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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.

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10/17/2015

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Let’s take another look at Ampere’s law. Say we have a current ﬂowing towards the right, through
a capacitor (with circular plates of radius R, apparently). We know that the electric ﬁeld inside the
capacitor is

E = σfree
κ 0

= Qfree
πR2

κ 0

The current is, per deﬁnition

I = dQfree
dt

We therefore have a changing electric ﬁeld between the plates, while they are being charged, given by
the time derivative of the electric ﬁeld above. Since Qfree is the only thing changing with time, the time
derivative is simply given by substituting the current for Qfree:

dE

dt = I
πR
2

κ 0

If we now want to calculate the magnetic ﬁeld at a distance r away from the wire, at point P1, what can
we do? We can try Ampere’s law, but keep in mind that there is an interruption in the current due to
the capacitor plates (no current ﬂows in the air/dielectric between them), and Ampere’s law is only truly
valid for inﬁnite wires (and other special cases). Let’s try anyway, just to see what happens.
Ampere’s law, as we know it so far, states that

B·

d = µ0Ipen

We choose an Amperean circle of radius r such that point P1 is part of the circle. We then attach an
open surface to the circle, such that the current penetrates that surface (we choose the circle’s area, so to
speak, as that is the simplest possible choice).
The closed line integral around a circle is simply 2πr. As for Ipen, that is the current that penetrates the
surface, which in this case is all of it. So we ﬁnd that

61

2πrB = µ0Ipen

B = µ0Ipen
2πr

Fair enough. What about at point P2, above the empty space in the capacitor?

Well, we use the same formula, choose an Amperean circle with radius r as before, attach the same open
surface to it... but the current penetrating the surface is now zero, so the result we get is that the magnetic
ﬁeld is zero at point P2!

The choice of the open surface is up to us, so we change our choice of surface to a “bag” that encloses one
capacitor plate:

We re-apply Ampere’s law, to ﬁnd the magnetic ﬁeld at P1 - which we found to be B = µ0Ipen

2πr previously.
However, as we reach the point where we ﬁnd the current that penetrates the surface, we now see that it
is zero! No current penetrates our surface, it just goes inside it - never through.

We had the free choice of the surface, but diﬀerent choices gave us diﬀerent results!
The reason behind this is that the version of Ampere’s law we’ve learned so far is incomplete. We will
now add a second term that corrects this problem.

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