Monday, February 18, 2019

More Prefixes

"You know kilo, mega, and giga. Is the metric system ready for ronna and quecca?
A proposal lodged with the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM) in Paris recommends new names -- ronna and quecca-- as prefixes for 1027 and 1030, respectively. They would be joined by their microscopic counterparts, ronto for 1027, and quecto for 1030. If approved, the new terms could be formally introduced in 2022. They would be the first prefixes added since 1991.

The planned update responds to the massive growth in global data storage, which by the early 2030s is forecast to reach 1 yottabyte (1024) -- the top of the existing scale. Without new prefixes, computer scientists will have no way to officially talk about what comes next. At the other end of the scale, quantum physicists have measured atomic forces as small as 42 yoctonewtons. Much smaller and they run out of metrological road.