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April 25, 2014

Homework Help: Science

Posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, December 9, 2009 at 2:41pm.

I'm a little confused when it comes to significant figures. Where it doesn't make sense to me is when zeros come before and after a number.
For example:
My book states that zeros that come before a digit are NEVER significant. Now this makes sense if you have a number like 0.123 which would have three significant figures... But the book gives the example of 0.0055 which it says only has two significant figures. This isn't logical to me! 0.0055 IS NOT the same as .55 so how can those two zeros after the decimal point, not be significant?

The other part that confuses me is when zeros come after the numbers. For example, .3400 has four significant figures. This isn't logical to me either. Isn't .3400 the same as .34? I feel like these rules are wrong and should be switched around.

Is there something I'm not understanding about significant figures that would shed some light on these rules?

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