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Born2bwire

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If we have a problem that we can capitalize on symmetry, then we can sometimes solve for the electric field. For example, given that we have a point charge in space, we can choose a spherical shell as our Gaussian surface. Then, we know by symmetry that the electric field vectors must be normal to the Gaussian surface. Thus, the flux through the surface at a given point is equal to the sign and magnitude of the electric field vector. From this we can derive the electric field due to a point source. Likewise, we can use this again for any spherically symmetric charge distribution (like a uniform charge density spread across a sphere's surface or volume).

But once we lose these symmetries, then the flux will not be enough to uniquely define the electric field.

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