Math CentralQuandaries & Queries


Question from Victoria, a parent:

The cost of each space shuttle is about $10,000,000.
Write this amount in exponential form.

Actually, they cost much more than this, according to NASA.

The cost of the shuttle Endeavour was 1.7 billion US dollars. That is $1,700,000,000.

One way to write this is in scientific notation, which is a single digit, then a decimal and some number of decimal places, multiplied by 10 to some exponent. In scientific notation, this would be $1.7 × 109, because you would move the decimal place 9 spots leftwards to go from 1,700,000,000. to 1.7.

10000 would be written as 1. × 105 in scientific notation, or could be written as just 105, which is a simpler exponential form.

Stephen La Rocque.

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