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My notes for edX 8.02x "Electricity and Magnetism"

# My notes for edX 8.02x "Electricity and Magnetism"

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My notes, mostly from the lectures. Not 100% is covered, and they are absolutely not a substitute for the lectures themselves.
Also contains (my own) homework and exam solutions.
My notes, mostly from the lectures. Not 100% is covered, and they are absolutely not a substitute for the lectures themselves.
Also contains (my own) homework and exam solutions.

Categories:Types, School Work

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10/17/2015

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## Sections

“Point charges Q1, Q2, and Q3 reside on three corners of a square with sides of 1 m; the distance from Q2
to P3 is 2m (see diagram).”

(a) What is the electric potential, V, at P1? (Normalize the potential to be zero at ∞ and give your
answers in Volts). (Note: P1 is located at the “unoccupied” corner of the square.)

Well, we begin by calculating the electric potetial V for each of the charges alone, using V = Q

4π 0r:

154

VQ1 = −11·10−6
4π 0r

VQ2 = −3·10−6
4π 0r

VQ3 = −7·10−6
4π 0r

The question then asks for the potentials at P1, P2 and P3. All we have to do is to add the three potentials
above, while substituting the distance to that point from each charge for r. That is a mess to write, but
easy to do, so I’ll leave that to the reader. It’s either as simple as 1 m or 3 m, or you’ll have to use the
Pythagorean theorem.

(b) Are there points or surfaces in space (other than inﬁnity) where V is zero?

Yes. We have both positive and negative charges, which means we will have both positive and negative
potentials at diﬀerent locations in space. Potentials don’t charge abruptly, so in an area where the po-
tential transitions from positive to negative or vice versa, there will be a point where it exactly equals zero.

(c) What is the electrostatic potential energy of the system? Express your answer in Joules.

To solve this, we add up the electrostatic potential energies of each pair of charges:

Utotal = U12 + U13 + U23

Since U = qV, this is the potential at each point times the charge at that point, e.g.

U12 = VQ2

U13 = VQ3

U23 = VQ3

For r, part of the potentials, we use the distance between the two charges in question.
The answer to the question is then Utotal.

(d) Suppose we release the three charges so that they can move freely in empty space. How much energy
is released in the form of kinetic energy?

This is the only question of the homework so far that I didn’t solve on my own, even with the book and
Google. The correct answer is “The question is not well deﬁned”, if I’ve understood it correctly because
the answer depends on the order you release the charges in, and (I think?) the times you do so.
I still don’t see how there can be anything but one correct answer, if you release them all exactly simul-
taneously, though, even if we haven’t learned how to calculate it.

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