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PHY 6346, Fall 2013

Homework #1, Due Monday, August 26

1. Starting from equation (1.5) in the text, compute the electric field

E (x) at every point

in space produced by an infinite sheet of uniform surface charge density lying in the x-y
plane.
Equation (1.5) says

E (x) = 41
0

(x ) d3 x

x x .
jx xj3

Here, the charge measure (x ) d3 x becomes the two-dimensional distribution d2 a . Realized in Cartesian coordinates, the field is

1
=
40

Z
dx dy

(x
[(x

+ (y
x ) x
x )2 + (y

+zz

y ) y
y )2 + z 2 ]3/2

We are now halfway to the solution: the details of the problem are completely specified,
and proceeding from here without error will lead to the desired result. From here, we can
change the integration variables to x = x x and y = y y, and learn that there is no
dependence of the field on the x-y position in the plane and that the x- and y-components
vanish because the integrals are odd. (These two properties can be argued from symmetry
from the beginning.) This leaves

z z
=
40

z z
=
40
(x2 + y 2 + z 2 )3/2
dx dy

2 dx

zz

n .
=
=
2
2
20 (z 2 )1/2
20
x +z

The integrals can be done in either order, and are not too hard (even for Mathematica). But,
although we are given that the sheet is in the x-y plane, since we know that the position
in the plane may be taken to be the origin, we can also use polar coordinates and write

z z
=
40

d d
(2 + z 2 )3/2

2
2
z z
z z

=
=
n ,
40 (z 2 )1/2
40 jz j
20

where the angular integral is trivial and the radial integral is a simple power, Either way,
the direction is +
z above the plane but z below the plane.

2
2. Suppose that, while remaining radial with linear superposition, instead of scaling with
distance as 1/r 2 the force between charges varies as 1/r 2+ . Recompute the electric field of
Problem 1. What unsettling thing happens if < 0? What happens if <

1?

6 0, in polar coordinates the integral is again elementary,

For =

z z
=
40

d d
(2 + z 2 )(3+)/2

1
2
n
z z
=
.
40 (1 + )jz j1+
1 + 20 jz j

If < 0, the field gets stronger as you get further away from the charge, thats unsettling
enough to me, and if <

In Cartesian coordinates, knowing that we can take x = y = 0, Mathematica (with lots of

conditions) gives

z z
=
40
=

dx dy

(x + y + z
p
Z
z z (1 + /2)

2 )(3+)/2

40 [(3 + )/2]

(x2 + z 2 )(2+)/2

dx

(1/2 + /2) 1
z z
40 (3/2 + /2) jz j1+

(this involves two Beta-function integrals). Since (1 + x) = x (x), this is in the end the
same result.

3
3. What is the cyclic sum a  (b  ) + b  (  a) +  (a  b) ? Is this expression
symmetric or antisymmetric (or otherwise) in a, b, and ? What does your result say about
the associativity of cross products?
Using the expansion of double cross products (second useful formula on the front left inside
cover page)

a  (b  ) + b  (  a) +  (a  b)
= b (a  ) (a  b) + (a  b) a(b  ) + a (b  ) b (a  ) = 0.
This is sometimes called the Jacobi identity.
With all those s, you might suspect that antisymmetric would show up, and you might
be right. There are six permutations of the three objects a, b, , and a fully symmetrized
expression involves all six, with all + signs to be symmetric and with appropriate + or
signs to be antisymmetric. But, since the cross product changes sign when order is reversed,
our expression is equivalent to

a  (b  ) + b  (  a) +  (a  b)
= 12 [ a  (b  ) a  (  b) + b  (  a) b  (a  ) +  (a  b)  (b  a) ],
all the pieces to be completely antisymmetric. On the other hand, the fully symmetric
combination (all + signs) plus the fully antisymmetric combination is equal to the original expression, which vanishes: the symmetric combination is equal to the antisymmetric
combination. So, it is both.
Note that from the first result,

a  (b  ) (a  b)  = b  (a  ) 6= 0,
and so cross products are not associative. This means that the expression a  b 
with no parentheses has no meaning and should never appear in a sensible mathematical
construction.

4
4. Compute

rirj

1
r

Write r 2 = xk xk . If you ignore what happens at r = 0, the first gradient gives

rj

1
r

= rj (xk xk )1/2 =

1
2

xj
,
r3

ri

 xj 
r3

rirj

1
r

3
2

3 ri rj
,
r3

ij

for either order of the derivatives.

But, this is only part of the answer: as you might suspect, we cant ignore the singularity at
r = 0. Regularizing by replacing r with (r 2 + 2 )1/2, the same sequence of operations gives

rj

1
(r 2 + 2 )1/2

= rj (r 2 + 2 )1/2 =

1
2

xj

(r 2 + 2 )3/2 (2jk xk ) =

(r 2 + 2 )3/2

and

ri

xj
(r 2 + 2 )3/2

= ri xj (xk xk + )

2 3/2

2 3/2

= ij (r + )

+xj

3
2

2 5/2

(r + )

(2ik xk ) .

Combined, this gives

rirj

1
(r 2 + 2 )1/2

r 2 (ij

3
rirj )

(r 2 + 2 )5/2

ij 2
(r 2 + 2 )5/2

As ! 0, the first term is what was obtained above ignoring the singularity, regularized near

the origin; and the second contains the function that we obtained in class from r  (x/r 3 ):
as ! 0 it goes to zero as 2 for r 6= 0; for r = 0 it diverges as 1/3 ; and it integrates to give

d x

(r 2

+ 2 )5/2

ij

3
rirj

4
.
3

rirj

1
r

r3

4
(x).
3 ij

dx (sin x) xp ?

1

From Jacksons Property 5 of -functions,

dx (sin x) x

dx
1

X
n=1

X
n=

1
j cos nj (x

n) xp

1 X 1
1
1
= p
= p (p).
p
p
(n)

n=1

The zeroes of sin x occur at x = n for any integer n, but only n  1 are inside the domain of

integration. The derivative of sin x is cos n = ( 1)n , always 1 in absolute value. The name
(p) of the function that is the sum of 1/np is not important if you have the sum. The sum
converges for p > 1 but the function can be analytically continued; (0) = 1+1+1+    = 12
and ( 1) = 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 +    =

1
12