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When there is a charged spherical shell for example, I can calculate its charge using: $$(\vec{E_{out}}-\vec{E_{in}})\cdot \hat{r} = \frac{\sigma}{\epsilon_0}$$ We generally ignore external electric field if it present because it cancels out, but what about if the spherical shell is inside a conductor? then $\vec{E_{out}}=0$ and we get something completely different - now the external field doesn't cancel. What have I done wrong?

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Placing a charged spherical shell centered inside of an uncharged spherical conducting shell does not change the field at the surface of the charge. There will be an induced charge on each surface of the outer sphere. If your charged sphere is in contact with the inner surface of the outer sphere, then its charge will appear to move to the outermost surface.

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