Workshop Tutorials for Biological and Environmental Physics ER4B 1.docx - A Qualitative Workshop Tutorials for Biological and Environmental Physics ER4B

# Workshop Tutorials for Biological and Environmental Physics ER4B 1.docx

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A. Qualitative Workshop Tutorials for Biological and Environmental Physics ER4B: Electric Potential Questions: 1. Brent and his brother Bert are playing golf on a Sunday afternoon. It gradually clouds over until there is a thick layer of cloud above them, and they hear the threatening rumble of a thunder storm. Brent tells Bert that the potential difference between the cloud layer overhead and the ground is probably around a gigavolt (10 9 V), and that he’s going back to the club house for a drink. Bert decides to finish the hole that he’s on first. a. Draw field lines and equipotential lines for Bert and his surroundings. b. What is the potential difference between Bert’s feet and his head? c. Is this different from the potential difference between the ground at his feet and the air at the level of his head, if he wasn’t standing there? d. What is the electric potential of Bert’s head? Explain your answer. e. Why is it a bad idea to play golf in a storm? f. Even when it is fine weather there is an electric field of around 100 V.m -1 , yet we don’t get electrocuted just walking around or playing golf in the sunshine. Why not? 2. Many factories use dust precipitators in their chimneys to remove airborne pollutants. In one such precipitator a pair of plates is placed in the square chimney with a potential difference of 2 kV between them. The large electric field causes molecules to be ionized. Free electrons and ions can then attach to dust particles making them charged. Suppose that a dust particle in the chimney has a charge of +1 e. a. Draw field lines and lines of equipotential for the arrangement shown. b. If the dust particle starts from rest at point O, half way between the plates, will it move towards point A or B? c. Will the system gain or lose electric potential energy? Where does this change in energy come from? 1 2 kV O B A
A. Qualitative d. Repeat parts b and c for a particle with a charge of –2 e . Will the change in electric potential energy be greater, less than or the same for this particle for a given distance traveled? e. Rank the electric potential at points A, B and O. f. What do you think the difference between electric potential and electric potential energy is?

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