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ERIC Number: EJ825952
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Jan
Pages: 6
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 6
ISSN: ISSN-0143-0807
The Two-Capacitor Problem Revisited: A Mechanical Harmonic Oscillator Model Approach
Lee, Keeyung
European Journal of Physics, v30 n1 p69-74 Jan 2009
The well-known two-capacitor problem, in which exactly half the stored energy disappears when a charged capacitor is connected to an identical capacitor, is discussed based on the mechanical harmonic oscillator model approach. In the mechanical harmonic oscillator model, it is shown first that "exactly half" the work done by a constant applied force is dissipated irrespective of the form of dissipation mechanism when the system comes to a new equilibrium after a constant force is abruptly applied. This model is then applied to the energy loss mechanism in the capacitor charging problem or the two-capacitor problem. This approach allows a simple explanation of the energy dissipation mechanism in these problems and shows that the dissipated energy should always be "exactly half" the supplied energy whether that is caused by the Joule heat or by the radiation. This paper, which provides a simple treatment of the energy dissipation mechanism in the two-capacitor problem, is suitable for all undergraduate levels. (Contains 1 figure.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A