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 ...

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11answers
14k views

Why does dust stick to rotating fan propeller?

Why does dust stick to rotating fan propeller? Intuitively, most people (including I) think of the dust will not stick to rotating fan propellers. EDIT 1: Thank you for the great explanations. I am ...
47
votes
5answers
4k views

Does Coulomb's Law, with Gauss's Law, imply the existence of only three spatial dimensions?

Coulomb's Law states that the fall-off of the strength of the electrostatic force is inversely proportional to the distance squared of the charges. Gauss's law implies that a the total flux through a ...
47
votes
4answers
86k views

Why do grapes in a microwave oven produce plasma?

Some of you may know this experience (Grape + Microwave oven = Plasma video link): take a grape that you almost split in two parts, letting just a tiny piece of skin making a link between each ...
42
votes
4answers
42k views

Why do same/opposite electric charges repel/attract each other, respectively?

I know plus pushes another plus away, but why, really, do they do that? On the other hand, molecules of the same type are attracted to each other. I find that weird. I do know some stuff about four ...
35
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7answers
7k views

Why doesn't an electron ever hit (and stick on) a proton?

Imagine there is a proton confined in a box and we put an electron at 10 cm distance: It gets an acceleration of thousands of meters/second^2 along a straight line joining the two CM's. One would ...
23
votes
2answers
2k views

Is it (practically) possible for a large building to be a Faraday cage?

In my sophomore year of high school, my P.E. teachers kept on complaining about how phones didn't have a network connection in our gym, regardless of model, service provider, etc. A couple of feet ...
21
votes
2answers
4k views

Can sugar be affected by a magnetic field?

While I was making a morning coffee at work, some sugar from the spoon started to fly away, seemingly towards some foam cups. Can this be explained by magnetism?
20
votes
3answers
6k views

What is the answer to Feynman's Disc Paradox?

[This question is Certified Higgs Free!] Richard Feynman in Lectures on Physics Vol. II Sec. 17-4, "A paradox," describes a problem in electromagnetic induction that did not originate with him, but ...
20
votes
2answers
9k views

What is the net charge of the Earth?

This question arose in a seminar today about the solar wind... This is my vagueish understanding of the problem - please correct if you see errors! The 'classical' picture of atmospheric electricity ...
18
votes
4answers
3k views

Can two electrons get ever so close as to touch each other?

My friend and I were studying for our EM test when we started to think about what happens to the electric field near an infinite line of charge. $$E = \frac{\lambda}{2\pi\rho\epsilon_{0}}$$ As you ...
18
votes
2answers
3k views

Virtual photon description of B and E fields

I continue to find it amazing that something as “bulky” and macroscopic as a static magnetic or electric field is actually a manifestation of virtual photons. So putting on your QFT spectacles, look ...
17
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2answers
1k views

Is Newton's universal gravitational constant the inverse of permittivity of mass in vacuum?

Is it possible to consider Newton's universal gravitational constant, $G$, as inverse of vacuum permittivity of mass? $$\epsilon_m=\frac {1}{4\pi G}$$ if so, then vacuum permeability of mass will ...
15
votes
6answers
1k views

Is there a momentum for charge?

Since mass and charge behave similarly, so, just like center of mass, I define a point center of charge, that is defined by $$\vec r_{qm} = \frac {\sum{q_i \vec r_i}} {\sum{q_i}}$$ where $\vec r_i$ ...
14
votes
7answers
1k views

Why is capacitance defined as charge divided by voltage?

I understand that capacitance is the ability of a body to store an electrical charge and the formula is $C=\frac{Q}{V}$. What I don't understand, however, is why it is defined as coulomb per volt. Of ...
14
votes
2answers
7k views

Why two objects get charged by rubbing?

It is always told as a fact without explaining the reason. Why do two objects get charged by rubbing? Why one object get negative charge and other get positive charge?
14
votes
3answers
2k views

Why is the shape of lightning or an electric spark a zig-zag line?

Why is the shape of the lightning (or an electric spark) always of a zig-zag nature? Why is it never just a straight line? Image source.
14
votes
2answers
2k views

Using photons to explain electrostatic force

I am trying to understand the idea of a force carrier with the following example. Let's say there are two charges $A$ and $B$ that are a fixed distance from each other. What is causing the force on ...
13
votes
4answers
18k views

Why is electric field strong at sharp edges?

I learned about the coronal discharge, and the common explanation is because the electric field is strong where radius of curvature is small. But I haven't found anything yet that explains why ...
13
votes
3answers
3k views

Is there a deep reason why springs combine like capacitors?

I was solving a practice Physics GRE and there was a question about springs connected in series and parallel. I was too lazy to derive the way the spring constants add in each case. But I knew how ...
13
votes
4answers
936 views

The maximum distance for which Coulomb's law has been verified?

We know that Coulomb's law, $F_{12} = \frac{kq_1q_2}{r^2}$, was experimentally verified for small distances by Coulomb himself at the and of the XVIII century. The question is what is the maximum ...
13
votes
6answers
707 views

What keeps electrons on a negatively-charged conductor from leaving?

Imagine a negatively charged conductor in a vacuum. The excess electrons will be spread out over the surface such that the net electric field inside the conductor is zero. What keeps these extra ...
12
votes
3answers
7k views

Coulomb force in SI and cgs

Coulomb force in SI is $ F = \frac{Q1*Q2}{4\pi\varepsilon R^{2}} $ while in CGS $ F = \frac{Q1*Q2}{R^{2}} $ why is it? I mean doesn't it any make difference in dimension? since $ \varepsilon $ ...
12
votes
6answers
3k views

What is the range of the validity of Coulomb's law?

What is the smallest and biggest distance in which Coulomb's law is valid? Please provide a reference to a scientific journal or book. Just saying that this law is valid from this range to that range ...
12
votes
5answers
828 views

Where's the energy in a boosted capacitor?

Suppose I look at a parallel plate capacitor in its rest frame and calculate the electrostatic energy, $E$. Next, I look at the same capacitor in a primed frame boosted in the direction perpendicular ...
12
votes
2answers
8k views

What are the units or dimensions of the Dirac delta function?

In three dimensions, the Dirac delta function $\delta^3 (\textbf{r}) = \delta(x) \delta(y) \delta(z)$ is defined by the volume integral: $$\int_{\text{all space}} \delta^3 (\textbf{r}) \, dV = ...
12
votes
1answer
2k views

Resistance between two points in an infinite metal sphere/cube

Let's imagine that we have a tridimensional metal object of infinite size, and decide to calculate the resistance between two arbitrary points. How would we go about doing this? I have thought of two ...
11
votes
4answers
1k views

Do electrostatic fields really obey “action at a distance”?

In an electromagnetic theory class, my professor introduced the concept of "action at a distance in physics". He said that: If two charges are at some very large distance, and if any one of the ...
11
votes
7answers
3k views

Why is there a factor of $4\pi$ in certain force equations?

I mean to ask why there is $4\pi$ present in force equations governing electricity? Though all objects in universe are not spherical and circular, the constant of proportionality in both equations ...
11
votes
4answers
4k views

Are the Maxwell's equations enough to derive the law of Coulomb?

Are the 8 Maxwell's equations enough to derive the formula for the electromagnetic field created by a stationary point charge, which is the same as the law of Coulomb? If I am not mistaken, due to ...
11
votes
5answers
46k views

What is the difference between a battery and a charged capacitor?

What is the difference between a battery and a charged capacitor? I can see lot of similarities between capacitor and battery. In both these charges are separated and When not connected in a circuit ...
11
votes
3answers
779 views

How would charge be distributed in charged conductors if the Coulomb law was not ${1}/{r^2}$?

Would the excess charge on a conductor move to surface until the electric field inside become zero if the Coulomb law was for example $\frac{1}{r^3}$? If yes, would the distribution $\sigma(x,y)$ be ...
11
votes
6answers
2k views

Paradox with Gauss' law when space is uniformly charged everywhere

Consider that space is uniformly charged everywhere, i.e., filled with a uniform charge distribution, $\rho$, everywhere. By symmetry, the electric field is zero everywhere. (If I take any point in ...
11
votes
6answers
3k views

Electric field lines density

When we're dealing with problems in electrostatics (especially when we use Gauss' law) we often refer to electric field lines density which is inversely proportional to radius in case of a single ...
11
votes
2answers
2k views

Tension in a curved charged wire (electrostatic force) - does wire thickness matter?

Consider a conducting wire bent in a circle (alternatively, a perfectly smooth metal ring) with a positive (or negative) electric charge on it. Technically, this shape constitutes a torus. Assume ...
11
votes
2answers
746 views

Charge on Sphere due to Contact with Capacitor

Question: Consider a parallel plate capacitor which is connected to potential difference $V$. Let there be a small spherical conductor, assume that its radius is much smaller than the distance ...
11
votes
3answers
224 views

Induced charge in a mobius strip

I know that when a positive charge is placed at the center of a circular ring, the "inside" of the ring will have a negative induced charge and the "outside" will have a positive induced charge. ...
11
votes
4answers
1k views

Capacitance of two almost-touching hemispheres

This capacitor is composed of two half spherical shelled conductors both with radius $r$. There is a very small space between the two parts seeing to that no charge will exchange between them. So ...
10
votes
2answers
766 views

Why does electric force depend on the medium?

Comparing the equations for the gravitational and electric force $$\vec{F}_g=-\frac{Gm_1m_2}{r^2}$$ and $$\vec{F}_e=\frac{Kq_1q_2}{r^2}$$ I noticed the only major difference between them is that ...
10
votes
1answer
599 views

Confused medical student needs explanation of the electrocardiogram

From what I understand, as the heart depolarizes it turns into a lot of electric dipoles , the resultant of which can (somehow) be measured in the extremities. But how does this actually happen? How ...
9
votes
9answers
12k views

Why can't electrostatic field lines form closed loops?

My physics textbook says "Electrostatic field lines do not form closed loops. This is a consequence of the conservative nature of electric field." But I can't quite understand this. Can anyone ...
9
votes
4answers
2k views

Is there a limitation on Gauss' law? [duplicate]

Recently I had a question to find the electric field at a distance $R$ from the origin, where the space is filled with charge of density $\rho$. I did this by assuming a Gaussian surface of radius ...
9
votes
7answers
22k views

Why can two (or more) electric field lines never cross?

The the title is self explanatory, I guess. Why can two (or more) electric field lines never cross?
9
votes
5answers
3k views

Why isn't there a centre of charge?

When determining the gravitational attraction between 2 solid bodies, we can simplify computations by taking their masses to be concentrated at their respective centres of mass. However, had they been ...
9
votes
1answer
709 views

Solve my confusion about electrons?

When a glass rod is rubbed with a silk cloth, both get charged: The silk gets positively charged and the rod gets negatively charged. My question is the following: How/why do these objects return to ...
9
votes
3answers
35k views

In electrostatics, why the electric field inside a conductor is zero?

In electromagnetism books, such as Griffiths or the like, when they talk about the properties of conductors in case of electrostatics they say that the electric field inside a conductor is zero. I ...
9
votes
6answers
2k views

Can a conductor run out of electrons to cancel external electric fields?

We have studied so far that electric field inside a conductor if no charge is placed inside is zero. But we know that every conductor has only a limited number of electrons. What happens when ALL the ...
9
votes
2answers
857 views

Hexadecapole potential using point particles?

We can get monopole $1/r$, dipole $1/r^2$, quadrupole $1/r^3$ and octupole $1/r^4$ potential falloff by placing opposite point charges at the corners of a point, line, square and cube, respectively. ...
9
votes
3answers
7k views

“Find the net force the southern hemisphere of a uniformly charged sphere exerts on the northern hemisphere”

This is Griffiths, Introduction to Electrodynamics, 2.43, if you have the book. The problem states Find the net force that the southern hemisphere of a uniformly charged sphere exerts on the ...
9
votes
1answer
349 views

Understanding Calculus Notation in Physics

I have just started a first-year calculus-based physics course about electromagnetism and waves. I am having trouble understanding what calculus notation means in the context of physics. Here is a ...
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 ...