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Current in a wire

  1. Jan 16, 2017 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data

    2. Relevant equations

    3. The attempt at a solution

    I know I = nqvA

    When the pd is applied the surface that is 8cm long, the cross sectional area is 32cm (8x4) but when the pd is applied across the 4cm side, the cross sectional area is now 16cm (4x4) so I has decreased by a factor of 2 so the new I is I/2 thus answer A? But the correct answer is D.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 16, 2017 #2

    Simon Bridge

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    When comparing I=nqvA for each case, you assumed that only A changed. q stays the saem OK - but is v the same?
    HInt: Ohms' law and resistivity.
  4. Jan 16, 2017 #3


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    Staff: Mentor

    You've got the order of the faces backwards. The initial scenario has the PD applied across the ends of the rectangle (the 4 x 4 ends are separated by 8 cm).

    Also, remember that resistance is proportional to path length as well as being inversely proportional to the cross sectional area. Look up the definition of resistivity.
  5. Jan 16, 2017 #4


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    I think that the relevant equation is: [itex]R \propto \frac{l}{A}[/itex] where [itex]l[/itex] is the length of the resistor and [itex]A[/itex] is the cross-sectional area. Switching from one face to the other changes both [itex]A[/itex] and [itex]l[/itex].
  6. Jan 16, 2017 #5
    People are always very quick to use formulas .... much easier just to look at it .....the distance the current has to travel has halved so this alone will make the resistance halve ... but in addition the area the current moves through has doubled .. this will also halve the resistance ... so in total the resistance has dropped to a quarter of what it was ...
  7. Jan 16, 2017 #6
    Yep, I totally disregarded the effects on the wire's resistance. It's clear now why current goes up by a factor of 4. thanks for the help.
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