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Counting by Twos

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Author:Ivars Peterson (MathTrek)
Description: How much is a megabyte? Many people don't really know. The problem originated decades ago when computer professionals noticed that 2^10 is very nearly equal to 1,000, and they began using the metric prefix "kilo" to mean 1,024. That was okay when computers were solely the domain of an elite group of high priests. Physicists, engineers, and ordinary folk could continue to use the prefix to mean 10^3 without worrying about what the computer gurus were up to. A kilogram remained 1,000 grams. Now, nearly everyone uses computers, and even the computer world can't agree on what the prefixes actually mean...

Levels: Middle School (6-8), High School (9-12), College
Languages: English
Resource Types: Articles
Math Topics: Large Numbers

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