Science 101: Why is a light-year a unit of distance rather than a unit of time?by: William C. Robertson, Ph.D.

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There are many issues associated with measurement that can be confusing. From light-years, to Richter scales, to logarithmics, Bill Robertson makes science more palpable for the average person.

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Reviews (2)
  • on Thu Aug 18, 2011 8:12 PM

Robertson provides background for using Scientific Notation and large numbers and logarithms. Students often ask, “When are we ever going to use this?” In years past, I’ve shared this article with my middle school students so they can see how Scientists use Scientific Notation, Logarithms and Math in the real world. The article is a quick read, but provides students with an understanding of how Science and Math work together.

Sandra Gady  (Renton, WA)
Sandra Gady (Renton, WA)

  • on Thu Jul 07, 2011 12:33 PM

Logarithms and significant figures can really mess up a student’s understanding of measurements especially if they are not taking higher level math courses such as those offered in high school. So when numbers are too great to handle these confusing mathematical numbers scientists use more easily understood units like those of light years to measure distance and a Richter scale to measure exponential multiples of an event. While this is a bit lofty for teachers to read, I think it warrants the time to do so.

Adah  (San Antonio, TX)
Adah (San Antonio, TX)

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