assignment_ind Small White Board Question

10 min.

Electrostatic Potential Due to a Point Charge
Static Fields 2022

Warm-Up

assignment Homework

Linear Quadrupole (w/o series)
Static Fields 2022 (3 years) Consider a collection of three charges arranged in a line along the \(z\)-axis: charges \(+Q\) at \(z=\pm D\) and charge \(-2Q\) at \(z=0\).
  1. Find the electrostatic potential at a point \(\vec{r}\) on the \(x\)-axis at a distance \(x\) from the center of the quadrupole.

  2. A series of charges arranged in this way is called a linear quadrupole. Why?

assignment Homework

Yukawa
Central Forces 2023 (3 years)

In a solid, a free electron doesn't see” a bare nuclear charge since the nucleus is surrounded by a cloud of other electrons. The nucleus will look like the Coulomb potential close-up, but be screened” from far away. A common model for such problems is described by the Yukawa or screened potential: \begin{equation} U(r)= -\frac{k}{r} e^{-\frac{r}{\alpha}} \end{equation}

  1. Graph the potential, with and without the exponential term. Describe how the Yukawa potential approximates the “real” situation. In particular, describe the role of the parameter \(\alpha\).
  2. Draw the effective potential for the two choices \(\alpha=10\) and \(\alpha=0.1\) with \(k=1\) and \(\ell=1\). For which value(s) of \(\alpha\) is there the possibility of stable circular orbits?

keyboard Computational Activity

120 min.

Electrostatic potential of four point charges
Computational Physics Lab II 2022

electrostatic potential python

Students write python programs to compute and visualize the potential due to four point charges. For students with minimal programming ability and no python experience, this activity can be a good introduction to writing code in python using numpy and matplotlib.

assignment Homework

Linear Quadrupole (w/ series)

Power Series Sequence (E&M)

Static Fields 2022 (5 years)

Consider a collection of three charges arranged in a line along the \(z\)-axis: charges \(+Q\) at \(z=\pm D\) and charge \(-2Q\) at \(z=0\).

  1. Find the electrostatic potential at a point \(\vec{r}\) in the \(xy\)-plane at a distance \(s\) from the center of the quadrupole. The formula for the electrostatic potential \(V\) at a point \(\vec{r}\) due to a charge \(Q\) at the point \(\vec{r'}\) is given by: \[ V(\vec{r})=\frac{1}{4\pi\epsilon_0} \frac{Q}{\vert \vec{r}-\vec{r'}\vert} \] Electrostatic potentials satisfy the superposition principle.
  2. Assume \(s\gg D\). Find the first two non-zero terms of a power series expansion to the electrostatic potential you found in the first part of this problem.

group Small Group Activity

30 min.

Electric Potential of Two Charged Plates
Students examine a plastic "surface" graph of the electric potential due to two charged plates (near the center of the plates) and explore the properties of the electric potential.

group Small Group Activity

120 min.

Equipotential Surfaces

E&M Quadrupole Scalar Fields

Students are prompted to consider the scalar superposition of the electric potential due to multiple point charges. First a single point charge is discussed, then four positive charges, then an electric quadrupole. Students draw the equipotential curves in the plane of the charges, while also considering the 3D nature of equipotentials.

keyboard Computational Activity

120 min.

Electrostatic potential of spherical shell
Computational Physics Lab II 2022

electrostatic potential spherical coordinates

Students solve numerically for the potential due to a spherical shell of charge. Although this potential is straightforward to compute using Gauss's Law, it serves as a nice example for numerically integrating in spherical coordinates because the correct answer is easy to recognize.

assignment Homework

Potential energy of gas in gravitational field
Potential energy Heat capacity Thermal and Statistical Physics 2020 Consider a column of atoms each of mass \(M\) at temperature \(T\) in a uniform gravitational field \(g\). Find the thermal average potential energy per atom. The thermal average kinetic energy is independent of height. Find the total heat capacity per atom. The total heat capacity is the sum of contributions from the kinetic energy and from the potential energy. Take the zero of the gravitational energy at the bottom \(h=0\) of the column. Integrate from \(h=0\) to \(h=\infty\). You may assume the gas is ideal.

group Small Group Activity

30 min.

Charged Sphere

E&M Introductory Physics Electric Potential Electric Field

Students use a plastic surface representing the potential due to a charged sphere to explore the electrostatic potential, equipotential lines, and the relationship between potential and electric field.

group Small Group Activity

30 min.

Number of Paths

E&M Conservative Fields Surfaces

Student discuss how many paths can be found on a map of the vector fields \(\vec{F}\) for which the integral \(\int \vec{F}\cdot d\vec{r}\) is positive, negative, or zero. \(\vec{F}\) is conservative. They do a similar activity for the vector field \(\vec{G}\) which is not conservative.

group Small Group Activity

60 min.

Gravitational Potential Energy

Mechanics Gravitational Potential Energy Zero of Potential Introductory Physics

Students examine a plastic “surface” graph of the gravitational potential energy of an Earth-satellite system to explore the properties of gravitational potential energy for a spherically symmetric system.

groups Whole Class Activity

10 min.

Air Hockey
Central Forces 2023 (3 years)

central forces potential energy classical mechanics

Students observe the motion of a puck tethered to the center of the airtable. Then they plot the potential energy for the puck on their small whiteboards. A class discussion follows based on what students have written on their whiteboards.

assignment Homework

Line Sources Using the Gradient

Gradient Sequence

Static Fields 2022 (5 years)
  1. Find the electric field around an infinite, uniformly charged, straight wire, starting from the following expression for the electrostatic potential: \begin{equation} V(\vec r)=\frac{2\lambda}{4\pi\epsilon_0}\, \ln\left( \frac{ s_0}{s} \right) \end{equation}

keyboard Computational Activity

120 min.

Electrostatic potential of a square of charge
Computational Physics Lab II 2022

integration electrostatic potential surface charge density

Students write python programs to compute the potential due to a square of surface charge, and then to visualize the result. This activity can be used to introduce students to the process of integrating numerically.

group Small Group Activity

30 min.

Gravitational Force

Mechanics Gravitational Force Gravitational Potential Energy Derivatives Introductory Physics

Students examine a plastic "surface" graph of the gravitational potential energy of a Earth-satellite system to make connections between gravitational force and gravitational potential energy.

assignment Homework

Hockey
Central Forces 2023 (3 years)

Consider the frictionless motion of a hockey puck of mass \(m\) on a perfectly circular bowl-shaped ice rink with radius \(a\). The central region of the bowl (\(r < 0.8a\)) is perfectly flat and the sides of the ice bowl smoothly rise to a height \(h\) at \(r = a\).

  1. Draw a sketch of the potential energy for this system. Set the zero of potential energy at the top of the sides of the bowl.
  2. Situation 1: the puck is initially moving radially outward from the exact center of the rink. What minimum velocity does the puck need to escape the rink?
  3. Situation 2: a stationary puck, at a distance \(\frac{a}{2}\) from the center of the rink, is hit in such a way that it's initial velocity \(\vec v_0\) is perpendicular to its position vector as measured from the center of the rink. What is the total energy of the puck immediately after it is struck?
  4. In situation 2, what is the angular momentum of the puck immediately after it is struck?
  5. Draw a sketch of the effective potential for situation 2.
  6. In situation 2, for what minimum value of \(\vec v_0\) does the puck just escape the rink?

group Small Group Activity

30 min.

A glass of water
Energy and Entropy 2021 (2 years)

thermodynamics intensive extensive temperature volume energy entropy

Students generate a list of properties a glass of water might have. The class then discusses and categorizes those properties.

group Small Group Activity

30 min.

Electrostatic Potential Due to a Ring of Charge
Static Fields 2022 (7 years)

electrostatic potential charge linear charge density taylor series power series scalar field superposition symmetry distance formula

Power Series Sequence (E&M)

Ring Cycle Sequence

Warm-Up

Students work in groups of three to use the superposition principle \[V(\vec{r}) =\frac{1}{4\pi\epsilon_0}\int\frac{\rho(\vec{r}^{\,\prime})}{\vert \vec{r}-\vec{r}^{\,\prime}\vert} \, d\tau^{\prime}\] to find an integral expression for the electrostatic potential, \(V(\vec{r})\), everywhere in space, due to a ring of charge.

In an optional extension, students find a series expansion for \(V(\vec{r})\) either on the axis or in the plane of the ring, for either small or large values of the relevant geometric variable. Add an extra half hour or more to the time estimate for the optional extension.

assignment Homework

Scattering
Central Forces 2023 (3 years)

Consider a very light particle of mass \(\mu\) scattering from a very heavy, stationary particle of mass \(M\). The force between the two particles is a repulsive Coulomb force \(\frac{k}{r^2}\). The impact parameter \(b\) in a scattering problem is defined to be the distance which would be the closest approach if there were no interaction (See Figure). The initial velocity (far from the scattering event) of the mass \(\mu\) is \(\vec v_0\). Answer the following questions about this situation in terms of \(k\), \(M\), \(\mu\), \(\vec v_0\), and \(b\). ()It is not necessarily wise to answer these questions in order.)

  1. What is the initial angular momentum of the system?
  2. What is the initial total energy of the system?
  3. What is the distance of closest approach \(r_{\rm{min}}\) with the interaction?
  4. Sketch the effective potential.
  5. What is the angular momentum at \(r_{\rm{min}}\)?
  6. What is the total energy of the system at \(r_{\rm{min}}\)?
  7. What is the radial component of the velocity at \(r_{\rm{min}}\)?
  8. What is the tangential component of the velocity at \(r_{\rm{min}}\)?
  9. What is the value of the effective potential at \(r_{\rm{min}}\)?
  10. For what values of the initial total energy are there bound orbits?
  11. Using your results above, write a short essay describing this type of scattering problem, at a level appropriate to share with another Paradigm student.