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Curl of an electric dipole field

  1. Dec 18, 2009 #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. Dec 18, 2009 #2


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    Science Advisor

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