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Coulomb's Law - Four Charges with Coordinates are Given, Find the Electrostatic Force

  1. Aug 4, 2009 #1
    Four point-charges are fixed at the corners of a 3.0m X 4.0m rectangle. The coordinates of the corners and the values of the charges are listed below.
    q1 = 100 microC (0, 4m), q2 = 36 microC (4m, 3m), q3 = 125 microC (0, 3m) and q4 = 32 microC (0,0). Compute the net electrostatic force acting on the 100 microC charge.
    ke = 8.99 x 109

    I'm using Coulomb's Law.
    F = [tex]\frac{ke*q1*q2}{r^2}[/tex]

    Here is my attempt at a solution. Is it correct?

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2009
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 5, 2009 #2

    alphysicist

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    Re: Coulomb's Law - Four Charges with Coordinates are Given, Find the Electrostatic F

    Hi antiderivativ,

    No, I don't believe that is correct. When you find the components of F13, you are using an angle of 45 degrees. It would have been a 45 degree angle if the charges were at the corners of a square, but since this is a rectangle it will be different.

    You can use your 3-4-5 triangle you have on the page to find the correct angle. What do you get?
     
  4. Aug 6, 2009 #3
    Re: Coulomb's Law - Four Charges with Coordinates are Given, Find the Electrostatic F

    Thanks for the reply! My new angle is 53.13. Is this better? :)
    [​IMG]
     
  5. Aug 6, 2009 #4

    alphysicist

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    Re: Coulomb's Law - Four Charges with Coordinates are Given, Find the Electrostatic F

    Really close! But you changed your triangle when you calculated the angle, and that gave you the wrong angle.

    If you look at the 3-4-5 triangle about halfway down the page on the left side, the 3 side is vertical and the 4-side is horizontal, and that matches your problem and calculation.

    At the bottom of the page, you switched the 3 and 4 sides. You did the correct procedure; it's just that if you use your original triangle, you'll do:

    [tex]
    \tan^{-1}\left(\frac{3}{4}\right)
    [/tex]

    instead of the arctangent of 4/3.
     
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