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Chapter 0

Significant Figures
Mr. Chong Kwai Kun

Significant
Figures
Significant figures
There are 2 kinds of numbers:
Exact numbers:
Known with certainty.
Measured numbers:
weight, heightanything MEASURED. No
measurement is perfect.




Significant figures
When a measurement is recorded only those digits
that are dependable are written down.
If you measured the width of a paper with your
ruler you might record 21.7cm.
To a mathematician 21.70, or 21.700 is the same.
But to a scientist 21.7cm and 21.70cm is NOT the
same.

21.700cm to a scientist means the measurement
is accurate to within one thousandth of a cm.
If you used an ordinary ruler, the smallest marking is
the mm, so your measurement has to be recorded as
21.7cm.
Rule: All digits are significant starting with
the first non-zero digit on the left.

1
st
Exception to rule: In whole numbers that end
in zero, the zeros at the end are not significant.

Significant figures
2
nd
Exception to rule:
If zeros are at the end of a number that has a
decimal, the zeros are significant.
How many sig figs?
7
40
0.5
0.00003
7 x 10
5
7,000,000
1
1
1
1
1
1
How many sig figs here?
1.2
2100
56.76
4.00
0.0792
7,083,000,000
2
2
4
3
3
4
How many sig figs here?
3401
2100
2100.0
5.00
0.00412
8,000,050,000
4
2
5
3
3
6
Calculations with sig figs?
Rule 1: When adding or subtracting
measured numbers,
the answer can have no more places after the
decimal than the LEAST of the measured
numbers.
Rule 2: When Multiplying or dividing
measured numbers,
the answer can have no more significant
figures than the least reliable measurement.
Add/Subtract
2.45cm + 1.2cm = 3.65cm,
Round off to = 3.7cm

7.432cm + 2cm = 9.432
Round to 9cm
Multiply/Divide
56.78 cm x 2.45cm = 139.111 cm
2

Round to 139cm
2

75.8cm x 9.6cm = ?
730 cm
2
The End
Question 1
1) How many significant figures are there in the
following number: 1.200 10
9
?
a) 4
b) 3
c) 2
d) 1
e) Cannot deduce from given information.



Question 2
2) How many significant figures are in the
measurement 1.3000 meters?
a) three
b) four
c) two
d) five


Question 3
3) How many significant figures are there in the
following summation:
a) 2
b) 3
c) 4
d) 5
e) 6



6.220
1.0
+ 125 .
Question 4
4) How many significant figures are there in the
result of the following multiplication:
(2.54) x (6.2) x (12.000)
a) 2
b) 3
c) 4
d) 5
e) 6



Question 5
5) Solve: 345.009 g - 23.009 g = ?

a) 322 g
b) 322.000 g
c) 322.00 g
d) 322.0 g


Question 6
6) Solve: 13.004 m + 3.09 m + 112.947 m = ?
a) 129 m
b) 129.0 m
c) 129.041 m
d) 129.04 m
Question 7
7) How many significant figures should be
expressed in the answer to the following:
2.333x10
3
+ 1.1x10
2
=
a) 1
b) 2
c) 3
d) 4
Question 8
8) How many significant figures should be shown
for the calculation?
a) 1
b) 2
c) 3
d) 4
e) 5




1.25 0.45
2.734
Question 9
9) A piece of stone has a mass of 24.595 grams
and a volume of 5.34 cm
3
. What is the density
of the stone? (remember that density = m/v)
a) 0.217 cm
3
/g
b) 4.61 g/cm
3

c) 0.22 cm
3
/g
d) 4.606 g/cm
3

Question 10
10) The mass of a watch glass was measured four
times. The masses were 99.997 g, 100.008 g,
100.011 g, and 100.005 g. What is the average
mass of the watch glass?
a) 100.005 g
b) 100.00525 g
c) 100.0 g
d) 100.01 g
Question 11
11) Select the best answer to the calculation:
(27.6 - 25.1)(3.000)
a) 7.50
b) 7.500
c) 7.5
d) 8