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17

Gauss's law is always fine. It is one of the tenets of electromagnetism, as one of Maxwell's equations, and as far as we can tell they always agree with experiment. The problem you've uncovered is simply that "a uniform charge density of infinite extent" is not actually physically possible, and it turns out that (i) it is not possible to express it as the ...


15

You smell ozone ($\mathrm{O_3}$, from the Greek word ozein for "smell"), and maybe nitrous oxide - the reaction product of oxygen and $\mathrm{N_2}$. There is a nice description of the formation and action of ozone at this link. Briefly: Oxygen molecules ($\mathrm{O_2}$) can be dissociated (broken into atoms or ions) by either UV light, or electrical ...


11

You want a gas so you don't need to expend energy vaporising the propellant. You also want the gas to be as dense as possible so you can get as much impulse per unit volume of propellant as possible. It's also nice if the gas is inert and non-corrosive so you don't need to worry about it degrading or corroding whatever you're storing it in. Finally it's nice ...


11

The statement "electric field inside a conductor is zero" is true only after charges have distributed themselves in the most optimal way on the surface - it is an electrostatic result. Starting with an arbitrary charge distribution, there will be forces that cause a redistribution of the charge until, for a sphere, they are distributed uniformly. At that ...


11

You are correct when you concluded that two classical point electrons could never touch each other. It would take infinite energy.


10

Coulomb's law becomes invalid at distances of the order of the electron Compton wavelength and smaller, due to vacuum polarization. To first order in the fine structure constant, the electric potential due to a charge q at the origin is given by: $$V(r) = \frac{q u(r)}{r}$$ where $$u(r) = 1 +\frac{2\alpha}{3\pi}\int_1^{\infty}du ...


10

This become a lot clearer if you consider the integral forms of Maxwell's equations. We start with Gauss' Law \begin{equation} \nabla\cdot\vec{E} = \frac{\rho}{\epsilon_0} \end{equation} If we integrate this over some volume $V$ and apply Gauss' Divergence Theorem we find that the left hand side gives \begin{align} ...


8

You have to realize that the system is invariant under rotations about the normal to the plane. Then then electric field must also be invariant under these rotations. An electric field component in the plane does change under such a rotation, so such a component must not exist if we have this invariance. Thus the electric field is purely along the normal to ...


8

The answer by @NowIGetToLearnWhatAHeadIs is correct. It's worth learning the language used therein to help with your future studies. But as a primer, here's a simplified explanation. Start with your charge distribution and a "guess" for the direction of the electric field. As you can see, I made the guess have a component upward. We'll see shortly why ...


8

There is another 'infinity' (among others) lurking in classical electrodynamics which is evident when one calculates the electrostatic energy $W$ of a uniform spherical charge distribution of radius $a$ and total charge $Q$ $$W = \frac{3}{5}\frac{Q^2}{4\pi \epsilon_0 a}$$ Thus, by this result, a point (zero radius) particle of charge Q has 'infinite' ...


8

Ideally, test charge should not affect the charge distribution of the source. An infinitesimal charge will ensure, for example, that the electric field it produces does not redistribute charges on any conductors in your system. A large test charge would polarize nearby objects, thus affecting the field you're trying to measure in the first place.


8

If you have an excess of electron in your body, your hair might stand on end and you might feel a bit negative (I couldn't help that pun), and you should probably avoid touching people or metal object if you don't want a static shock, but other than that, it's mostly harmless. The real danger comes from flowing electrons. Because the body basically runs on ...


7

You have ignored the mobile charges in the conductor. In your plot the field lines are not perpendicular to the surface, particularly near the charges. That will cause the conduction electrons to move. The positive charges will attract electrons until the field inside the conductor is zero. This means that the whole conductor, including the inner ...


7

The physical meaning of the capacitance is precisely given by $\mathrm{d}Q=C\cdot \mathrm{d}V$: $C$ tells you how much charge there will be in the capacitor per voltage applied. For all capacitors, the linearity holds fairly well. Generally speaking, capacitance is given by a Q-V curve, which may consist of a linear region, a saturation region and a ...


7

It doesn't hold for arbitrary shapes. The reason it works for spheres is that when you have a spherical charge distribution and a concentric spherical Gaussian surface, the whole system is invariant under rotations around the center of the spheres. If the electric field were different at different points on the Gaussian sphere, you could rotate the whole ...


6

I) Right, the differential form of Gauss's law $$\tag{1} {\bf\nabla} \cdot{\bf E}~=~ \frac{\rho}{\varepsilon_0} $$ uses the relatively advanced mathematical concept of Dirac delta distributions in case of point charges $$\tag{2} \rho({\bf r})~=~\sum_{i=1}^n q_i\delta^3({\bf r}-{\bf r}_i).$$ Note in particular, that it is technically wrong to claim (as ...


6

The vanishing of closed line integrals means that the field is conservative. Since $\oint \vec E \cdot \mathrm{d}\vec l$ is equivalent to $\vec \nabla \times \vec E = 0$, the "physical interpretation" is the the electric field is irrotational, i.e. it has no "vortices". The, more valuable, mathematical implication is that there is a scalar potential whose ...


6

Typically this is explained by the saying, "current kills." It's not the charge (or potential above ground) that a body attains that hurts biological systems, it's the current that flows through them and either 1) heats them or 2) disrupts important electrical signals in the body. Heating damage occurs and can "cook" (cause 1st, 2nd, or 3rd degree burns ...


6

The reason is the same as why the electric field inside a conductor is zero: if it isn't zero, the free electrons undergo a force and move (rearrange) untill they dont feel a force anymore. If the electrons don't feel a force, the electric field must be zero. At the surface of a conductor, the free electrons feel a force perpendicular to the surface, but ...


6

Electrostatic refers to the case where the fields are not time dependent. In that case the Maxwell's equations reduce to: $$\nabla \cdot E =\frac{\rho}{\epsilon_o} \\ \nabla \times E = 0 \implies E=-\nabla \phi \\ \text{then,} \nabla \cdot \nabla \phi = \nabla^2 \phi = -\frac{\rho}{\epsilon_o} $$ The solution to the last equation is: $$ \phi = ...


5

Now, the constants C1,C2,C3 appearing when we separate variables on Laplace's equation for electrostatic potential has some physical meaning? If they do, what is it? The constants are the related to the square of the spatial (angular) frequency or a spatial growth/decay constant. For an example of spatial frequency, let $$X(x) = A \sin (k_xx) + B ...


5

...why isn't the work done against the net force due to the system considered instead of simply adding up the work done against separate forces caused by individual charges? They're both equivalent, due to the principle of superposition. Basically, the net force is what you get when you add up the separate forces from the individual charges acting on ...


5

So in the first case, when talk about a plain circular ring, I assume you mean an annular ring, with a well defined inner radius and a different well defined out radius. With a positive charge at the center of the annular ring, positive charges will be repelled outward and negative charges attracted inward. Incidentally, not all the positive charge will go ...


5

I want to complete the other answer by addressing the difference of a charge distribution made statistically up by a huge number of electrons , and what an electron means: At the level of elementary particles, one of which is the electron, there are no charge distributions, as elementary particles are point particles, and charge is a quantized quantity ...


5

Noble gases have the advantage of being chemically inert, so that they are less likely to react with atoms in the electrostatic grids. Since ion thruster to date have been deployed only on unmanned transports, regular maintainance is not an option. Because of that, Noble gases are favoured over, say, hydrogen One reason to pick Xenon over Argon though, ...


5

Can anyone provide me with a physical interpretation For an electric field satisfying the equation, the work associated with (slowly) moving a test charge around a closed path is zero. To see this, recall that the electric force on a charge is $$\vec F = q\vec E $$ The work associated with moving a particle along a closed path is $$W = \oint \vec ...


5

There's no minimum distance. Yet, as the two particles get closer to each other, they will either scatter off each other (in the quantum mechanical sense of interacting via Feynman diagrams) or form a bound system - if we're talking electron-positron (which is as close to point charges as it gets), they might become positronium, but that won't last long, ...


5

The electric potential $\phi:\mathbb{R}^3\to\mathbb{R}$ is the solution to Laplace's equation and therefore a harmonic function. Harmonic functions enjoy several nice properties, some of them listed on the Wikipedia page. Concerning OP's second point, let us mention that there is a theorem similar to Liouville's theorem from complex analysis that a bounded ...


5

In physics and engineering, we often abstract and idealize a physical problem to gain insight into the physics, e.g., infinite plane of charge, infinite line of charge, point charge, etc. Now, it goes without saying that if these idealizations didn't represent good approximations of relevant physical systems, they wouldn't be used. With regards to your ...


5

for an infinite sheet of constant charge, the text says that the electric field is constant on any one side of the sheet. But that seems intuitively wrong to me, since I would think the field should be stronger the closer a point is to the sheet. There's a geometric scaling argument at hand, and you probably need to appreciate Gauss' Law to get a real ...



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