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Significant Figures

Posted: Mon Oct 01, 2018 12:47 pm
by Jessica Helfond 2F
Could someone explain why we use significant figures? Wouldn't keeping more decimals be more precise in the answer, or should we just always go by how many sig figs are given in the question?

Re: Significant Figures

Posted: Mon Oct 01, 2018 1:00 pm
by Douglas Nguyen 2J
Because without significant figures, the equipment we use to make measurements would appear to be more accurate than they truly are.

Re: Significant Figures

Posted: Mon Oct 01, 2018 1:02 pm
by Aria Soeprono 2F
Significant figures are important to use, even if it means reporting a less accurate number as your official answer, because a result can only be as accurate as the least accurate measure. You have to be honest so that it does not appear to be more accurate of an answer than the equipment used to make the measurement actually allows, and you can do this by controlling the number of digits in your answer.

Re: Significant Figures

Posted: Mon Oct 01, 2018 1:09 pm
by Pipiena Malafu 4G
When finding measurements in general, we tend to approximate numbers (unless it's a definite measurement). The last digit of some measurement, in turn, becomes the least accurate as it's an approximation. Sig figs allow us to find more precise measurements of any given thing as it measures to the most approximated (and least accurate) digit.

Re: Significant Figures

Posted: Mon Oct 01, 2018 1:57 pm
by lukezhang2C
Significant figures allows us to measure the precision of our measurement instruments!

Re: Significant Figures

Posted: Mon Oct 01, 2018 2:35 pm
by Lia Inadomi 1I
Are you supposed to keep sigfigs the entire time while doing conversions or do you round to sigfigs only at the end of the problem?

Re: Significant Figures  [ENDORSED]

Posted: Mon Oct 01, 2018 3:28 pm
by Chem_Mod
All of the above answers are correct! As for your question, Lia, it is usually easier to round significant figures at the end of the problem.

Great discussion!