Very large/very small numbers
Very large numbers can be awkward to write. For example, the
approximate distance from the earth to the sun is ninety three million
miles. This is commonly written as the number "93" followed by six
zeros signifying that the "93" is actually 93 million miles and not 93
thousand miles or 93 miles.
Scientific notation (also called exponential
notation) provides a more compact method for writing very large
(or very small) numbers. In scientific notation, the distance from
the earth to the sun is 9.3 x 10^{7} miles.
Very small numbers can be as awkward to write as large numbers. A
paper clip weighs a bit more than one thousandth of a pound (0.0011
LB). This would be expressed in scientific notation as 1.1 x
10^{3} lb. The negative sign indicates that the decimal point
is moved to the left.
Numbers are customarily written with one digit to the left of the
decimal point. Numbers may be correctly represented in other ways.
Representing a number using scientific notation
The number 2,398,730,000,000 can be written in scientific notation
as (the starred representation is most common):
0.239873 x 10^{13}
****2.39873 x 10^{12}****
23.9873 x 10^{11}
239.873 x 10^{10}
The number 0.003,483 can be written in scientific notation as (the
starred representation is most common):
0.3483x 10^{2}
****3.483 x 10^{3}****
34.83x 10^{4
} 348.3x 10^{5}
3483.x 10^{6}
Scientific notation and multiplication/division
Multiplication and division of large or small numbers is simplified
using scientific notation. The decimal parts of the two numbers are
multiplied or divided as appropriate to give the decimal part of the
answer. The exponents are added together (in the case of
multiplication) or subtracted (for division) and provide the exponent
for the answer. The answer is adjusted so that only one digit is to
the left of the decimal point in the decimal part.
Multiplying numbers written in scientific notation
To multiply 4 x 10 ^{4} and 6 x 10^{5}:
 Multiply the decimal parts together:
4 x 6 = 24
 Add the two exponents:
4 + 5 = 9
 Construct the result:
24 x 10^{9}
 Adjust the result so only one digit is to the left of the decimal
point (if necessary):
24 x 10^{9} = 2.4 x
10^{10}
General Rule
(a x 10^{x})(b x 10^{y}) = ab x 10^{x+y}
Dividing numbers written in scientific notation
To divide 6 x 10 ^{5} and 4 x 10^{4}:
 Divide the decimal parts:
6/4 = 1.5
 Subtract the two exponents:
5  4 = 1
 Construct the result:
1.5 x 10^{1}
 Adjust the result so only one digit is to the left of the decimal
point (if necessary):
24 x 10^{9} = 1.5 x
10^{1} No adjustment necessary
General Rule some test text
(a x 10^{x})/(b x 10^{y}) = a/b x
10^{xy}
some test text
Scientific notation and addition/subtraction
Adding and subtracting numbers written in scientific notation is
more complicated than multiplication/division. Consider adding 0.0034
and 0.021:
0.0034 

3.4 x 10^{3} 
+0.021 
in scientific notation > 
+ 2.1 x 10^{2} 
0.0244 

2.44 x 10^{2} 
Now, neither the decimal part or the exponential part combine together in any obvious manner (as they did with multiplication and division). When adding or subtracting numbers written in exponential notation, the numbers must first be rewritten so the exponents are identical. Then, the numbers can be added or subtracted normally
Adding/subtracting numbers written in scientific
notation
To add 3.4 x 10^{3} to 2.1 x 10^{2}:
 Adjust one of the numbers so that its exponent is equivalent to
the otehr number. In this case, change 2.1 x 10^{2} into a
number which has 10^{3} as it's exponential part.
2.1 x 10^{2} = 21 x 10^{3}
 Add the decimal parts together:
21 + 3.4 = 24.4
 The exponential part of the result is the same as the exponential
parts of the two numbers, in this case, 10^{3}:
24.4 x 10^{3}
 Adjust the result so only one digit is to the left of the decimal
point (if necessary):
2.44 x 10^{2}
Subtraction follows the same procedure except one number is subtracted
from the other in (2).
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