WHAT IS NASA PHYSICS?
MODULES
Forces and Motion
Conservation of Momentum & Energy
Temperature and Heat
Fluids
Optics
Electromagnetic Spectrum
Modern Physics
Anticipation Guide 7
Intro to Modern Physics
Blackbody Radiation
The Ultraviolet Catastrophe
The Photoelectric Effect
Bohr's Atom
Spectra
Radioactive Decay
Special Relativity (SR)
Simultaneity
Distance and Time
General Relativity
May the Forces be with You
Modern Physics Notebook
Assessment Problems 7
Useful Things
SITE MAP
Forces and Motion
Anticipation Guide
Speed and Velocity
Acceleration
Gravity
Projectile Motion
Orbital Motion
Newton's Laws of Motion
Assessment Problems
Powers of Ten
10^{0}
10^{1}
10^{2}
10^{3}
etc.
1
10
100
1000
=
=
=
=
Speed and Velocity
Scientific Notation
Here is another way to make your calculations easier. Notice in the Mars problem that you had to write out 640,000,000 and then divide it by 260. Don’t you get tired of writing zeros and checking to make sure you got them all?
Scientists devised an easier way to write numbers and to multiply and divide them – its called scientific notation. Any number can be represented by two numbers that are multiplied together. For example, the travel distance to Mars is 6.4 x 10^{8} km. The 6.4 are the first two digits, and the exponent 8 is the number of digits to the right of the decimal point following the 6. Count them – there are 8 digits. It is a lot easier to write is 6.4 x 10^{8} than 640,000,000.
To solve the problem above, you convert the 260 to 2.6 x 10^{2}, and then divide 6.4 by 2.6 to get 2.5. To divide the part with exponents you just subtract the exponents: 10^{8} /10^{2} = 10^{8-2} = 10^{6}. Now you put together the two pieces to get the answer: 2.5 • 10^{6}. Scientific notation makes hard problems easier – more information is given in the Appendix.
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