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Potential is a scaler quantity

  1. Oct 2, 2012 #1
    A few days I was confused when my teacher told me that potential is a scaler quantity but potential difference is a vector quantity... I thought both were scaler quantity... He couldn't convince me... I asked him how the ratio of two scalers can be vector? He couldn't give that answer... However, I saw that in the net there are many people having different opinion... Now the question is what is right?
    Please explain how it can be vector? And if its scaler then why there's any debate about it being vector?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 2, 2012 #2
    In every definition I've ever seen, it is a scalar.
  4. Oct 2, 2012 #3
    You can challenge your teacher by asking him/her: "So, what is the cross and dot product of voltage difference?? :)))"
  5. Oct 2, 2012 #4


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    Staff: Mentor

    Maybe what he's (mis)remembering is that the gradient of the potential is a vector.
  6. Oct 3, 2012 #5


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    Science Advisor
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    Gold Member

    Perhaps he's confusing electric field with potential difference?

    Perhaps he's remembering how in AC circuits it can be helpful to treat voltages as if they were vectors (eg they have phase angles)?

    There is no component of direction in potential difference.
  7. Oct 3, 2012 #6
    The OP didn't specify voltage potential, or indeed any particular potential.
    So the original context is unclear.
    There is such a thing as vector potential.

    Potential as in potential energy is a scalar (as is all energy).
  8. Oct 3, 2012 #7
    I think its really scaler then... :)
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