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*From*: "Zajac, Richard" <rzajac@SAL.KSU.EDU>*Date*: Fri, 20 Feb 2004 13:00:23 -0600

Equipotentials corresponding to different values of the electric potential

cannot intersect, since no point can have two differevent values of electric

potential.

Equipotentials corresponding to the same value can cross.

As an example, consider two equal positive charges separated by some

distance. Close to either charge, the equipotentials are nearly circular.

As you move away from either charge, these "circles" expand. At a point

midway between the equal charges, the "circle" around one charge intersects

the "circle" around the other charge. (The circles aren't very circular by

this point).

The net effect is what appears to be two equipotentials crossing. At that

point, the electric field is of course zero. Since the equipotentials in

question have the same value, it can be argued, I suppose, that these aren't

really different equipotentials.

You can see this by playing with EMField from Physics Academic Software.

Richard Zajac

----------

From: Forum for Physics Educators[SMTP:PHYS-L@lists.nau.edu] on

behalf of Justin Parke[SMTP:FIZIX29@AOL.COM]

Reply To: Forum for Physics Educators

Sent: Friday, February 20, 2004 10:32 AM

To: PHYS-L@lists.nau.edu

Subject: equipotentials

Can equipotential surfaces cross? If so then in what direction does the

electric field point at the line of intersection?

(This is another disagreement between me and the "back of the book" answer

for a textbook question)

Justin Parke

Oakland Mills High School

Columbia, MD

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