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Physics 30


Lesson 27 Coulomb’s Law

Historical development of Coulomb’s Law

In 1775, Ben Franklin noted that a small neutral cork hanging near the surface of an
electrically charged metal can was strongly attracted to the outside surface of the metal

When the same cork was lowered inside the can, the cork was not attracted to the
surface of the can. Franklin was surprised to discover no attraction within the can but
strong attraction outside the can.

Joseph Priestly was a house guest of Ben Franklin in 1775. Priestly had been studying
science at Cambridge, but he fled from England because of religious persecution.
Franklin asked Priestly to repeat his experiment. Priestly obtained the same results as
Franklin, but the experiment triggered memories of Newton’s discussion of gravity
within a hollow planet. Newton had examined the possibility of gravity inside a hollow
planet in his book Principia Mathematica “Principles of Mathematics”. Newton came to
the conclusion that any point inside the hollow planet would be subject to forces from
the surface but the forces would all cancel out leaving the appearance of no
gravitational field.
Priestly reasoned that the appearance of no net electrical forces inside the metal can
might be very similar to gravity within the hollow planet. Priestly suggested that this
experiment showed that electrical forces were very similar to gravitational forces.

27 - 1

1806) was very intrigued by Priestly’s intuitive connection between electrostatic forces and gravitational forces. Fe  q1 q2 r2 After repeated measurements where the charges and distances were known. He immediately began to test the relationship using a torsion balance. He measured the force of electrostatic repulsion using the torsion balance as diagrammed to the right. Thus. Fe  q1 q2 q1 charge on (a) q2 charge on (b) Coulomb then tested to see the effect of increasing the distance between (a) and (b) and found that the force decreased by the square of the distance between the two objects. Coulomb had a way to measure the force of repulsion. Coulomb then began to test the effect of increasing the charge on both (a) and (b) and he found that the repulsive force increased.2 . The force necessary to twist the wire attached to the rod holding (a) could be determined by first finding the relationship between the angle of torsion and the repulsive force. he was able to replace the proportionality sign  with (k) which is known as Coulomb’s constant and has a value of : 27 . Fe  1 r2 r distance between charges (center to center) When Coulomb combined the two relationships together he found that the electrostatic force varied directly as the product of the two charges and inversely as the square of the distance between the two charged objects.Charles Coulomb (1738 . Eventually he found that the electrostatic force was directly proportional to the product of the charge on each object. If (b) and (a) have the same charge then they will repel each other causing the rod to which (a) is attached to twist away from (b).

3 .99 x 109 N m2 C2 27 .k = 8.

050 m)2 Note:  The minus sign for a final answer indicates an attractive force. what is the acceleration experienced by the 5.0 x 10 6 N and the distance between them is 0.99 x10 9 Nm2 / C 2 = 1.0 x 10-4 C) = + 12586 N r2 (0.0 x 10-4 C acts upon a 5.50 m)2 a = Fnet = 12586 N = 2.58 x 10-4 C q1 = +1.50 m away from one another.4 .  A positive answer would indicate a repulsive force.0 x10 6 N(0. If the charges are 0.The final result is known as Coulomb’s Law of electrostatic attraction.0 x 10-4 C)(7.52 x 106 m/s2 away from the first charge m 0.0 x 10-6 C)(6. II Electrostatics problems Example 1 What is the electrostatic force of attraction between a 8.0 x 10-5 C separated by 0. Example 2 A fixed charge of 5.0 x 10 -4 C.0050 kg Example 3 If the attractive force between two equally charged particles is 9.  The size of electrostatic forces is very large when compared to gravitational forces.99 x 109 N m2/C2 (8.0 x 10 -6 C charge and a 6. Fe  k q1 q2 r2 The relationship is very similar to Newton’s Universal Gravitation Law and the connection predicted by Priestly’s intuitive leap was confirmed.58 x 10-4 C q2 = -1.050 m? Fe = k q1q2 = 8.0 g mass which has a charge of 7.99 x 109 N m2/C2 (5.58 x 10-4 C Example 4 27 .0 x 10-5 C) = + 1726 N r2 (0.0 g mass? Fe = k q1q2 = 8.50 cm. what is the charge on each particle? q1 will be equal to q2 (q1 = q2) but opposite in sign (attraction) F e = k q 1q 2 = k q 1q 1 = k q 12 r2 r2 r2 q1  Fer 2  k 9.050 m)2 8.

0-x)2 qA x2 = (9. write the equation and then whatever is done to one side is done to the other side as well.x 1.0-x)2 x2 qA = qB (9. FE  k q1 q2 r2 q q ( x 3) 8. At what distance measured from the 160 C charge will the unknown charge come to rest? A C B (+) charge +40 C +160 C 9.0 m 27 .0-x)2 x2 qA x2 = qB(9.0-x)2 qB 40 C x2 = (9.25 x2 = (9. What is the force of repulsion between the two particles if the distance between them is doubled and one of the charges is tripled in size? In this solution.0 x = 6. a repulsive force of 8.0-x)2 160 C 0.0 N Example 5 A +40 C charge and a +160 C charge are set 9.5 .50 x = 9.50 x = 9.0-x)2 (take square root of both sides) 0.0 .0 m apart.0 N ( x 3)  k 12 2 2 2 2 r (x 2 ) FE' = 6.x x 9. An unknown positive charge is placed on a line joining the first two charges and it is allowed to move until it comes to rest between the two charges. FAC = FBC k qAqC = k qBqC (9.0 N exists.0 .0 m The charge will come to rest where the forces from A and B are equal to each other.When two charged particles are set a certain distance apart.

682)1/2 = 16.125 m tan  = 0.1o 4.60 N As we learned in physics 20.Example 6 From the diagram below determine the net electrostatic force on C.68 west (north-south) = 2.68 west 53.00 x 10-6 C) = 4.00 x 10-6 C)(4. A -2. FBC = k qBqC = 8. We calculate their magnitudes.00 x 10-6 C)(4.1 FAC(N) = 3.68 / 16.0752)1/2 AC = 0.6o W of S .99 x 109 N m2/C2 (3.42 south FNET = (16. we can add these vectors together by breaking the 4.60 N rAC2 (0.1 FAC(N) = 2.60 cos53.99 x 109 N m2/C2 (2.60 sin53.60 FAC(N) = 4.00 C 0.00 x 10-6 C) = 19.1o There are two forces acting on charge C: F BC and FAC.00 C we need to calculate the AC distance and angle 0.075  = 53.125 m)2 The free body diagram is: 4.60 N force into its north and west components.6o W of S  F NET 3.68 N 27 .8 N  FNET 16.8 N at 12.10 m   B +3.075 m)2 FAC = k qAqC = 8.42 N tan  = 3.42  = 12.422 + 3.102 + 0.  19.18 south = 16.76 north + 19.10 / 0.18 N FAC(W) = 4.00 C AC = (0.18 N rBC2 (0.6 = 16.76 north Adding all of the components together: (east-west) = 3.075 m   C +4.

Two point charged objects produce an electric force of 0.112 C. Two point charges produce a repulsive force of 0.0340 N when placed 0. What is the charge on each point charge if the magnitude of the larger charge is three times the magnitude of the smaller charge? (0.100 m apart.0620 N on each other. 0. (+270 N) 2. Calculate the electric force between two point charges of +4.00 cm apart.0138 N) 3.III Practice problems 1.00 C and +3.7 .00 C when they are 2. What is the electric force if the distance between them increases three times and one of the charges is doubled? (0.336 C) 27 .

2 x 10 4 m/s2) Lesson 8 Hand-in assignment Part A – Electrostatics revisited 1. If the leaves spread further apart. The other sphere has a charge of -3.350 m apart.00 C and is fixed in position. each with a mass of 2. Given a solid metal sphere and a hollow metal sphere.0 x 10 12 electrons? (+1.00 x 10 -5 kg are placed 0.8 .75 x 10 19 protons is touched to another identical neutral metal sphere. How could a neutral insulated metal conductor be given a negative charge using: A.6 x 10-9 C) 4. what kind of charge does the electroscope have? Explain. A positively charged rod is brought near an electroscope that is already charged. 7. 6. What is the net charge on a metal sphere having a deficit of 1. Why does rubbing a conductor not produce a static charge whereas rubbing an insulator can produce a static charge? 3. 2. A metal sphere with an excess of 7. What is the initial acceleration of the second sphere? Does the gravitational force have any effect on the acceleration of the sphere? (2. What is the final charge on each sphere? (6.00 C and is free to move.2 C) 27 .6 x 10-7 C) 5. a positively charged rod? Use diagrams to support your answer. each with the same radius. what will happen to the separation between the leaves of the electroscope? Explain.0 x 10 10 electrons? (-1. Two small spheres.4. a negatively charged rod? B. which will hold the greater charge? Justify your answer. One sphere has a charge of -2. If a negatively charged rod is brought near the knob of a positively charged electroscope. 8. What is the net charge on a metal sphere having an excess of 1.

0 cm from a charge of 80 nC will produce a repulsive force of 0. neutral mate. of radius 5.5 x 10-16 s) 27 .506 N) 5. Two small metallic spheres have the same mass and volume.3 x 10-8 C) 4.200 m. One model of the structure if the hydrogen atom consists of a stationary proton with an electron moving in a circular path around it.00 C and the other a charge of -1. What charge Q placed 4. 7. using only a piece of silk and a glass rod.00 C charge located 50.0 x 10 -3 N) 8. (-18. Compare Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation with Coulombs Law. Two small. What does this force become if each sphere is touched with it’s identical.96 kN) 3. 1. Describe 2 ways to give a neutral electroscope a positive charge. show how a neutral electroscope could be charged by a positively charged rod using induction.6 x 10 -47 N) c) Which force is mainly responsible for the electron’s centripetal motion? d) Calculate the velocity and period of the electron’s orbit around the proton.015 N? (3. how? 6. What is the final charge on the electroscope? Part B – Coulomb’s Law problems 1. (2. If the two spheres are brought into brief contact with each other and are then separated to a distance of 0. what will be the force if one of the charges is made four times larger and the distance is reduced to half of its original value? (4. and then replaced twice as far apart as before? The mates are taken far away. pointing out the similarities and differences.0 cm apart. what is the electric force between them? (0. If the force of attraction between two charges is 310 N.2 x 10-8 N) b) What is the gravitational force between them? (3. oppositely charged spheres have a force of electric attraction between them of 1.0 N) 2. One of the spheres has a charge of +4. Could the same materials be used to give it a negative charge? If so.2 x 106 m/s. Using a diagram.6 x 10-2 N. (1. Find the force of electrostatics attraction between a +100 C charge and a -5.9 . a) What is the electrostatic force between the electron and the proton? (8.3 x 10 -11 m.9.00 C.

point charges A and D are both +50 C and B and C are both -50 C. What is the net force on A? (8211 N @ 4.1 m) 11. a) What is the charge on each sphere after they are touched? (1. In the diagram below.10 C . opposite signs) 10. so that its mass would be supported by the force of electrostatic repulsion between them? (5. A has a charge of +0.5 x 10 -6 C. charged spheres attract one another with a force of 8.093 N [S]) A  10 cm  B 10 cm 10 cm 27 . What is the net force on A? (0.0 x 10-8 C.20 C. What is the force on a third small charge. same signs) b) What was the charge on each before they were touched? (4.*9. How far above it.0 x 10 -5 C and -1. when they are 30 cm apart. (8. and a) 12 cm to the outside of them.0 x 10 -5 N on each other. of magnitude -2. +4. and are again placed 30 cm apart. on the side of the positive one? (59 N toward positive charge) *12.5 o E of S) A 10 cm B 5.30 C. but they now exert a force of repulsion of 1. B has a charge of -0.0 x 10 -7 C) 14. on the side of the negative one? (21 N away from negative charge) b) 12 cm to the outside of them. One of the charges is known to be four times larger than the other charges. if it is placed on the line joining the other two.0 x 10 -8 C. are placed 24 cm apart. Two small charges.0 cm C D 13.0 x 10 -5 N. Two positive charges 4.8 x 10-5 C. vertically. From the diagram below.20 C and C has a charge of -0. isolated electron is fixed at ground level. Assume that a single.0 cm apart repel each other with a force of 0.0 x 10 -8 C and 2. They are touched together.90 N. would another electron have to be. identical. Find the magnitude of the larger charge. Two small.

0 C +4. Assuming the balls have the same magnitude of charge and the same mass (0.60 m +3.00 A small negatively charged Styrofoam ball lying on Ca table is pulled upward from the table at a constant speed by the electrostatic force between it and another Styrofoam ball held 2.0 cm above it. measured from B. Three charges are placed as shown in the diagram below.0 cm apart. Two positive charges A (+5.6 x 10 -9 C) *17. will charge C come to rest? (8 cm) 27 . At what point. what is the smallest possible charge on the ball on the table? (6.100 g).0 C charge? (0. A third charge C (+4.15.0 C) is placed in the line between A and B and it is free to move along the line.60 m  16.0 C) and B (+20 C) are 12. What is the net force on the +4.500 N @ 53o S of E) 0. -4.0 C  0.11 .