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Introductory Mechanics
Problems Laboratory
1
Sears Tower
Goals: Identify steps in a problem. Use
reasonable guesses to make approximations.
Use unit conversion to get an answer.
PROBLEM
The Sears Tower in Chicago is the tallest building in North America. As a scientist
riding with a tour group you are asked if you know how many people work and visit
there each day. Another tourist asks about how many liters of water are used each
minute by the Tower during the day.
You don’t have a web site handy, but you know a couple of facts. The tour guide tells
you that the building is 110 stories high and sits on one city block (1/16 mile square).
From the bus you see this view of the Tower: (picture from Trizec Properties).
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Sears Tower
PROBLEM SKILLS
There are two questions directly posed by the problem. The first is estimating the num
ber of workers in the building. The second is estimating the amount of water used by
those workers.
In general a step represents a simple mathematical expression. This can be a simple
addition, subtraction, multiplication or division. Sometimes a step will correspond to a
single formula. In estimation problems a step probably includes rounding or order of
magnitude approximations.
How do we break down steps? Usually there is a formula that we think applies to the
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 Spring '08
 staff
 mechanics

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