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Homework Help: Shape of an Electric Potential?

  1. Apr 25, 2013 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data
    Hi. I'm doing some practice problems to prepare for an upcoming exam, and I encountered this question:

    What is the shape of the electric potential around an isolated electric charge?
    a. Circular
    b. Square
    c. Oval
    d. No specific shape
    e. Triangle

    This is an odd question. I know it's not square, oval, or triangle. Would it be circular or spherical shape? So would (a) or (d) be a more appropriate answer? Thanks
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 25, 2013 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    Spherical, but if you restrict the analysis to 2 dimensions, "circular" would fit. The other answers are 2D-objects, too.
    It is an odd question, I agree.
  4. Apr 25, 2013 #3


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    It's not even entirely clear what would be meant by the 'shape' of a potential. Given the offered answers, I suppose they must mean the shape of the equipotential surfaces, but if you were to think of the potential as a scalar plotted against distance from the charge the answer would be quite different.
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