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Mathematical techniques

Standard Prefixes
A system of prefixes is used to modify units. Prefixes that are commonly used are listed in the table.
Prefix Symbol Multiplier Meaning

electron as an example: With the mass of a proton defined as 1 unit, the mass of an electron is 0.000 545th of this mass. So the mass of an electron is 0.000 545 units. 1. Find the decimal point and move it; this time it goes to the right: 00 005.45 2. Multiply the number by 10 raised the power x where x is the number of jumps you made right. This time the index will be negative: 5.45 x 104

mega kilo (the unit only) deci centi milli micro nano pico

M k d c m n p

10 103 100 10 1 10 2 10 3 10 6 10 9 10 12

1 000 000 1 000 1 0.1 0.01 0.001 0.000 001 0.000 000 001 0.000 000 000 001

Calculations using Standard Form

Standard form makes multiplication and division of even the most complex numbers easier to handle. When you multiply two numbers in standard form, you multiply the numbers and add the indices. For example: (3 x 102) x (2 x 103) = 6 x 105 When you divide numbers in standard form you divide the standard number and subtract the indices. For example: 8 x 106 = 2 x 104 4 x 102

The prefixes that scientists prefer have intervals of a thousand. For example, attaching preferred prefixes to the unit metre, we have kilometre, metre, millimetre and nanometre. In chemistry, masses are given in grams and kilograms, whole solution concentrations are given in moles and millimoles, in each case an interval of a thousand. But others are used when they are convenient for the task in hand. For example, in chemistry, volume is often given in cubic centimetres, cm3, and larger volumes can be given in litres, which are the same as cubic decimetres, dm3.

1. Write down the following masses in standard form: (a) 740 g (c) 0.238 g (b) 0.0053 g (d) 0.00904 g

Standard Form
Numbers with many zeros are difficult to follow, so we tend to express these in standard form. Standard form is a number between 1 and 10. So how do we express the number 769000 in standard form? 1. Locate the decimal point: 769000.0 2. Move the decimal point to give a number between 1 and 10: 7.69000 3. Multiply the number by 10 raised to the power x where x is the number of jumps you made to the left: 7.69 x 105 Sometimes the decimal point may move the other way. Take the mass of an

2. If a = 9 x 106 and b = 2 x 106. Calculate a + b, a b, ab and a b, giving your answers in standard form.

1. (a) 7.4 x 102 g (b) 5.3 x 103 g (c) 2.38 x 101 (d) 9.04 x 103 2. 1.1 x 105, 7 x 106, 1.8 x 1011, 4.5

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Ratios and Percentages
A ratio is a way of comparing the magnitudes of two (or more) quantities. You can only give a ratio when the units of each quantity are the same, so when working with a ratio involving different units, always change them to the same unit. The ratio itself does not have any units. For example, when working out the ratio of 125 g to 2 kg, the 2 kg must be changed to 2000 g, so that it can be given as: 125: 2000 Divide both sides by 25 5:80 Divide both sides by 5 1:16 1:16 is the simplest form of the ratio. Ratios can be used to calculate other quantities, as in the Examples below. You can take a ratio in its simplest form and express the amount of each part of the ratio as a fraction. Each will have the same common denominator. For example, a test-tube contains volumes of two solutions in the ratio 3:2, meaning that solution A makes up 3/5 of the contents, and solution B makes up 2/5 of the contents. The common denominator comes from adding the numbers in the ratio. Values expressed as a fraction of the total, as above, allow you to express amounts as percentages of the total. In the above example, solution A takes up 60% (3/5 x 100) of the test-tube contents, and solution B takes up 40%. An example of percentage increase: Increase 6 g by 5%. This means that you are increasing 6 g from 100% to 105% The ratio of new mass to old mass is 105:100 So new mass = old mass x 105/100 = 6 x (105/100) = 6.30 g. An example of percentage decrease: Decrease 8 g by 4%. This means that you are decreasing 8 g from 100% to 96% The ratio of new mass to old mass is 96:100 So new mass = old mass x 96/100 = 8 x (96/100) = 7.68 g The ratio for the volume of solution p to volume of solution q is 3:2. Both solutions have the same concentration (mol dm3). Solution p contains 0.18 moles of solute P. Calculate the number of moles of solute Q. 2. In a sample of 100 atoms of copper, 69% are copper-63 and 31% are copper-65. Calculate the relative atomic mass for the copper sample.

1. Amount of B in moles = 0.18 moles x (ratio of B/ratio of A) = 0.18 x 2/3 Amount of B = 0.12 moles 2. The total mass for 100 atoms of copper: = (0.69 x 63) + (0.31 x 65) = 43.47 + 20.15 = 63.62 Therefore, the relative atomic mass of the sample of copper is 63.62.

Approximation of Calculations
When working out calculations, it is easy to get the decimal place in the wrong place or miss out a number, and finish up with an answer which is wildly wrong. An approximate calculation, which takes little time, will help you spot and correct mistakes. This is a multiplication example: What is the approximate answer to 35.1 x 6.58? To approximate the answer, we simply round off each number to 1 significant figure, and then work out the calculation. So in this case, the approximation is: 35.1 x 6.58 40 x 7 = 280 When dividing, we round off a number to 2 significant figures instead of 1 significant figure. For example: What is the approximate answer to 57.3 6.87? Since 6.87 rounds off to 7, then round off 57.3 to 56, hence: 57.3 6.87 56 7 =8

1. Find approximate answers to: (a) (72.1 x 3.23 x 5.2) + 7 (b) 53.94 x 8.502

1. Solutions p and q are mixed in a beaker.

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2. A sample of copper(II) oxide weighs 2.8 g. (a) What is the approximate mass of 12 samples? (b) Approximately how many samples will there be in 75 g? and 9.560 x 106 has 4 significant figures. These rules do not apply to quantities such as 100 m. Does this have 1, 2 or 3 significant figures? If you cannot tell for instance, if you did not make the measurement yourself then the number of significant figures is uncertain. Other numbers are exact, for example 3 3 there are 1000 cm in 1 dm . There is no uncertainty with the 1000; it cannot be anything else. Since many chemistry calculations involve quantities which are decimals, they give a decimal answer. When you write down the answer to such a calculation, you must take into account the accuracy of the figures you used to work it out. So, for an answer calculated from numbers for several quantities, the answer should be given to the level of accuracy of the least accurate quantity.

1. (a) 72.1 x 3.23 x 5.2 + 7 70 x 3 x 5 = 1050 (b) 53.94 8.51 54 9 = 6 2. 2.8 3 (a) 12 x 3 = 36 (b) 75 3 = 25

Significant Figures
Whenever you make a measurement in the laboratory of a physical quantity, such as temperature of a liquid or the mass of a test-tube, there will be an uncertainty in the measurement. When you use an electronic balance to measure the mass of a test-tube, the last figure on the balance reading almost always fluctuates. One moment it may be 16.41 g and the next 16.40 g. This shows that the last figure in the mass is uncertain. We say that 16.40 g has four significant figures and the last figure, in this case 0, must be uncertain. The rule is that whenever you measure a physical quantity, always record the figure to include the first one which is uncertain. Sometime this will be a zero, but it must always be recorded. To determine the number of significant figures in a measurement, use the following rules: 1. Find the first non-zero digit on the left and count the total number of digits: e.g. 0.00234 has 3 significant figures and 234.12 has 5 significant figures. 2. If the number has a decimal point, count all the digits to the right even if they are zero: e.g. 0.120 and 0.00120 both have 3 significant figures. 3. If the number is written in standard form, do not count the exponential part of the number: e.g. 1.23 x 103 has 3 significant figures,

Decimal Places
To determine the number of decimal places in a number, simply count the number of digits to the right of the decimal place. Even zeros will be counted if they are significant. So if the mass of a sample of copper(II) oxide is measured at 0.300 g (we assume the mass was determined to the nearest milligram), then this number has 3 decimal places. Remember, the number of significant figures is normally different from the number of decimal places.

You must be very careful when doing calculations not to give too many or too few significant figures or decimal places. Do not just copy the answer from your calculator. Think about how many decimal places or significant figures should be used. These are some simple rules: When adding or subtracting numbers, it is the number of decimal places that is important. Decide which number in the calculation has the least number of
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decimal places. This tells you the number of decimal places in the answer. For example, the Mr of NO is 14.0 + 16.0 = 30.0. When multiplying or dividing numbers, it is the number of significant figures that is important. Decide which number in the calculation has the least number of significant figures. This tells you the least number of significant figures in the answer. For example, the number of moles of carbon in 14.20 g = 14.2 = 1.183333 12.0 but the answer should be quoted to only three significant figures: 1.18 Remember that exact numbers (whole numbers) are just that, and so do not affect the number of significant figures. calculate the mean as: = (0.30 x 5) + (0.35 x 3) + (0.38 x 6) + (0.40 x 2) (5 + 3 + 6 + 2) = 1.50 + 1.05 + 2.28 + 0.80 16 = 5.63 16 = 0.351875 However, since the original mass recordings had only 2 significant figures, we express the average mass to 2 significant figures, namely 0.35 g.

Rearranging Equations
In solving chemistry problems, it is often necessary to rearrange an equation to give an expression for one of the terms. A fundamental rule is to make sure that what you do to one side of the equation, you also do to the other. For example, if you want to make T the subject of the equation: pV = nRT you must divide both sides of the equation by n and R: pV = nRT nR nR Since nR = 1, cancelling out gives: nR T = pV nR

Arithmetic Mean
In chemistry experiments, for example in titrations, we often quote an average value from several measurements. The correct term for an average value is the arithmetic mean. The arithmetic mean is given by the equation: x n x means the sum of all the xs. The arithmetic mean of 23.53, 23.54, 23.51, 23.52, 23.55 = 23.53 + 23.54 + 23.51 + 23.52 + 23.55 5 = 23.53 Tables that include frequencies of values are useful when calculating an arithmetic mean. For example, the table records masses for 16 samples of copper(II) oxide, with the frequency of each mass. Mass of copper(II) oxide sample (g) 0.30 0.35 0.38 0.40 Frequency 5 3 6 2

Algebra for Solving Problems

Equations are often used in chemistry to model problems. There are three stages to solving problems this way. First you should set out the problem in terms of variables. For example, you are told that the mass of a crucible is 12 g and it contains two substances, where mass x of substance X is twice mass y of substance Y. We can

Instead of adding 16 values, we can


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therefore say that mass y = 2x; so: 2x + x = 12 g 3x = 12 g x=4g Therefore, mass x is 8 g and mass y is 4 g. divisor from the index of the number you are dividing: 102 103 = 10(2 3) = 101 You can express any positive number as a power of 10. You should be familiar with examples such as 101 = 10 and 100 = 1, and 102 = 0.01. For examples, look back at Standard Prefixes at the start of this item. The square root of 10 is written in standard form as 100.5 or 101/2. Other numbers can be represented by different powers of 10, e.g. 7 = 100.845 and 0.36 = 100.444. Before electronic calculators were invented, tables of these indices, or logarithms were used to solve complex arithmetic. Numbers could be multiplied or divided by adding or subtracting logarithms. The logarithms described above are to base 10, but they can be to any base.

Converting Temperatures
You may still find temperature quoted in degrees fahrenheit. To convert temperature from degrees fahrenheit, TF, to degrees celsius, Tc, use the formula: Tc = 5/9 x (TF 32) You will often be given temperature in degrees celsius and will need to convert it to absolute temperature measured in kelvins. In this case, use the formula: TK = Tc + 273

1. Calculate Tc when TF is: (i) 104 F. (ii) 23 F. 2. Calculate Tk when Tc is: (i) 35 C, (ii) 850 C.

Geometry of Molecules
The arrangement of bonding electron pairs in molecules determines the shape of the molecules. Electron pairs arrange themselves be as far apart from each other as possible, to minimise repulsion. The three-dimensional geometry of a particular molecule in a particular environment is fixed. It is therefore useful to know about angles in two- and three-dimensional shapes in order to understand the geometry of molecules.

1 (i) Tc = 5/9 x (104 32) = 5/9 x 72 = 40 C (ii) Tc = 5/9 x (23 32) = 5/9 x 9 = 5 C 2 (i) TK = 35 + 273 = 238 K (ii) TK = 850 + 273 = 1123 K

Geometry in two dimensions

The angles on a straight line add up to 180. The angles around a point add up to 360. The three interior angles of a triangle add up to 180.

We can express the multiplication 100 x 1000 = 100 000 in standard form as:


10 x 10 = 10

In this calculation, the indices 2 and 5 are added to give the answer 105. When dividing powers of the same number, you subtract the index of the

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Mathematical techniques
A polygon has two types of angle: Interior angles (angles made by adjacent sides of the polygon and lying inside the polygon) Exterior angles (angles lying outside of the polygon) The exterior angles of any polygon add up to 360. You can find the sum of the interior angles of a polygon by splitting it into triangles that join in the centre. Since we know that the angles in a triangle add up to 180, the sum of the interior angles in a polygon is found by multiplying the number of triangles in the polygon by 180, as shown in this table: Shape 4-sided 5-sided 6-sided 7-sided 8-sided Name Quadrilateral Pentagon Hexagon Heptagon Octagon Sum of interior angles 2 x 180 = 360 3 x 180 = 540 4 x 180 = 720 5 x 180 = 900 6 x 180 = 108 and we can find the angle between.

1. A molecule of phosphorus pentafluoride has 5 fluorine atoms arranged round a phosphorus atom: 3 of the fluorine atoms and the phosphorus atom are in the same plane. Assume that all the bond lengths are equal. (a) Work out the shape of the molecule: Draw the plane described above. Mark the angles made by the three fluorine atoms with the phosphorus atom. Then add the fourth and fifth fluorine atoms. (b) Find the angle between the plane and a PF bond for the fourth and fifth fluorine atoms. (c) How many plane surfaces are formed by fluorine atoms alone?

(a) To minimise electron pair repulsion: the three fluorine atoms form an equilateral triangle, with phosphorus at the centre (all bond lengths equal); the three angles from the centre are each 360/3 = 120; the fourth and fifth fluorine atoms must both be an equal (maximum) distance from the three fluorine atoms in the plane. The only shape with equal bond lengths that allows this is shown below.
F P F 120 F (a)

As you can see from the table, for an N-sided polygon, the sum of the interior angles is (N 2) x 180. Therefore, the value of each angle inside the polygon is [(N 2) x 180]/N.

1. Find the value of the angles in the strained ring of epoxyethane. 2. Find the value of the angles in benzene.

1. The strained ring in epoxyethane is a triangle, so N = 3. [(N 2) x 180]/N = (1 x 180)/3 Each angle is 60 2. Benzene is a hexagon, so N = 6. [(N 2) x 180]/N = (4 x 180)/3 Each angle is 120
(c) F F 90 P 90 F F F (b)

Geometry in three dimensions

In three dimensions, we deal with planes which are flat surfaces and lines. Both of these can be twisted round at any angle,

(b) The fourth and fifth fluorine atoms are perpendicular to the plane and so the angle is 90. (c) Plane surfaces can be drawn between fluorine atoms in groups of three only. Six plane surfaces can be drawn.
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The shape below shows bilateral symmetry. If folded in half along the axis of symmetry, both sides would match. Equivalent points can be marked at equal distances either side of the axis. The water molecule also shows bilateral symmetry.
axes of symmetry H p1 p2 H q1 q2 (b) H C C H H (c) C C C C C C

State the type of symmetry shown by the following, and state the number of axes of symmetry if more than one. (a) beryllium trichloride (b) ethene (c) the carbon chain of hexane
Cl O H (a) Cl Be Cl

There is only one axis of symmetry through the shapes shown above, since only one line can be drawn to give matching (mirror-image) halves. Other shapes can have more than one plane of bilateral symmetry:

(a) Beryllium is bilaterally symmetrical and it has three axes of bilateral symmetry. (b) Ethene is bilaterally symmetrical with two axes of bilateral symmetry. (c) The carbon chain of hexane shows point symmetry.

4 axes of symmetry

A graph provides a visual picture of the relationship between two quantities. The x axis, the horizontal axis, represents a quantity which changes (usually increases) in a regular way. The y axis, the vertical axis, represents a quantity that varies with the x-axis quantity, such as the mass of product in a reaction varying with time. The simplest type of graph is the straight-line graph, as shown for the volume of an ideal gas plotted against temperature.

In point symmetry, it is not possible to fold a shape in half and match both halves, but, from the centre, each point on one half of the shape has a corresponding point the same distance from the centre on the other half. The shape in the diagram shows the position of two pairs of corresponding points.

p1 q1




dashed line = extrapolated plot for an ideal gas

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Straight-line graphs show a linear relationship between both quantities. Where both quantities increase together, we say that x varies as y, or x y. Many graphs in chemistry are not straight-line graphs, since the variable plotted on the y axis does not increase uniformly with an increase in the x quantity. When joining plotted points, remember: you can draw a smooth curve if it is possible to obtain values for positions between the points; for example (see (a) below), at any moment in time, it is possible to measure the concentration of a reactant during a reaction. you must draw straight lines between points if it is not possible to find values between points; for example (see (b) below), there are no electrons between electron 1 and electron 2, and so on. The next graph is for standard enthalpy of combustion plotted against a sequence of straight-chain alkanes from CH4 to C6H14.
Standard enthalpy of combustion -H(298K)/kJ mol1





CH4 C2H6 C3H8 C4H10 C5H12 C6H14

Concentration of reactant

The points are approximately joined by a straight line. The points in this graph would normally be joined by straight lines, with the whole line slightly crooked, but a straight line is used to show the marked linear trend in values.


(a) 25000 20000 15000 10000 5000 0 (b)

2 3 4 5 6 Number of electrons removed from an aluminium atom

1. Draw sketches of the following graphs, inserting axis labels but not units, and showing whether or not they are straight-line graphs. (a) A graph of the number of molecules in a sample plotted against the energy of the molecules at temperature T. (b) A graph of the amount of product plotted against time for a reversible reaction after equilibrium has been reached. (c) A graph of the increase in number of electrons of elements plotted against order of the elements in the Periodic Table. (d) A graph of the amount of product in a reaction, plotted against time, from time = 0 seconds.


Ionisation energy/kJ mol1

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2. State whether you should draw a curve or straight lines between points in the following graphs. (a) Atomic radius plotted against Period 3 elements. (b) Volume of gas plotted against increase in pressure. (c) Melting point plotted against Group II elements.

Number of molecules Amount of product (a) (b)

E at temp = T Number of electrons Amount of product (c) (d)


Order of elements in Periodic Table Fig. MT 12


2. (a) straight lines (b) curve (c) straight lines


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