Scientific Notation and Computations
by Eric Feigelson, Professor of Astronomy & Astrophysics
Penn State University
1. The exponent shows how many zeros are present to the left of the decimal point.
- 200 = 200. = , 5/1000 = 0.005 = .
- 1 millimeter = micrometers =
meters = kilometers
- The mass of the Sun is grams
3. To multiply in scientific notation, multiply the numbers in front, add
the exponents, and (if necessary) change exponent so the number in
front is between 1 and 10.
- What is the mass of a galaxy with Suns?
- Answer: grams = grams.
4. To divide in scientific notation, divide the numbers in front,
subtract the exponents, and (if necessary) change exponent so the
number in front is between 1 and 10.
- How many atoms are in your body if your mass is 60
kilograms and a typical atomic mass is kilograms?
- Answer: =
- How long would it take for the Space Shuttle to reach the nearest star
if it travels at 6 kilometers/second and the star is meters away?
meters / ( meters/second) = seconds =
seconds. Note the change of units between kilometers and meters.
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Last updated: Aug 17, 1996 Matthew