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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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 ...
41
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5answers
3k 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 ...
26
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4answers
12k 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 ...
20
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3answers
31k 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 ...
20
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3answers
3k 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 ...
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6answers
733 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 $\vec r_i$ ...
16
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4answers
2k 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 ...
15
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3answers
922 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.
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2answers
940 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 ...
13
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2answers
3k 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?
12
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4answers
2k 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 ...
12
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2answers
2k 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 ...
12
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5answers
418 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
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2answers
5k 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 ...
11
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3answers
3k 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 $ ...
11
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6answers
802 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 ...
11
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2answers
1k 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 ...
11
votes
1answer
982 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
651 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
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4answers
2k 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 ...
10
votes
4answers
582 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 ...
10
votes
2answers
598 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 ...
9
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7answers
1k 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 ...
9
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3answers
6k 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 ...
9
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5answers
22k 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 ...
9
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3answers
496 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 ...
9
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1answer
684 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
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2answers
425 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
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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 ...
8
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5answers
2k 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 ...
8
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3answers
830 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
1answer
233 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
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4answers
205 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
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2answers
549 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
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5answers
4k 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?
7
votes
6answers
754 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
365 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
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6answers
2k views

Why cant 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 cant quite understand. Can anyone elaborate? ...
7
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2answers
1k 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?
7
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5answers
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How can I prevent my son building up static on his trampoline?

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
914 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 ...
7
votes
5answers
827 views

electric field inside a conductor?

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 ...
7
votes
1answer
301 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
740 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
1answer
123 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
7answers
961 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
2k 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
184 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 $$ ...
6
votes
3answers
1k 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
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4answers
2k 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 ...