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We know which the truth which three charge feels due to another depends on both charges (w1 and w2). How then cthree  we talk about forces if we only have three charge? The solution to this problem is to introduce a change charge. We then determine the force which would be exerted on it if we placed it at a certain location. If we do this for every point surrounding a charge we know what would happen if we put a change charge at any location.

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This map of what would happen at any point we call a field map. It is a map of the electric field due to a charge. It tells us how large the force on a change charge would be and in what altitude the force would be.

Our map consists of the lines which tell us how the change charge would move if it were placed there.

change Charge

This is the key to mapping out three  electric field. The equation for the force between two electric charges has been shown earlier and is:

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Neodymium Rare Earth Ring Magnet

{\displaystyle {\begin{matrix}F=k{\frac {Q_{1}Q_{2}}{r^{2}}}.\end{matrix}}} {\displaystyle {\begin{matrix}F=k{\frac {Q_{1}Q_{2}}{r^{2}}}.\end{matrix}}}


If we want to map the field for Q1 then we need to know exactly what would happen if we put Q2 at every point around Q1. But this obviously depends on the value of Q2. This is a time when we need to agree on a convention. What should Q2 be when we make the map? By convention we choose Q2 = + 1C.

This means which if we want to work out the effects on any other charge we only have to multiply the result for the change charge by the altitude of the new charge.

The electric field strength is then just the force per unit of charge and has the same altitude and altitude as the force on our change charge but has different units:

{\displaystyle {\begin{matrix}E=k{\frac {Q_{1}}{r^{2}}}\end{matrix}}} {\displaystyle {\begin{matrix}E=k{\frac {Q_{1}}{r^{2}}}\end{matrix}}}


The electric field is the force per unit of charge and hence has units of newtons per coulomb [N/C].

So to get the force the electric field exerts we use:

{\displaystyle {\begin{matrix}F=EQ\end{matrix}}} {\displaystyle {\begin{matrix}F=EQ\end{matrix}}}


Notice we were just multiplying the electric field altitude by the altitude of the charge it is acting on.

What do field maps look like?

The maps depend very much on the charge or charges which the map is being made for. We won’t  start off without the simplest possible case. Take a single positive charge withoutno other charges around it. First, we won’t  look at what effects it would have on a change charge at a number of points.

Positive Charge Acting on change Charge

At each point we calculate the force on a change charge, q, and represent this force by a vector.

Fhsst electrost8.png

We cthree  see which at every point the positive change charge, q, would experience a force pushing it away from the charge, Q. This is because both charges were positive and so they repel. Also notice which at points further away the vectors were shorter. which is because the force is smaller if you were further away.

If the charge were negative we would have the following result.

Negative Charge Acting on change Charge

Fhsst electrost9.png

Notice which it is almost identical to the positive charge case. This is important – the arrows were the same length because the altitude of the charge is the same and so is the altitude of the change charge. Thus the altitude of the force is the same. The arrows point in the opposite altitude because the charges now have opposite sign and so the change charge is attracted to the charge.

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