To divide numbers in scientific notation, you need to divide the coefficients and subtract the exponents. Scientific notation is a simple way to express large or small numbers, as coefficients between 1 and 10 are multiplied by the appropriate power of 10 to equal the original number.
- Divide the coefficients
The coefficient is the decimal number at the front of the figure expressed in scientific notation. For example, 124,000 expressed in scientific notation would be 1.24 * 10^5, and the coefficient is 1.24. Assume you're dividing 2.56 * 10^7 by 1.28 * 10^2. This means you first divide 2.56 by 1.28, leaving you with 2 as the coefficient.
- Subtract the exponents
As long as the bases are the same, division of exponents in scientific notation is simply a matter of subtracting the digits used to indicate the value of the exponents. All bases in scientific notation are 10, so you can subtract these exponents. For example, 10^7 divided by 10^2 is 10^5.
- Adjust the decimal if necessary
For a number to be in proper scientific notation, the coefficient must be between 1 and 10. Otherwise, you have to move the decimal to the right or the left, adjusting the exponent accordingly.