Why don't the electric field lines represent the paths of particles?? Watch
Can someone please care to explain this to me? Im very confused? Aren't the electric field lines supposed to show the direction of the force on a small positive charge?
The book is saying, I reckon, that it shouldn't be confused with the path the positive particle takes. For example if a positive charged particles enters a uniform electric field with a certain velocity it doesn't stop, turn and go along the electric field line.
But I've always wondered if a positive charged particle is placed at REST would it follow the electric field line?
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Don't forget that force is a vector quantity, it has both magnitude and direction. A stationary particle will accelerate in the same direction as the applied force - basic Newtons laws
However, if the particle is already moving wrt the electric field, then the particle already has momentum (mass x velocity) and the trajectory of the particle will therefore be the vector product of the two. This is exactly analogous to the way gravity affects the trajectory of an object moving relative to a gravitational field. Let go of a ball held stationary above the ground and it accelerates straight down along the gravitational field lines. Throw the ball parallel to the ground and what happens to it's trajectory? Ballistics in other words.
Don't forget that if the electric field is not uniform, then the force on the particle is changing as it moves through the field and so the trajectory must also change.
It would actually move in a smooth curved parabolic path.