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Worksheet: Scientific Notation
Some of the question and example equations used were taken from:
http://www.smes.org/classes/chemistry/firstyear/ExponentNotation.htm
, accessed 8/27/08.
Scientific or decimal notation is a method of representing numbers that are often very large or
very small. It not only saves us from having to write lots of zeros, but it is an easy way to keep
track of significant figures!
A number represented in scientific notation has three parts:
6.02 x 10
23
Coefficient
Exponent
Base unit
The coefficient is always a number between 1 and 10. All digits in the coefficient as assumed to
be significant (see rules for significant figures).
The “ x 10” part represents the base unit. When a number has been properly written in scientific
notation, the base unit will be 10. The base unit combined with the exponent is the number of
times the number 10 has to be multiplied or divided into the coefficient to obtain the normal or
long form of the number.
The exponent is written to the right and slightly above the base unit and can be any nonzero
number, either positive or negative. The exponent tells us how far the decimal place has been
moved and the sign tells us in which direction it has been moved. If the exponent is positive, then
the coefficient must be multiplied by 10 as many times as the exponent indicates to obtain the
assumed to be 3. x 10
3
.
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 Fall '09
 Maggie
 Chemistry, Scientific Notation, Numerical digit, Decimal, Exponentiation

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