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Activity: Powers of 10

Purpose

Together with the video, Powers of Ten, this activity provides a quick lesson on using scientific notation as a tool to simplify some of the massive and minuscule numbers you’ll encounter when looking at things on the extreme ends of a scale.

Process

Get out of piece of paper and something to write with – you’re going to watch the Powers of 10 video again.
As the video zooms out and in, write the number that corresponds to each zoom. For example, you’ll start at 1, then go to 10, then to 100, and so on. You have to rewrite the number each time. You can’t just add on zeros to the original number. Keep up as long as you can!
When you can no longer keep up, stop the video and watch this Khan Academy video explaining scientific notation.

For Further Discussion

Why do you think anyone would want to look at the Universe from such great distance? Why would anyone want to look at anything so close? Share your answers in the Questions Area below, and compare your answers with others for a different perspective.

Want to join the conversation?

  • blobby green style avatar for user clarenimbus
    Wonderful film. Interesting production year.
    Looking from afar gives a greater perspective. Looking close up reveals details of structures and how things work.
    (14 votes)
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  • piceratops tree style avatar for user Leo Wood
    To realise how insignificant we are in the grand scheme of things.
    (3 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user Mildred Mobus
    I think people would want to look at the Universe from a great distance for two reasons. First, it's just simple curiosity about the Universe around us and it's awe inspiring. SEcond, with the way we are treating our planet, we might need to find another place to live one day. So I also think there is the practical part...sort of an Earth Plan B.

    As for something really close, knowing more about what makes up everything can hopefully help us understand disease better and how to be healthy.
    (5 votes)
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  • leaf green style avatar for user bhaskar kumar
    exploring what beyond earth and understanding the endless possibilities thats beyond earth,what could be more cooler than that &looking closely to thing which we usually ignore with our naked eyes and understanding it.
    (3 votes)
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  • aqualine ultimate style avatar for user Lika
    We are not alone at the Universe so it's understandable why camera moved out for a so long distance. Rather interesting to know how does the "others" may see us.
    And speaking about so close distance...well, if we don't know how does our own body works it will be fruitless to look for a "big meaning" of the Universe or even of the humaty's role at the Universe.
    We have to know. We are going to answer all the question to find the places, creatures and situations which we will be able to solve. Because it's our nature. Humaty's one.
    (3 votes)
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  • female robot grace style avatar for user Thorsten Kodalle
    Why is there no link to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qxXf7AJZ73A
    Cosmic Voyage?
    I like this video from 1977 very much, however the epic dimension and the mind blowing effect is bigger in the Morgan Freeman narrated version. I like the music much more. There are circles and no squares and the numbers are missing in the visualization. Anyway, it is a stark contrast in design but a huge overlap in content.
    In the almost 9 minute clip (see link above) the fast wrap up is missing. I will post it when I find it:-)
    (2 votes)
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  • duskpin tree style avatar for user Ayaan Dutt
    I feel that the camera zooms in and out so much as it can be quite humbling to us humans and it makes our petty everyday fights, arguments, opinions and even our mere existence seem completely insignificant. It instills a sense of wonder in a human as one realises that the universe is so much more than just politics, wars and countries. Everything we do seems needless and we seem to exist for no apparent or practical reason, just like the universe itself!! I had a similar feeling when I read the book, 'Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy', as the author (Douglas Adams) describes humans as simple and conceited beings who feel that digital watches are posh while almost all other beings of the universe were either oblivious of their existence or thought them too primitive to bother making contact with at all!! If you haven't read this mind-blowing book yet you must try to get your hands on it as soon as possible!! It is hilarious, insightful, full of pure madness and gives one a whole new, different perspective of the universe!
    (2 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user judy.hawaii.5.0
    One would want to discern how old the universe is by seeing how far one can see in distance.

    One would want to see close in to get an understanding of chemical processes at the nuclear level.
    (2 votes)
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  • male robot hal style avatar for user Moses
    The smallest thing I ever saw was a small part of a cloth. I zoomed it in on my microscope and it was really clear and small. Funny how that made up the cloth we wear everyday.
    (1 vote)
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  • male robot hal style avatar for user Moses
    One reason we might want to see things is because of sheer curiosity. As humans we want to explore and see things in a totally different way. Another reason is because we might find something useful in other planets. For example if we run out of gasoline we might find extra supplies on say mars. Pretty neat for a video made in 1977. :)
    (1 vote)
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