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Magnetic effect of electric current

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Magnetic effect of electric current - Lesson Summary

In 1820, from various observations, Hans Christian Oersted concluded that current or moving charges in a conductor produced a magnetic field around it. He also observed that when the magnitude of current passing through the conducting wire was increased, the deflection of the magnetic needle placed at a constant distance from the conducting wire increased. When the magnetic compass moved closer to the conducting wire for the same amount of current passing through it the deflection of the magnetic needle increased.

A charge at rest produces only an electric field and a charge in motion produces both an electric filed and a magnetic field. A charge produces an electric field and this electric filed exerts a force on any charge, except the source charge, placed in it. Let a source charge Q be placed at a point in a vacuum. The space around the charge, where it can influence other charges is called its electric filed. A small test charge q is placed at point P in the electric filed at a distance r from the source charge Q. Then the intensity of the electric field at the given point, P, is defined as the force per unit charge.

If there is more than one charge in the space under consideration the electric field at a particular point is due to more charges. Then the fields due to all the charges should add vectorially. This is called the Principle of Superposition.

If a charge q is placed near a current-carrying conductor at point P it does not experience any force because there is no electric field at point P. Since the conducting wire contains an equal number of positive and negative charges, it is electrically neutral and hence does not produce a net electric field. If the charge q is projected from point P in the direction of the current in the wire the charge gets deflected towards the wire if the charge is positive and away from the wire if it is negative. If the charge q is projected from point P in the opposite direction to the current in the wire the charge gets deflected away from the wire if the charge is positive and towards the wire if it is negative.

From these observations, it is clear that there is a magnetic field due to the current and this magnetic field interacts with the magnetic field due to the moving charge q. The interaction between these two magnetic fields causes the charge q to deviate from its path. Thus, the moving charges produce both an electric field and a magnetic field.....

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