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Homework Help: Electrostastics puzzle

  1. Jul 27, 2011 #1
    What is the difference between Electric potential & Electric Potential Energy?lWhat is the physical significance of Electric Potential?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 27, 2011 #2
    Electric potential is the Electric potential energy per unit charge associated with every point in space due to a charge distribution/point charge. Electric potential energy of a configuration is the energy required to bring the elements of that configuration from infinity into their positions. As far as two point charges are concerned, the potential energy is given by:

    [itex]E=\frac{1}{4 \pi \epsilon_{0}} \frac{qQ}{r}[/itex]

    where q and Q are the two charges at a distance r defining the configuration .The potential due to charge Q is:

    [itex]V=\frac{1}{4 \pi \epsilon_{0}} \frac{Q}{r}[/itex]

    where r is the distance from Q.
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2011
  4. Jul 27, 2011 #3
    I hope I am not wrong.

    electrical potential itself has no significant meaning, the change in electrical potential has meaning though.

    Electrical potential energy is energy, kinda like gravitational energy
  5. Jul 27, 2011 #4
    Yes, I presume that the value of the electric potential at a point in space will be different based on where the zero potential is defined. But the difference in potential will always be the same.
  6. Jul 28, 2011 #5


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    Homework Helper

    It is little different to gravitational considerations. We could ask the question.

    What is the difference between gravitational potential & gravitational Potential Energy?lWhat is the physical significance of gravitational Potential?

    Naturally both Energies are measured in Joules. The fact that we have "developed" a unit for electric potential - the Volt - but have never developed a unit for Gravitational potential is an indication that non-physics people are likely to come across every day references to Electrical Potential [usually Potential Difference] but are unlikely to come across references to Gravitational Potential.

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