If you need to work with very large or very small numbers on a calculator, using scientific notation helps greatly. Scientific calculators have a scientific notation mode that works automatically or under manual control. If a number is within the calculator's normal display range, such as 95213.7, you can choose to display it either as a fixed decimal or in scientific notation. This is convenient for scientists and students who need to keep number formats consistent.
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Things you need
- Scientific calculator
- Calculator owner's manual
Look for a section on display modes and scientific notation in your calculator's owner's manual. It may, for example, tell you that to set a scientific notation display mode, you press a mode or shift key, then a button that says "SCI." To go back to a normal number display mode, you would press the shift key and a key that says "FIX" or "NORMAL." Also find how you enter numbers in scientific notation. You may press a "EEX" or "EE" key to enter the exponent.
Turn the calculator on. Key the number 12345.67 and see it on the display. Follow the instructions for changing the display mode to scientific. For example, the TI-82 calculator has a "MODE" button. You press it, then use the navigation keys to change the display mode from "NORMAL" to "SCI." When you do, the calculator will display the number as 1.234567e4. The "e4" means "times 10 to the 4th power." Working with powers of ten in the display lets the calculator work with a very large range of numbers.
Change the display mode back to normal. You should see 12345.67 again. Multiply your number by 1,000,000 (1 million). The number display will automatically convert to scientific mode to handle this large result. You should see 1.234567e10.
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