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Potential ground and electric charge

  1. May 25, 2010 #1
    In electronics it is customary to define the potential of ground (thinking of the earth as a large conductor) as zero. Is this consistent with the fact that the earth has a net electric charge that is not zero?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 25, 2010 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    Really? Do you have a reference for what the net charge on the earth is?
  4. May 25, 2010 #3
    I don't think either of these statements are correct.

    The earth is not a large conductor.
    The earth has no net charge itself , although it is surrounded by a charged 'halo' known as the Van Allen Belts.

    The fundamental (electrical/electronic) property of an earth or ground is that it does not change potential for any current flow within the normal circuit parameters, not that it has low or high resistance.
    It is this property that allows the benchmark potenttial to be declared 'zero' in electronics.
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