A
PPENDIX
B
S
CIENTIFIC
N
OTATION
Numbers expressed in scientific notation have the following form:
a
s
10
b
Exponent, a positive or negative integer
Exponential term
Coefficient,
a number with one nonzero digit
to the left of the decimal point
For example, there are about 5.5
×
10
21
carbon atoms in a 0.55 carat diamond. In the
number 5.5
×
10
21
, 5.5 is the coefficient, 10
21
is the exponential term, and 21 is the
exponent. The coefficient, which should have just one nonzero digit to the left of the
decimal point, reflects the number’s uncertainty. It is common to assume that numbers
are plus or minus one in the last position reported unless otherwise stated. Using this
guideline, 5.5
×
10
21
carbon atoms in a 0.55 carat diamond suggests that there are
from 5.4
×
10
21
to 5.6
×
10
21
carbon atoms in the stone.
The exponential term shows the size of the number. Positive exponents are used for
large numbers, and negative exponents are used for small numbers. For example, the
moon orbits the sun at 2.2
×
10
4
or 22,000 mi/hr.
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 Fall '06
 Mark
 Scientific Notation, Decimal, Exponentiation, 0.00000000000000000000000000091096 g, 0.00056 inches, 0.55 carat

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