1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    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!

What is the curl of a electric field?

  1. Feb 7, 2013 #1
    This should be simple but I know I'm going wrong somewhere and I can't figure out where.
    The curl of a electric field is zero,
    i.e. [itex]\vec { \nabla } \times \vec { E } = 0[/itex]
    Because , no set of charge, regardless of their size and position could ever produce a field whose curl is not zero.

    Maxwell's 3rd Equation tells us that,
    the curl of a electric field is equal to the negative partial time derivative of magnetic field [itex] \vec {B}[/itex].
    i.e. [itex]\vec { \nabla } \times \vec { E } = -\frac { \partial }{ \partial t } \vec { B } [/itex]

    So is the curl zero or is it not? If we equate those two equations we get that the time derivative of magnetic field is zero. What's wrong? What am I missing?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 7, 2013 #2


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    That should read, "the curl of an electrostatic field is zero," that is, the electric field associated with a set of stationary charges has a curl of zero. In this situation, there is no magnetic field, so ##\partial \vec B / \partial t = 0##.
  4. Feb 7, 2013 #3
    Oh. Thanks. Got it. Sometimes things as simple as this slip off.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook