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Question

If the gravitational potential due to the earth at infinite distance from it is zero, the potential at a point P is 5 J kg1. Suppose we arbitrarily assume the gravitational potential at infinity to be +10 J kg1. Then, gravitational potential at P will be

A
5 J kg1
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B
+5 J kg1
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C
15 J kg1
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D
+15 J kg1
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Solution

The correct option is B +5 J kg1
Given that,
Potential at P, VP=5 J kg1
The gravitational potential is a scalar quantity and change in gravitational potential doesn’t depend on the reference chosen.
For 1st case:
ΔV=VPV
ΔV=5 J/kg1
For 2nd case:
ΔV=VPV
VP=V+ΔV
VP=105
VP=+5 J kg1
Hence, option (b) is correct.
Why this question?
To familiarize students with the concept of gravitational potential and that it doesn’t depend on the reference chosen.

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