# Who invented electric potential and why?

• Anti Hydrogen
What do you expect as an answer? God? Nature? Maxwell? The concept explains the phenomena, so it was accepted.The concept of potential was first given to this function by George Green, who made it the basis of his treatment of electricity. In 1828 Green wrote “An Essay on the Application of Mathematical Analysis to the Theories of Electricity and Magnetism”. After that, potential became a well-established concept in physics.

#### Anti Hydrogen

Why was that concept necessary ?, I know there's also a gravitational equivalent of this concept
I couldn't find anything on google
Thanks
Daniel

The why part... because subtraction is a lot more convenient than line integrals!

sysprog and Anti Hydrogen
Anti Hydrogen said:
Why was that concept necessary ?, I know there's also a gravitational equivalent of this concept
I couldn't find anything on google
Thanks
Daniel
What do you expect as an answer? God? Nature? Maxwell? The concept explains the phenomena, so it was accepted.

davenn, Astronuc, PhDeezNutz and 4 others
Anti Hydrogen said:
Why was that concept necessary ?
There are often two alternative approaches to a problem. One involves Forces and the other involves Energy and Work. Very often, it's the Energy based approach that is quickest and easiest. A voltmeter tells you the potential difference between two points in a circuit. Use that information to find out what the circuit will do and you're home and dry. If you try to do the equivalent, using the Electric Fields all around the components and wires, you'd still be working it out by Christmas.

Neither Electric Fields nor Electric Potentials are more fundamental so neither approach is more 'correct'.

Astronuc, Anti Hydrogen, PeroK and 3 others
Anti Hydrogen said:
Why was that concept necessary ?
If you don't like it, don't use it. But if you go that route, I don't recommend you ever try to do any circuit analysis. See post #4

Anti Hydrogen, sysprog, DaveE and 1 other person
To answer the question "who invented...", consider Alessandro Volta. Gauss and Maxwell developed the mathematics while Volta designed and built one of the first modern* batteries based on chemical cells. The SI unit volt and common term voltage invoke his name.

*Archeological and textual evidence indicates ancient use of chemical solutions used in early metallurgy and ceramics that probably involved electricity similar to modern metal plating, but Volta proved that electricity can be consistently generated and stored in batteries.

sysprog
The Coulomb force , the electric field, and the electric potential are not three kinds of physics, they are three ways to describe the same physics. Each of the three is more convenient for some purposes, but that doesn't make them different things.

So I guess the answer is:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles-Augustin_de_Coulomb

Klystron and sysprog
It is simply a formulation that is often used to make calculations, and perhaps understanding, easier.

sysprog
No one "invents" the way the world works, we just describe it. Force and energy are two such descriptors of the world we live in. At times, it is easier to describe something with the latter, so we do so.

davenn, sysprog and phinds
if you are asking historically, one can make the case for Volta, Green, Poisson, maybe Galvani. The problem with picking "who" is that this concept originated as a mathematical trick to make calculations easier, and only over time gained traction as a physical quantity. One could put the date of that as late as 1960, or with some quibbles, argue that it hasn't been completely established yet.

etotheipi and sysprog

Who was the first person to appreciate the value and usefulness of normalizing electric potential energy to each charge carrier?
Michael Faraday starting in 1812 then in 1832, he completed a series of experiments aimed at investigating the fundamental nature of electricity; Faraday used "static", batteries, and "animal electricity" to produce the phenomena of electrostatic attraction, electrolysis, magnetism, etc.

The name of Potential was first given to this function by George Green, who made it the basis of his treatment of electricity.

Green's essay was neglected by mathematicians till 1846, and before that time most of its important theorems had been rediscovered by Gauss, Chasles, Sturm, and Thomson Essay on the Application of Mathematical Analysis to the Theories of Electricity and Magnetism, Nottingham, 1828. Eeprinted in Crelle's Journal, and in Mr. Ferrer's edition of Green's Works.

Ref J.C. Maxwell A Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism 1873

Baluncore, Stephen Tashi, PeroK and 1 other person
fresh_42 said:
What do you expect as an answer? God? Nature? Maxwell? The concept explains the phenomena, so it was accepted.
Who invented electric potential and why?

Chuck Norris invented it ##-## why? ##-## he's not mean-spirited ##-## he doesn't have to to keep ##all## the power to himself ##\dots##

davenn, Astronuc, russ_watters and 3 others
I would think potential derives from Leibniz's potentia motrix, which corresponds to potential energy.

The concept of potential existed in mechanics and for fluid dynamics prior to the analysis of the 'electric and magnetic fluids' by George Green. He acknowledged the earlier work of Cavendish, Laplace, Fourier, Cauchy and Poisson.

In 1828 Green wrote “An Essay on the Application of Mathematical Analysis to the
Theories of Electricity and Magnetism”.
https://ia800709.us.archive.org/28/items/mathematicalpape00gree/mathematicalpape00gree.pdf
In that he states;
“It is by considering the relations existing between the density of the electricity in any system, and the potential functions thence arising, that we have been enabled to submit many electrical phenomena to calculation, which had hitherto resisted the attempts of analysts;”

So Green did not invent the concept of potential, but he was the first to apply the concept of potential to electricity.

Anti Hydrogen, Klystron, sophiecentaur and 1 other person