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What is the definition of "scientific notation"?

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Quick Answer

The scientific notation of a number is the product of the digit term and exponential term. The digits denote the significant figures of the number, which is written with the decimal point located after the first digit. The exponential term indicates the number of places that the decimal point travelled.

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Scientific notation is a way to represent very large and very small numbers, which is especially useful in the fields of science and engineering. The Sun’s mass, which is 1,988,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 kilograms, can be conveniently written as 1.988 x 10^30 kilograms. If the decimal point from the original number is moved to the left, the exponent is positive; otherwise, the exponent is negative. The number 0.0000451 is 4.51 x 10^-5 in scientific notation.

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