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ERIC Number: EJ1091330
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016-Mar
Pages: 2
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0031-921X
Sharp Truncation of an Electric Field: An Idealized Model That Warrants Caution
Tu, Hong; Zhu, Jiongming
Physics Teacher, v54 n3 p160-161 Mar 2016
In physics, idealized models are often used to simplify complex situations. The motivation of the idealization is to make the real complex system tractable by adopting certain simplifications. In this treatment some unnecessary, negligible aspects are stripped away (so-called Aristotelian idealization), or some deliberate distortions are involved (so-called Galilean idealization). The most important principle in using an idealized model is to make sure that all the neglected aspects do not affect our analysis or result. Point charges, rigid bodies, simple pendulums, frictionless planes, and isolated systems are all frequently used idealized models. However, when they are applied to certain uncommon models, extra precautions should be taken. The possibilities and necessities of adopting the idealizations have to be considered carefully. Sometimes some factors neglected or ignored in the idealization could completely change the result, even make the treatment unphysical and conclusions unscientific.
American Association of Physics Teachers. One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740. Tel: 301-209-3300; Fax: 301-209-0845; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A