# 1.3 Accuracy, precision, and significant figures  (Page 4/12)

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When we express measured values, we can only list as many digits as we initially measured with our measuring tool. For example, if you use a standard ruler to measure the length of a stick, you may measure it to be $\text{36}\text{.}7\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}\text{cm}$ . You could not express this value as $\text{36}\text{.}\text{71}\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}\text{cm}$ because your measuring tool was not precise enough to measure a hundredth of a centimeter. It should be noted that the last digit in a measured value has been estimated in some way by the person performing the measurement. For example, the person measuring the length of a stick with a ruler notices that the stick length seems to be somewhere in between $\text{36}\text{.}6\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}\text{cm}$ and $\text{36}\text{.}7\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}\text{cm}$ , and he or she must estimate the value of the last digit. Using the method of significant figures    , the rule is that the last digit written down in a measurement is the first digit with some uncertainty . In order to determine the number of significant digits in a value, start with the first measured value at the left and count the number of digits through the last digit written on the right. For example, the measured value $\text{36}\text{.}7\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}\text{cm}$ has three digits, or significant figures. Significant figures indicate the precision of a measuring tool that was used to measure a value.

## Zeros

Special consideration is given to zeros when counting significant figures. The zeros in 0.053 are not significant, because they are only placekeepers that locate the decimal point. There are two significant figures in 0.053. The zeros in 10.053 are not placekeepers but are significant—this number has five significant figures. The zeros in 1300 may or may not be significant depending on the style of writing numbers. They could mean the number is known to the last digit, or they could be placekeepers. So 1300 could have two, three, or four significant figures. (To avoid this ambiguity, write 1300 in scientific notation.) Zeros are significant except when they serve only as placekeepers .

Determine the number of significant figures in the following measurements:

1. 0.0009
2. 15,450.0
3. $6×{\text{10}}^{3}$
4. 87.990
5. 30.42

(a) 1; the zeros in this number are placekeepers that indicate the decimal point

(b) 6; here, the zeros indicate that a measurement was made to the 0.1 decimal point, so the zeros are significant

(c) 1; the value ${\text{10}}^{3}$ signifies the decimal place, not the number of measured values

(d) 5; the final zero indicates that a measurement was made to the 0.001 decimal point, so it is significant

(e) 4; any zeros located in between significant figures in a number are also significant

## Significant figures in calculations

When combining measurements with different degrees of accuracy and precision, the number of significant digits in the final answer can be no greater than the number of significant digits in the least precise measured value . There are two different rules, one for multiplication and division and the other for addition and subtraction, as discussed below.

1. For multiplication and division: The result should have the same number of significant figures as the quantity having the least significant figures entering into the calculation . For example, the area of a circle can be calculated from its radius using $A={\mathrm{\pi r}}^{2}$ . Let us see how many significant figures the area has if the radius has only two—say, $r=1\text{.}2\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}\text{m}$ . Then,

#### Questions & Answers

Calculate the Newton's the weight of a 2.5 Kilogram of melon. What is its weight in pound?
calculate the tension of the cable when a buoy with 0.5m and mass of 20kg
what is displacement
it's the time rate of change of distance
Mollamin
distance in a given direction is diplacement
Musa
Distance in a spacified direction
you shouldn't say distance,displacement and distance are two different things .distance can be lopped curved but displacement is always in a straight line so you can't use distance to define it. displacement is the change of position in a specified direction.
Joshua
Well stayed josh👍
Joshua
well explained
Mary
what is the meaning of physics
to study objects in motion and how they interact or take part in the natural phenomenon of the universe.
Phill
an object that has a small mass and an object has a large mase have the same momentum which has high kinetic energy
The with smaller mass
how
Faith
Since you said they have the same momentum.. So meaning that there is more like an inverse proportionality in the quantities used to find the momentum. We are told that the the is a larger mass and a smaller mass., so we can conclude that the smaller mass had higher velocity as compared to other one
Mathamaticaly correct
Mathmaticaly correct :)
I have proven it by using my own values
Larger mass=4g Smaller mass=2g Momentum of both=8 Meaning V for L =2 and V for S=4 Now find there kinetic energies using the data presented
grateful soul...thanks alot
Faith
Welcome
2 stones are thrown vertically upward from the ground, one with 3 times the initial speed of the other. If the faster stone takes 10 s to return to the ground, how long will it take the slower stone to return? If the slower stone reaches a maximum height of H, how high will the faster stone go
30s
how can i calculate it's height
Julliene
is speed the same as velocity
no
Nebil
in a question i ought to find the momentum but was given just mass and speed
Faith
just multiply mass and speed then you have the magnitude of momentem
Nebil
Yes
Consider speed to be velocity
it worked our . . thanks
Faith
Distinguish between semi conductor and extrinsic conductors
Suppose that a grandfather clock is running slowly; that is, the time it takes to complete each cycle is longer than it should be. Should you (@) shorten or (b) lengthen the pendulam to make the clock keep attain the preferred time?
I think you shorten am not sure
Uche
shorten it, since that is practice able using the simple pendulum as experiment
Silvia
it'll always give the results needed no need to adjust the length, it is always measured by the starting time and ending time by the clock
Paul
it's not in relation to other clocks
Paul
wat is d formular for newton's third principle
Silvia
okay
Silvia
shorten the pendulum string because the difference in length affects the time of oscillation.if short , the time taken will be adjusted.but if long ,the time taken will be twice the previous cycle.
discuss under damped
resistance of thermometer in relation to temperature
how
Bernard
that resistance is not measured yet, it may be probably in the next generation of scientists
Paul
Is fundamental quantities under physical quantities?
please I didn't not understand the concept of the physical therapy
physiotherapy - it's a practice of exercising for healthy living.
Paul
what chapter is this?
Anderson
this is not in this book, it's from other experiences.
Paul
am new in the group
Daniel
please I have probably with calculate please can you please and help me out
Sure
What is Boyce law
Boyles law states that the volume of a fixed amount of gas is inversely proportional to pressure acting on that given gas if the temperature remains constant which is: V<k/p or V=k(1/p)