# Electric field and electric charge, whats going on in the diagram.

• rcmango
In summary, the picture shows two point charges, q1 = +5 nC and q2 (unknown), fixed on the x-axis. At point P, the net electric field due to both charges is zero, indicating that E1 = -E2. Since E2 is pointing to the left and E1 is pointing to the right, q2 must be positive and have a smaller magnitude than q1. This can be observed by the fact that q1's field is able to counteract q2's field from a greater distance, suggesting that q1 has a stronger magnitude.
rcmango

## Homework Statement

This picture shows two points charges, q1 = +5 nC, and q2 (unknown), fixed in place on the x axis. At the location marked P, the net electric field due to both charges is zero: EP = 0 N/C.

Based on the information shown in the picture, what can you conclude about the magnitude and sign of the charge q2? Explain your reasoning without calculations.

I've attached a pic.

## The Attempt at a Solution

E1 = -E2 at P because the two fields must point in opposite directions at that position and have equal magnitudes at that position. (as discussed in the tutorial) Also E1 is pointing left from P and E2 is pointing to the right from P. Finally, q2 is definitely a positive charge because E2 is pointing in the opposite direction (to the right) while E1 is pointing left, like charges repel.

after looking at it again I'm not so sure I'm correct. Why must they be equal in magnitude and opposite in direction? the fields are equal and opposite just describes the equation E1 = -E2, but I'm not sure why its true at P and looking at q1, which is a positive charge. Therefore, the field E1 created by q1 at the point directly away from q1.

..I don't seem to be understanding what's with the diagram. I just can't put it into words I guess. I think I see what's happening just can't explain it, can someone please break this down simply and clearly, i think i must be over thinking it.

#### Attachments

• charges.png
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I think what you want to do here is imagine that you are a little positive charge positioned at P. You know that E at a point is defined as the force per unit charge experienced by a positive charge in the field at that point.

Think about what would happen if you were a positive charge at P and the only other charge in the diagram was q1? What sort of force would you experience?

Now think about what would happen if q2 was negative. What forces are working now? Can you imagine any position between q1 and q2 that would put you into equilibrium (i.e. all the forces would balance out?) This should give you an idea about the sign of the charge on q2.

As for the magnitude of the charge - I think without knowing the distance from q1 to q2 you won't be able to solve this exactly. But by looking at the position of P on the diagram you should be able to say something about the size of q2 compared to q1.

Okay, here is my response, in turn I've also listed a response from a tutor, i don't understand what else there is to say about this diagram. Please fix my response. I have been back and forth thinking about what else to say, I really have no idea what else there is to say about this diagram.

The E fields cancel each other out at point P. Both charges are the same polarity. The charges emit E fields at each other. Q1 emits a field to the right, while Q2 emits a field to the left which at point P there is a collision of field lines of equal strength. Also, since the E field is Zero at P and is closer to the Q2, then Q1 is greater in charge magnitude.
Since E fields cancel at P, and Q1 is much farther than Q2, the right charge must be smaller because E fields get weaker with distance and Q1's E field is strong enough to counter the effects from Q2's E field, and Q1's E field can do this from a greater distance than Q2 has to do it from.

You're reaching the right conclusions, and apparently for the right reasons. The logic is somewhat out of order and partially implicit, making it hard to follow.

To establish that q2 is positive, you need to start with the directions of the fields at P. Why does E1 point to the right, and why does E2 point to the left. You seem to be saying that E2 points to the left because q2 is positive, but what you're trying to deduce is that q2 is positive, so don't begin with the conclusion. Begin with the fact that the two fields add up to zero at P, which tells you how their directions must compare, and so forth.

Your argument about why q2 < q1 is much more logical, and could be made clearer by using more precise terms. Instead of talking about the effects of q1's field and q2's field (there aren't any, since there's nothing at P to affect), just discuss q2's field E2 and q1's field E1 at P. Again, the starting point is the fact that the net field at P is zero. What does this require of the fields E1 and E2 that's relevant for determining the magnitude of q2?

## 1. What is an electric field?

An electric field is a region in space around a charged object where the electric force is exerted on other charged objects. It is a vector quantity, meaning it has both magnitude and direction.

## 2. How do electric charges interact with each other?

Electric charges interact with each other through the electric force, which can be either attractive or repulsive depending on the charges involved. Like charges repel each other, while opposite charges attract each other.

## 3. What is the relationship between electric field and electric charges?

Electric fields are created by electric charges. The strength of the electric field is directly proportional to the magnitude of the charge and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between the charges.

## 4. What does the diagram represent in terms of electric field and electric charge?

The diagram represents the electric field lines around a positive and a negative charge. The lines show the direction of the electric field and the spacing between the lines represents the strength of the field.

## 5. How can electric field and electric charge affect the motion of charged particles?

The electric field can exert a force on a charged particle, causing it to accelerate or change its direction of motion. The direction of the force is determined by the direction of the electric field and the charge of the particle. This is the basis for many technologies, such as electric motors and particle accelerators.

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