# Homework Help: Work and Electrostatics - a bit of Clarification, please

1. Jan 4, 2008

### fatcat39

Work and Electrostatics - Help!!!!

1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data

I need to place equal and oppositve charges on a piano and at the top of a 5.0 meter ramp in order to move a 1000 kg box up a 30 degree frictionless ramp. The box has a charge of +Q and the top has a -Q.

A) What magnitude charges do I need to keep the box at the bottom and not moving?

B) What is the initial energy of the box?

*Why is it negative?

*Or is it zero?

C) How much work does it take to separate the charges from 5 m to infinity?

D) How much work does it take to push the box by hand?
Work = Fd
How do I find the force that's necessary?

2. Relevant equations

3. The attempt at a solution

A) Solved

I solved B, but I just wanted to check that B and C, the answers should be equal? I got an answer of -24.5 kJ for B and is C 24.5 kJ (positive?)

* Or is the answer to B actually zero? I'm told to "make sure" I define my zeros for potential energy. And I found an explanation on handysolver.com (i don't think it's a trustworthy site) that says that B is zero because the zeros were all there, but doesn't the +Q charge still exert a force?

Thanks a lot in advance, I realize my work is a little scatterbrained...

Last edited: Jan 5, 2008
2. Jan 4, 2008

### blochwave

He set the Fg=Fe and solved for Q

3. Jan 4, 2008

### nicksauce

L outside the radical is the same as L^2 inside the radical...

4. Jan 5, 2008

### fatcat39

And is B zero? I guess someone else had the exact same problem, because I found a solution:

http://handysolver.com/problemsandso...problem_id=418 [Broken]

that says that B is zero, but I really don't think so.

Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017