With the massive amounts of content being created every day, experts need new prefixes to refer to certain numbers.
The vast amount of data that we as a species generate and publish on the internet every day has created a linguistic problem.
The prefixes that we have used to name the information (kilobytes, megabytes, terabytes) are no longer enough to describe everything that exists – and will exist – on the network.
That is why the General Conference on Weights and Measures (CGPM), during its 27th meeting, defined the new prefixes that will be used within the International System of Units to express massive quantities, as well as incredibly tiny.
The new measures
Ronna, with the symbol R, will be the prefix used to describe numbers in which the first digit is followed by 27 zeros. While quetta or Q will describe numbers where the first digit is followed by 30 zeros.
Power/ Prefix/ Symbol
- 10^27/ ronna /R
- 10^-27/ ronto / r
- 10^-30/ quecto / q
Towards the other side of the spectrum, the CGPM defined that the prefix ronto will be used, with the symbol r, to refer to numbers in which there are 27 zeros before the decimal point; and quecto or q, for those in which the zeros preceding the decimal point are 30.
To get an idea of the numbers that can be described with these new endings, the Washington Post newspaper used Earth as a frame of reference.
Our planet has an approximate weight in grams of 5,974,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, or 5.974×10^27.
Using the endings that we currently have in the metric system, that number can be expressed as 5.974×10^24 kilograms, 5.974×1021 megagrams, or simply 5.974 ronnagrams.
If we were measuring a planet with a weight of 8×10^30 grams, we could refer to a planet that weighs 8 quettagrams.