Wow, that’s hella!

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The number 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 includes 27 zeroes and 9 commas. In shorthand, you can write this number in 10^27 but what to actual call it is another matter. According to Austin Sendek, a physics student at the University of California, Davis this number should be called “hella.” In February he started a Facebook petition to make “hella” the official prefix for 10^27. His petition is picking up steam with almost 30,000 students and scientists from around the world supporting his idea.

For those who don’t know, “hella” is a Northern California slang word that’s often used instead of “really” or “very.” For example, “It’s hella raining today.” Sendek argues that using “hella” would honor the scientific community of Northern California which is after all home to Silicon Valley, two of the biggest research universities in the world (Stanford and UC Berkeley), and some of the brightest minds of the infamous Manhattan Project which developed the Atom Bomb.

Though the average scientific calculator is incapable of computing 10^27, Sendek argues that advances in science might eventually lead to the need to designate a prefix for the number. Who knows, one day we might need hellawatts to power some crazy piece of machinery. In the meantime, the largest prefix in use, as determined by the International Committee for Weights and Measures is “yotta” (10^24), “zeta” (10^21), “exa (10^18), “peta” (10^15), and “tera” (10^12).

-Carla

One Response to “Wow, that’s hella!”

  1. Mary Ann Says:

    Interesting piece right here. Imagine if the term "hella" became the prefix for 10^27. Then it'd even be used by scientists all over the world — the world well then be "hella-fied".

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