Is today's exam question unsolvable? - Proton Motion in a Magnetic Field

In summary, a member of the forum had an electromagnetic exam and encountered a problem that seemed unsolvable due to insufficient information. The problem involved calculating the total distance traveled by a proton in a magnetic field with given variables and a figure. The moderator suggested that additional information was needed to determine the starting and ending conditions. The member's professor later clarified that the proton would travel half a circle before hitting the wall, but the figure provided was unclear and could have been interpreted differently. Some members of the forum also shared their assumptions and criticisms of the question. Overall, the lack of clarity in the question was noted and it was suggested that question setters should review their questions before using them in an exam.
  • #1
APUGYael
41
1
<Moderator's note: Moved from a technical forum and thus no template.>

Hello all,

Earlier today I had an electromagnetism exam, and it seems to me that this problem is unsolvable.
There's just too little information given.

A proton enters an uniform magnetic field. It's initial speed v is perpendicular to the magnetic field.
The strength of the magnetic field is B. You also know the direction of the magnetic field (see: https://imgur.com/a/HSTT7Qh).

upload_2018-6-28_10-44-56.png


Calculate the total distance the proton travels.


So let's say that, because it's initial speed is perpendicular, the force acting on the proton equals:
F = qvB
q = charge
v = speed
B = magnetic field strength

This force is the centripetal force:
qvB = pv/r

p = momentum (mv)
r = radius circle

So.. Let's solve for r.
r = p/qB

But that doesn't help much.

See: you don't know how long the proton is present in the magnetic field. You could calculate the circumference of a circle with radius r, you could calculate the time it takes the proton to travel 2πr but you still wouldn't be able to calculate the total distance traveled without a given time.

Anyway, my girlfriend is convinced this is solvable. Am I overlooking something?
 

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  • #2
APUGYael said:
Calculate the total distance the proton travels.
You need some additional qualifying information that determines what the start and end conditions are, i.e., what is the distance traveled by the proton between A and B, where A and B are somehow identified. Without access to your exam, it is impossible to say whether or not this information was suitably identifiable, e.g., through a figure.
 
  • #3
Orodruin said:
You need some additional qualifying information that determines what the start and end conditions are, i.e., what is the distance traveled by the proton between A and B, where A and B are somehow identified. Without access to your exam, it is impossible to say whether or not this information was suitably identifiable, e.g., through a figure.

The drawn figure is the exact figure given but drawn on paint. Nothing was left out. Same for the given variables and description of the problem.
 
  • #4
There are many assumptions you can make. One that would be reasonable would be that, from what can be seen from the figure, the magnetic field starts abruptly and the proton enters perpendicular to the zone where the field is non-zero. The question could intend to ask for the distance traveled in the magnetic field. However, based on the information you have given here, any such guess is just conjecture.
 
  • #5
Orodruin said:
There are many assumptions you can make. One that would be reasonable would be that, from what can be seen from the figure, the magnetic field starts abruptly and the proton enters perpendicular to the zone where the field is non-zero. The question could intend to ask for the distance traveled in the magnetic field. However, based on the information you have given here, any such guess is just conjecture.

I just got a reply from my professor.
He told me I should've made the assumption that the well extends and such that the distance the proton travels is half of a circle before hitting the wall. To me the figure seems flawed: the figure should've been clarified or more information should've been given, although I do see his point.
 
  • #6
APUGYael said:
He told me I should've made the assumption that the well extends and such that the distance the proton travels is half of a circle before hitting the wall.
As stated above, this is what I would have assumed, but I agree it could be stated clearer.
 
  • #7
I didn’t even realize that vertical line was supposed to represent a wall. I thought it was just the edge of the region with the field. I would have said that it goes 1/2 circle around and then continues straight on forever (neglecting gravity or other fields)
 
  • #8
If it was supposed to be an exam question then it is a very poor one. Why don't question setters read what they have written and see if it actually means what they want it to mean?
I think @Dale 's interpretation is favourite but why isn't it made clear? Perhaps it's part Parapsychology Exam.
 

Related to Is today's exam question unsolvable? - Proton Motion in a Magnetic Field

1. Is it possible to solve the exam question on Proton Motion in a Magnetic Field?

Yes, it is possible to solve the exam question. While it may be challenging, with the proper knowledge and understanding of the principles involved, it can be solved.

2. How do I know if the exam question on Proton Motion in a Magnetic Field is unsolvable?

If you have attempted to solve the question and have exhausted all possible methods and still cannot arrive at a solution, then it may be considered unsolvable. However, it is always best to seek assistance from a teacher or peer before concluding that the question is unsolvable.

3. Can I use external resources to solve the exam question on Proton Motion in a Magnetic Field?

It depends on the instructions given by your teacher or the rules set for the exam. In some cases, external resources may be allowed, while in others, they may not be permitted. It is always best to clarify with your teacher beforehand.

4. Are there any tips for solving the exam question on Proton Motion in a Magnetic Field?

Yes, here are a few tips:

  • Make sure you understand the principles involved in proton motion in a magnetic field.
  • Break down the question into smaller, more manageable parts.
  • Draw diagrams or use equations to visually represent the problem.
  • Double-check your calculations and units.
  • If you're stuck, ask for help from a teacher or peer.

5. Can I still get partial credit if I am unable to solve the entire exam question on Proton Motion in a Magnetic Field?

This ultimately depends on your teacher's grading policy. Some may award partial credit for showing effort and understanding, while others may not. It's always best to ask your teacher about their grading criteria beforehand.

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