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Questions tagged [electric-fields]

For questions that utilize the concept of electric fields (commonly denoted by the letter E), or for questions whose answers likely involve electric fields. More specific than the [tag:electricity], as questions about the phenomenon & theory of electricity do not necessarily involve the discussion of fields.

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41
votes
8answers
16k views

How is it possible to accelerate a neutron?

It is possible to accelerate a charged particle in an electric field, how is it possible to accelerate a neutron? How can we control its velocity?
39
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6answers
96k views

Can someone please explain magnetic vs electric fields?

I've looked through about 20 different explanations, from the most basic to the most complex, and yet I still don't understand this basic concept. Perhaps someone can help me. I don't understand the ...
37
votes
1answer
2k views

Can lightning be used to solve NP-complete problems?

I'm a MS/BS computer science guy who is wondering about why lightning can't (or can?) be used to solve NP complete problems efficiently, but I don't understand the physics behind lightning, so I'm ...
34
votes
5answers
53k 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 ...
32
votes
3answers
96k 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 ...
28
votes
6answers
9k views

Why does the density of electric field lines make sense, if there is a field line through every point?

When we're dealing with problems in electrostatics (especially when we use Gauss' law) we often refer to the density of electric field lines, which is inversely proportional to the radius in the case ...
27
votes
8answers
6k views

How can neutral atoms have exactly zero electric field when there is a difference in the positions of the charges? [duplicate]

It is said that atoms with the same number of electrons as protons are electrically neutral, so they have no net charge or net electric field. A particle with charge cannot exist at the same position ...
27
votes
3answers
3k views

Detection of the Electric Charge of a Black Hole

By the "No Hair Theorem", three quantities "define" a black hole; Mass, Angular Momentum, and Charge. The first is easy enough to determine, look at the radius of the event horizon and you can use the ...
26
votes
5answers
45k views

Difference between electric field $\mathbf E$ and electric displacement field $\mathbf D$

$$\mathbf D = \varepsilon \mathbf E$$ I don't understand the difference between $\mathbf D$ and $\mathbf E$. When I have a plate capacitor, a different medium inside will change $\mathbf D$, right? $\...
26
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3answers
4k views

Why is there no gravitational magnetic field? (Or, is there?)

We can think that the electric field and the gravitational field operate similarly in the sense that the forms of their governing laws (namely, Coulomb's law and Newton's law respectively) are ...
22
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5answers
51k views

What are the fields produced around a current carrying conductor?

If you consider a current carrying conductor, every instant an electron enters the conductor, another electron will be leaving the conductor. Thus, the current carrying conductor will not be charged (...
21
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7answers
3k 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 ...
20
votes
1answer
12k views

What force particle mediates electric fields and magnetic fields?

The force carrier for magnetic fields and electric fields are supposedly photons. I don't get it: 1) Wouldn't that mean that a charged particle (e.g. an electron or even a polarized H2O molecule) ...
18
votes
3answers
41k views

What happens when we connect a metal wire between the 2 poles of a battery?

As I remembered, at the 2 poles of a battery, positive or negative electric charges are gathered. So there'll be electric field existing inside the battery. This filed is neutralized by the chemical ...
18
votes
3answers
16k 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 ...
17
votes
6answers
7k views

Can a magnetic field exist without an electric field present?

I know an electric field can exist without a magnetic field as in the case where you have a stationary point charge. But, magnetic fields are created by moving charges so wouldn't you always need an ...
17
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4answers
4k views

Are the plates of a battery really charged?

In a zinc/copper Daniell cell correct me if I am wrong : Zinc has 2 valence electrons. So it wants to get rid of them. To do so it sends them to the copper which needs 2 to complete its valence ...
17
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5answers
3k views

How can electric field be defined as force per charge, if the charge makes its own, singular electric field?

The electric field $\bf{E}$ represents how much force would act on a particle at a certain position per unit charge. However, if we actually place a particle in that position, the electric field will ...
16
votes
2answers
47k views

What is the difference between an electric and a magnetic field? [closed]

This question is a consequence of another question of mine which is about spin. Here is my spin question. What is the difference between these two fields? How do they occur? Am I right if I say that ...
16
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3answers
107k views

What is the electric field in a parallel plate capacitor?

When we find the electric field between the plates of a parallel plate capacitor we assume that the electric field from both plates is $${\bf E}=\frac{\sigma}{2\epsilon_0}\hat{n.}$$ The factor of two ...
15
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6answers
3k views

Is force due to electric field instantaneous? If not then why?

Suppose a charge $q$ is experiencing a force due to charge $Q$. Suppose we move the charge $Q$ very slowly (no acceleration) what's the instantaneous impact on the charge $q$? How will the $q$ react?
15
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5answers
61k 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?
15
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1answer
3k views

How can electric fields be used to detect cracks in metals? [closed]

My physics teacher brought this up in a lecture and I am not exactly sure what he is saying.
15
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9answers
27k views

Can the magnetic lines of force of two or more magnets intersect each other?

Basic property of magnetic lines of force is that, they can never intersect each other. Among the two points given below, which one is correct? Magnetic lines of force of same magnet can't intersect ...
15
votes
9answers
48k 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 ...
15
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9answers
33k views

Does a current carrying wire produce electric field outside?

In the modern electromagnetism textbooks, electric fields in the presence of stationary currents are assumed to be conservative,$$ \nabla \times E~=~0 ~.$$ Using this we get$$ E_{||}^{\text{out}}~=~E_{...
15
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3answers
57k views

Field between the plates of a parallel plate capacitor using Gauss's Law

Consider the following parallel plate capacitor made of two plates with equal area $A$ and equal surface charge density $\sigma$: The electric field due to the positive plate is $$\frac{\sigma}{\...
14
votes
3answers
8k views

How is the curl of the electric field possible?

Taking the curl of the electric field must be possible, because Faraday's law involves it: $$\nabla \times \mathbf{E} = - \partial \mathbf{B} / \partial t$$ But I've just looked on Wikipedia, where it ...
14
votes
2answers
6k 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 ...
14
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11answers
77k views

Why does the voltage increase when capacitor plates are separated?

In lab, my TA charged a large circular parallel plate capacitor to some voltage. She then disconnected the power supply and used a electrometer to read the voltage (about 10V). She then pulled the ...
13
votes
7answers
7k views

Why is electricity not transmitted wirelessly?

Why is electricity not transmitted wirelessly such that we don't need to span cables on the earth's surface? As in: electricity is transmitted wirelessly from the power plant to the household.
13
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2answers
16k views

What does the complex electric field show?

We have a complex electric field. Is there any definition for absolute and imaginary part of a complex electric field? What do they stand for?
12
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3answers
3k views

If we remove all electrons from a conductor, how can the positive charge rearrange itself?

Explanations of conductors in electrostatics that I have encountered seem to describe positive charge spreading out, because you could say that lack of electrons can be thought of as abundance of ...
12
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5answers
27k views

Why is the conductor an equipotential surface in electrostatics?

Since the electric field inside a conductor is zero that means the potential is constant inside a conductor, which means the "inside" of a conductor is an equal potential region. Why do books also ...
12
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2answers
4k views

What is the nature of electric field? is it quantized? is it a wave?

What I seek here is to understand whether the electric field in its pure form as in between the electron and the proton is uniform or does it have some kind of wave/particle nature or both, does it ...
12
votes
3answers
14k views

Physical meaning of the energy density of an electrostatic field

I understand the physical meaning of electrostatic energy of a system of charges (or a distribution with given density) as the energy stored in the system while working to carry the charges from ...
12
votes
2answers
3k views

How is energy stored in magnetic and electric fields?

We say that there is energy associated with electric and magnetic fields. For example, in the case of an inductor, we give a vague answer saying that an energy of $\frac{1}{2} LI^2$ is stored in the ...
12
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3answers
2k views

Would a spinning, evenly charged sphere generate a magnetic field?

I could see how it would go either way. On the one hand, there IS moving charge; on the other hand, it is not discernibly moving.
12
votes
1answer
908 views

Meaning of the Poynting vector

In a book I am studying, the Poynting vector is defined as: $$ \mathcal{P} = \mathbb{E} \times\mathbb{H} $$ and it is described the Poynting's theorem, that states that the flux through a surface ...
11
votes
6answers
50k views

Why is the electric field perpendicular to every point on the surface of a conductor?

I am reading Berkeley Physics Course, Volume 2 (Electricity and Magnetism by Edward M. Purcell). I am in chapter $3$, page $92$, and the book discusses conductors. The following is from the book: ...
11
votes
3answers
1k 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
5answers
11k views

Why is there an electric field in a wire even though it is a conductor?

If you take a perfect conductor, there cannot be a field across it since if there were, the particles would arrange themselves in a way to cancel out the field right? Yet, why does the same not hold ...
11
votes
4answers
3k views

Influence of charged particle's own electric field on itself

I read this in my textbook: A charged particle or object is not affected by its own electric field. Since I find this completely unintuitive and my mind is yelling "wrong! wrong! how could a particle ...
10
votes
5answers
2k views

How can I prove that a state of equilibrium is unstable?

In the particular problem I encountered, an electric field was zero at the origin and we were meant to prove that a particle at the origin was in an unstable state of equilibrium. Is it enough to ...
10
votes
3answers
1k views

Current in a simple circuit

I was going over my notes for an introductory course to electricity and magnetism and was intrigued by something I don't have an answer to. I remember my professor mentioning, to the best I can ...
10
votes
3answers
432 views

Parametric equation for the electric field of a uniformly charged surface with a triadic Koch curve fractal perimeter

I'm currently studying fractals as well as electrodynamics. So, I thought why not create a problem using concepts from both subjects. I want to study the electric field, at the centroid of the ...
9
votes
5answers
2k 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 ...
9
votes
5answers
2k views

How can the electric potential be zero at a point where the electric field isn't, if that field can give a test charge kinetic energy?

Say we have 2 charges set up like above. Why is $V_3=0$ ? I can understand mathematically that the scalars fields cancel out, but I don't understand it physically. If I place a positive charge in ...
9
votes
5answers
4k views

Are the field lines the same as the trajectories of a particle with initial velocity zero

Is it true that the field lines of an electric field are identical to the trajectories of a charged particle with initial velocity zero? If so, how can one prove it? The claim is from a german ...
9
votes
5answers
658 views

Can one deduce absolute motion through magnetism? [closed]

I am trying to understand forces in relativity: Suppose there are two electrons A , B travelling side by side at 1 cm distance at .99 c (in space or at lHC, ignoring all other factors). I know that ...