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Page 1 - Electrical Potentials Electrical Potentials...

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Unformatted text preview: Electrical Potentials Electrical Potentials -- Conceptual Solutions 1.) What does an absolute electrical potential actually tell you? That is: a.) Is it a vector? If so, what does its direction signify? Solution: Electrical potentials are modified potential energy functions. As such, they are scalar fields and have no direction associated with them. b.) What does its magnitude tell you? Solution: If you know the absolute electrical potential at a particular point in an electric field, you know how much potential energy per unit charge is available at that point due to the presence of the field. That is, electrical potentials are modified potential energy functions. (Note that electrical potentials are often referred to simply as potentials.) c.) How are electrical potentials used in everyday life? Solution: Electrical potential difi'erences and electric fields go hand in hand. That is, if you create an electrical potential difference between two points, you will also have created an electric field between those two points (and vice versa). That means that when you switch a lamp on in your home, the electric field that motivates current to flow through the lamp's light bulb is actually being produced by an artificially created electrical potential difference between the two prongs of the lamp's electrical cord. 2.) An electrical potential field is oriented so that it becomes larger as you move to the right. a.) What will a positive charge do if put in the field? figlutign: Positive charge "falls" through potential differences proceeding from higher to lower electrical potentials. In this case, that means they will accelerate to the left. b.) What will a negative charge do if put in the field? 5311131911: Negative charge does the opposite of positive charge, so they will accelerate from lower to higher electrical potential. In this case, that will be to the right. c.) Is there an electric field associated with the 10W“ V potential and, if so, in what direction is it oriented? fiolution: By definition, the direction of an electric field is the direction a positive charge would E .hlghcrv accelerate if put in the field. As positive charge moves from higher to lower electrical potentials, electric field lines must be oriented from higher to lower electrical potentials. 113 x m A l_—_m4 ...
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