(ORDO NEWS) — Over the past 30 years, the International System of Units has remained unchanged, but now, faced with an increasing amount of data on the largest and smallest objects in the universe, scientists have introduced new prefixes: ronna-, quetta-, ronto- and quecto-.
At the 27th General Conference on Weights and Measures, meeting at the Palace of Versailles, west of Paris, scientists and government representatives from around the world voted to introduce new metric prefixes into the International System of Units (SI) , adding to the already known kilo-, milli – and others.
The innovation will facilitate the designation of either too large or too small values. For example, although in SI the basic unit for measuring length is the meter, it is inconvenient to measure the distance from Moscow to Paris in meters without adding the kilo- prefix to them.
As a result, new prefixes are regularly added to the SI, and the last such update was voted back in 1991, when the concept of yottameter first appeared – units with 24 zeros.
However, as data accumulated, even yottameters and yottagrams were not enough to describe the world around us. Now they are being replaced by new prefixes: ronna- and quetta- for large units and ronto- and quecto- for small ones.
So, for example, the approximate weight of the Earth can be written as a six with 27 zeros, or simply six ronnagrams, and the weight of Jupiter as two quettagrams, or as a two with 30 zeros.
Very small units have also received their prefixes: kvecto- will now denote 30 zeros after the decimal point (for example, a bit of information in a mobile phone weighs 20 kvectograms), and an electron now weighs one rontogram, or 0.000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000001 gram.
The new units will not only make it easier to write very large or very small values, but will also replace unofficial prefixes. So ronna- will replace bronto-, for example, brontobyte (the old name was not left due to the fact that the letter “b” in SI was already taken).
According to Richard Brown ( Richard Brown ), head of metrology at the National Physical Laboratory of Great Britain, new units of measurement should meet the needs of the scientific community for at least the next 20-25 years. And then, there is no doubt, new SI prefixes will be required.
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