**So what does this really mean?**

Assuming a base or radix of 10, I will attempt to explain it using an example.

Consider the following value:

623.57185

I can represent this value in any of the following ways
*(where * indicates multiplication): *

`.62357185*1000 `

`6.2357185*100`

`62.357185*10`

`623.57185*1`

`6235.7185*0.1`

`62357.185*0.01`

`623571.85*0.001`

`6235718.5*0.0001`

`62357185.*0.00001`

In other words, I can represent the value as a *mantissa*
(62357185) multiplied by a *factor* where the purpose of the factor is to
represent a left or right shift in the position of the decimal point.