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Notes on Scientific Notation

 

Frequently very large or very small numbers are written in scientific notation.

 

A number is written in scientific notation when it is expressed as a product of a decimal and a power of ten. The decimal must be a number greater or equal to 1 but less than 10.

Scientific Notation

 
 


Power of ten

 
Example: 12,340,000 = 1.234 107

Decimal

 
 

 

 

 


Example: Venus is 1.08 108 kilometers from the sun. This means that Venus is 108,000,000 kilometers from the sun.

 

Very often we use scientific notation in science. The above example indicates how we use it for very large numbers, however we also use it for very small numbers.

 

Example: Bacteria are so small they measure 3.9 10-5 inches. This means that bacteria measures .000039 inches.