Here are some resources for understanding scientific notation, prefixes, and chemical symbols three tools that are used extensively in the process of shipping radioactive materials by air.

Scientific Notation

Scientific notation is the way that scientists easily handle very large numbers or very small numbers.  For example, instead of writing 0.0000000056, we write 5.6 x 109. So, how does this work?

We can think of 5.6 x 109 as the product of two numbers: 5.6 (the digit term) and 109 (the exponential term).

Here are some examples of scientific notation.

 10000 = 1 x 104 24327 = 2.4327 x 104 1000 = 1 x 103 7354 = 7.354 x 103 100 = 1 x 102 482 = 4.82 x 102 10 = 1 x 101 89 = 8.9 x 101 (not usually done) 1 = 100 1/10 = 0.1 = 1 x 10–1 0.32 = 3.2 x 10–1 (not usually done) 1/100 = 0.01 = 1 x 10–2 0.053 = 5.3 x 10–2 1/1000 = 0.001 = 1 x 10–3 0.0078 = 7.8 x 10–3 1/10000 = 0.0001 = 1 x 10–4 0.00044 = 4.4 x 10–4

As you can see, the exponent of 10 is the number of places the decimal point must be shifted to give the number in long form. A positive exponent shows that the decimal point is shifted that number of places to the right. A negative exponent shows that the decimal point is shifted that number of places to the left.

SI Prefixes

Symbol Prefix 10n Short scale Decimal equivalent in SI writing style
Y yotta 1024 Septillion 1 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000
Z zetta 1021 Sextillion 1 000 000 000 000 000 000 000
E exa 1018 Quintillion 1 000 000 000 000 000 000
P peta 1015 Quadrillion 1 000 000 000 000 000
T tera 1012 Trillion 1 000 000 000 000
G giga 109 Billion 1 000 000 000
M mega 106 Million 1 000 000
k kilo 103 Thousand 1 000
h hecto 102 Hundred 100
da deca, deka 101 Ten 10
(none) (none) 100 One 1
d deci 10−1 Tenth 0.1
c centi 10−2 Hundredth 0.01
m milli 10−3 Thousandth 0.001
µ (u) micro 10−6 Millionth 0.000 001
n nano 10−9 Billionth 0.000 000 001
p pico 10−12 Trillionth 0.000 000 000 001
f femto 10−15 Quadrillionth 0.000 000 000 000 001
a atto 10−18 Quintillionth 0.000 000 000 000 000 001
z zepto 10−21 Sextillionth 0.000 000 000 000 000 000 001
y yocto 10−24 Septillionth 0.000 000 000 000 000 000 000 001

Chemical Symbols listed Alphabetically

 Symbol Element Ac Actinium Ag Silver Al Aluminum Am Americium Ar Argon As Arsenic At Astatine Au Gold B Boron Ba Barium Be Beryllium Bh Bohrium Bi Bismuth Bk Berkelium Br Bromine C Carbon Ca Calcium Cd Cadmium Ce Cerium Cf Californium Cl Chlorine Cm Curium Co Cobalt Cr Chromium Cs Cesium Cu Copper Db Dubnium Ds Darmstadtium Dy Dysprosium Er Erbium Es Einsteinium Eu Europium F Fluorine Fe Iron Fm Fermium Fr Francium Ga Gallium Gd Gadolinium Ge Germanium H Hydrogen He Helium Hf Hafnium Hg Mercury Ho Holmium Hs Hassium I Iodine In Indium Ir Iridium K Potassium Kr Krypton La Lanthanum Li Lithium Lr Lawrencium Lu Lutetium Md Mendelevium Mg Magnesium Mn Manganese Mo Molybdenum Mt Meitnerium N Nitrogen Na Sodium Ne Neon Nb Niobium Nd Neodymium Ni Nickel No Nobelium Np Neptunium O Oxygen Os Osmium P Phosphorus Pd Palladium Po Polonium Pb Lead Pt Platinum Pr Praseodymium Pm Promethium Pu Plutonium Pa Protactinium Ra Radium Rb Rubidium Re Rhenium Rf Rutherfordium Rh Rhodium Rn Radon Ru Ruthenium S Sulfur Sb Antimony Sc Scandium Se Selenium Sg Seaborgium Si Silicon Sm Samarium Sn Tin Sr Strontium Ta Tantalum Tb Terbium Tc Technetium Te Tellurium Th Thorium Ti Titanium Tl Thallium Tm Thulium U Uranium Uub Ununbium Uun Ununnilium Uuu Ununumium V Vanadium W Tungsten Xe Xenon Y Yttrium Yb Ytterbium Zn Zinc Zr Zirconium