Scientific Notation and Significant Figures

# Scientific Notation and Significant Figures - Physics 0174...

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Physics 0174 Fall 2008 SCIENTIFIC NOTATION AND SIGNIFICANT FIGURES The natural sciences attempt to describe the world around us, from the very large objects in the universe to the very smallest building blocks of matter. Scientific notation (also called power of ten notation) is used as a convenient way to express numbers over the wide range of values encountered in the sciences. It works as follows: In scientific notation, numbers are expressed as the product of a value and a multiplier : number = value times multiplier The value is usually expressed as a decimal fraction with a magnitude that is greater than 1 but smaller than 10 (for example: 3.57). The number of digits (three in the example given) indicates the accuracy to which the number is known. (See discussion of significant figures on the back of this sheet). The multiplier is expressed in the form 10 n (“ten to the power n”), where the exponent n is a positive or negative integer (whole number). For example: 10 1 = 10 10 2 = 10 x 10 = 100 10 3 = 10 x 10 x 10 = 1,000 10 4 = 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 = 10,000 etc. 10

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Scientific Notation and Significant Figures - Physics 0174...

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