Scientific Notation with Secret Worlds

Dec 26, 2007 by

You may have an old copy of the “Powers of 10” video, which took you from a picnic in Chicago to the edge of the known cosmos, and then all the way back to the picnic and to the inside of an atom in a skin cell of the man on the blanket. You can watch that one (at least once) on the Internet by going to the Powers of 10 Website, and clicking on “view film.” You will have to give them your email address, but no password is required. Honestly, I’m not sure if this will always work, or if it will work only once.
There’s also a new “updated” version, Secret Worlds, made by Michael W. Davidson at Florida State University, which is available online. You can either control the zooming yourself, or set it on auto. Instead of a Chicago picnic, this one centeres on the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory in Tallahassee, Florida.

Okay, maybe it’s not exactly a video, but it’s close. This is a great add-on for the day you teach scientific notation. If nothing else, it emphasizes how radically different the world looks as you increase or decrease magnification by powers of 10. I also like to point out the empty space inside the atom after you have moved inside the electron cloud. Students have no doubt heard that objects are not really “solid” as our atoms are mostly empty space, this might peak their interest a little.

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