Main content

## High school physics - NGSS

# Coulomb's law and electric force review

NGSS.HS:

HS‑PS2‑4

, HS‑PS2‑5

, HS‑PS2.B.1

, HS‑PS2.B

, HS‑PS2

Review your understanding of Coulomb's law and electric forces in this free article aligned to NGSS standards.

## Key terms

Term | Meaning |
---|---|

Electric charge | A property of matter that determines the force on the object when placed in an electromagnetic field. Objects can have positive, negative, or neutral charge. Like energy and matter, total electric charge is conserved, and charge cannot be created or destroyed. |

k | The electric force constant, or Coulomb’s constant, which has a value of 9, point, 0, start text, x, end text, 10, start superscript, 9, end superscript, start fraction, start text, N, end text, dot, start text, m, end text, squared, divided by, start text, C, end text, squared, end fraction. |

## Equations

Equation | Symbol breakdown | Meaning in words |
---|---|---|

open vertical bar, F, start subscript, E, end subscript, close vertical bar, equals, k, open vertical bar, start fraction, q, start subscript, 1, end subscript, q, start subscript, 2, end subscript, divided by, r, squared, end fraction, close vertical bar | F, start subscript, E, end subscript is electric force, k is the Coulomb’s law constant, q, start subscript, 1, end subscript and q, start subscript, 2, end subscript are the charges, and r is the distance between the charges. | The magnitude of the electric force between q, start subscript, 1, end subscript and q, start subscript, 2, end subscript is directly proportional to the magnitude of the charges and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them. This equation is known as Coulomb’s Law. |

## Comparing electric force and gravitational force

Coulomb's law may look somewhat familiar, because it has a lot in common with Newton's law of gravitation:

Like gravitational force, whose magnitude increases with mass, electric force magnitude increases with the magnitude of the charges. Both forces act along the imaginary line joining the objects. Both forces are inversely proportional to the square of the distance between the objects, this is known as the inverse-square law. Also, both forces have proportionality constants. F, start subscript, g, end subscript uses G and F, start subscript, E, end subscript uses k, where k, equals, 9, point, 0, times, 10, start superscript, 9, end superscript, start fraction, start text, N, end text, dot, start text, m, end text, squared, divided by, start text, C, end text, squared, end fraction.

A difference between gravitational force and electric force is their relative strengths, related to the ratio of k to G. The electrostatic force between an electron and a proton is many orders of magnitude greater than the gravitational force between them.

## Direction of electric force

The electric force F, start subscript, E, end subscript can be either attractive or repulsive. Opposite charges, such as a positive charge and a negative charge, attract each other. Like charges, such as two negative charges or two positive charges, will repel each other.

## What else should I know about Coulomb's law?

**Electric force is inversely proportional to r, squared instead of r.**As the distance between charges increases, the electric force decreases by a factor of start fraction, 1, divided by, r, squared, end fraction. For example, if we double the distance between the two electrons, the repulsive force between them would reduce (because it is inverse), and it would go down by a factor of 4 instead of 2 (because of the square).

## Want to join the conversation?

- is r measured in cm? if not, what unit?(1 vote)
- in "CGS" system [centi;gram;second] r is measured in centimeters but in "MKS" system [meter;kilo;second] r is measured in meters(3 votes)

- How do I find the Electric field if the charge is not given but distance is?(4 votes)
- The farthest you could get is to:

Fe =(9*10^9 |q1*q2|)/(whatever your distance is)^2(2 votes)

- how can you find k . Sal shows his number in the video for k how did he do that.(3 votes)
- Will an object with more charge have a greater force than the object with a smaller charge?(2 votes)
- An object with greater charge will exert a greater force on an object than an object with smaller charge would. However, if you consider two charges that exert a force on each other, regardless of the magnitude of charge, both charges will exert an equal force on each other because of Newton's third law.(2 votes)

- Is there any derivation of relation needed for comparision of Gravtitational and Electrostatic Energy(1 vote)
- when am i actually going to use this irl??(1 vote)
- you can work as a physicst, most other times, never(1 vote)

- What is the direction of force between a proton and an electron?
**Please explain your answer**(1 vote)- A proton has a positive charge and an electron has a negative charge. This means that they will attract each other. So the force on the electron will point towards the proton and the force on the proton will point towards the electron.(1 vote)

- How would I use thee formula to find the electric field(1 vote)
- E=F/q

E-Electric field in Newton per Coulomb

F-Force in Newton

q-Charge in Coulomb on which the electrostatic force is exerted(1 vote)

- How does the charge of an electron compare to the charge of a

proton?(1 vote)- They compare by pushing against each other which causes them to connect or become magnetic while for a proton delivers a positive charge an electron delivers a negative charge which is attracted to each other. But why is this?

Well because of Coulomb's law supported by Faraday's law which shows that when the electric charge creates an electric field, this affects the charges that exist in that region which means that opposite charges connect while similar charges push against each other by means of E = Fe / Q2 = (10N / 2C) = 5 N / C(1 vote)

- Why a more charged object and a less charged object exert same force to each other?(1 vote)