If you have a basic scientific calculator (and if you don't you can buy one for less than $50 almost anywhere, and you really ought to get one for this class), you will have a button on it somewhere that looks like `` ''. That's the button to make a power of 10. You just enter a number, say 5, and hit the `` '' button, and the number you get back will be , or 100,000. In some cases, if you enter a big number, such as 50, and hit the `` '' button, you won't see a 1 followed by 50 zeros (you'd need a pretty big screen for that, or teeny tiny digits on the screen), but some which looks like ``1 E 50'' or ``1 EE 50''. Don't panic -- that's just you calculator's version of scientific notation, which we will talk about in the next section.
Also on scientific calculators, you will find a button for doing logs -- it's usually written ``log'', and is often very near the button for doing . You just punch in a number, say 1,000,000, and hit the ``log'' button, and you will get the log of a million, which is 6.