we already have new prefixes for extraordinarily large numbers

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Last week, the General Conference on Weights and Measures, meeting in Versailles, France, in its twenty-seventh conference approved, among other things, new prefixes to be applied to the International System of Units (SI): ronna, ronto, quetta and quecto.


The new measures.
The new nomenclatures they affect both the upper limit of the SI scale and the lower limit. Thus, the prefix ronna (R), will refer to the thousand quadrillion or 10 raised to 27 (or a one followed by 27 zeros). A ronnagram will therefore be equivalent to one thousand quadrillion grams, or what is the same, one quadrillion kilograms or one thousand trillion tons. The mass of the Earth would be equivalent to six ronnagrams.

The new measures cover a scale even more, a thousand times higher: quetta. Quetta (Q) reaches the quintillion, or 10 raised to 30. The quettagram would therefore be equivalent to one quadrillion tons. Jupiter’s mass is approximately two quettagrams.

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From the immense to the infinitesimal.
The other two measures can be understood as the inverse of the first. Ronto (r) would refer to one thousandth of a quadrillionth part, that is, one divided by 10 raised to 27. The mass of an electron would be approximately one rontogram. If we divide the ronto scale by a thousand, we will arrive at quecto (q), the quintillionth part. This is a fraction of one over 10 to the power of 30.

First expansion in three decades.
This is the last update to the system’s prefixes and suffixes, and the first in 30 years. The last adjustment was made early 90’s. The prefixes zetta (Z), yotta (Y) and their inverses, zepto (z) and yocto (y) were then added.

The new expansions are justified by the pressure implied by the huge amounts of data that computers are capable of processing today, as explained by the International Committee of Weights and Measures (BIPM) itself in The document in which he announces the resolutions of his last General Conference.

Richard Brown, member of the National Physics Laboratory Britishone of the institutions that has led the expansion of the SI, explained in a Press release that “this latest change is essential to meet the needs of data science and the growing datasphere, growth that we hope will accelerate with widespread digitization and the advent of new technologies such as quantum computing.”

Need to get ahead.
The document also explains that they want to prevent unofficial expressions (such as “hellabyte”, an expression that had been used instead of what the term ronnabyte will now occupy) from ending up in some communities.

Other resolutions.
This is not the only measure that the General Conference of the BEEP you have taken at your meeting. Two of his resolutions actually have to do with a measurement that somehow escapes the “decimal” area of ​​the system: time.

The first of these resolutions has to do with leap seconds. The (controversial) mechanism that we have to adjust certain differences between the ways we have of measuring time, those based on astronomical aspects (such as the day or the year) with those that we currently use to standardize time (the second).

The second of these resolutions has precisely to do with the second. Technological and scientific advances have made it necessary to redefine the second to base it on a more precise measurement. The BIPM wants to have a new definition of this unit ready for approval at its 28th general conference, which should take place four years from now.

Image | Tibet of Kort

Last week, the General Conference on Weights and Measures, meeting in Versailles, France, in its twenty-seventh conference approved, among other…

Last week, the General Conference on Weights and Measures, meeting in Versailles, France, in its twenty-seventh conference approved, among other…

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