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# ch21 - Chapter 21 Electric Charge In this chapter we will...

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Chapter 21 Electric Charge In this chapter we will introduce a new property of matter known as “electric charge” (symbol q ). We will explore the charge of atomic constituents. Moreover, we will describe the following properties of charge: - Types of electric charge - Forces among two charges (Coulomb’s law) - Charge quantization - Charge conservation (21-1)

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Empirically it was known since ancient times that if amber is rubbed on cloth, it acquires the property of attracting light objects such as feathers. This phenomenon was attributed to a new property of matter called “electric charge.” (Electron is the Greek name for amber.) More experiments show that there are two distinct types of electric charge: positive (color code: red) and negative (color code: black). The names “positive” and “negative” were given by Benjamin Franklin. When we rub a glass rod with silk cloth, both objects acquire electric charge. The sign on the charge on the glass rod is defined as positive. In a similar fashion, when we rub a plastic rod with fur both objects acquire electric charge. The sign on the charge on the plastic rod is defined as negative. (21-2)
Q: Do we have enough information so as to be able to determine the sign of all other charges in nature? To answer this question we need one more piece of information. Further experiments on charged objects showed that: 1. Charges of the same type (either both positive or both negative) repel each other (fig. a ). 2. Charges of opposite type on the other hand attract each other (fig. b ). The force direction allows us to determine the sign of an unknown electric charge. Charges of the same sign repel each other. Charges of opposite sign attract each other. (21-3)

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repulsive force attractive force The recipe is as follows: We charge a glass rod by rubbing it with silk cloth. Thus we know that the charge on the glass rod is positive. The rod is suspended in such a way so that it can keep its charge and also rotate freely under the influence of a force applied by charge with the unknown sign. We approach the suspended class rod with the new charge whose sign we wish to determine. Two outcomes are possible. These are shown in the figure to the left: Fig. a : The two objects repel each other. We then conclude that the unknown charge has a positive sign. Fig. b : The two objects attract each other. We then conclude that the unknown charge has a negative sign.
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