Electrostatic potential energy between two point charges

Let me repeat this one more time. The potential energy changes in a system of two masses are analogous to the changes occurring within a system of unlike charges.

Both systems are composed of mutually attracting components. Work is required to separate the components, two masses or two unlike charges, and as they are moved further apart, the system gains potential energy equal to the work performed in moving the components of the system from the initial to the final position.

We are repeating this concept more than a few times because it really is important. If I had not worked with a large number of premedical students, I might think this is enough, but I know you need to hear it.

Think of two masses attracted by gravity or two unlike charges attracted by electric force as having potential energy down below zero, a negative number. How far below zero is the potential energy? That tells you how much work needs to be done to completely separate the components of the system, the binding energy.












The WikiPremed MCAT Course is a comprehensive course in the undergraduate level general sciences. Undergraduate level physics, chemistry, organic chemistry and biology are presented by this course as a unified whole within a spiraling curriculum. Please read our policies on Privacy and Shipping & Returns.  Contact Us. MCAT is a registered trademark of the Association of American Medical Colleges, which does not endorse the WikiPremed Course. WikiPremed offers the customers of our publications or our teaching services no guarantees regarding eventual performance on the MCAT.


Creative Commons License
WikiPremed is a trademark of Wisebridge Learning Systems LLC. The work of WikiPremed is published under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike License. There are elements of work here, such as a subset of the images in the archive from WikiPedia, that originated as GNU General Public License works, so take care to follow the unique stipulations of that license in printed reproductions.