[R] Off Topic: teenie weenie numbers -- Was: Precision level

Bert Gunter gunter.berton at gene.com
Fri Mar 26 17:31:17 CET 2010


Although machine precision (smallest numerical values that can be exactly
represented) is important for numerical calculations, what is the smallest
number that anyone has actually seen describing physical phenomena in
science? I've seen values of ca. 1e-20 or so routinely used in physics on
both size (e.g quarks) and time scales (lifetimes of evanescent particles).
Beyond that about the smallest values I've seen are about 1e-40 or so
seconds in discussions of Big Bang dynamics. Does anyone know of smaller
ones (and those I've quoted might certainly be off somewhat). 

Just curious. Hope this abuse of the list is not too egregious. Ignore if
you think it is.

Cheers to all, 

Bert Gunter
Genentech Nonclinical Statistics

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