Giving Meaning to Numbers

Giving Meaning to Numbers

Perspective through comparisons

Help students understand the impact that exponents make in scientific notation by discussing the comparisons made in this table.

The table above shows the energy releases by various bodies. Scientific expressions helps us in understanding their magnitude without necessarily having a large number of numbers that might get confusing as the number of zero’s keep increasing.

Generally, as the number in the exponent section increases, the higher the value. This is witnessed when comparing energy released by metabolism of 1 average candy bar (1×106) and annual energy generation of the sun (1×1034). 34 is obviously more than 6 and that is manifested in daily life. 1 candy bar can’t do much to a human while the sun will definitely kill a human.

Mathematically (1×1034)/ (1×106)= 1×1028 .

The sun is 1×1028 more energetic than one candy bar. Number is still too large to comprehend.

Using a more comprehensible example,

Energy released by burning 1 KG of coal (1.6×109) and electricity used in an average home daily.

(1.6×109)/( 5×107)=0.32×102=32

1 KG of coal produces 32 times more energy than electricity used on a daily basis.

This is highly inefficient and proves that produces more energy to the environment thus ruining it and contributing to global warming.

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