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Physics 15b Assignment #1

Read Chapter 1 and appendix E of Purcell before lecture on next Tuesday, February 8. Next
week, when we know who is taking the course, there will be a graded Q&A assignment like the
one below on the web page to encourage you to finish the reading in time. But this time, you
should just do the reading and the Q&A because it is so much fun.

Q&A questions to be answered on the Physics 15b website before 9pm on Monday, Febru-
ary 7:

1QA-1. Which of the following statments is always true?


A: The energy required to assemble a system of charges is
1 Z
dv E 2 (1QA-1.1)
8π space
all

where E is the magnitude of the electric field.


B: The Flux of the electric field through an orientable closed surface is 4π times the charge
inside.
C: The electric field inside a spherical shell of charge is zero.
D: None of the above.

1QA-2. Consider two infinite parallel flat sheets of charge each with thickness d, a distance `
apart, each with uniform volume charge density ρ. What is the force per unit area exerted by one
sheet on the other?
A: 4πρ2 d4 /`2
B: 2πρ2 d2
C: 4πρ2 d2
D: None of the above.
In addition, there are some survey questions and feedback questions.

Problems due at the beginning of class on Thursday, February 10 — Note that in some of
the problems, finding an answer is easy. But remember that you should also follow the rules of
coherence laid out in the 15b Information file when they are relevant.

1-1. Eight charges sit at the corners of a cube with coordinates

(±a, ±a, ±a) (1-1.1)

Seven of them are identical with charge Q. The one at (a, a, a) has charge 2Q. Find the electric
field at the origin. Try to find an easy way.

1-2. Six equal charges sit at the corners of a regular octahedron, at

(±a, 0, 0) , (0, ±a, 0) , (0, 0, ±a) . (1-2.1)

1
Find all ~r with that property that
F~ (~r ) ≡ ~r × E(~
~ r) = 0 (1-2.2)

1-3. Do Problem 1.33 in Purcell.

Imagine a sphere of radius a filled with negative charge of uniform density, the total
charge being equivalent to that of two electrons. Imbed in this jelly of negative charge
two protons and assume that in spite of their presence the negative charge distribution
remains uniform. Where must the protons be located so that the force on each of them
is zero? (This is a surprisingly realistic caricature of a hydrogen molecule; the magic
that keeps the electron cloud in the molecule from collapsing around the protons is
explained by quantum mechanics!)

1-4. Consider a sphere of radius 2d centered at the origin and a point charge Q at the point
(d, 0, 0), as shown below
...........................................................
.................. ........
.. ......
.. . ...... ......
. .. .....
. . ... ....
.... ....
.. . ...
...
.. . ...
.. ...
...
... ...
.. ...
.............................................................. 2d ...................................................................................... d ..........................• ..
...
...
Q ..
... ..
... . ..
... ..
... .
... .
... ..
.... ....
.... ..
.....
...... ........
....... .....
........ . . . . . .......
............... ..
...................................................

1-4-a. Find the flux of the electric field due to the charge Q through the sphere
Z
~
dS n̂ · E (1-4.1)
sphere

Hint: This should be easy — it is just Gauss’s Law.

1-4-b. Find the surface integral of the electric field due to the charge Q over the sphere
Z
~
dS E (1-4.2)
sphere

Hint: This is also easy if you find the right physical argument. You should not have to do an
integral. But if you do find the tricky way to do it, you should explain your argument carefully.

2
1-5. A point charge Q sits at the origin (0, 0, 0). Consider the surface integral of the electric
field due to the charge over the x = a plane for a > 0:
Z Z ∞ Z ∞
~ =
G ~ r) =
dS E(~ dy ~ y, z)
dz E(a, (1-5.1)
x=a −∞ −∞

1-5-a. ~ ∝ x̂ using a symmetry argument.


Show that G

1-5-b. Show that F (R), the flux of the electric field through a cylindrical surface bounded by
the two planes x = a and x = −a and the infinite cylinder y 2 + z 2 = R2 , satisfies

lim F (R) = 2 Gx (1-5.2)


R→∞

This should allow you to find Gx without explicitly doing an integral.

1-5-c. Now that you already know the answer, do the integral in (1-5.1) explicitly for Gx using
polar coordinates in which
y = r cos θ z = r sin θ (1-5.3)