Scientific Notation

We use numbers to measure many things. Common numbers are used to measure the common things we see every day. The common way we write numbers is called standard notation. When we need to measure something that is very, very big or very, very small, we can use scientific notation. It is a shortcut for writing very big and very small numbers.

A number written in scientific notation is written as the product of a number between one and ten and a power or exponent of ten. Here's an example. You could write a distance of 2,000 miles as 2.0 X 103 miles. It is read as "two times ten to the third power." Ten to the third power (103) means 10 X 10 X 10. When you multiply a whole number by ten with any exponent, you move the decimal point to the right for every number in the exponent. Ten to the third power means that you move the decimal point three places to the right. Just add zeroes if you need to.

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