Petition to establish “hella-” as SI prefix for octillion

Sean Michael Ragan

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and makezine.com. My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

2400 Articles

By Sean Michael Ragan

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and makezine.com. My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

2400 Articles

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Thanks to the prodigious growth of computer storage media over the past couple of decades, most people have a pretty good command of the metric (SI) prefixes for big numbers: a kilobyte is a thousand bytes, a megabyte is a million, a gigabyte is a billion, and a terabyte is a trillion. Some folks are already making noises about “petabyte”–or one quadrillion byte–storage media. After that comes “exabyte,” which, of course, would be a quintillion bytes. And beyond that you get into “Marx brothers” country. More than one wag has suggested that the as-yet-unnamed metric prefix to denote one octillion somethings-or-other should be “groucho” or “harpo.”

But I like this proposal that’s been floating around Facebook even better: Use “hella” to denote 1027, as in “a one hellabyte RAID array” or “the sun weighs 2.2 hellatons and gives 0.3 hellawatts of power.” [via Boing Boing]