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Physics > Electric Charges and Fields > Electric Charge
Electric Charges and Fields

Electric Charge

Have you ever given a thought as to why you get a shock while coming in contact with a doorknob? Such instances need to be decoded as it will help you learn about the concept of electric charge. If you analyze a battery, there are two symbols, ‘+’ and ‘-‘. This is because these two ends are responsible for the transmission of positive & negative charges. Let us try to understand what is charge in a precise manner.

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What is Charge?

It was Benjamin Franklin, famous American inventor who was responsible for assigning positive and negative standards of charge. In 1742, he started studying electricity which led to such conclusions. Before Franklin’s analysis, most people assumed that electrical effects occurred due to the merger of two diverse electrical fluids (one negative and one positive).

After years of research and deductions, the concept of electric charge has been solidified and is actively taught to the global population. It should be known that the unit for calculating electric charge is coulomb (C); named after 18th-century French physicist, Charles-Augustin Coulomb.

He was the one who established the law which said: “like charges repel; unlike charges attract.” You can define a coulomb as the quantity of charge transferred by one ampere current for a duration of one second. Let’s further understand what is charge.

Download Electric Charge Cheat Sheet PDF

Download Conductors and Insulators Cheat Sheet PDF


electric charges cheat sheet

Introduction to Protons & Electrons

What is Charge

Majority of the electric charge is contained with the protons and electrons present within the atom. The negative charge is carried by electrons, whereas protons carry the positive charge. It is vital to know that, electrons and protons attract each other; the standard notion of “opposites attract” as framed by Coulomb.

Furthermore, protons and electrons are responsible for the development of electric fields, which apply a force termed as Coulomb force. This force is known to be outward radiating in all directions. Since protons are usually limited to the nuclei implanted inside atoms, their movement isn’t that free as compared to electrons.

Hence, whenever there is a question related to electric charge, it always points out to surplus or shortage of electrons. In case some imbalance happens, and electrons are allowed to flow, the generation of electric current can be experienced. After understanding the data mentioned above, this is the point when the question: what is charge? grows a bit clear to the readers.

Solved Examples for You

Question: using a nuclear reaction, what happens to electric charge?

Answer: In the event of a nuclear reaction, the electric charge gets conserved considering an isolated system. This is true for any nuclear or chemical reaction, where the net electric charge stays constant. To be precise, the algebraic quantity of the essential charges stays the same.

Question: Explain the statement: ‘For a body, an electric charge is quantized’.

Answer: Considering a particular body, ‘electric charge is quantized’ refers to the fundamental number of electrons which can be transferred from that body to another. It should be noted that charges don’t get transported infractions. Therefore, the overall charge controlled by a body is simply the fundamental multiples of electric charge.

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