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Hi I need help with a displacement type problem

  1. Sep 30, 2008 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data
    In a mall, a shopper rides up an escalator between floors. At the top of the escalator, the shopper turns right and walks 9 meters to a store. The magnitude of the shopper's displacement from the bottom of the escalator is 16m. The vertical distance between the floors is 6m. At what angle is the escalator inclined above the horizontal?

    2. Relevant equations
    Pythagorean theorem/ soh cah toa

    3. The attempt at a solution
    I had a hard time visualizing this problem. I drew my first triangle as if I was standing in front of the escalator, which was a straight line x going north, then my next leg 9m long eastward and my hypotenuse 16m long diagonal. I did not get the correct answer of 27 degrees. I drew my second triangle as if i was watching the escalator from the side and all I had was one leg which was the height of 6m being the distance between the ceiling and the floor. Someone help me solve this please.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 30, 2008 #2


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    Well you were on the right track. You just needed to combine those two triangles so your last triangle with the 6m height had its hypotenuse as well (which is the escalator distance you found from using pythagoras' theorem on the other triangle) and you can use your trig from there.

    If you can't visualize the scenario, make a sketch of it on paper and include all angles and sides you know and the ones you find. You will notice it is only a 2-step problem.
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