Section IV. SCIENTIFIC NOTATION
In the clinical laboratory, elementary mathematics are frequently used by the
laboratory specialist to calculate the amount of a specific chemical needed to prepare a
reagent or to determine the concentration of a chemical constituent in a clinical sample.
To enable the laboratory specialist to perform calculations with greater efficiency, the
use of scientific notation must be mastered.
An exponent is a superscript number written to the right of a base number. An
exponent indicates the number of times the base number is to be used as a
multiplicative factor to produce a product equal to the exponential expression.
a. General Examples.
32 = 3 X 3 = 9
In the above example, the exponent is the number two and indicates that the number
three, referred to as the base number, is to be used as a multiplicative factor twice.
23 = 2 X 2 X 2 = 8
In the above example, the exponent is the number three and indicates that the base
number two is to be used as a multiplicative factor three times.
b. Examples Using Powers of Ten (10).
102 = 10 X 10 = 100
103 = 10 X 10 X 10 = 1000
1-20. RULES OF EXPONENTIATION
The following rules apply to exponential expressions that have the same base
with the exception of addition and subtraction.
a. Addition and Subtraction. The expressions must first be evaluated. Then,
addition or subtraction is performed in the usual manner.
102 + 101 = 100 + 10 = 110