How to Convert From Hertz to Scientific Notation

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Hertz (Hz), a measurement of frequency, tells how many times something happens each second. You can either express high frequencies as long numerals such as 60,000 Hz or incorporate metric prefixes such as "kilo" (a thousand) or "mega" (a million) along with the number. Scientists often prefer to express measurements such as hertz in scientific notation, a very standardized form useful in expressing very large or very small numbers.

Converting Without Metric Prefixes

  • Look at the hertz value. If it is an integer, count the number of digits after the leftmost number to get the tens value. For example, 60,000 Hz has a tens value of 4, while 6 Hz has a tens value of 0.

  • Write the number as a decimal, with the decimal point just to the right of the leftmost number. For example, if you have 23,500 Hz, write 2.35.

  • Multiply the decimal number by 10 taken to the tens power determined in Step 1. For example, 23,500 Hz becomes 2.35 x 10^4, and Hz becomes 6 x 10^0.

Converting With Metric Prefixes

  • Look up the metric prefix for the number in a table such as the one linked to below to get the tens value. For 6 kilohertz (kHZ), for example, the "kilo" prefix translates into a tens value of 10^3.

  • Add an extra 10 for any digits to the right of the leftmost digit. For example, for 65 kHz, add an extra 10 since a 5 lies to the right of the 6. The tens value becomes 10^4. For 650 kHz, add 2 to the tens value, yielding 10^5

  • Express the number in scientific notation as a decimal multiplied by the tens value determined above. For example, 65 kHZ becomes 6.5 x 10^4 Hz, while 3.2 megahertz (MHz) becomes 3.2 x 10^6 Hz.

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