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Revision as of 06:46, 30 May 2008 by imported>J. Noel Chiappa (Good point)
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 Definition A quantity in physics that describes how much energy is needed to move an electrically charged object within an electric field. [d] [e]
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Being only a lay person, I find analogies a great help in understanding technical and scientific matters.

I would like an explanation of what is illustrated by different forms of the analogy of pysical topology: a slope and its steepness and length; a precipice and its height; in terms of flowing water, the volume of water in the flow? -- Janos Abel 16:59, 6 June 2007 (CDT)

Voltage is best analogized to the pressure in a pressurized pipe. Amperage is the flow rate (volume/time). J. Noel Chiappa 16:43, 29 May 2008 (CDT)

Possible analogy

A potential is a scalar function whose gradiant (or directional derivative) is equal to a vector field (typically force). In the case of voltage, force is given by Coulomb's law

and in the case of gravitation, force is given by Newton's law

The two situations are analogous, except that charge can be positive or negative, but mass cannot. In either case, the potential is just the force per unit charge (or mass). When an electron and proton are moved apart, the attractive force goes down, but the distance increases. An easy thing to remember is that in the potential one charge disappears, and the potential difference is proportional to 1/r. Formally,

Now, back to the analogy: the potential depends on the height, but is independent of the mass because it measures the gravitational attraction the earth exerts per unit mass. Greg Woodhouse 17:48, 6 June 2007 (CDT)

I should add that th radius of the earth is quite large, and so it basically "swamps" the other factors here, and that explains why (near the earth's surface) the acceleration due to gravity (basically, the potential) is a constant 9.8 meters per second squared (or 32 feet per second squared). Greg Woodhouse 17:54, 6 June 2007 (CDT)


Is this article duplicative of volt, or is there a place for both? J. Noel Chiappa 16:43, 29 May 2008 (CDT)

I think there is a place for both. There is a place for both length and metre, so there should be a place for the concept and the unit here, too. Anthony Argyriou 20:11, 29 May 2008 (CDT)
Sounds good - I like the length/metre analogy (although the need for two there is clearer, since there are several units of length, but only one of voltage). J. Noel Chiappa 07:46, 30 May 2008 (CDT)