PHYS208 9/24 Class
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Applications of Gauss's Law
In cases of high symmetry, Gauss's law may be readily used to calculate E.
Otherwise it is not generally useful
and integration over the charge distribution is required.
But when the symmetry permits it, Gauss's law is the easiest way to go!
The CRUX OF ITS APPLICATION is the choice of gaussian surface.
Keep in mind that this is not a surface of the charge distribution itself, but rather an imaginary surface constructed for application of Gauss's law.
To make Gauss's law tractable:
And once again, make sure that the surface is closed!
- All sections of the gaussian surface should be chosen so that they are either parallel or perpendicular to E. For this we need to have already determined the direction of E everywhere on the surface by symmetry arguments.
- |E| should be constant on each surface. Again, this requires sufficient symmetry to "see" the constancy of field strength.
Confirmation of Gauss's Law for a Point Charge
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Last updated Sept. 24, 1997.
Copyright George Watson, Univ. of Delaware, 1997.