Curl of an electric dipole field

  1. Is the field of an electric dipole conservative?

    Initially I thought it would be, for no particular reason but that's just what my high school intuition thought. (haha I thought everything would be conservative apart from friction)

    But I was reading up on some vector calculus and discovered

    [tex]\mbox{curl}(\nabla f) = \mathbf{0}[/tex]

    If you put a positively charged rod in an electric dipole field, and fix it at the right orientation, it will rotate. Does that mean that the field is not conservative?

    EDIT: I just realised it would also rotate in an electric monopole field lol

  2. jcsd
  3. clem

    clem 1,276
    Science Advisor

    It just means you have to include rotational as well as translational energy in applying conservation of energy.
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