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Parabolic paths in electric fields

A parabola is the path a thrown ball follows

In an electric field charged particles move in a parabola – the shape a projectile follows.  This is because the force always acts in the same direction regardless of the direction the particle is moving in.

Try Why Do Astronauts Float by Julian Hamm

Uniform motion plus acceleration at right angles

We could think about two velocities at right angles to each other.

The left-right velocity is constant because the force acts up-down – in other words at right angles to the direction of motion.  The up-down velocity involves a constant acceleration.

Constant velocity in one direction with constant acceleration at right angles to it gives a parabola.

back to Lesson 9: Atoms 3: The Nucleus