In science, very large and very small quantities sometimes need to be measured. Writing out these numbers longhand is tedious and can lead to errors so scientists developed a shorthand method called scientific notation that works better.

**Example 1**: In standard decimal notation, the speed of light
is 299,800,000.0 meters per second. In scientific notation this is
written as 2.998x10^{8} meters per second, meaning that the
true position of the decimal point is 8 digits to the right. In this
case, that means filling in the empty spots with zeros. (Your
calculator will read: 2.998_08)

**Example 2**: Bacteria are usually no smaller than 1
micrometer (µm). If we expressed that quantity in meters, it
would be written as 0.000001 m. In scientific notation, this would be
written as 1.0x10^{-6} m. The exponent in this case is
negative, so the true position of the decimal point is 6 places to
the left. (Your calculator will read: 1.0_-06)