Negative ExponentsDate: 8/27/95 at 8:28:52 From: Stephen Nolte Subject: Re: Steve needs help Hi Dr. Math, Here is the problem: 1 Joule = 1kg m 2/s -2 The 2 and -2 are powers, not whole numbers in this equation. I am not sure how to put it this way on the computer. In this equation, what does the negative power of 2 mean? How is this operation done? Thanks! Steve Nolte Date: 8/27/95 at 15:18:30 From: Doctor Ken Subject: Re: Steve needs help Hello! The normal way people type exponents in situations like this is to use the upper caret symbol, like this: x^2. Negative exponents mean that instead of multiplying that many of the base together, you divide. For instance, 3^2 = 9, and 3^-2 = 1/9. That's one way to see why anything to the zero power (except perhaps 0) is 1. The way most people think of negative exponents is "put it in the bottom of the fraction." A Joule is a kilogram meter squared per second squared. That translates to either 1 kg m^2 s^-2 or 1 kg m^2/s^2. -Doctor Ken, The Geometry Forum |
Search the Dr. Math Library: |
[Privacy Policy] [Terms of Use]
Ask Dr. Math^{TM}
© 1994- The Math Forum at NCTM. All rights reserved.
http://mathforum.org/dr.math/