You know kilo, mega, and giga. Is the metric system ready for ronna and quecca? | Science


By the 2030s, computer system information storage might go beyond 1 yottabyte (1024), the biggest number with an authorities metric prefix.

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Fresh from redefining the kg and other basic procedures, the guardians of the metric system have actually set their sights on another upgrade: brand-new prefixes for insanely big and little numbers.

A proposition lodged with the International Bureau of Weights and Steps (BIPM) in Paris suggests brand-new names—ronna and quecca—as prefixes for 1027 and 1030, respectively. They would be signed up with by their tiny equivalents, ronto for 1027, and quecto for 1030. If authorized, the brand-new terms might be officially presented in 2022. They would be the very first prefixes included because 1991.

The prepared upgrade reacts to the huge development in international information storage, which by the early 2030s is anticipated to reach 1 yottabyte (1024)—the top of the existing scale. Without brand-new prefixes, computer system researchers will have no other way to formally speak about what follows. At the other end of the scale, quantum physicists have actually determined atomic forces as little as 42 yoctonewtons. Much smaller sized and they lack metrological roadway.

“Where there is a need that is not met, there is also a risk that unofficial units can take hold and that can cause confusion,” states Richard Brown, head of metrology at the National Physical Lab near London, who developed the brand-new names. He states informal terms beyond yotta, consisting of brontobyte and geobyte, are currently ending up being popular. Although mathematicians in some cases utilize the prefix googol (10100), a name created a century back by a 9-year-old woman, it, too, is informal.

Brown chooses to follow custom. The brand-new prefixes ought to relate etymologically to 9 and 10, to represent the ninth and 10th powers of 103. He likewise wished to continue the reverse alphabetical pattern set by zetta and yotta, however required to prevent letters such as X, W, and V that might be puzzled with other terms. Therefore, drawing from the Latin and Greek words for 9 (novem, ennea) and 10 (decem, deka), with some poetic license to make the terms more quickly noticable, he developed ronna, quecca, ronto, and quecto. “It’s supposed to be a conversation starter,” states Brown, who released his proposition last month in the journal Measurement.

An entire lotta yottas

Metrologists are proposing to extend metric prefixes beyond yotta and yocto. 

Prefix Sign Power
quecca Q 1030
ronna R 1027
yotta Y 1024
zetta Z 1021
exa E 1018
peta P 1015
tera T 1012
giga G 109
mega M 106
kilo k 103
milli m 10–3
micro μ 10–6
nano n 10–9
pico p 10–12
femto f 10–15
atto a 10–18
zepto z 10–21
yocto y 10–24
ronto r 10–27
quecto q 10–30

The terms are because of be talked about at the October conference of BIPM’s Consultative Committee for Systems. If the committee authorizes the concept, it might make an official suggestion to BIPM. The company’s basic conference, that includes federal government agents and is because of next fulfill in 2022, would have the last vote—as it did late in 2015 when it approved a new definition of the kilogram based upon basic physical constants.

It’s prematurely to state whether the prefixes will be embraced, states Estefanía de Mirandés, executive secretary of the systems committee and a physicist with BIPM. “It would be premature to mention a possible outcome of the discussion,” she composed in an e-mail.

Other propositions to extend the measurement scale have actually fizzled. In 2010, a physics trainee in California recommended “hella” as a prefix for 1027, and countless individuals signed an online petition in assistance. (Contrary to reports, the concept did not reach the BIPM systems committee for official conversation.) In 2008, a short article in The New York City Times on supercomputers described a xeraflop, and a 2015 paper on cosmic engineering utilized the signs X, W, and V to explain the colossal energy levels, beyond the yotta scale, that might be seen if aliens turned a black hole into a particle accelerator. One prankster hacked a Wikipedia short article in 2008 to present a brand-new technical term for a computer system that might try 1048 operations per second: a gonnaflop. It lasted 7 minutes prior to being erased.

Ronna, quecca, and their partners might fare much better. Emilio Prieto, who represents the Spanish Metrology Center in Madrid on the systems committee, states he would vote for the names due to the fact that they are easy and unforgettable. “Once people start using the wrong prefix names it is impossible to go back,” he states.

If those 4 are authorized, Brown states, just a single great letter would stay that might be utilized by itself for 1033 and 1033 in future: B (and b). Brown currently has names at the ready: bundecca and bundecto, based upon the Latin for 11, undecim.

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