04 March 2010

I'm hella stoked

A young fellow from our neck of the woods got excited one day in science class at UC Davis. He decided that the slang term "hella" would make a good prefix in the SI system. Everyone is familiar with mega-and giga- from computerspeak, and most of us know a kilo-meter is a bunch of meters (1000, or 10^3). So far, the SI folks don't have a prefix for 10^27 (10 raised to the 27th power). This lad--Austin Sendek is his name--thinks "hella" would do nicely. I'm all for it. After all, we need more humor in science. There are only so many "Uranus" jokes to go around. To give you an idea of how big 10^27 is, the world's electric power usage** is about 2 tera-watts, or 2 x 10^12 watts. That's only 0.000000000000002 hella-watts!

There's a Facebook page about "hella" and the story made it across The Pond to The Daily Telegraph!

**The number is from Richard Muller's Physics for Future Presidents.

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