Well, blow me down!

Presumably, then, 5.1000000000000000000000 is more precise than 5.10000000.

When

*I* was going to school (admittedly: a very long time ago now) the meaning of "significant figures" was precisely that the zero in 5.10 was

**not** significant -- no more significant than the zero in 05.1, or those in 0005.1000.

When giving precise figures, trailing zeros to the right of the decimal point are as redundant as leading zeros to the left ot it, surely?

The number of significant figures may, of course, matter greatly -- I seem to remember examination papers which gave instructions like "give your answer to three significant figures" -- but precisely "5.1" is exactly equivalent to "5.10 to two significant figures", is it not?

Are you saying that zero and nothing are not the same thing, cristóbal? (Probably

-- I lost touch with higher mathematics some time ago!).

I suspect that this has to do with science versus maths, however. I also dredge up from dim and distant memory the fact that in mathematical graphs one marked points with an x, but in physics with a "dot in circle" (symbolizing the fact that the finding was -- could never be anything other than -- an approximation, given the infinity of possible decimal places).

F