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ERIC Number: EJ860228
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Feb
Pages: 5
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0031-921X
The Circle of Apollonius and Its Applications in Introductory Physics
Partensky, Michael B.
Physics Teacher, v46 n2 p104-108 Feb 2008
The circle of Apollonius is named after the ancient geometrician Apollonius of Perga. This beautiful geometric construct can be helpful when solving some general problems of geometry and mathematical physics, optics, and electricity. Here we discuss two of its applications: localizing an object in space and calculating electric fields. First, we pose an entertaining localization problem to trigger students' interest in the subject. Analyzing this problem, we introduce the circle of Apollonius and show that this geometric technique helps solve the problem in an elegant and intuitive manner. Then we switch to seemingly unrelated problems of calculating the electric fields. We show that the zero equipotential line for two unlike charges is the Apollonius circle for these two charges and use this discovery to find the electric field of a charge positioned near a grounded conductive sphere. Finally, we pose some questions for further examination.
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