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Scientific Notation - Concept

Teacher/Instructor Carl Horowitz
Carl Horowitz

University of Michigan
Runs his own tutoring company

Carl taught upper-level math in several schools and currently runs his own tutoring company. He bets that no one can beat his love for intensive outdoor activities!

In the applied sciences, scientific notation is often employed as a method of notation for ease of writing and reading. When dealing with real world situations, the numbers we get as solutions are rarely whole numbers and scientific notation gives us rules to follow when using ugly numbers that have a lot of decimal places. In order to understand scientific notation, we must also have a solid understanding of exponents.

We're used to writing numbers in what's called standard form, which is basically when you write out all the numbers that are in a number. So if you have 1 million, you write 1 and then a string of 0's afterwards. What scientific notation is, is a way to write those numbers out more simplistically. So basically in Science, Physics, Chemistry all those things we're dealing with really large or really small numbers okay, and instead of writing out all the 0's what comes in handy is writing things as a times 10 to the n. So you're really writing them as powers of 10.
And basically the only rule for scientific notation is that a this term we're multiplying by the absolute value has to be between 1 and 10 okay I say the absolute value because this a term could be positive or negative so basically it has to be between 1 and 10. If a is 14 or something like that we need to adjust our 10 to move that decimal back over one spot. Just like if it was 0.1 we have to move that decimal over to the other direction. Okay so scientific notation is just a easy way of writing really big or really small numbers.

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