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# 7.1 nth Roots and Rational Exponents

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```7.1 nth Roots and Rational
Exponents
Algebra 2
Mrs. Spitz
Spring 2009
Objectives/Assignment
вЂў Evaluate nth roots of real numbers using
both radical notation and rational exponent
notation.
вЂў Use nth roots to solve real-life problems
such as finding the total mass of a
spacecraft that can be sent to Mars.
Assignment: pp. 404-405 #4-61 every 3rd
Evaluating Nth Roots
вЂў You can extend the concept of a square
root to other types of roots. For instance 2
is a cube root of 8 because 23 = 8, and 3 is
a fourth root of 81 because 34 = 81. In
general, for an integer n greater than 1, if
bn = a, then b is an nth root of a. An nth
root of a is written n a , where n is the
Evaluating Nth Roots
вЂў You can also write an nth root of a as a
power of a. For the particular case of a
square root, suppose that a пЂЅ a k. Then
you can determine a value for k as follows:
aп‚·
a пЂЅa
a п‚·a пЂЅ a
k
a
2k
k
пЂЅa
1
Definition of a square root
Substitute ak for
a
Product of powers property
2 k пЂЅ 1 Set exponents equal when bases are equal.
k пЂЅ
1
2
Solve for k
Evaluating Nth Roots
вЂў Therefore, you can see that a пЂЅ a
a similar way, you can show that
3
n
a пЂЅa
a пЂЅa
1
3
1
n
and
4
a пЂЅa
1
4
1
2
. In
. In general,
for any integer n greater than 1
Ex. 1 Finding nth Roots
вЂў Find the indicated real nth root(s) of a.
A. n = 3, a = -125
Solution: Because n = 3 is odd, a = -125
has one real cube root. Because (-5)3 =
-125, you can write:
3
пЂ­ 125 пЂЅ пЂ­ 5
or
( пЂ­ 125 )
1
3
пЂЅ пЂ­5
Ex. 1 Finding nth Roots
вЂў Find the indicated real nth root(s) of a.
B. n = 4, a = 16
Solution: Because n = 4 is even, a = 16 > 0,
has two real fourth roots. Because 24 =
16, and (-2)4 = 16, you can write:
п‚± 16 пЂЅ п‚± 2
4
or
п‚± 16
1
4
пЂЅ п‚±2
A rational exponent does not have to be of the
form
1
where n is an integer greater than 1.
n
Other rational numbers such as
can also be used as exponents.
3
2
and пЂ­
1
2
Ex. 2 Evaluating Expressions
with Rational Exponents
A. 9
3
2
пЂЅ ( 9 ) пЂЅ 3 пЂЅ 27
3
3
1
3
Using rational exponent
notation.
пЂЅ ( 9 ) пЂЅ 3 пЂЅ 27
1
1
1
B. 32 пЂ­ 2 5 пЂЅ 1 пЂЅ
пЂЅ 2 пЂЅ
2
2
5
2
4
32 5
( 32 )
OR
OR
9
2
32
2
пЂ­2
5
пЂЅ
3
3
1
1
( 32 )
5
2
пЂЅ
1
2
2
пЂЅ
1
4
Study Tip
вЂў When using a
graphing calculator to
approximate an nth
root, you may have to
rewrite the nth root
using a rational
exponent. Then use
the calculatorвЂ™s power
key.
Ex. 3 Approximating a Root with a
Calculator
вЂў Use a graphing calculator to approximate:
4
( 5)
3
SOLUTION: First rewrite (
enter the following:
4
5)
3
as 5
3
4
. Then
To solve simple equations involving xn, isolate the
power and then take the nth root of each side.
Ex. 4 Solving Equations Using nth Roots
A. 2x4 = 162
B. (x вЂ“ 2)3 = 10
2 x пЂЅ 162
(x вЂ“ 2) пЂЅ 10
x пЂЅ 81
x -2 пЂЅ
x пЂЅ п‚± 81
xпЂЅ
x пЂЅ п‚±3
x п‚» 4 . 15
4
4
4
3
3
3
10
10 пЂ« 2
Ex. 5: Using nth Roots in Real Life
вЂў The total mass M (in kilograms) of a spacecraft
that can be propelled by a magnetic sail is, in
theory, given by:
where m is the mass
2
0 . 015 m
(in kilograms) of the
M пЂЅ
magnetic sail, f is
fd
4
3
the drag force (in newtons) of the spacecraft,
and d is the distance (in astronomical units) to
the sun. Find the total mass of a spacecraft
that can be sent to Mars using m = 5,000 kg, f
= 4.52 N, and d = 1.52 AU.
Solution
The spacecraft can have a total mass of about 47,500
kilograms. (For comparison, the liftoff weight for a
space shuttle is usually about 2,040,000 kilograms.
Ex. 6: Solving an Equation Using an nth
Root
вЂў NAUTICAL SCIENCE. The Olympias is a
reconstruction of a trireme, a type of Greek
galley ship used over 2,000 years ago. The
power P (in kilowatts) needed to propel the
Olympias at a desired speed, s (in knots) can
be modeled by this equation:
P = 0.0289s3
A volunteer crew of the Olympias was able to
generate a maximum power of about 10.5
kilowatts. What was their greatest speed?
SOLUTION
вЂў The greatest speed attained by the Olympias was
approximately 7 knots (about 8 miles per hour).
```
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