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During electrical storms if you are driving a car, it is best to stay inside the car as its metal body acts as a Faraday cage with zero electrical field inside. If in the vicinity of a lightning strike, its effect is felt on the outside of the car and the inside is unaffected, provided you remain totally inside. This is also true if an active (“hot”) electrical wire was broken (in a storm or an accident) and fell on your car.

A cone shaped positively charged conductor is shown where most of the positive charges are accumulated at the tip. The field lines represented by arrows emerge at right angles from the surface of the conductor in outward direction. The density of field lines is greater at the tip of the cone than at other surfaces.
A very pointed conductor has a large charge concentration at the point. The electric field is very strong at the point and can exert a force large enough to transfer charge on or off the conductor. Lightning rods are used to prevent the buildup of large excess charges on structures and, thus, are pointed.
In part a, a lightning rod is shown on the roof of a house. In part b, a person is touching the metal sphere of the Van De Graaff and his hair is standing up.
(a) A lightning rod is pointed to facilitate the transfer of charge. (credit: Romaine, Wikimedia Commons) (b) This Van de Graaff generator has a smooth surface with a large radius of curvature to prevent the transfer of charge and allow a large voltage to be generated. The mutual repulsion of like charges is evident in the person's hair while touching the metal sphere. (credit: Jon ‘ShakataGaNai' Davis/Wikimedia Commons).

Test prep for ap courses

A gold sphere with eight equally spaced black +'s around the outside of the sphere point to eight blue arrows pointing outward. Four of the arrows point directly up, right, down, and left of the sphere and four arrows are equally spaced between these other four arrows at 45 degree angles. The arrow between the left and top arrow is labeled A. The arrow between the top and right arrow is labeled B. The arrow between the right and down arrow is labeled C.
A sphere conductor.

An electric field due to a positively charged spherical conductor is shown above. Where will the electric field be weakest?

  1. Point A
  2. Point B
  3. Point C
  4. Same at all points


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There is a gray long thin rectangle at the top of the figure with black pluses. The same size gray long thin rectangle is at the bottom of the figure with minuses below the positives. There are blue lines with an arrow in the middle connecting each + to each -. The two arrows on the left start at the same first + are curved toward the left and hit the first bottom -. The two lines on the right are curved toward the right and connect the last + and -. The six center arrows are vertical. Between line three and four near the + rectangle is an A. A B is between lines four and five near the – rectangle. C is halfway between the + and – rectangle between lines six and seven.
Electric field between two parallel metal plates.

The electric field created by two parallel metal plates is shown above. Where will the electric field be strongest?

  1. Point A
  2. Point B
  3. Point C
  4. Same at all points
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Suppose that the electric field experienced due to a positively charged small spherical conductor at a certain distance is E . What will be the percentage change in electric field experienced at thrice the distance if the charge on the conductor is doubled?

decrease by 77.78%.

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The diagram shows an eye, microscope and then a gray bar with five +'s at the top, 5 arrows pointing directly down to 5 –‘s in a gray bar. In the center of the bars between the + and – bars is a gold drop.
Millikan oil drop experiment.

The classic Millikan oil drop experiment setup is shown above. In this experiment oil drops are suspended in a vertical electric field against the gravitational force to measure their charge. If the mass of a negatively charged drop suspended in an electric field of 1.18×10 −4 N/C strength is 3.85×10 −21 g, find the number of excess electrons in the drop.

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Section summary

  • A conductor allows free charges to move about within it.
  • The electrical forces around a conductor will cause free charges to move around inside the conductor until static equilibrium is reached.
  • Any excess charge will collect along the surface of a conductor.
  • Conductors with sharp corners or points will collect more charge at those points.
  • A lightning rod is a conductor with sharply pointed ends that collect excess charge on the building caused by an electrical storm and allow it to dissipate back into the air.
  • Electrical storms result when the electrical field of Earth's surface in certain locations becomes more strongly charged, due to changes in the insulating effect of the air.
  • A Faraday cage acts like a shield around an object, preventing electric charge from penetrating inside.

Questions & Answers

Roofs are sometimes pushed off vertically during a tropical cyclone, and buildings sometimes explode outward when hit by a tornado. Use Bernoulli’s principle to explain these phenomena.
Aliraza Reply
Plz answer the question ☝️☝️
what's the basic si unit of acceleration
Explain why the change in velocity is different in the two frames, whereas the change in kinetic energy is the same in both.
Fabian Reply
Insulators (nonmetals) have a higher BE than metals, and it is more difficult for photons to eject electrons from insulators. Discuss how this relates to the free charges in metals that make them good conductors.
Muhammad Reply
Is the photoelectric effect a direct consequence of the wave character of EM radiation or of the particle character of EM radiation? Explain briefly.
Determine the total force and the absolute pressure on the bottom of a swimming pool 28.0m by 8.5m whose uniform depth is 1 .8m.
Henny Reply
how solve this problem?
P(pressure)=density ×depth×acceleration due to gravity Force =P×Area(28.0x8.5)
for the answer to complete, the units need specified why
muqaddas Reply
That's just how the AP grades. Otherwise, you could be talking about m/s when the answer requires m/s^2. They need to know what you are referring to.
Suppose a speck of dust in an electrostatic precipitator has 1.0000×1012 protons in it and has a net charge of –5.00 nC (a very large charge for a small speck). How many electrons does it have?
Alexia Reply
how would I work this problem
how can you have not an integer number of protons? If, on the other hand it supposed to be 1e12, then 1.6e-19C/proton • 1e12 protons=1.6e-7 C is the charge of the protons in the speck, so the difference between this and 5e-9C is made up by electrons
what is angular velocity
Obaapa Reply
angular velocity can be defined as the rate of change in radian over seconds.
Why does earth exert only a tiny downward pull?
Mya Reply
Why is light bright?
Abraham Reply
what is radioactive element
Attah Reply
an 8.0 capacitor is connected by to the terminals of 60Hz whoes rms voltage is 150v. a.find the capacity reactance and rms to the circuit
Aisha Reply
thanks so much. i undersooth well
Valdes Reply
what is physics
Nwafor Reply
is the study of matter in relation to energy
physics can be defined as the natural science that deals with the study of motion through space,time along with its related concepts which are energy and force
a submersible pump is dropped a borehole and hits the level of water at the bottom of the borehole 5 seconds later.determine the level of water in the borehole
Obrian Reply
Practice Key Terms 6

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Source:  OpenStax, College physics for ap® courses. OpenStax CNX. Nov 04, 2016 Download for free at https://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11844/1.14
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