By Michael Banks
“Yotta”, “zeta”, “exa” and “peta” could now be joined by a new number prefix, the “hella”, if a physics student from University of California, Davis, gets his way.
Austin Sendek has started a petition on the social networking site Facebook to establish a new, scientifically accepted prefix for 1027(that is 1 followed by 27 zeroes, or 1000000000000000000000000000).
Yotta (1024), which was established in 2001, is currently the largest number established in the International System of Units (SI) – the world’s most widely used system of measurement — with zeta (1021), exa (1018) and peta (1015) following close behind.
“Hella” comes from Californian slang for “very” or “a lot of”. Sendek says that by accepting the term the SI system can “not only rectify their failing prefix system but also honor the scientific progress of Northern California.”
The petition is gaining ground fast with over 20 0000 signatures (or “fans” on the Facebook page) – or 0.0000000000000000000002 hellafans.
So what could you use the hella for? Sendek claims it could be applied in many “crucial calculations”, including the wattage of the Sun (0.3 hellawatts), or the number of atoms in a large sample (6.02 hellaatoms in 120 kg of carbon-12).
Sendek has not said what he would like to call the number for 10-27 (10-24 is the yocto). So physicsworld.com readers, any suggestions?