Electrostatics is concerned with the electrical fields and scalar potentials of stationary electrical charges and charge distributions. Use this for questions about electromagnetic situations in which currents and magnetic fields are absent, otherwise use [tag:electromagnetism] and/or ...

learn more… | top users | synonyms

8
votes
6answers
1k views

Are electric field lines always conserved?

Suppose we have a positive +q charge and a -6q charge at some separation. Then will every field line originate from the +q and end up to -6q or will there be some extra lines coming to -6q from ...
8
votes
3answers
3k views

Electric Field inside a regular polygon with corner charges

If we have equal charges located at the corners of a regular polygon, then the electric field at its center is zero. Are there other points inside a polygon where the field vanishes? The simplest ...
8
votes
2answers
2k views

Can two electrons never touch each other?

The Coulomb's force is given by $$ F = {k q^2 \over r^2} $$ When $ r \rightarrow 0 $, $ F \rightarrow \infty $ Does this mean two electrons never touch each other?
8
votes
2answers
1k views

How does one show using QED that same/opposite electric charges repel/attract each other, respectively?

Why do same charges repel each other and opposite charges attract each other (please explain the phenomenon using real laws of nature (QED) not with the approximation model)?
8
votes
4answers
3k views

A problem of missing energy when charging a second capacitor

A capacitor is charged. It is then connected to an identical uncharged capacitor using superconducting wires. Each capacitor has 1/2 the charge as the original, so 1/4 the energy - so we only have 1/2 ...
8
votes
1answer
508 views

Tesla coil arc in air - where is it going?

here is a picture of a Tesla coil with a discharge that seemingly terminates in the air. What completes the circuit at the end of the streamers?
8
votes
7answers
74k views

Why does a glass rod when rubbed with silk cloth aquire positive charge and not negative charge?

I have read many times in the topic of induction that a glass rod when rubbed against a silk cloth acquires a positive charge. Why does it acquire positive charge only, and not negative charge? It ...
8
votes
5answers
7k views

What are electromagnetic fields made of?

I am trying to understand electromagnetic fields so I have two question related to them. What is a electromagnetic field made of? Is it made of photons / virtual photons? How about a static electric ...
8
votes
4answers
484 views

Temperature and resistance?

Why does resistivity increase with temperature? The explanations I have heard so far are that increasing temperature increases vibrations in the lattice structure resulting in the number of ...
8
votes
2answers
893 views

Torque of an electric engine

So I have some follow up questions from this thread: Electric engine transmission Basically, I am looking for a more precise mathematical statement that makes this true. Why is it that the electric ...
7
votes
6answers
916 views

What prevents the accumulation of charge in a black hole?

What prevents a static black hole from accumulating more charge than its maximum? Is it just simple Coulomb repulsion? Is the answer the same for rotating black holes? Edit What I understand from ...
7
votes
4answers
480 views

Distribution of point charges on a line of finite length

How will $N$ freely moving charges confined to a line with length $L$ be distributed? What are their equilibrium positions?
7
votes
2answers
767 views

Why is Xenon favored as the propellant in electric thrusters?

Most of the articles I've read on electric thrusters mention that Xenon is generally, with some exceptions, used as the propellant (or would it be termed reaction mass?). They never mention why ...
7
votes
5answers
11k views

Why is electric potential scalar?

I can't conceptually visualize why it would be so. Say you have two point charges of equal charge and a point right in the middle of them. The potential of that charge, mathematically, is proportional ...
7
votes
5answers
2k views

Laplacian of $1/r^2$ (context: electromagnetism and poisson equation)

We know that a point charge $q$ located at the origin $r=0$ produces a potential $\sim \frac{q}{r}$, and this is consistent with the fact that the Laplacian of $\frac{q}{r}$ is ...
7
votes
5answers
15k views

How can I prevent my son building up static on his trampoline? [duplicate]

Whenever my three year old son plays on his trampoline, it doesn't take very long for him to start building up a significant amount of static electricity. His hair stands on end (which is quite ...
7
votes
5answers
11k views

How can I prevent being zapped by static electricity every time I touch a doorknob or handle in the office?

I don't know what it is about this office, but it seems everything I touch (doorknob, bathroom faucet, edge of kitchen sink in the break room), I get zapped by static electricity. It's getting old. ...
7
votes
1answer
482 views

How do we make symmetry assumptions rigorous?

I have, for instance, a problem with a spherically symmetric charge distribution. I deduce here, in order to solve the problem easily, that the corresponding electric field must be symmetric. How is ...
7
votes
2answers
1k views

Capacitance of Non-concentric Spheres

We all know how to obtain the capacitance $C=\frac{ab}{b-a}$ (ignoring constants) for two concentric spheres of radii $a,b$. I was just thinking to myself, what would happen to the capacitance for ...
7
votes
5answers
4k views

Why does a faraday cage protect you from high currents?

In an electrostatic case it is clear that that in a space enclosed with a conductor (without charge in it) the electric field is zero. This is often demonstrated in physics shows like on the ...
7
votes
1answer
312 views

Does an electric field create a pH gradient?

Since pH is a measure of the effective concentration of $\mathrm{H}^+$ ions a solution, I expect that an electric field applied to a solution will create a pH gradient. The higher concentration of ...
7
votes
4answers
7k views

Will a charged capacitor discharge if one lead is connected to ground?

If I charge a capacitor and connect one lead to ground keeping the other lead floating, will the capacitor discharge ? ...
7
votes
3answers
3k views

Charge density in concentric spheres

Question: If there are two conducting spherical shells and the inner shell is grounded, what will be >the charge density in the inner shell if there is a charge Q placed on the outer shell? ...
7
votes
0answers
224 views

Electric potential of a spheroidal gaussian

I'm looking for results that compute the electrostatic potential due to a spheroidal gaussian distribution. Specifically, I'm looking for solutions of equations of the form $$ ...
7
votes
1answer
731 views

In Method of images type problems, why isn't the induced charge taken into account while solving it via Green's functions?

To take the simplest example, $$\Phi(\vec{r}) = \begin{cases} V & r\leq a \\ 0 & r\geq a \end{cases}$$ For a plane conducting surface that extends all the way. Choosing an appropriate ...
6
votes
4answers
5k views

Divergence of a field and its interpretation

The divergence of an electric field due to a point charge (according to Coulomb's law) is zero. In literature the divergence of a field indicates presence/absence of a sink/source for the field. ...
6
votes
3answers
512 views

Negative Mass and gravitation

Since Newtonian gravity is analogous to electrostatics shouldn't there be something called negative mass? Also, a moving charge generates electric field, but why doesn't a moving mass generate some ...
6
votes
3answers
4k views

What is the purpose of differential form of Gauss Law?

I am learning the differential form of Gauss Law derived from the divergence theorem. $${\rm div}~ \vec{E} =\frac{\rho}{\epsilon_0}.$$ So far in my study of math and physics, the word "differential" ...
6
votes
4answers
999 views

Why is there an electric field in a wire even though it is a conductor?

If you take a perfect conductor, there cannot be a field across it since if there were, the particles would arrange themselves in a way to cancel out the field right? Yet, why does the same not hold ...
6
votes
4answers
3k views

Method of Images

The method of image charges is a well-known and very useful tool for solving problems in electrostatics. Unfortunately, when I was taught this method, it was presented simply as an algorithm. No real ...
6
votes
3answers
2k views

Force between two charged rods?

Suppose that we have two rods of length $l_1, l_2$ connected at one end but free to rotate. These rods have charge density $\lambda$ uniformly distributed, so the total charge of rod $i$ is $\lambda ...
6
votes
4answers
8k views

If we charge a capacitor can we discharge it into a battery?

I have read that we can charge a capacitor using a battery, but can the vice versa happen? My project needs to show a battery being charged through a fully charged capacitor.
6
votes
4answers
14k views

Why is the conductor an equipotential surface in electrostatics?

Since the electric field inside a conductor is zero that means the potential is constant inside a conductor, which means the "inside" of a conductor is an equal potential region. Why do books also ...
6
votes
3answers
21k views

Is the Earth negatively or positively charged?

The Earth carries a negative electric charge of roughly 500 thousand Coulombs. Does that mean the Earth is negatively charged?
6
votes
2answers
179 views

Do we apply electrostatics correctly?

In the definition of the electrical field we use the concept of a test charge because we state that the point charge is required for the direct application of the Coloumb's Law and its infinitesimal ...
6
votes
2answers
940 views

Conductors and Uniqueness Theorem

I'm working with Griffiths Electrodynamics, and he introduces a uniqueness theorem: First Uniqueness Theorem: The potential $V$ in a volume $\Omega$ is uniquely determined if (a) the charge ...
6
votes
1answer
126 views

What causes a spark to move along rods that are not parallel?

I took my son to a science museum where they had a gadget that many of us probably saw in movies involving a mad scientist. The gadget had two metal rods about two inches apart at the bottom. The rods ...
6
votes
2answers
1k views

What does really attracts a water stream to a charged object?

I saw this video by Varitasium and I was not 100% sure about the third phenomena, a statically charged object attracting a stream of water, especially because he explicitly mentioned that it is not ...
6
votes
1answer
168 views

Green function two solutions questions

I am having some trouble with Green functions in electrostatics What is the meaning of this trick: Given $$\vec{\nabla}^2 V(\vec{r}) = \frac{-1}{\varepsilon_0}\rho(\vec{r}) = ...
6
votes
2answers
766 views

Ionized Depletion Region, Why aren't those charged being excited?

Ok so I understand the PN junction, and how when 2 Semiconductor materials are placed together the Electrons will jump into the Holes near the junction creating a Negatively Ionized Atoms on the ...
6
votes
1answer
2k views

What is the penetration length of static electric field into conducting metals?

How large is the penetration length for static electric field into good conductors? I have two versions: (1) few atomic spacings $$a\sim n_{e}^{-1/3},$$ and (2) Debye length computed by Fermi ...
6
votes
1answer
554 views

Boundary Conditions Invariant Under Conformal Transformations in Electrostatics?

in two dimensional electrostatics it is assumed that the whole physical system is translationally invariant in one direction. Here, the two-dimensional Laplace equation $$\Delta \phi(x,y) = ...
6
votes
2answers
167 views

Quantization of electrostatic $\vec E$ field?

Can a electrostatic field $\vec E=\vec E(x,y,z)$ (time-independent) or electrostatic potential $\phi=\phi(x,y,z)$ be quantized? If yes, will these quanta be photons again? But we don't have an ...
6
votes
2answers
2k views

Voltage and current of positive lightning

For a physics issues investigation I chose to investigate what effects lightning could have on an aeroplane while in flight if it was struck and then go on to discuss some possible implications of ...
6
votes
1answer
193 views

Physical interpretation related to a non-linear partial differential equation

I am doctoral student in pure mathematics working on a particular problem. My question is if this problem has applications to real world phenomena. I will try to explain the direct problem starting ...
5
votes
2answers
2k views

Perpetual motion machine [duplicate]

I'm having trouble understanding why this machine doesn't work. Part of a ring, half of which is uniformly charged, is located between two oppositely charged plates, attracting to the negative one and ...
5
votes
3answers
3k views

Do electric and magnetic lines of force physically exist?

As per my imagination any thing can't impose force on the other by not giving even a touch(i,e action at a distance). So I thought there must be some physical existence of lines of force. Although ...
5
votes
5answers
4k views

How does insulating footwear prevent an electric shock?

The reason I have always heard to explain the reduction of electric shock when we wear insulating footwear goes as follows: When electricity passes from our body to the ground, an electric circuit ...
5
votes
3answers
4k views

Why is surface charge distribution uniform for a conducting sphere? Can't it be arbitrary?

If the charge $q_1$ has to repel the charge $q_2$, the electric field has to go inside the conductor which contradicts the fact that electric field inside conductors is zero. Then why do the charges ...
5
votes
1answer
14k views

What defines the maximum charge a capacitor can store?

The formula for a capacitor discharging is $Q=Q_0e^{-\frac{t}{RC}}$ Where $Q_0$ is the maximum charge. But what property defines the maximum charge a capacitor can store? If it depends on ...