Qualitative meaning of electric potential

by ehabmozart
Tags: electric, meaning, potential, qualitative
 P: 194 Allright, when I say what is electric potential energy, someone will say it is kq1q2/r ... This answer doesn't satisfy me because what I am searching for is this.. Electric potential energy denoted by U is the work done by an external force to bring a charge from infinity to zero" ...That is why keeping two positive charges, the force done by hand would be positive, therefore U possessed by the test charge realtive to infinity is positive. Likewise, I am asking my new question now... WHAT IS ELECTIC POTENTIAL... I don't need formulas, I need the qualitative meaning! ... Thanks for anyone woshares his ideas.. I owe a lot to those people!
 Sci Advisor Thanks PF Gold P: 12,253 Potential is as "real" as force. It just tells you the energy needed to bring a unit charge from infinity to the point in question. That's no less real than expressing the effect in terms of acceleration on a notional unit mass with that unit charge. The fact that one is a vector and the other is a scalar is not particularly significant. We may find 'force' a bit more easy to deal with because we can feel forces a bit more directly but that's only a matter of relative familiarity. To ask what something "is" is more than one can really expect. Do not confuse familiarity with understanding. All through history, people have argued against good Science on the grounds that it didn't make sense when tested against familiar ideas of the time. A few decades later, that bit of Science was accepted as making excellent sense because people got used to it. Potential is just a way of looking at a situation and assigning a 'value' in order to calculate and predict things.
 P: 194 Qualitative meaning of electric potential IN our definition of electric potential energy, we said it is the work done by hand to move a unit charge from infinity to r (point of interest). How then would potential have almost the same difference. Moreover, I don't get the issue of how positive and negative charges get affected by potential. Can I have an elaborate explanation. Thanks!
Thanks
PF Gold
P: 12,253
 Quote by ehabmozart IN our definition of electric potential energy, we said it is the work done by hand to move a unit charge from infinity to r (point of interest). How then would potential have almost the same difference. Moreover, I don't get the issue of how positive and negative charges get affected by potential. Can I have an elaborate explanation. Thanks!
Stop right there, go back to the definitions and just follow it through, ignoring any existing subjective feelings you may have. Electric Potential is defined in terms of the behaviour of a unit of positive test charge. So the potential of that charge with respect to another positive charge is positive (repulsion, needing work to be put in to get closer) and with respect to a negative charge, it's negative (needing negative work to be done in order for it to get closer).
P: 194
 Quote by sophiecentaur Stop right there, go back to the definitions and just follow it through, ignoring any existing subjective feelings you may have. Electric Potential is defined in terms of the behaviour of a unit of positive test charge. So the potential of that charge with respect to another positive charge is positive (repulsion, needing work to be put in to get closer) and with respect to a negative charge, it's negative (needing negative work to be done in order for it to get closer).
I have a question here. It is said that negative charges gain kinetic energy by moving to lower potential. How can you explain this?