# What is Gauss's law: Definition and 383 Discussions

In physics and electromagnetism , Gauss's law, also known as Gauss's flux theorem, (or sometimes simply called Gauss's theorem) is a law relating to the distribution of electric charge to the resulting electric field. In its integral form, it states that the flux of the electric field out of an arbitrary closed surface is proportional to the electric charge enclosed by the surface, irrespective of how that charge is distributed. Even though the law alone is insufficient to determine the electric field across a surface enclosing any charge distribution, this may be possible in cases where symmetry mandates uniformity of the field. Where no such symmetry exists, Gauss's law can be used in its differential form, which states that the divergence of the electric field is proportional to the local density of charge.
The law was first formulated by Joseph-Louis Lagrange in 1773, followed by Carl Friedrich Gauss in 1813, both in the context of the attraction of ellipsoids. It is one of Maxwell's four equations, which forms the basis of classical electrodynamics. Gauss's law can be used to derive Coulomb's law, and vice versa.

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1. ### B Electric Field Created by a Finite Plate

Let's assume that we have a finite plate which is at the center of a cartesian coordinate system. Now let's define a point ##r## with coordinates ##(0, 0, z)##. My question is, can we use Gauss's law to find the electric field at this point? The direction of the electric field is going to be up...
2. ### I Are Maxwell's equations linearly dependent?

HI, consider the 4 Maxwell's equations in microscopic/vacuum formulation as for example described here Maxwell's equations (in the following one assumes charge density ##\rho## and current density ##J## as assigned -- i.e. they are not unknowns but are given as functions of space and time...

20. ### Gauss's law -- Integral form problem

Problem Statement: The effective charge density of the electron cloud in a hydrogen atom in its quantum mechanical ground state turns out to be given by pnot(e^-(r/rnot)), where pnot is a negative constant (the clouds charge density at r=0) and rnot is a constant (rnot=0.025nm). Use gauss's law...
21. ### Flux Through a Cube's Face with our Point Charge at a Corner

Homework Statement A charge q is placed at one corner of a cube. What is the value of the flux of the charge's electric field through one of its faces? Homework Equations The flux surface integral of an electric field is equal to the value of the charge enclosed divided by the epsilon_naught...
22. ### How Do You Calculate Charge Density in a Uniform Sphere?

Homework Statement A charge Q is uniformly distributed throughout a nonconducting sphere of radius R. Write the expression of the charge density in the sphere? Homework Equations Charge density ρ=dQ/dV Gauss's Law ∫EdA = E(4ϖr^2) The Attempt at a Solution If Q is uniform then ρ=Q/dV and the...
23. ### I Time harmonic case of Gauss's Law

In a chapter building up to the theory of plane waves my book starts by introducing time harmonic electric fields and defines a special case of Gauss's law.curl(H) = J + dD/dt curl(H) = sigma * E + epsilon * dE/dt if E is time harmonic and spacially dependent... E(x,y,z,t) let E' represent the...
24. ### Solving Gauss's Law Problem: Two +q Charges Separated by d

Consider two point charges +q,+q. Separated by distance d. now there exist a point P on the line joining these two charges where electric field cancels out at distance d/2 from the charge. If we make a Gaussian surface at this point and work out the surface integral it won't be zero. since two...
25. ### I Gauss's Law Application: Electric Field Intensity on Non-Conducting Sheets

why electric field intensity at a point of a non conducting sheet is independent of r?
26. ### I Why can't we apply Gauss's law to a circular disk?

We apply Gauss's law to find electric field at a point due to chaged plane or plate. But what's wrong when applying to circular disk which can also be considered as a plane?
27. ### I Understanding Gauss's Law and Special Cases in Maxwell's Equations

I have an issue with Gauss's Law when it is considered one equation of Maxwell's complete system of equations. I don't have an issue with it when it is a standalone equation, but when it is one of several equations put together to form a complete system of equations, there is an issue. How is...
28. ### I Solving the Basel problem using Gauss's law

Hi, so I came across this video: which shows an interesting way to solve the Basel problem using lighthouses. Imagine a lighthouse that has absolute brightness 1. The apparent brightness then follows an inverse-square law. Now imagine an infinite number line with positive integers only (and...
29. ### Charge distributions of two infinite parallel plates

Homework Statement Two infinitely large conducting plates with excess charge 2Q and 3Q are placed parallel to one another, and at a small distance from one another. How are the charges 2Q and 3Q distributed? You may assume that infinitely large sheets of charge produce electric fields that are...
30. ### Using Gauss's Law to Calculate Electric Field of a Charged Thread

Hello, Can not Gauss's Law be used to calculate the electric field generated by a uniformly charged finite thread? I suppose it is because I can not consider the electric field constant (always going to the same direction), and for this I would have to do it by parts (the lateral flow, and the...
31. ### Rectifying my logic of Gauss's Law

Homework Statement Homework Equations The Attempt at a Solution E4Πr2 = Q/∈0 49000⋅4Π4.12 =Q/∈0 Q = 91.6 μC Qshell = Q = 91.6 μC Qshell = Qinner + Qouter 91.6 = -3.3 + Qouter Qouter = 94.9 μC Can someone point out the error? I have skipped too many lectures and I am catching up right...
32. ### Apparent disagreement between Coulomb's Law and Gauss' Law

This is probably my misunderstanding, so please clarify. In a region of empty space, there are two point charges with the charges+Q and -Q. Exactly in the middle of the two charges (distance r from both charges) is point P, colinear with the centers of both charges. A Gaussian surface that...
33. ### Gauss's Law and Parallel Line Charges

Homework Statement Find an equation for the net electric field at a point, above and between, two infinite line charges, one with line charge density λ and the second with line charge density -λ. The point is a distance R from both line charges, a distance y above the midpoint between charges...
34. ### Potential Energies of Two Charged Cylinders

Homework Statement Problem 1.24 (this is unimportant; it's just a different way of calculating the potential energy of a solid cylinder) gives one way of calculating the energy per unit length stored in a solid cylinder with radius a and uniform volume charge density ##\rho##. Calculate the...
35. ### Angle of escaping electric field lines

Homework Statement Two charges 2q and -q are located at x = 0 and x = a respectively. There are field lines extending from the positive charge and lines going inwards to the negative charge. Some of these lines go from the positive charge to the negative, but some go off to infinity from the...
36. ### Why Does Diatomic Hydrogen Form Despite Zero Net Electric Field?

Say you had two isolated hydrogen atoms. Because of the spherical distribution of electronic charge on each hydrogen and the net charge of 0 outside each atom, wouldn't Gauss's law dictate a 0 net electric field outside each atom? If this is the case, why does diatomic hydrogen so readily form...
37. J

### Surface bound charge on the outer surface of a dielectric

Homework Statement With regards to a one dimensional conducting wire with a homogeneous charge density λ surrounded by a cylindrical glass dielectric of radius R, find: (a). The displacement vector inside the dielectric (b). The surface bound charges on the surface of the dielectric Sorry...
38. ### I Understanding Gauss's Law: Where Does the Argument Break Down?

So, this has been bothering me for a few days and I'm having trouble understanding where the fault is. If we consider a uniform charge density ##\rho## extending through all space, then by symmetry, I would argue that ##\mathbf{E}=0## in all space. However, this does not agree with what a naive...
39. ### I Gauss's law of sphere using integral

Hey I was just practicing Gauss's law outside a sphere of radius R with total charge q enclosed. So I know they easiest way to do this is: ∫E⋅da=Q/ε E*4π*r^2=q/ε E=q/(4*πε) in the r-hat direction But I am confusing about setting up the integral to get the same result I tried ∫ 0 to pi ∫0 to...
40. ### Calculating Electric Field Using Gauss's Law for a Spherical Charge Distribution

Homework Statement A charge of -30 μC is distributed uniformly throughout a spherical volume of radius 10.0 cm. Determine the electric field due to this charge at a distance of (a) 2.0 cm, (b) 5.0 cm, and (c) 20.0 cm from the center of the sphere. Homework Equations Eq. (1): E⋅A=qenc/ε Eq...
41. ### Gauss's Law to find E with non-uniform charge distribution

Homework Statement Hello, this is more of a conceptual question than a concrete homework assignment question. I'm learning about Gauss's law and the Prof did an exercise on a sphere with uniform charge distribution, where he found E(r). The trick was, that E(r) was constant over the Gaussian...
42. ### Finding electric potential between two concentric spheres.

Homework Statement A spherical shell with inner radius A and outer radius 3A which has a uniform charge density, i.e charge per unit volume, p0. Find difference in electric potential between the center of the shell and a point a distance 2A from the center. Homework Equations The answer given...
43. ### Potential on the inner surface of a spherical shell

Is there a potential on the inner surface of a charged spherical shell? I know that there is no electric field on the inner surface, as shown by Gauss's Law, but that isn't enough information to say that the potential (V) there is zero since E = dV/dr, so V could be a nonzero constant. If...
44. ### Gauss's law and symmetric charge distributions

Having read several introductory notes on Gauss's law, I have found it very frustrating that when the author comes to discussing the standard examples, in which one considers symmetric charge distributions, they do not explicitly discuss the symmetries of the situation, simply stating that, "by...
45. ### Evaluation of Surface Integral in Gauss's Law

I am a tenth grader, and a newbie to Advanced Calculus. While working out problems sets for Gauss's Law, I encountered the following Surface Integral: I couldn't attempt anything, having no knowledge over surface integration. So please help.
46. ### Electric Flux of Two Hemispheres with different radii

Homework Statement Two hemispherical surfaces, 1 and 2, of respective radii r1 and r2, are centered at a point charge and are facing each other so that their edges define an annular ring (surface 3), as shown. Homework Equations The field at position r⃗ due to the point charge is: E⃗ (r⃗...
47. ### Use Gauss's Law to find the charge contained in the solid hemisphere

Homework Statement edit: I had put this in the calculus section because it was a problem from Stewart but I guess it's closer to a physics problem considering the use of Gauss's Law. My apologies for any confusion this my [/B] I've been trying to do this problem without making use of the...
48. ### Electric field in two concentric conducting cylinders

Homework Statement Two concentric cylindrical conducting shells of length L are separated by a vacuum. The inner shell has surface charge density +σ and radius ra. The outer shell has radius rb. Using Gauss’ Law, as a function of radius r find: The direction and magnitude of electric field...
49. ### Deriving Electric Field Inside Plastic Rod Using Gauss's Law

Homework Statement A straight circular plastic cylinder of length L and radius R (where R ≪ L) is irradiated with a beam of protons so that there is a total excess charge Q distributed uniformly throughout the cylinder. Find the electric field inside the cylinder, a distance r from the center...
50. ### Gauss's Law Problem: long, cylindrical charge distribution

Homework Statement Consider a long, cylindrical charge distribution of radius R with uniform charge density ρ. a) Using Gauss’s law, find the electric field at distance r from the axis, where r < R b) Using Gauss’s law, find the electric field at distance r from the axis, where r > R...