Scientific Notation: Students Introduction
Scientists deal with big numbers everywhere they look. The numbers of stars in the sky, atoms in a drop of water, people on the earth, and bacteria on a petri dish are just a few examples of the kinds of big numbers that scientists manipulate every day.
On the Scientific Notation main page, the Ring Nebula, also known as M57, is shown. The ring nebula is an elongated planetary nebula, a type of nebula that is created when a Sun-like star evolves to throw off its outer atmosphere and becomes a white dwarf. The Ring Nebula is about 2000 light-years away and is roughly 500 times the diameter of our Solar System (about one light-year). To make these measurements, scientists had to use very large numbers.
Big numbers like six hundred septillion, or
In the three ASPIRE labs that follow, we will begin to explore the ways in which scientists write, manipulate, and graph these large numbers in an efficient and concise manner.
This symbol will appear throughout the labs, and
is a reminder to you and your lab partner to discuss and
record ideas. Scientists rarely work in isolation. They often
discuss and explore hypothetical data, data analysis, and
results in partnership with one or more other scientists.