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  • What do 108 and 10-21 mean?

    Scientists use this notation as an easy way to write really large, or really small numbers. A number like 108 represents 10 multiplied by itself 8 times, which is a 1 with 8 zeroes after it: 100,000,000.

    A number like 10-21 represents 0.1 multiplied by itself 21 times, which is a 1 with 21 zeroes in front of it (including the one before the decimal point): 0.000000000000000000001.

    This is frequently a much more efficient way to write numbers. For example, 3.765x1017 is much easier to write and think about than 376,500,000,000,000,000.

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Inspiration

Come, you lost Atoms, to your Centre draw,
And be the Eternal Mirror that you saw:
Rays that have wander'd into Darkness wide,
Return and back into your Sun subside.

From Farid al-Din Attar's
twelfth-century masterpiece
The Conference of the Birds

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About SXS

The SXS project is a collaborative research effort involving multiple institutions. Our goal is the simulation of black holes and other extreme spacetimes to gain a better understanding of Relativity, and the physics of exotic objects in the distant cosmos.

The SXS project is supported by Canada Research Chairs, CFI, CIfAR, Compute Canada, Max Planck Society, NASA, NSERC, the NSF, Ontario MEDI, the Sherman Fairchild Foundation, and XSEDE.

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