|A scientist was irked by the phrase “hella” big — so he created two new units of measurement.
What the hell is a hellabyte? That’s what Richard Brown wanted to know. Back in 2017, he heard the word in the BBC podcast “More or Less.” Hellabyte, the host explained, was a new word meaning a whole lot of data. Brontobyte was another idea gaining popular acceptance.
Both made Brown “hella” mad — because they didn’t follow the rules of the metric system, the official standard for demarcating the universe into manageable, studyable chunks.
You see, Brown’s the head of metrology — the science of measuring things — at the United Kingdom’s National Physical Laboratory. And so, spurred by the podcast, he decided to come up with some prefixes of his own: ronna and quetta.
Now, scientists have simpler, easier-to-use names for stuff that’s super big or small.
This is nothing short of a new way to frame the universe, senior correspondent Adam Rogers reports. These new scientific prefixes let us recalibrate our imagination to match the scale of the cosmos.