Hella Good: Scientists Petition to Name a Very Large Number

Mar 03, 2010 by Miranda Marquit weblog
Image source: SPUI via Wikimedia Commons

(PhysOrg.com) -- As science becomes increasing precise, and as computers provide the ability to crunch ever larger (and smaller) numbers, scientists are looking to name numbers with lots of zeroes. You've heard of mega, giga and tera. You might have even heard of yotta -- which is a one followed by 24 zeroes. But now some scientists are petitioning the International System of Units to create a binary prefix for a one followed by 27 zeroes. This number, they think, should be called "hella".

As in, "That's one hella big number."

In fact, there is a Facebook effort underway, with more than 20,000 students and scientists calling for this name. One of the instigators is Austin Sendek, a student in physics at the University of California. Fox News reports on his reasoning for naming the number hella:

Sendek and his petition signatories believe naming numbers in the 10^27 category is of "critical importance for scientists in all fields." He said these numbers are vital to representing "the wattage of the sun, distances between galaxies, or the number of atoms in a large sample." ...

"However, isn't all that sets Northern California apart from the rest of the world," Sendek wrote. "The area is also notorious for the creation and widespread usage of the English slang 'hella,' which typically means 'very,' or can refer to a large quantity (e.g. 'there are hella stars out tonight')."

But will the International System of Units go for it? That's the question. Calling something "yotta" sounds very like the name of the Star Wars character Yoda, so naming the next big number "hella" wouldn't be so bad. Right? Plus, it would give science an "in" regarding popular culture. But, if numbers continue to get larger, what comes next? How could you express a that is even bigger than hella?

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Rdavid
2.6 / 5 (5) Mar 03, 2010
How could you express a number that is even bigger than hella?

How about, hellb, hellc, helld, for starters?
Royale
4 / 5 (4) Mar 03, 2010
or how about 10^28. That's a great way of representing a larger number. and it's mega, giga, tera, peta, exa then i don't know. i guess it will be a way off before pc's have petabytes for storage so we'll have time to learn.
jsovine
3.8 / 5 (5) Mar 03, 2010
What a waste of time, just use scientific notation like every professional.
Doug_Huffman
3.7 / 5 (3) Mar 03, 2010
I agree. Use scientific notation. Otherwise, sooner or later, some copyrighted neologism will have to be invented to name all countable quantities up to the limit of 10^80. Only the innumerate will advocate beyond 10^80. ((That's intentional red-meat bait for them.))
Simonsez
4.6 / 5 (10) Mar 03, 2010
What a waste of time, just use scientific notation like every professional.

Yes, because most of the world says "My flash drive holds 10 to the fourth power bytes of information," in regular conversation.
meeker
5 / 5 (3) Mar 03, 2010
Instead of "Hella," how about "Holla"?
As in ... "Ain't no Hollaback girl."

No?

A real suggestion would be Titabyte. You can also use Supabyte. And my personal favorite, Dinobyte. Though, I'm sure some company might sue for some weird reason.
MorituriMax
4 / 5 (4) Mar 03, 2010
how about "bigga"?

bigga-watt for one.
vantomic
not rated yet Mar 03, 2010
Since we are stuck with this for a very long time i'd rather not make a joke out of it even thought it would be fun. I vote no on "hella". And I would like to see them prove this is a nor cal thing. Just because a word is more popular somewhere doesn't mean it originated there. Common thought processes see the creation of words in parallel and these words sometimes grip an area well. But to say that it was created there is not provable.

The area is also notorious for the creation and widespread usage of the English slang 'hella,' which typically means 'very,' or can refer to a large quantity (e.g. 'there are hella stars out tonight')."

LOL,
PieRSquare
5 / 5 (6) Mar 03, 2010
This is "hella stupid". We'd be stuck with this this long after it ceased to be entertaining. If someone had named a new element Cowabungium in the early 90's we'd be sick of it by now.
frajo
1.8 / 5 (5) Mar 03, 2010
What a waste of time, just use scientific notation like every professional.

Yes, because most of the world says "My flash drive holds 10 to the fourth power bytes of information," in regular conversation.
Most of the world doesn't speak English.
NotAsleep
not rated yet Mar 03, 2010
What a waste of time, just use scientific notation like every professional.

Yes, because most of the world says "My flash drive holds 10 to the fourth power bytes of information," in regular conversation.
Most of the world doesn't speak English.


You're right, English is a mere #2:
http://en.wikiped...speakers
frajo
3.7 / 5 (3) Mar 03, 2010
What a waste of time, just use scientific notation like every professional.

Yes, because most of the world says "My flash drive holds 10 to the fourth power bytes of information," in regular conversation.
Most of the world doesn't speak English.
You're right, English is a mere #2
Even #1 is not "most of the world".
fuzz54
5 / 5 (1) Mar 03, 2010
or how about 10^28. That's a great way of representing a larger number. and it's mega, giga, tera, peta, exa then i don't know. i guess it will be a way off before pc's have petabytes for storage so we'll have time to learn.
Just another 15-20 years and desktop computers will have petabyte hard drives.
trekgeek1
not rated yet Mar 03, 2010
I say we adopt some new naming convention. Like 100 x10^24 bytes. can be 100 tera^2 bytes. Pronounced 100 tera squared bytes. That way 10^24 is just (10^12)^2. Any takers? Seems good to me. 100 peta squared? 100 peta gigs for a combination?
magpies
not rated yet Mar 03, 2010
I don't like hella but I know its going to be something stupid and you cant get more stupid then that so...
PinkElephant
5 / 5 (1) Mar 03, 2010
This is "hella stupid". We'd be stuck with this this long after it ceased to be entertaining. If someone had named a new element Cowabungium in the early 90's we'd be sick of it by now.
I'll vote in support of "hella". Furthermore, I'd like to formally nominate element 113 to be called Cowabungium (LUV IT!!)

I mean, why should Uranus be the only source of giggles in a science classroom? The more, the merrier ;)
acarrilho
1 / 5 (1) Mar 03, 2010
"(e.g. 'there are hella stars out tonight')."

Doesn't "hella" need an adjective after? Just sayin'...
jonnyboy
1 / 5 (1) Mar 03, 2010
the man is clueless and so are his ideas. hella is just a shortened version of hellofa which is just a slurring together of "hell of a", as in I had a hell of a good time ripping on this guy's proposal.
Ant
not rated yet Mar 03, 2010
As stupid as calling a sandwich a "sub"
Scryer
not rated yet Mar 03, 2010
Slang is fine, but there's a good reason for standardized English - so you can actually understand someone when they speak or write.

I don't see anything wrong with hella, I'll just say I have 10 hella bytes on my computer, in 50 years.
Shootist
2.3 / 5 (9) Mar 03, 2010
Need a name for a big number? Call it an Obama; in tribute to the national debt.
Ronan
5 / 5 (1) Mar 03, 2010
This is "hella stupid". We'd be stuck with this this long after it ceased to be entertaining. If someone had named a new element Cowabungium in the early 90's we'd be sick of it by now.
I'll vote in support of "hella". Furthermore, I'd like to formally nominate element 113 to be called Cowabungium (LUV IT!!)

I mean, why should Uranus be the only source of giggles in a science classroom? The more, the merrier ;)

Uranus got off pretty easily with its current name, really, considering the other names that were suggested ("George" or "Herschel." No, seriously.)

And somehow, it doesn't surprise me that it was a physicist who proposed this; they've always been kinda...goofy. Brought to you be the same group of scientists who gave the world quarks, gluons, charginos, and sleptons! I'm all for it, really. And I second the motion for Cowabungium.
frajo
not rated yet Mar 04, 2010
I mean, why should Uranus be the only source of giggles in a science classroom?
The classrooms I've been in were well aware of the meaning of Uranus, the latinized form of the Greek mythological being Ouranos - it just means "heaven".
PinkElephant
not rated yet Mar 04, 2010
I mean, why should Uranus be the only source of giggles in a science classroom?
The classrooms I've been in were well aware of the meaning of Uranus, the latinized form of the Greek mythological being Ouranos - it just means "heaven".
Lighten up, dude. Everyone is aware of the etymology, just as it's true that Uranus only sounds funny to English speakers. Yet, I bet Cowabungium would have a universal appeal, regardless of culture =)
frajo
not rated yet Mar 04, 2010
it's true that Uranus only sounds funny to English speakers
Because of "anus"? But why doesn't "Uranus" sound funny in other languages where "anus" is known, too?
Ok, humour is inexplicable. Thanks for enlightenment.
RobertKarlStonjek
not rated yet Mar 04, 2010
I'm going for 'lots' for 27, and 'lotsnlots' for 30 zeros.
PinkElephant
not rated yet Mar 04, 2010
But why doesn't "Uranus" sound funny in other languages where "anus" is known, too?
You're serious? OK, assuming you are, the other languages don't have a word like "your", or at least if they have such a word or similar, it doesn't mean quite the same thing as it does in English, or at least the two words "your anus", in that order, don't make a meaningful phrase... There, was that literal enough for ya?
frajo
not rated yet Mar 04, 2010
There, was that literal enough for ya?
Thanks a lot; now I understand. That "your" didn't ring in my ears before because, even if I read aloud, I automatically pronounce words in their original language (if it is known to me).
minimegamonkeyman
not rated yet Mar 04, 2010
Everyone remember the etymology of "googol?" Good. I am hella in favor of this prefix.
croghan27
not rated yet Mar 04, 2010
Need a name for a big number? Call it an Obama; in tribute to the national debt.


Just for ballance ... Bush would qualify under that criteria.
baudrunner
4.2 / 5 (5) Mar 04, 2010
mega, giga, tera, peta, exa, yotta, visa

10^27 is visa, as in visaflops and visabytes. That's for "viginti septem", which is latin for "twenty seven". Let's all agree and quit this lame discussion, *harumph*
PinkElephant
not rated yet Mar 04, 2010
10^27 is visa, as in visaflops and visabytes. That's for "viginti septem", which is latin for "twenty seven".
Then wouldn't it be vise, not visa? I have a competing proposal: mastercard.
El_Nose
not rated yet Mar 04, 2010
You know where I come from we say - "there's a helluva lot of stars out tonight" as in saying "hell of a" slurred together -- i guess we got it wrong -- thanks UofC for correcting our slang.
steveshrew
Mar 05, 2010
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
MorituriMax
3 / 5 (2) Mar 05, 2010
or how about 10^28. That's a great way of representing a larger number. and it's mega, giga, tera, peta, exa then i don't know. i guess it will be a way off before pc's have petabytes for storage so we'll have time to learn.
Just another 15-20 years and desktop computers will have petabyte hard drives.


petabyte SSD drives you mean.
podizzle
not rated yet Mar 06, 2010
The entire visible universe can be perfectly simulated with only 10^123 bytes of storage capacity. I want a flash drive with the universe on it! (I know I know only 1 universe on my keychain is lame compared to your omniverse flash drive, but my robot wont find a job and just plays video games all day)
farside
not rated yet Mar 07, 2010
There is symmetry in the metric system. Yotta represents 10 to the +24 power whereas the yocto represents 10 to the -24 power. Now we have hella for 10 to the +27 power and hello could be 10 to the -27 power.

Kind Regards,
Farside
ralph_wiggum
5 / 5 (1) Mar 08, 2010
I got the next seven covered...
10^27: doppa-
30: grumpa-
33: docca-
36: happa-
39: bashfa-
42: sneeza-
45: sleepa-
PieRSquare
not rated yet Mar 08, 2010
Hmm, looks like cowabungium is kicking hella's butt in the polls. Maybe 10^27 should be cowa and 10^30 could be bunga. That means cowabunga would be 10^57. It's not googol but it's still pretty big.
baudrunner
1 / 5 (1) Mar 08, 2010
10^27 is visa, as in visaflops and visabytes. That's for "viginti septem", which is latin for "twenty seven".

Then wouldn't it be vise, not visa? I have a competing proposal: mastercard

Actually, it would be vise, pronounced "vizze" but human nature being what it is, everybody would be saying "visa" anyway. I already thought all that out.
HellaBigFan
not rated yet Mar 22, 2010
@Ralph- you def nailed the next seven, here a couple : )

Hecka
Word used by young children in NorCal (mostly bay are i.e San Fransisco, oakland, dublin, pleasenton, livermore etc.) before they are old enough to use hella without getting in touble.
Your hecka stupid!

Hexa
It is rumoured that the spelling of hexa originated in the frigid, barren tundra of Vancouver Island, Canada.
(Generic Name #1) from Canada: Gee, riding our polar bears sure is fun, eh?
(Generic Name #2) from Canada: Oh yeah, eh. It's hexa good.

...and the favorite, Grippa
A word meaning "really", "exceedingly", "very", or "a lot of". A West Coast equivalent of "wicked", and often used as a replacement for "hella".
1) Wow, you were grippa drunk last night, dude.
2) It's grippa rainy out right now.
3) Um...my neighbor's grippa sketch.
4) Holy hell! Don't go out there! There's grippa ninja running around!
veronica_stapleton
not rated yet Mar 23, 2010
It is not like it would be the first time, granted a Barn isn't an SI unit, but it is one of the few non-SI units widely accepted (bc of its use in particle physics). And its a Barn, as in you can't hit the broad side of a barn!

http://en.wikiped...n_(unit)