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Homework Help: Concept of Potential Energy -vs Electric Potential in an EField

  1. Dec 14, 2009 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data

    6. A positive charge is initially at rest in an electric field and is free to move. Which of the following statements is true about the movement of the positive charge?
    a. Start to move to a position with higher potential and higher potential energy
    b. Start to move to a position with higher potential and lower potential energy
    c. Start to move to a position with lower potential and higher potential energy
    d. Start to move to a position with lower potential and lower potential energy

    Ok, I know if it were a NEGATIVE charge initially at rest in an electric field, it would do:
    B, higher potential, lower potential energy.

    What's the answer behind this question though? How does it change for a positive charge? I don't understand the underlying concept of what is going on.

    I thought for Potential Energy, for both it would have to be moving to LOWER potential energy, as regardless of it being positive or negative, it is initially at rest (all potential energy) and begins to move (thus potential energy must LOWER given Kinetic=Potential).

    However, what would happen for the potential? What is potential? I know it's defined as Potential Energy/Charge

    but what does this mean? What's the idea behind it?

    Thanks!
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 16, 2009 #2

    tiny-tim

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    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Hi Schoomy! :wink:
    Yes, so higher potential means higher potential energy if the charge is positive, and lower potential energy if the charge is negative. :smile:
     
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