How Can Scientific Notation Be Used in the Real World?

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Scientific notation can be used in a wide variety of different ways in the real world depending on your day. Learn about how scientific notation can be used in the real world with help from a graduate in mathematics in this free video clip.

Part of the Video Series: Math Instruction
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Video Transcript

Hi, my name is Marija. I'm a mathematician, and today I'm going to tell you how scientific notation can be used in the real world. So scientific notation is a way to express really big or really small numbers and its purpose is really just convenience mostly in the field of science because when you are measuring things like I'd say the distance between planets, that's one thing that you do want to use scientific notation for because you don't want to have a number written out that might have 20 spaces when you can just write something like for example, 3.4 times 10 to the 19th power, would be one way of writing a distance and this is not an exact distance between planets but as an example it might be. But if you had to write this out in standard form, that's going to be 3, 4 with 18 zeros following it, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, I can't even fit them all on this board. So to show you how it's much more convenient to write this number than this one which is not even done at this point and then on the opposite end of that it can also express really small numbers more conveniently. So you might be talking about things like the size of an atom because the size of an atom will be a number that's going to be expressed the opposite of this. It will be a decimal. We have a whole lot of zeros before the actual numbers come in, the digits come in. So it's just a convenient way of express numbers that are extremely big or extremely small, normally found in the field of science. My name is Marija, and I just showed you how scientific notation is used in the real world.

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