Electrostatics is concerned with the field and potential of stationary electrical charges and electric charge distributions. Problems are this type are almost exclusively concerned with mathematics of geometries using the inverse-square law.

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Charged particle between two parallel likely charged plates, is it affected by the plates?

Imagine two parallel conductive plates. Charge up both to have the same amount of positive charge. Then put positive test particle between the two. The Coulomb's law is an inverse square law, so one ...
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66 views

Intuitive explanation of difference in $r$-dependence between dipole and monopole

For an electric monopole, its potential scales with $\frac{1}{r}$, where $r$ is the distance from the point of interest to the charge. However, for a dipole, its potential scales with $\frac{1}{r^2}$. ...
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94 views

Why is charge $q$ symmetrically distributed?

Simple question: Why is charge $q$ outside symmetrically distributed? The material is a conductor.
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201 views

Why is the radial direction the preferred one in spherical symmetry?

I am learning about electricity and magnetism by watching MIT video lectures. In the lecture about Gauss's law, while trying to calculate the flux through a sphere with charge in it, the lecturer ...
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2k views

Electric field and electric potential of a point charge in 2D and 1D

in 3D, electric field of a piont charge is inversely proportional to the square of distance while the potential is inversely proportional to distance. We can derive it from Coulomb's law. however, I ...
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172 views

The appearance of volume $V$ in the Fourier series representation of a periodic cubic system

In the textbook Understanding Molecular Simulation by Frenkel and Smit (Second Edition), the authors represent a function $f(\textbf{r})$ (which depends on the coordinates of a periodic system) as a ...
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143 views

How to solve the Laplace Equation in the hollow square region?

Suppose the values of $a$, $b$, $V_1$ and $V_2$ is given. I want to find the solution of the Laplace equation, $$\frac{\partial^2 \phi}{\partial x^2}+\frac{\partial^2 \phi}{\partial y^2}=0$$ in the ...
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175 views

Why 3 dipole terms in a multipole expansion?

As can be seen on this page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multipole_expansion when we take a multipole expansion without assuming azimuthal symmetry we end up with $2l+1$ coefficients for the $l^{th}$ ...
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516 views

Prove a dielectric with infinite dielectric constant behaves as a conductor for static fields

I read the following problem: Prove that a dielectric medium for which $\varepsilon \to \infty$ behaves as a perfect conductor in the presence of static electric fields. So, the easy part is that the ...
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368 views

Revealing Electric field lines through Grass seeds in mineral oil

In one of Walter Lewin's famous lectures, he takes a small container almost completely filled with mineral oil and grass seeds (I'll keep looking for the video to link to it). He connects two ...
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1answer
945 views

Electric Potential of a Charged Sphere

Problem Consider a sphere with radius $R$, and with a charge distribution $\rho(r)=\rho_0r$. Using Poisson's equation, calculate the electric potential inside and outside the sphere. Solution I don't ...
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What is the physical meaning of the terms in the multipole expansion?

I have a few questions on multipole expansions and I have read about the topic in many places but could not find an answer to my questions, so please be patient with me. The electrostatic potential ...
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157 views

Capacitance of two cocentric spheres, contradicting results

Suppose we are given two conducting, cocentric spheres of radius $a_1$ and $a_2$ respectively. The inner sphere with charge $q$, the outer sphere with charge $-q$. I can calculate the capacitance of ...
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602 views

How many electrons are displaced when combing hair?

Feynman talking about electricity: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qhh32JYkQPk When brushing your hair, Feynman mentioned that a "few" electrons were transferred to the brush (or vice versa, can't ...
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378 views

Conductors and their charge?

Why does excess positive charge stay on the surface of a conductor? This is what I understood from: How does positive charge spread out in conductors? and other resources on the web: If there is a ...
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372 views

Why does Hauksbee's electrostatic machine produce light?

I'm reading on the history of the discovery of electricity and the electron, and I've went from reading about Rutherford's gold leaf experiment all the way back to Francis Hauksbee's spinning glass ...
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1answer
133 views

Local nature of a surface charge density

Boundary S of a cavity in a very large (perfect) conductor is a connected compact (smooth) surface. A positive point charge +q is placed inside this cavity. From Gauss' law we know that the total ...
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228 views

Information content of the electrostatic Maxwell equations vs Coulomb's Law vs Poisson's Equation

In electrostatics, we have Maxwell's equations: $\nabla \cdot E = \rho$ $\nabla \times E = 0$ These four equations (the second line standing for three equations) can also be written in terms of the ...
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163 views

Moving the plates of a charged capacitor to calculate energy density - where's the flaw in my argument?

For a charged air-dielectric capacitor, let the plates be parallel to the $xy$ plane, with the top carrying a positive charge $+Q$, the bottom a charge $-Q$. The force on an infinitesimal charge ...
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231 views

Coulomb potential

It is known that the Coulomb potential can be obtained by Fourier transform of the propagator from E&M. Is this because one of Maxwell's equations have the form $\nabla \cdot \mathbf{E}=\rho$?
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190 views

what is the electric field intensity inside a charged metallic shell if there is a point charge inside the shell?

What I know so far: - Charges (electrons) inside a conductor will repel (Coulomb's law). - The charges will experience repulsion which results in maximum separation distances between the charges. - ...
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798 views

Electric field a distance $z$ above the center of a circular loop. The Hard way [closed]

Problem 2.5: Find the electric field a distance $z$ above the center of a circular loop of radius $r$ which carries a uniform line charge $\lambda$. This problem is in refereced here (with ...
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213 views

Make water droplets charged?

Normally water molecules are electrically neutral. But I have seen somewhere ideas about electric energy generators mentioning that water droplets might be used in some applications as they are ...
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142 views

Electric Field One-Form

I know for instance that we can interpret the electric field as the one-form that given a vector gives the change in potential in the direction of the vector, however I'm very unsure about how to ...
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161 views

What happens to this potential energy?

Let's say I turn on a Van de Graaff which creates a large positive charge. Now let's say I have an object with a positive charge in my hand and I start walking toward the Van de Graaff from $x$ meters ...
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351 views

Electric field lines

If electric field lines cannot terminate in empty space, in the simple example of two equal charges what happens to the line starting from one of the charges toward the other in the middle?
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2k views

What is the role of battery across a Parallel plate capacitor having equal charge?

Each plate of a parallel plate capacitor has a charge $q$ on it. The capacitor is now connected to a battery. Now, which of the following options are correct? a) The facing surfaces of the ...
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79 views

Unrolling electrolytic capacitors

If I take an electrolytic capacitor, remove the aluminium casing, unroll the foil/ electrolyte-soaked paper, if charged, will it still work? And what if I took of the cathode foil and wrapped the ...
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1k views

When I connect in series two floating capacitors, one charged and the other not charged, does current flow?

Suppose I energize one capacitor by connecting it across a battery, allowing it to achieve some potential difference V0 across its plates, then disconnect it and allow both of its leads to float in ...
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108 views

Scaling of Static Electric Field

The electric field of a point charge goes like $\displaystyle\frac{1}{r^2}$ The electric field of an infinite line goes like $\displaystyle\frac{1}{s}$ The electric field of an infinite plane is ...
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862 views

Trying to understand Laplace's equation

I'm struggling here so please excuse if I'm writing nonsense. I understand that the gravitational potential field, a scalar field, is given by $$\phi=\frac{-Gm}{r}$$ where $\phi$ is the ...
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1answer
764 views

Given charge distribution find electric field

Given a charge distribution $\rho(\vec{r})$ where $\vec{r}$ is the position vector and that $\rho$ is a function of only $|x|$, Why is it that the corresponding electric field $E$ is necessarily of ...
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123 views

When to use which representation for an electric field

In class we covered three types of possibilities to evaluate the electric field for static problems. Unfortunately, most physics textbooks cover these ways without addressing the question of ...
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66 views

Does it really make sense to talk about field lines?

Field lines should only provide a visual representation of a field. There is a rule for their construction: take an object subject to a field, move it by d$\mathbf{r}$ and draw the direction of the ...
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67 views

Correct formula to express the potential generated by a single layer charge distribution

Assume that the closed surface $S$ encircles a volume $V$, and that a surface charge with density $\sigma$ ("single layer") is distributed over $S$. My question regards the electrostatic potential ...
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61 views

Polarization vector and bound charge

Why is it that the bound charge is $Q_b = - \oint_S{\mathbf{P} \cdot d\mathbf{S}}$? In particular, why is there a negative sign? Hayt's book on electromagnetism describes this as the "net increase in ...
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129 views

Charge distribution on conductors?

You have seen that the excess charge on an isolated conductor moves entirely to the conductor’s surface. However, unless the conductor is spherical, the charge does not distribute itself uniformly. ...
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101 views

Are the axial electric field lines of a dipole the only ones that extend to infinity?

Consider an electric dipole and its electric field lines. There will be many field lines that do not extend to or originate from infinity, but rather begin at the positive charge and loop back ...
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512 views

Electric field intensity in a dielectric inside a capacitor

In the question A parallel plate capacitor is charged from a cell and then isolated from it. A dielectric slab of dielectric constant $K$ is now introduced in the left half region between the ...
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1answer
135 views

A dielectric sphere in an initially uniform electric field and representation theory of SO(3)

I learned recently that the highest order spherical harmonic required to represent the spatial distribution of decay products of a particle can be used to determine its spin, by using arguments ...
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103 views

Realistic vs Idealistic capacitance

I am doing an investigation into the differences of calculating capacitance using the well know formula for an idealistic parallel plate capacitor, based on the assumption of a uniformly distributed ...
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210 views

Frank-Hertz experiment setup

The usual schematic representing the setup of Frank-Hertz experiment is the following: However, sometimes, you can see a bit different schematic: My question is: what function does $V_{G_1K}$ ...
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1answer
208 views

Method of images tutorial?

I'm having an exam in Electrodynamics soon. I think I have most of it under control, but the method of images I'm not quite sure about. There is not much in my book about, so I was thinking some of ...
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524 views

Electric Field due to a charged sphere

Suppose we have a spherical surface with a surface charge density varying as $cos(\theta)$. Apparently one can find the electric field both outside and inside such a spherical surface by superposing ...
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417 views

Conservation of Charge and Method of Images

Consider the typical problem, "You have a conducting sphere of charge $Q$ and a point charge q a certain distance away, what is the force on the point charge?". The solution is a simple application of ...
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654 views

Calculating the electric relative permittivity of fluid or medium?

I'm unsure of how to calculate the permittivity of a fluid. Permittivity differs from one fluid to another: $$\varepsilon=\varepsilon_r\varepsilon_0$$ Since it is an electrical property combined ...
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2answers
413 views

Electrostatic notion of voltage as it applies to circuits

I have a question that's been bothering me about electric fields, voltage, and circuit analysis. Initially, I came to understand voltage as it was taught in the context of electrostatics - through ...
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1answer
249 views

Why do hydrogen atoms attract?

That is, why is the potential energy with the orbitals overlapping less than with the Hydrogen atoms 'independent'. Similarly, why is a noble gas configuration stabler than if an electron were to be ...
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1answer
3k views

Force from point charge on perfect dipole

Have a point charge and a perfect dipole $\vec{p}$ a distance $r$ away. Angle between $\vec{p}$ and $\hat{r}$ is $\theta$. Want to find force on dipole. I'm having more than a little difficulty ...
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225 views

What force is acting on the charge in the dielectric?

For example I have a dielectric solid with a small charged ball in it. And I have external electric field $E$. So what force is acting on this ball? The field in dielectric is $\frac{E}{\epsilon}$, ...