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To see how and why this happens, consider the charged conductor in [link] . The electrostatic repulsion of like charges is most effective in moving them apart on the flattest surface, and so they become least concentrated there. This is because the forces between identical pairs of charges at either end of the conductor are identical, but the components of the forces parallel to the surfaces are different. The component parallel to the surface is greatest on the flattest surface and, hence, more effective in moving the charge.

The same effect is produced on a conductor by an externally applied electric field, as seen in [link] (c). Since the field lines must be perpendicular to the surface, more of them are concentrated on the most curved parts.

In part a, a conductor is shown with the unsymmetrical shape. The identical pair of charges at opposite ends on the conductor have similar components of forces represented by arrows. In part b, the unsymmetrical object has positive charge on its surface. The electric field lines are shown emerging perpendicular from the surface of the conductor represented by vector arrow. In part c, the field lines in and around the conductor running from left to right is shown. The left surface of the conductor has negative charge and the right surface has positive charge. The field lines enter and leave the conductor at right angles.
Excess charge on a nonuniform conductor becomes most concentrated at the location of greatest curvature. (a) The forces between identical pairs of charges at either end of the conductor are identical, but the components of the forces parallel to the surface are different. It is F size 12{F rSub { size 8{ \rdline } } } {} that moves the charges apart once they have reached the surface. (b) F size 12{F rSub { size 8{ \rdline } } } {} is smallest at the more pointed end, the charges are left closer together, producing the electric field shown. (c) An uncharged conductor in an originally uniform electric field is polarized, with the most concentrated charge at its most pointed end.

Applications of conductors

On a very sharply curved surface, such as shown in [link] , the charges are so concentrated at the point that the resulting electric field can be great enough to remove them from the surface. This can be useful.

Lightning rods work best when they are most pointed. The large charges created in storm clouds induce an opposite charge on a building that can result in a lightning bolt hitting the building. The induced charge is bled away continually by a lightning rod, preventing the more dramatic lightning strike.

Of course, we sometimes wish to prevent the transfer of charge rather than to facilitate it. In that case, the conductor should be very smooth and have as large a radius of curvature as possible. (See [link] .) Smooth surfaces are used on high-voltage transmission lines, for example, to avoid leakage of charge into the air.

Another device that makes use of some of these principles is a Faraday cage    . This is a metal shield that encloses a volume. All electrical charges will reside on the outside surface of this shield, and there will be no electrical field inside. A Faraday cage is used to prohibit stray electrical fields in the environment from interfering with sensitive measurements, such as the electrical signals inside a nerve cell.

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.

Questions & Answers

Calculate the work done by an 85.0-kg man who pushes a crate 4.00 m up along a ramp that makes an angle of 20.0º20.0º with the horizontal. (See [link] .) He exerts a force of 500 N on the crate parallel to the ramp and moves at a constant speed. Be certain to include the work he does on the crate an
Collins Reply
What is thermal heat all about
Abel Reply
why uniform circular motion is called a periodic motion?.
Boniface Reply
when a train start from A & it returns at same station A . what is its acceleration?
Mwdan Reply
what is distance of A to B of the stations and what is the time taken to reach B from A
BELLO
the information provided is not enough
aliyu
Hmmmm maybe the question is logical
yusuf
where are the parameters for calculation
HENRY
there is enough information to calculate an AVERAGE acceleration
Kwok
mistake, there is enough information to calculate an average velocity
Kwok
~\
Abel
what is the unit of momentum
Abel
wha are the types of radioactivity ?
Worku Reply
what are the types of radioactivity
Worku
what is static friction
Golu Reply
It is the opposite of kinetic friction
Mark
static fiction is friction between two surfaces in contact an none of sliding over on another, while Kinetic friction is friction between sliding surfaces in contact.
MINDERIUM
I don't get it,if it's static then there will be no friction.
author
It means that static friction is that friction that most be overcome before a body can move
kingsley
static friction is a force that keeps an object from moving, and it's the opposite of kinetic friction.
author
It is a force a body must overcome in order for the body to move.
Eboh
If a particle accelerator explodes what happens
Eboh
why we see the edge effect in case of the field lines of capacitor?
Arnab
what is wave
Muhammed Reply
what is force
Muhammed
force is something which is responsible for the object to change its position
MINDERIUM
more technically it is the product of mass of an object and Acceleration produced in it
MINDERIUM
wave is disturbance in any medium
iqra
energy is distributed in any medium through particles of medium.
iqra
If a particle accelerator explodes what happens
Eboh Reply
we have to first figure out .... wats a particle accelerator first
Teh
What is surface tension
Subi Reply
The resistive force of surface.
iqra
Who can tutor me on simple harmonic motion
yusuf Reply
on both a string and peldulum?
Anya
spring*
Anya
Yea
yusuf
Do you have a chit-chat contact
yusuf
I dont have social media but i do have an email?
Anya
Which is
yusuf
Where are you chatting from
yusuf
I don't understand the basics of this group
Jimmy
teach him SHM init
Anya
Simple harmonic motion
yusuf
how.an.equipotential.line is two dimension and equipotential surface is three dimension ?
syed Reply
definition of mass of conversion
umezurike Reply
Force equals mass time acceleration. Weight is a force and it can replace force in the equation. The acceleration would be gravity, which is an acceleration. To change from weight to mass divide by gravity (9.8 m/s^2).
Marisa
how many subject is in physics
Adeshina Reply
the write question should be " How many Topics are in O- Level Physics, or other branches of physics.
effiom
how many topic are in physics
Praise
Praise what level are you
yusuf
If u are doing a levels in your first year you do AS topics therefore you do 5 big topic i.e particles radiation, waves and optics, mechanics,materials, electricity. After that you do A level topics like Specific Harmonic motion circular motion astrophysics depends really
Anya
Yeah basics of physics prin8
yusuf
Heat nd Co for a level
yusuf
yh I need someone to explain something im tryna solve . I'll send the question if u down for it
Tamdy Reply
a ripple tank experiment a vibrating plane is used to generate wrinkles in the water .if the distance between two successive point is 3.5cm and the wave travel a distance of 31.5cm find the frequency of the vibration
Tamdy
hallow
Boniface
please send the answer
Boniface
the range of objects and phenomena studied in physics is
Bethel Reply
I don't know please give the answer
Boniface
Practice Key Terms 6

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Source:  OpenStax, College physics. OpenStax CNX. Jul 27, 2015 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11406/1.9
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