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Clarifying terminology

  1. Feb 24, 2015 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data
    How to explain, and distinguish among (or build up from initial definitions) the terms electric field, electric potential, electric potential energy, voltage, difference in voltage.
    The usage in various sources is casual or insufficiently specific.

    2. Relevant equations


    3. The attempt at a solution
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 24, 2015 #2

    haruspex

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    Please post an attempt (as per forum rules).
     
  4. Feb 26, 2015 #3
    A new learner asks things like "I can manipulate equations and substitute values to solve, but what does what does voltage MEAN?!"
    What do I reply? How to aid visualization / conceptualization? Not quite an analog to gravity, as there are attractive and repulsive forces in E&M.
     
  5. Feb 26, 2015 #4

    BvU

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    Hello Rob, welcome to PF :smile:

    Yes, it can be bewildering. And on top of that you have the sloppy everyday use of the same terms, often incorrect.

    Your post doesn't give us a clue as to where you are or where this question comes from: there's no context. I'd be worried if you were close to wrapping up your PhD thesis in theoretical physics, but I wouldn't be surprised if you were a philosophy student (these seemingly simple questions go very deep very quickly). In fact, a lot of physics goes like "we haven't got the foggiest idea, but we can describe it predicitvely and to incredible accuracy".

    My advice: read a lot and gradually you'll get the idea.

    And: don't lose this beautiful sense of wonder and the curiosity to know more about everything. It's what drives science.
     
  6. Feb 26, 2015 #5

    haruspex

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    That's not what I took the original post to be about. I could answer that reasonably by discussing the relationships between the concepts, but now you seem to be more concerned with analogies and visualisation. Which is it?
     
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