Main content

### Course: Pre-algebra > Unit 11

Lesson 6: Scientific notation intro# Scientific notation example: 0.0000000003457

Can you imagine if you had to do calculations with very, very small numbers? How would you handle all those zeros to the right of the decimal? Thank goodness for scientific notation! Created by Sal Khan and Monterey Institute for Technology and Education.

## Want to join the conversation?

- is there a concept for this?(78 votes)
- Chemistry and physics use large numbers and this format helps us deal with large and small numbers.(119 votes)

- Is there any short variant for writing 100000000000000000005000000000000000 in scientific notation?(11 votes)
- Counting Zeroes...
**clunk**

Loading...**clonk**

100,000,000,000,000,000,005,000,000,000,000,000

Reporter:

Here lies*100 decillion 5 quadrillion*in its natural habitat. How do we simplify this dinosaur? Like in word form, one could split the numbers apart, so in scientific notation, we could also split the numbers apart. Here we have*100 decillion 5 quadrillion*with its liver a-chopped and innards askew.`(1•10^35) + (5•10^15)`

Something of that sort, should be fine and dandy. Hope this helps! :-)(79 votes)

- Hi, I have a question, I was doing practice on Khan Academy site. There was a question 52 thousandths, which I have to turn in scientific notation, I answered 5.2x10^4 because I know 52000 has 3 zeros and I also add 2, so it gave me 10^4 but I was shocked it is incorrect, but why? Can anyone tell me?(20 votes)
- Well the answer will be
*5.2*10^-2*. Because you have written**thousandths**not**thousands**. Both are very different.**thousands**are on the left side of the decimals but**thousandths**will be on the right side of the decimal. By the was 52 thousandths will be*0.052*(6 votes)

- what is the easiest way to solve scientific notation.(5 votes)
- Hi Epaintsil,

There isn’t really a ‘easier’ way, so I’ll try to explain as best as I can. So a random number with TONS of zeros, 62427000000, how can we possibly simplify this? I can’t just write that TERRIBLY long number forever!

So scientific notation is like: x * 10^y, where x is a number between 1 and 10, including the 1 and 10.

In our case, our number, n, can be changed onto 6.2427, because that’s the only way we can fit it into our 1-10.

So now we have x in our equation, what’s y?

How I find this, is I count the digits that are to the right of the decimal point, which is 4, plus the amount of 0s, which leads to 10 digits in total.

Y is 10, and X is 6.2427. Putting that into our equation ( x * 10^y, remember?), gives us 6.2427 * 10^10. And that’s the answer!

If you have any questions, or have figured a mistake, please reply. Otherwise, upvote and have a great day! (Not forcing you to upvote though :) )(30 votes)

- Anyone wanna ride the struggle bus with me?(17 votes)
- I do all the time(4 votes)

- There is no end to the math(10 votes)
- can someone teach me how to do this I dont really understand (simplify what Sal said)(6 votes)
- basically it is a way of showing a really tiny number with a lot of zeros without writing 0.0000000ect

so if you have 0.000000000034 and you wanted to write it in scientific notation then you count the zeros and look at the numbers that aren't zeros and then take them and rewrite the problem as 3.4, then when you know how many zeros there are you do 3.4 * 1 to the -10 power

and if you were to solve that you would get the original number.

in short scientific notation is a way to simplify numbers.

Hope this helps!(10 votes)

- Can someone tell me when I would use this in the real world?(5 votes)
- Okay, sure. Let's say you become a cool scientist and you have to measure cells, bacteria, and protists, etc. If you're measuring atoms, A carbon atom is 0.000000000001 meters. Luckily, there's an easier way to measure that, 10^-12 meters. Scientific notation could make your job that much easier. That's not the only way this makes life easier. Let's say you're into space and you want to measure Saturn's measurements. Luckily, there's already a fact sheet that you can check out here: https://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/factsheet/saturnfact.html

As you can see throughout the page,**almost**every measurement has a scientific notation attached to a common measurement like a kilometre.(10 votes)

- me monkey brain this hurt head ooga ooga ;((9 votes)
- Is there any other way's to handle 0's than the scientific notation method(7 votes)
- Sorry but no. If there were, I think there would be more videos about scientific notation.(4 votes)

## Video transcript

Express 0.0000000003457
in scientific notation. So let's just remind
ourselves what it means to be in
scientific notation. Scientific notation will be some
number times some power of 10 where this number right here--
let me write it this way. It's going to be greater
than or equal to 1, and it's going to
be less than 10. So over here, what
we want to put here is what that leading
number is going to be. And in general,
you're going to look for the first non-zero digit. And this is the
number that you're going to want to start off with. This is the only number you're
going to want to put ahead of or I guess to the left
of the decimal point. So we could write
3.457, and it's going to be multiplied
by 10 to something. Now let's think about
what we're going to have to multiply it by. To go from 3.457 to this
very, very small number, from 3.457, to get
to this, you have to move the decimal
to the left a bunch. You have to add a bunch of
zeroes to the left of the 3. You have to keep moving the
decimal over to the left. To do that, we're
essentially making the number much
much, much smaller. So we're not going
to multiply it by a positive exponent of 10. We're going to multiply it
times a negative exponent of 10. The equivalent is
you're dividing by a positive exponent of 10. And so the best way
to think about it, when you move an
exponent one to the left, you're dividing by 10, which
is equivalent to multiplying by 10 to the negative 1 power. Let me give you example here. So if I have 1 times 10 is
clearly just equal to 10. 1 times 10 to the
negative 1, that's equal to 1 times 1/10,
which is equal to 1/10. 1 times-- and let me actually
write a decimal, which is equal to 0-- let me actually-- I
skipped a step right there. Let me add 1 times 10 to the 0,
so we have something natural. So this is one times
10 to the first. One times 10 to the 0
is equal to 1 times 1, which is equal to 1. 1 times 10 to the negative
1 is equal to 1/10, which is equal to 0.1. If I do 1 times 10
to the negative 2, 10 to the negative 2 is 1
over 10 squared or 1/100. So this is going to be
1/100, which is 0.01. What's happening here? When I raise it to
a negative 1 power, I've essentially
moved the decimal from to the right of the
1 to the left of the 1. I've moved it from
there to there. When I raise it
to the negative 2, I moved it two over to the left. So how many times are we
going to have to move it over to the left to get this
number right over here? So let's think about
how many zeroes we have. So we have to move it one time
just to get in front of the 3. And then we have to
move it that many more times to get all of the zeroes
in there so that we have to move it one
time to get the 3. So if we started
here, we're going to move 1, 2, 3, 4, 5,
6, 7, 8, 9, 10 times. So this is going to be 3.457
times 10 to the negative 10 power. Let me just rewrite it. So 3.457 times 10 to
the negative 10 power. So in general,
what you want to do is you want to find the
first non-zero number here. Remember, you want a number
here that's between 1 and 10. And it can be equal to 1, but
it has to be less than 10. 3.457 definitely fits that bill. It's between 1 and 10. And then you just want
to count the leading zeroes between the
decimal and that number and include the number
because that tells you how many times you have
to shift the decimal over to actually get
this number up here. And so we have to shift
this decimal 10 times to the left to get
this thing up here.