The image of American politician and scientist Benjamin Franklin (1706–1790) flying a kite in a thunderstorm (shown in Figure 18.2) is familiar to many schoolchildren. In this experiment, Franklin demonstrated a connection between lightning and static electricity. Sparks were drawn from a key hung on a kite string during an electrical storm. These sparks were like those produced by static electricity, such as the spark that jumps from your finger to a metal doorknob after you walk across a wool carpet. Much has been written about Franklin. His experiments were only part of the life of a man who was a scientist, inventor, revolutionary, statesman, and writer. Franklin's experiments were not performed in isolation, nor were they the only ones to reveal connections.
When Benjamin Franklin demonstrated that lightning was related to static electricity, he made a connection that is now part of the evidence that all directly experienced forces (except gravitational force) are manifestations of the electromagnetic force. For example, the Italian scientist Luigi Galvani (1737-1798) performed a series of experiments in which static electricity was used to stimulate contractions of leg muscles of dead frogs, an effect already known in humans subjected to static discharges. But Galvani also found that if he joined one end of two metal wires (say copper and zinc) and touched the other ends of the wires to muscles; he produced the same effect in frogs as static discharge. Alessandro Volta (1745-1827), partly inspired by Galvani's work, experimented with various combinations of metals and developed the battery.
During the same era, other scientists made progress in discovering fundamental connections. The periodic table was developed as systematic properties of the elements were discovered. This influenced the development and refinement of the concept of atoms as the basis of matter. Such submicroscopic descriptions of matter also help explain a great deal more. Atomic and molecular interactions, such as the forces of friction, cohesion, and adhesion, are now known to be manifestations of the electromagnetic force.
Static electricity is just one aspect of the electromagnetic force, which also includes moving electricity and magnetism. All the macroscopic forces that we experience directly, such as the sensations of touch and the tension in a rope, are due to the electromagnetic force, one of the four fundamental forces in nature. The gravitational force, another fundamental force, is actually sensed through the electromagnetic interaction of molecules, such as between those in our feet and those on the top of a bathroom scale. (The other two fundamental forces, the strong nuclear force and the weak nuclear force, cannot be sensed on the human scale.)
This chapter begins the study of electromagnetic phenomena at a fundamental level. The next several chapters will cover static electricity, moving electricity, and magnetism – collectively known as electromagnetism. In this chapter, we begin with the study of electric phenomena due to charges that are at least temporarily stationary, called electrostatics, or static electricity.
The chapter introduces several very important concepts of charge, electric force, and electric field, as well as defining the relationships between these concepts. The charge is defined as a property of a system (Big Idea 1) that can affect its interaction with other charged systems (Enduring Understanding 1.B). The law of conservation of electric charge is also discussed (Essential Knowledge 1.B.1). The two kinds of electric charge are defined as positive and negative, providing an explanation for having positively charged, negatively charged, or neutral objects (containing equal quantities of positive and negative charges) (Essential Knowledge 1.B.2). The discrete nature of the electric charge is introduced in this chapter by defining the elementary charge as the smallest observed unit of charge that can be isolated, which is the electron charge (Essential Knowledge 1.B.3). The concepts of a system (having internal structure) and of an object (having no internal structure) are implicitly introduced to explain charges carried by the electron and proton (Enduring Understanding 1.A, Essential Knowledge 1.A.1).
An electric field is caused by the presence of charged objects (Enduring Understanding 2.C) and can be used to explain interactions between electrically charged objects (Big Idea 2). The electric force represents the effect of an electric field on a charge placed in the field. The magnitude and direction of the electric force are defined by the magnitude and direction of the electric field and magnitude and sign of the charge (Essential Knowledge 2.C.1). The magnitude of the electric field is proportional to the net charge of the objects that created that field (Essential Knowledge 2.C.2). For the special case of a spherically symmetric charged object, the electric field outside the object is radial, and its magnitude varies as the inverse square of the radial distance from the center of that object (Essential Knowledge 2.C.3). The chapter provides examples of vector field maps for various charged systems, including point charges, spherically symmetric charge distributions, and uniformly charged parallel plates (Essential Knowledge 2.C.1, Essential Knowledge 2.C.2). For multiple point charges, the chapter explains how to find the vector field map by adding the electric field vectors of each individual object, including the special case of two equal charges having opposite signs, known as an electric dipole (Essential Knowledge 2.C.4). The special case of two oppositely charged parallel plates with uniformly distributed electric charge when the electric field is perpendicular to the plates and is constant in both magnitude and direction is described in detail, providing many opportunities for problem solving and applications (Essential Knowledge 2.C.5).
The idea that interactions can be described by forces is also reinforced in this chapter (Big Idea 3). Like all other forces that you have learned about so far, electric force is a vector that affects the motion according to Newton's laws (Enduring Understanding 3.A). It is clearly stated in the chapter that electric force appears as a result of interactions between two charged objects (Essential Knowledge 3.A.3, Essential Knowledge 3.C.2). At the macroscopic level the electric force is a long-range force (Enduring Understanding 3.C); however, at the microscopic level many contact forces, such as friction, can be explained by interatomic electric forces (Essential Knowledge 3.C.4). This understanding of friction is helpful when considering properties of conductors and insulators and the transfer of charge by conduction.
Interactions between systems can result in changes in those systems (Big Idea 4). In the case of charged systems, such interactions can lead to changes of electric properties (Enduring Understanding 4.E), such as charge distribution (Essential Knowledge 4.E.3). Any changes are governed by conservation laws (Big Idea 5). Depending on whether the system is closed or open, certain quantities of the system remain the same or changes in those quantities are equal to the amount of transfer of this quantity from or to the system (Enduring Understanding 5.A). The electric charge is one of these quantities (Essential Knowledge 5.A.2). Therefore, the electric charge of a system is conserved (Enduring Understanding 5.C) and the exchange of electric charge between objects in a system does not change the total electric charge of the system (Essential Knowledge 5.C.2).
Big Idea 1 Objects and systems have properties such as mass and charge. Systems may have internal structure.
Enduring Understanding 1.A The internal structure of a system determines many properties of the system.
Essential Knowledge 1.A.1 A system is an object or a collection of objects. Objects are treated as having no internal structure.
Enduring Understanding 1.B Electric charge is a property of an object or system that affects its interactions with other objects or systems containing charge.
Essential Knowledge 1.B.1 Electric charge is conserved. The net charge of a system is equal to the sum of the charges of all the objects in the system.
Essential Knowledge 1.B.2 There are only two kinds of electric charge. Neutral objects or systems contain equal quantities of positive and negative charge, with the exception of some fundamental particles that have no electric charge.
Essential Knowledge 1.B.3 The smallest observed unit of charge that can be isolated is the electron charge, also known as the elementary charge.
Big Idea 2 Fields existing in space can be used to explain interactions.
Enduring Understanding 2.C An electric field is caused by an object with electric charge.
Essential Knowledge 2.C.1 The magnitude of the electric force F exerted on an object with electric charge q by an electric field ( is . The direction of the force is determined by the direction of the field and the sign of the charge, with positively charged objects accelerating in the direction of the field and negatively charged objects accelerating in the direction opposite the field. This should include a vector field map for positive point charges, negative point charges, spherically symmetric charge distribution, and uniformly charged parallel plates.
Essential Knowledge 2.C.2 The magnitude of the electric field vector is proportional to the net electric charge of the object(s) creating that field. This includes positive point charges, negative point charges, spherically symmetric charge distributions, and uniformly charged parallel plates.
Essential Knowledge 2.C.3 The electric field outside a spherically symmetric charged object is radial, and its magnitude varies as the inverse square of the radial distance from the center of that object. Electric field lines are not in the curriculum. Students will be expected to rely only on the rough intuitive sense underlying field lines, wherein the field is viewed as analogous to something emanating uniformly from a source.
Essential Knowledge 2.C.4 The electric field around dipoles and other systems of electrically charged objects (that can be modeled as point objects) is found by vector addition of the field of each individual object. Electric dipoles are treated qualitatively in this course as a teaching analogy to facilitate student understanding of magnetic dipoles.
Essential Knowledge 2.C.5 Between two oppositely charged parallel plates with uniformly distributed electric charge, at points far from the edges of the plates, the electric field is perpendicular to the plates and is constant in both magnitude and direction.
Big Idea 3 The interactions of an object with other objects can be described by forces.
Enduring Understanding 3.A All forces share certain common characteristics when considered by observers in inertial reference frames.
Essential Knowledge 3.A.3 A force exerted on an object is always due to the interaction of that object with another object.
Enduring Understanding 3.C At the macroscopic level, forces can be categorized as either long-range (action-at-a-distance) forces or contact forces.
Essential Knowledge 3.C.2 Electric force results from the interaction of one object that has an electric charge with another object that has an electric charge.
Essential Knowledge 3.C.4 Contact forces result from the interaction of one object touching another object, and they arise from interatomic electric forces. These forces include tension, friction, normal, spring (Physics 1), and buoyant (Physics 2).
Big Idea 4 Interactions between systems can result in changes in those systems.
Enduring Understanding 4.E The electric and magnetic properties of a system can change in response to the presence of, or changes in, other objects or systems.
Essential Knowledge 4.E.3 The charge distribution in a system can be altered by the effects of electric forces produced by a charged object.
Big Idea 5 Changes that occur as a result of interactions are constrained by conservation laws.
Enduring Understanding 5.A Certain quantities are conserved, in the sense that the changes of those quantities in a given system are always equal to the transfer of that quantity to or from the system by all possible interactions with other systems.
Essential Knowledge 5.A.2 For all systems under all circumstances, energy, charge, linear momentum, and angular momentum are conserved.
Enduring Understanding 5.C The electric charge of a system is conserved.
Essential Knowledge 5.C.2 The exchange of electric charges among a set of objects in a system conserves electric charge.