Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Charge in an circuit

  1. Mar 9, 2004 #1
    When we connect two points at different potentials in a cell with a conductor, we will have a circuit and charge will flow between the two points. Will each unit charge, just as if it were experiencing an electromagnetic force in free space, have a potential energy by virtue of its position from the point at lower potential it is attracted towards?

    Each unit of charge will lose more of its potential energy (all of which it inevitably must lose if it is to reach the end of the circuit) in the loads with higher resistances. But this means that the charge can have different potentials at the same distance from the point at lower energy, depending on how much of the total resistance of the circuit it has gone through. Is there something I'm missing here? Does the force act somehow 'around the circuit', rather than straight?

    Help is appreciated.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 10, 2004 #2


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    No, not just like in free space. It will not be in free space, but in a material that conducts, which is a very different situation. The cell has two poles. Why are you disregarding the other one?

    That is because the potential field does not necessarily have the same symmetries in this case, as it would in free space. The presense of media (i.e. conductors) distorts the potential field.
  4. Mar 12, 2004 #3
    OK, thanks for clearing that up. :wink:
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook