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Electric Field Definition

An electric field is an area formed when objects collect electric charges. For example, forces can act on objects without touching in an electric field.

View Lesson on Electric & Magnetic Fields
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Electric & Magnetic Fields

Fun Facts

  • Laser printers use electric fields to operate.
  • Two balloons with the same charge are surrounded by electric fields that will repel each other.
  • Electric field force gets stronger as objects get closer.

Why Do We Need To Know About Electric Field

Learning about electric fields helps us understand how things like speakers and printers work. This shows why jobs in engineering and technology are important. For example, speakers use electric and magnetic fields to make sound, which is a big part of making electronics. Also, laser printers use electric fields to put ink on paper, showing how these fields are used in making images and printing. These examples show how electric fields are used in real life, making them interesting and important for many jobs.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can you increase the strength of the magnetic force on an object like a paper clip?
Magnetic forces get stronger as the magnet moves closer to the object it is attracting or repelling. If two magnets are made of the same material, then the larger magnet will have a stronger magnetic field. The strength of a magnet also depends on the material from which it is made. For example, neodymium magnets will have a stronger magnetic field than magnets made from Alnico (an alloy of aluminum, nickel, and cobalt).
Why can iron filings be used to visualize a magnetic field?
Each tiny piece of iron becomes magnetized, and its poles align with the lines of the magnetic field. Therefore, the iron filings will line up to show the field lines and can be used to determine the relative strength of the field. Closely packed lines indicate a stronger field; widely spaced lines indicate a weaker field.
How can two balloons repel each other without touching?
Balloons that have been rubbed with the same material will take on the same charge. Charged objects are surrounded by electric fields that can exert a force on other charged objects. Two balloons with the same charge will repel each other.
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