Fun with Fermi Problems (PowerPoint)

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					Fun with Fermi
  Problems

            Joe Premus
             EDUC 570
            March 2010
So what are Fermi Problems…?
                    • Named after the Italian-
                      American University of
                      Chicago professor and
                      noted 20th century
                      physicist and Nobel
                      Prize-winner
                    • Fermi problems are
                      math word problems
A really smart guy!   that require making
                      educated guesses using
                      estimation skills and
                      prior knowledge
                    • Break big problems into
                      smaller problems and     …and a US stamp in
                      solve the pieces                his honor…
…has his own prize
and what’s fun about them…?
  Fermi problems
require imagination      Fermi problems make
                         you think differently


                                                 Fermi problems
                                                 are good exercise
                                                 for your
                                                 brain


                      Fermi problems will make
                        you rich and popular     You can create your
                                                   own and stump
                                                    your parents!
Let’s take a look at some examples of Fermi
Problems…
                   How many piano tuners
                    are there in the city of
                                  Chicago?


 How many
 basketballs
                                               How many hot dogs
 would fill this
                                               will be sold at Yankee
 classroom?
                                               Stadium this season?
Let’s start with an easy one…

      some might even
      call it a..

                   lay-up
Easy Question…


   How many
basketballs can fill
   this room?
Easy Question…


   How many
basketballs can fill
   this room?
Easy Question…
 How many basketballs can fill this room?



  what information do we need to
      solve the problem…?

         Talk it over for a minute….
Easy Question…
 How many basketballs can fill this room?

  what information do we need to
      solve the problem…?
   - Volume of this room?
  - Volume of a basketball?
 Let’s get to
work people!
Volume of this room
           X       X
      Length
  Height
           Width

      Volume =
Volume of this room
           (in inches)
  Length X Width X Height = Volume
   240      180     120     5,184,000
Volume of a basketball?
     Well, a
  basketball is a   And the volume of a sphere
    sphere….        = 4/3 πr3 where r is the
                    radius of the ball of course!




                                Hey old guys - use
                                the circumference
                                 to calculate the
                                       radius
Volume of a basketball?
               Hey, don’t forget if the
             circumference = 2πr, then
             you can find r by dividing
             the circumference by 2π!
Volume of a basketball?
Circumference = 29.5 in = 2πr
Radius r = 29.5/(2π) = 4.69 in
Volume = (4/3) π   r3

       = (4/3) π (4.69)3
       = 432 cubic in.
So back to the easy question…
 How many basketballs can fill this room?

 Answer:
 Divide the volume of the room
 by the volume of the basketball
 = 5,132,000 cu.in. / 432 cu.in.
 = 11,879 basketballs
Pictures & Music Sources:
Enrico Fermi pictures – American Institute of Physics, University of Chicago

Basketball background - Http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://static.desktopnexus.com/wallpapers/16550
Yankee Stadium - http://dianasneighborhood.files.wordpress.com/2009/07/yankee-stadium-hot-dog-permanently-
scatterbrained.jpg
Piano keys - http://www.paulhahn.com/images/pianos.jpg
Basketball - http://www.barryonline.com/storage/basketball.jpg
Sweet Georgia Brown (Harlem Globetrotters)
by Bobby Morganstein Productions
From the Album Sports & Novelty Themes
Larry Bird & Kevin McHale http://imagecache2.allposters.com/images/pic/PHO/AAFC033~Larry-Bird-Kevin-McHale-1-
Posters.jpg
Kevin Garnett http://www.thesunblog.com/gourmetgal/kevin-garnett22.jpg
Paul Pierce & Ray Allen - http://artfiles.art.com/5/p/LRG/27/2731/D3VND00Z/paul-pierce--ray-allen-game-4-of-the-2008-
nba-finals.jpg

				
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