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Potential Energy of a Charge Configuration

  1. Jul 7, 2014 #1
    Is there a quick way to figure out the total potential energy between more than 2 charges without having to find the potential at each point and the. Multiplying it by the charge at that point and adding it all up?

    For example - a 2D square with a charges Q, 2Q, -3Q, and another Q at each corner and let's say each side of the square has length "d"

    I'm basically wondering if there's a way to calculate the total potential energy of this charge configuration without a page and a half of work
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 7, 2014 #2


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    Gold Member

    There really isn't a "quick" way that I know of. You pretty much have to do a sum when calculating the potential energy. That's just the way it's done.
  4. Jul 7, 2014 #3
    Thank you -I figured as much. I just have a professor who typically writes problems that aren't very tedious especially when you understand the concept(s). I saw a problem like this on an old exam and thought the busywork I had to do was a little uncharacteristic of his testing style.

    Thanks again.
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