The electrostatic field of a nearby positive charge causes the mobile charges in conductive objects to separate due to electrostatic induction. Negative charges are attracted and move to the surface of the object facing the external charge. Positive charges (red) are repelled and move to the surface facing away. These induced surface charges are exactly the right size and shape so their opposing electric field cancels the electric field of the external charge throughout the interior of the metal. Therefore, the electrostatic field everywhere inside a conductive object is zero, and the electrostatic potential is constant.

Electrostatics is the branch of physics that studies electric charge at rest. This is often done on a charged metal sphere (Van der Graaff generator) insulated from its surroundings, or on the insulated plates of a capacitor.