If you are new to studying physics, you will need
to be familiar with some basic algebra. In this
chapter, we will review important math techniques.
Don't let numbers and calculations intimidate you.
This chapter will help you become more familiar with
math.

The metric system of
measurement is the standard in the world. The
fundamental units include the second (s) for time,
the meter (m) for length, and the kilogram (kg) for
mass.

You should know how to convert from one unit to
another.

When expressing an
extreme large number such as the mass of Earth, or a
very small number such as the mass of an electron,
scientists use the scientific
notation. The basic format of scientific
notation is M * 10^{n}, where M is any real
numbers between 1 and 10 and n is a whole number.

The significant
digits represent the
valid digits of a number. The following rules
summarize the significant digits:

Nonzero digits are
always significant.

All final zeros after
the decimal points are significant.

Zeros between two other
significant digits are always significant.

Zeros used solely for
spacing the decimal point are not
significant.

The table below is an
example:

values

# of significant
digits

5.6

2

0.012

2

0.0012003

5

0.0120

3

0.0012

2

5.60

3

In addition and subtraction,
round up your answer to the least precise
measurement. For example:

24.686 + 2.343 + 3.21 =
30.239 = 30.24

because 3.21 is the least
precise measurement.

In multiplication and
division, round it up to the least number of
significant digits. For example:

3.22 * 2.1 = 6.762 = 6.8

because 2.1 contains 2
significant digits.

In a problem with the
mixture of addition, subtraction, multiplication or
division, round up your answer at the end, not in the
middle of your calculation. For example:

Trigonometry is also important in
physics. When you have a right-angled triangle, the
following relationships are true:

Trigonometry will become
important when you study vectors.

QUESTION: You are looking up at the
top of a tree that is 10 m apart from you. If the
tree is 15 m taller than you, at what angle are you
looking upward? (e.g. 30.0)