# scientific notation

how do you do scientific notation?

Scientific notation is a way to deal with writing out very large or very small numbers.
theo.cushion
10 October 2011
Do you have any examples you are struggling with?
theo.cushion
10 October 2011
a new movie costs £320 million to make write this amount in scientific notation
maina
10 October 2011
okay, how would you write it normally - without the word million?
theo.cushion
10 October 2011
320 000 000
maina
10 October 2011
So what do you think the scientific notation would look like?
theo.cushion
10 October 2011
7
maina
10 October 2011
Spot on, so how many 0's are there?
theo.cushion
10 October 2011
thats what i need help with i don't understand how to write it out
maina
10 October 2011
okay so we could write:
theo.cushion
10 October 2011
What does equal?
theo.cushion
10 October 2011
10000000 i think
maina
10 October 2011
Yes!
theo.cushion
10 October 2011
So
theo.cushion
10 October 2011
Does that make sense?
theo.cushion
10 October 2011
to see if i understand
maina
10 October 2011
can you maybe ask me a question
maina
10 October 2011
We're not quite there yet, but I will in a second
theo.cushion
10 October 2011
Scientists often prefer to use normalised scientific notation. So if the first number is greater than 1, but less than 10 - we add a decimal point, and add one to the exponent. So we get
theo.cushion
10 October 2011
okay
maina
10 October 2011
Okay, let's give it a go. What is the scientific notation for ?
theo.cushion
10 October 2011
9.75 to the power of 6
maina
10 October 2011
Almost! We must not say "to the power of 6" because that would look like this , what we want (and what I think you mean) is
theo.cushion
10 October 2011
okay i think i understand
maina
10 October 2011
and we would say "9.75 times 10 to the power 6"
theo.cushion
10 October 2011
You might see it on the calculator shortened to this as well.
theo.cushion
10 October 2011
Why do you think scientific notation is useful?
theo.cushion
10 October 2011
okay then
maina
10 October 2011
because you don't need to write a large number with lots of zero's?
maina
10 October 2011
Yes, often scientists deal with huge numbers, like the distance from the earth to the sun. It is a lot easier to write it out in scientific notation in these cases. They also often round the number to only a few significant figures to keep things really short.
theo.cushion
10 October 2011
thankyou for helping me understand
maina
10 October 2011
No problem Maina
theo.cushion
10 October 2011
smiley face
maina
10 October 2011