04_scinot - Lesson 4: Scientific Notation In the last...

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Lesson 4: Scientific Notation In the last section you learned how to use sig digs in your calculations. What do you do if you multiply numbers like 537 x 269 = 144 453. .. you are supposed to only have three sig digs, but your answer sure has more than three sig digs! We need a way to show the correct number of sig digs. What if you have a large number like 4 500 000 000 km (the distance from Neptune to the sun), or a small number like 0.000 000 010 cm (the diameter of an atom) and you don't want to be bothered with writing out all those zeros? We need a way to show really big and really small numbers. To get around these problems, we use Scientific Notation (sometimes called Exponential Notation). This system makes use of "powers of 10", raising 10 to whatever value you need. You can get either really big numbers by using positive powers like 105 = 100 000 You can also show really small numbers by using negative powers like 10-5 = 0.00001 Example 1: 10 5 = 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 x10 = 100 000 10 -5 = 1/10 x 1/10 x 1/10 x 1/10 x 1/10 = 0.00001 Don't worry about spending half a minute using your calculator to figure out what 105 equals. Instead, notice that 105 written out has five zeros.
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This note was uploaded on 12/02/2011 for the course PHYSICS 235 taught by Professor Staff during the Fall '08 term at Rutgers.

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04_scinot - Lesson 4: Scientific Notation In the last...

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