You are on page 1of 7

Precalculus: Logarithms - Careers and Applications

CAREERS THAT USE LOGARITHMS:


Scientists: (Physicists, Geologists, Seismologists, Biologists) Logarithmic scales, logarithmic reexpression, and solving exponential equations (especially in the area of growth and decay).
Engineers: Logarithmic scales, logarithmic re-expression of data, integrals involving the reciprocal
function, and solving exponential equations.
Statisticians: Logarithic re-expression of data, statistical models (especially the Poisson distribution),
and solving exponential equations.

APPLICATIONS OF LOGARITHMS:
One of the most common examples that we have already looked at in class is for solving exponential equations.
There are a couple of other applications of logarithms that we will be looking into as part of this activity. They
include logarithmic scales and logarithmic re-expression of data.

LOGARITHMIC SCALES: A logarithmic scale is a scale of measurement that uses the logarithm of a physical quantity
instead of the quantity itself. A logarithmic scale is one which increases in real terms by a factor of 10, for every
increase in the scale of 1. For example a logarithmic scale of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, in fact represents values of 1, 10, 100,
1000, 10000.
THE RICHTER SCALE: Logarithmic scale for measuring earthquake magnitude. A magnitude 7.0 earthquake
generates 10 times larger amplitude waves than those of a magnitude 6.0, and releases 32 times more energy.
The Richter Scale was developed in 1935 by California seismologist Charles Richter. The magnitude on the Richter
Scale is given as follows:

where E is the energy released by the earthquake, measured in Joules, and


is the energy released by a very
small reference earthquake, which has been standardized to be
joules.
Example 1: The 1906 San Francisco earthquake released approximately
joules of energy. Another
quake struck the Bay Area just before game 3 of the 1989 World Series, releasing
joules of
energy. Find the magnitude of each of the earthquakes on the Richter scale.

How many times more energy did the 1906 earthquake release than the one in 1989?

Another way of expressing the Richter scale is as follows:

where I is the intensity of the earthquake (measured by the amplitude of a seismograph reading taken 100 km
from the epicenter of the earthquake) and is the intensity of a zero-level earthquake (whose amplitude is 1
micron or
cm)
Example 2: Given the following hypothetical seismographic readings, try to plot the numbers on a number line.
What problem do you encounter?
0.003

12.7

0.02

1999

0.6

332

Compute the Richter scale magnitude for each of the readings given above. Plot these numbers on a
number line. Why does this work better than the first set of numbers?

Example 3: How many times more severe was the 2001 earthquake in Gujarat, India (R = 7.9) than the 1999
earthquake in Athens, Greece (R = 5.9)?

pH: (from potential of Hydrogen) the logarithm of the reciprocal of hydrogen-ion concentration in gram atoms per
liter; provides a measure on a scale from 0 to 14 of the acidity or alkalinity of a solution (where 7 is neutral and
greater than 7 is more basic and less than 7 is more acidic)
[
where [

] is the hydrogen-ion concentration.

Example 1: Some especially sour vinegar has a pH of 2.4 and a box of Leg and Sickle baking soda has a pH of 8.4.
What are their hydrogen-ion concentrations?

How many times greater is the hydrogen-ion concentration of the vinegar than that of the baking
soda?

SOUND INTENSITY: the rate at which energy is being carried by a sound wave through a given area. It has the unit
of Watts per square meter (W/m). Intensity is the amount of energy transmitted per second over an area of a
square meter.
Humans are able to detect sound intensity as low as the threshold 10 W/m and as high as an upper limit of 1.0
W/m, a figure above which we experience pain or damage to hearing. This enormous range of hearing for the
human ear is, in fact, sensitivity best represented by a logarithmic scale. A sound level scale may be derived that
compares the intensity of sound, I W/m, with a reference value selected as the threshold of sound, W/m
Increasing the sound intensity by a factor of

10 raises its level by 10 dB


100 raises its level by 20 dB
1,000 raises its level by 30 dB
10,000 raises its level by 40 dB
and so on

The decibel, named after the inventor of the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922) is defined as follows:

watts/

watts /

where dB is the decibel level of the sound, I is the intensity of the sound measured in watts per square meter, and
is the intensity of the least audible sound that an average healthy young person can hear (standardized to be
). We convert to decibels since the range of sound intensities is so large.

Example 1: Find the number of decibels from a whisper with sound intensity
then from heavy traffic at

watts per square meter,

watts per square meter.

How many times larger is the sound intensity of heavy traffic compared to the whisper?

Example 2: A high sound level of 120 dB is regarded as the threshold of pain for the average listener. What is the
corresponding intensity?

If a listener is exposed to this sound level of 120 dB at a distance of 10 m from the source, to what
value would the sound level fall if they moved a further 10 m away?

Read more: http://physics.suite101.com/article.cfm/how_loud_is_it#ixzz0VSJcyHPx

ROCKET FLIGHT: The theory of rocket flight uses advanced mathematics and physics to show that the velocity v of
a rocket at burnout (depletion of fuel supply) is given by:

where c is the exhaust velocity of the rocket engine,


is the burnout weight (structure and payload).

is the takeoff weight (fuel, structure, and payload), and

Example 1: A typical single-stage, solid-fuel rocket may have a weight ratio

and an exhaust velocity

kilometers per second. Would this rocket reach a launch velocity of 9.0 kilometers per
second?

)that fit a logarithmic or exponential regression model


LOGARITHMIC RE-EXPRESSION OF DATA: Data pairs (
can be linearized through the process of logarithmic re-expression.

Three Types of Logarithmic Re-expression


Regression Type
Natural Logarithmic Regression Re-expressed
Exponential Regression Re-expressed
Power Regression Re-expressed

Original Data Logarithmicly Re-expressed Data


(x,y)
(ln x, y)
(x,y)
(x, ln y)
(x,y)
(ln x, ln y)

Example 1: Determine whether the following data can be best modeled by logarithmic, exponential, or power
regression. Find the appropriate regression model.

x
1
2
3
4
5
6

y
2
5
10
17
26
38

Example 2: Keplers Third Law of Motion states that the square of the orbit period T for each planet is proportional
to the cube of its average distance a from the Sun.

Average Distances and Orbit Periods for the Six Planets


Planet Average Distance from Sun (Gm) Period of Orbit (days)
Mercury
57.9
88
Venus
108.2
225
Earth
149.6
365.2
Mars
227.9
687
Jupiter
778.3
4,332
Saturn
1427
10,760
Source: Shupe, Dorr, Payne, Hunsiker, et al., National Geographic Atlas of the World
(rev. 6th ed.). Washington, DC: National Geographic Society, 1992. plate 116.

Average Distances and Orbit Periods for the Six Planets


Planet Average Distance from Sun (AU)
Mercury
0.387
Venus
0.7233
Earth
1
Mars
1.523
Jupiter
5.203
Saturn
9.539

Period of Orbit (yr)


0.241
0.6161
1
1.881
11.86
29.46

Source: Re-expression of data from: Shupe, et al., National Geographic Atlas of the
World (rev. 6th ed.). Washington, DC: National Geographic Society, 1992. plate 116.

View the scatter plots for both sets of data given above and compare the shape of the plots. Note any similarities
and/or differences.

) data pairs in the second table as (


) pairs. Rewrite the linear regression in terms of a
Re-express the (
and T, and rewrite the equation in a form with no logarithms or fractional exponents.

PROBLEMS:
1.

A recent earthquake in San Francisco measured 7.1 on the Richter scale. How many times more intense
was the San Francisco earthquake earlier in the century that measured 8.3 on the Richter scale?

2.

If one earthquake is 25 times as intense as another, how much larger is its magnitude on the Richter
scale?

3.

A person wears a hearing aid that uniformly increases the intensity level of all audible frequencies of
sound by 30 dB. The hearing aid picks up a sound having a frequency of 250 Hz at an intensity of

4.

. What is the intensity delivered to the eardrum?

The toadfish makes use of resonance in a closed tube to produce very loud sounds. The tube is its swim
bladder used as an amplifier. The sound level of this creature has been measured at 100 dB. Calculate
the intensity of the sound wave emitted.