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Help understanding theory of Charge distribution

  1. Mar 17, 2008 #1
    Hi everyone im very new here so please don' be too harsh with me :shy: I hope I posted this in the right section. If I haven't, then please accept my apologies and can a mod please kindly move my post to the appropriate section?

    Im taking a very basic physics class atm and I was having trouble understanding some theory behind the unit we are on right now (Gauss' law/capacitors/charges/potentials).

    Yesterday my teacher left us with a question to think about and i'm having difficulty understanding the reasoning behind it. He asked that if theres two unequal charged conductors and they're brought into contact w/ each other, the charge will redistribute betw/ the two conductors in a fashion that...

    Now, I think that they would become equally charged but one of my other friends brought up the point that the potential inside each conductor is the same and i'm not sure whether or not he's right. Anyone know what the correct answer to this abstract question?

    As well, would someone please explain to me (if i'm wrong) if it could be possible that the field outside conductor 1 might be the same as the field outside conductor 2?
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2008
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 17, 2008 #2
    Why would the electric potential of each conductor be the same? Potential is dependent on q, which is not the same in each conductor.
  4. Mar 17, 2008 #3
    If the potential was not the same, there would be an electric field at the place where the conductors are connected and a current would flow until the conductors were at the same potential.
  5. Mar 17, 2008 #4
    So then would I be right in the sense that the conductors would become equally charged? I find it hard believing that the potential OUTSIDE the conductors would be equal so I think that viewpoint is wrong.
  6. Mar 19, 2008 #5
    Just outside the conductors, the potential must be the same everywhere. but the electric field can be different.
    If you have two spheres of unequal size, and you connect them with a wire, the spheres will have the same potential, but the electric field outside of the smaller sphere will be bigger.
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