Mathematics explores the properties (characteristics) of numbers, shapes, and space. Using math, scientists can describe patterns they observe in nature, and make models that explain how things behave.
Mathematical models are equations that describe real processes. For example, a simple model based on the laws of motion predicts that the speed of a falling stone is equal to the time it has been falling, multiplied by the acceleration due to gravity. The predictions of the model can be compared with real measurements to test the model’s accuracy.
Scientists measure anything from very large numbers, such as the speed of light, to very small numbers, such as the mass of an atom. Scientific notation is a shorthand way of writing these numbers. The speed of light is approximately 300,000,000 meters per second. This is shortened to 3.0 x 108 m/s, where 8 is the number of zeros that follow the 3.