Normal form (scientific notation) is a way to write very large or very small numbers in a more compact form. It has two parts:

- A number, usually in the range 0 - 10, called the coefficient.
- A power of ten to multiply it by called the exponent.

For example the distance to the sun is about 93,000,000 miles. In scientific notation.

93,000,000 would be written 93×10^{6}

10^{6} is one million (One way to remember this is 10^{6} is one with six zeros after it.)

So the notation simply means 93 times one million.

The diameter of a human hair is about 60 millionths of a meter. Or .00005 meters. We can write this as

50 × 10^{-6}

Recall that
So
50 × 10^{-6} is 50 times one millionth.

In science and engineering the exponent is often made a multiple of 3. This is because the units are often quoted that way. For example we have electric power measures in watts. 1000 watts is called a kilowatt. One million volts is called a megavolt. So the coefficient is often adjusted to make the exponent 1000, or 1,000,000.

So using watts as an example:

50 | = 50 watts |

50 × 10^{3} |
= 50 kilowatts |

50 × 10^{6} |
= 50 megawatts |

It is done on small values too | |

50 × 10^{-3} |
= 50 milliwatts |

Because it is hard to write in a computer program and display in calculators, this form is often written in "E" format. So for example

- 50 × 10
^{6}would be written as 50E6. - 3 × 10
^{-6}would be written as 3E-6.

- What are scalars?
- Real numbers
- Integers
- Natural Numbers
- Positive numbers
- Negative numbers
- The uses of negative numbers
- Scientific notation (normal form)
- Complex numbers
- Imaginary numbers

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