1. PF Contest - Win "Conquering the Physics GRE" book! Click Here to Enter
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

The definition of the electric field?

  1. Oct 27, 2015 #1
    Hey guys, I need an explanation on the definition of the electric field. It was said in a post that " the definition of the electric field is defined in terms of how it is measured or tested". What do they mean by measured/tested?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 27, 2015 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Let's look, briefly, at the related concept of the gravitational field. The way you know that there is a gravitational field is if you drop something and it falls (this is assuming that you are not in an accelerating frame of reference). We can define the gravitational field as the force that a mass would "feel", divided by the mass itself.

    Similarly, the way you would know if there is an electric field is to release a charged particle and see if it starts accelerating. Of course, you would need to know that it isn't accelerating due to some other force, like gravity. Let's assume that you know how gravity would affect the charged particle, and the particle accelerates in a way different from that. Then you could attribute the different acceleration to an electric field. The electric field is defined as the electric force that a charge would "feel", divided by the charge itself.

    The measurement consists of releasing the mass or charge and seeing what force it experiences.
  4. Oct 27, 2015 #3
    I see, now I understand. Thank you very much for your help
    I see. I understand now. Thank you very much for you help!
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook