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Please help! i dont know what to do!

  1. Feb 11, 2007 #1
    Need help with "charges" question please!!

    please help! this must be taught tomorrow in class, and this is my first year teaching. How can I explain it to my students?

    Q: What point charges, all having the same magnitude, would you place at the corners of a square (one charge per corner), so that both the electric field and the electric potential (assuming a zero reference value at infinity) are zero at the center of the square? Account for the fact that the charge distribution gives rise to both a zero field and a zero potetial. Explain Thoroughly.

    A: ???
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 11, 2007 #2
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data

    please help! this must be taught tomorrow in class, and this is my first year teaching. How can I explain it to my students?

    Q: What point charges, all having the same magnitude, would you place at the corners of a square (one charge per corner), so that both the electric field and the electric potential (assuming a zero reference value at infinity) are zero at the center of the square? Account for the fact that the charge distribution gives rise to both a zero field and a zero potetial. Explain Thoroughly.

    A: ???

    2. Relevant equations

    no eqn needed..

    3. The attempt at a solution


    I assume that there would be a positive charge in top left, negative charge top right, postive charge bottom right, and negative charge bottom left..but I'm sad to say I'm not sure.
     
  4. Feb 11, 2007 #3

    Hootenanny

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    So, you have a degree in Physics but cannot explain a simple array of charges?
     
  5. Feb 11, 2007 #4

    Hootenanny

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    So, you have a degree in Physics but cannot explain a simple array of charges?

    Please do not double post.

    Note to Mentors; identical thread in Intro Physics
     
  6. Feb 11, 2007 #5
    I'm sorry, I didn't know not to post twice. I just need help. I've taught Chemistry for 27 years, this year the physics teacher left. So now I'm having to balance both. Can you please help?
     
  7. Feb 11, 2007 #6
    Well we know that electric potential is given by [tex]V = \frac{kq}{r}[/tex]. As you go around the corners of the square, if you alternate between charges of +q and -q, that ought to do it. This way, the two positive charges will give a potential of [tex]\frac{2kq}{r}[/tex], and the two negative charges will give [tex]-\frac{2kq}{r}[/tex]. Since potentials add as scalars, the net potential will be 0. As for the electric field, the superposition principle makes it fairly obvious that the field will be zero as well.

    Anyway, someone let me know if I made a careless error. But I think this should do it.
     
  8. Feb 11, 2007 #7

    ranger

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    Seems like you attempted to give a direct answer to a homework problem. btw, how did [tex]\frac{1}{r^2}[/tex] become [tex]\frac{1}{r}[/tex] ?
     
  9. Feb 11, 2007 #8

    rbj

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    potential energy is not force.
     
  10. Feb 11, 2007 #9
    you mean electric field, not force since its just one charge, not 2
     
  11. Feb 11, 2007 #10

    ranger

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    No, hes right. With the case of two charges, the electric potential will be negative if the charges have opposite sign and positive if the charges have the same sign. Therefore we can see how the energy can be lost by opposing charges, thus satisfying arunma's explanation.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2007
  12. Feb 11, 2007 #11

    ZapperZ

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    I've merged the two threads that was cross-posted, so if it doesn't make any sense, it's not my fault.

    To the original poster, please re-read the PF Guidelines.

    Zz.
     
  13. Feb 11, 2007 #12
    Oh, sorry. I figured that since it's not a homework problem, but rather something he needs for teaching purposes, I could answer directly.

    I used 1/r because we're discussing potentials rather than fields. Electric potential has one more dimension of length than electric field (also one can remember that electric field has SI units of volts/meter). And with respect to infinity, any single electric charge creates a potential of [tex]\frac{kq}{r}[/tex].
     
  14. Feb 11, 2007 #13
    thanks so much, yall have been very helpful
     
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