Chapter 10

Seeking a Higher Power through Scientific Notation

In This Chapter

arrow Understanding powers of ten

arrow Multiplying and dividing powers of ten

arrow Converting numbers into and out of scientific notation

arrow Multiplying and dividing in scientific notation

Powers of ten — the number 10 multiplied by itself any number of times — form the basis of the Hindu-Arabic number system (the decimal number system) that you're familiar with. In Chapter 1, you discover how this system uses zeros as placeholders, giving you the ones place, the tens place, the ten-trillions place, and the like. This system works well for relatively small numbers, but as numbers grow, using zeros becomes awkward. For example, ten quintillion is represented as the number 10,000,000,000,000,000,000.

Similarly, in Chapter 8, you find zeros also work as placeholders in decimals. In this case, the system works great for decimals that aren't overly precise, but it becomes awkward when you need a high level of precision. For example, two trillionths is represented as the decimal 0.000000000002.

And really, people are busy, so ...

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