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What is the magnitude and direction of the electric field?

  • Thread starter johnnyies
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  • #1
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Homework Statement


A small object of mass 3.80 g and charge -18uC (-18 x 10^-6 or microcoulombs) "floats" in a uniform electric field. What is the magnitude and direction of the electric field?

Homework Equations


F = ma
F = Eq

The Attempt at a Solution


I already have the magnitude down. It's 2070 N/C

Why does the electric field point down though? I don't fully understand the direction of electric fields with positive or negative charges in them. can someone explain this to me?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
kuruman
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Positive charges move with the electric field lines and negative charges move against the electric filed lines. So if the electric field is down, a negative charge will experience an upward force against gravity and therefore float.
 
  • #3
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so if the electric field is down, that means it's of a negative charge?
 
  • #4
kuruman
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Say at a point P in space you are told that the electric field is straight down and that it is produced by a single charge. This can mean one of two things:

(a) There is a positive charge directly above point A or
(b) there is a negative charge directly below point A.

Now if I place a negative charge at point A it will experience a force up regardless of whether (a) or (b) is the case.
 
  • #5
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it wasn't very clearly explained in my book. Much thanks!
 

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