Two New Prefixes for Big SI Units-Ronna and Quetta

For small numbers, ronto and quecto, respectively.

Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash

An electron weighs a “rontogram”, Jupitar weighs two “quettagrams”, and the diameter of the observable universe is around one “rontometer”. This is how Katrina starts her article for the Chemistry World.

General Conference on Weights and Measures (CGPM), the authority that decides the unit prefixes for International Systems of Units (SI), held its 27th meeting a week ago.

In that meeting, scientists proposed two new prefixes for colossal and minuscule numbers.

Ronna (10^27) and Quetta (10^30).

Ronto (10^-27) and Quecto (10^-30).

Big number prefixes end with ‘a’ and small number prefixes end with ‘o’.

In 1991, the conference had incorporated Zetta, Yotta (10^21, 10^24 ) and Zepto, Yocto (10^-21, 10^-24)—a pair of prefixes primarily meant for chemists.

Three decades later, modern science felt the need for prefixes for even bigger and smaller numbers as data scientists use ’Yottabytes’ now and then.

Given the exponential growth of data science and its penetration into physical sciences, more prefixes would soon be required.

But there is a small catch.

After the 1991 declaration, all other alphabets have been used as the first letter of prefixes except R and Q.

Both of them have also been taken for now. What comes up next? Certainly would be intriguing to know.

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