as well as translational energy in applying conservation of energy.

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