In courses such as chemistry (see our credits
page for more on chemistry) or when computing Bill Gates' net worth, it is
sometimes necessary to use huge numbers such as 26,890,000,000,000,000,000 (which
happens to be the number of molecules of a gas in a cubic meter). Using these large
(or sometimes, extremely small) numbers can easily lead to mistakes and use tons
of paper! :-) Scientific notation takes care of this.
Numbers in scientific notation look like the following examples: 4.16 x 10+b and 4.16 x 10-b. b is always a positive, real number. The 10+b tells us that the decimal point is b places to the right of where it is shown. The 10-b tells us that the decimal point is b places to the left of where it is shown.
1. Write .000316 in scientific notation.
Take the Quiz on scientific notation. (Very useful to review or to see if you've really got this topic down.) Do it!