A51
Appendix V
Scientific Notation and the Metric System
I. Scientific notation.
Recall that in the mathematical expression "2
3
" the number 2 is called the
base
and
the number 3 is called the
exponent
. This expression is read as "two to the third
power." To determine the number indicated by this expression, simply multiply the base
(2) by itself the exponent (3) number of times. Hence,
2
3
= 2 x 2 x 2 = 8
Scientific notation is a concise, convenient way to express very large or very small
numbers. The number 10 is used as the base. For example. . .
10
6
=
10 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 10
10
6
=
1
10 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 10
2 x 10
6
=
2(10 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 10)
3.6 x 10
6
=
3.6 x
1
10 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 10
Of course, there are easier ways to calculate the actual number written in scientific
notation besides multiplying everything out. Simply remember that the exponent
designates the number of places to the right or the left one must move the decimal point
to achieve the actual number.
When the exponent is positive, the decimal point moves to the right
When the exponent is negative, the decimal point moves to the left
.
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 Spring '08
 Krempels
 Scientific Notation, International System of Units, SI prefix, Orders of magnitude

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