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Saturday, April 24, 2010

How to find electric fields and potentials for systems of point charges

One of the most essential and basic systems we study includes systems of stationary point charges. These bring out the essence of what charges do, which is produce a vector quantity, electric field, and a scalar quantity, electric potential.

We need to remember that finding electric fields includes us forgetting about the sign of a charge when calculating the fields. Being a vector, let the picture tell you whether we are dealing with positive or negative directions of components. But for potentials, which are scalars, we DO need to include the signs of charges numerically since positive charges produce positive voltage, and negative charges produce negative voltage, and we just add up the values.

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