# electric field

### Basics: Electric Potential for a Point Charge

Pre Reqs: electric potential, electric field, work-energy To start, remember that for a constant electric field the change in electric potential energy would be: WARNING: that is only for a constant electric field. I know you will be tempted later to use this for a different electric field, but DON'T DO IT. But if not that, then how do find the change in electric potential for a point charge? Let me start with a conceptual question. Suppose there were two point charges, both positive but one is held in place. If I hold the other point charge a distance r away from the other charge and…

### Basics: Electric Potential

Pre Reqs: Electric Field, Work-Energy, Potential Energy If you are already familiar with the topics listed in the pre-reqs above, this will be uber-simple. Potential energy - short version The work-energy principle basically says: In this most basic form, the energy is just kinetic energy (if you are not going near the speed of light). BUT...if you have a force that is conservative (meaning the work done does not depend on the path you take), then you can make it a potential energy and move it to the other side. Warning: you can not have a force and have that force do both work AND be a…

### Basics: The electric field

Suppose I take a 1 kg ball and hold it near the surface of the Earth. What would be the gravitational force the Earth exerts on this ball? And I could say "g" is: The magnitude of this force would then be 9.8 Newtons. And, if I replaced the ball with a 10 kg ball, the force would be 98 Newtons. What does this have to do with the electric field? Well, you are probably already familiar with this idea of the gravitational force. Guess what? "g" is the gravitational field. Basically, it is the force per unit mass due to the Earth. This is only approximately constant. If I get very far…

### Why are sparks blue?

I am not sure if First Excited State posted this as a blog entry, but it was mentioned on twitter. Question: why are sparks blue? My first gut response was that this is the blackbody color. Wrong for several reasons. The short answer is that sparks are blue because of the colors given off from nitrogen and oxygen when they are excited. In order to make this post longer than necessary, let me say something about blackbodies. A blackbody is an object that emits radiation due only to it's temperature. Since it does not reflect anything, it looks black at room temperatures. You can make a…