How much does the Earth weigh?

For those who don't know the Earth now weighs six ronograms. New metric prefixes were voted in the international SI system that we also use in Greece.

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The mass of the Earth can now be expressed as six ronnagrams, as scientists around the world voted on the new additions of metric prefixes. So say hello to ronnagrams and quettameters.

International scientists gathered in France voted on Friday for new metric prefixes to express the world's largest and smallest measurements, prompted by an ever-increasing amount of data.

It is the first time in more than three decades that new prefixes have been added to the International System of Units (SI), the agreed global standard for the metric system.

To the well-known prefixes such as Kilo (kilo) and Milli (milli), Ronna (Ronna) Quetta and (Quetta) are now added for the larger numbers and ronto (ronto) and quecto (quecto) for the smaller ones.

The change was voted on by scientists and government representatives from around the world attending the 27th General Conference on Weights and Measures, which governs the SI and meets roughly every four years, at the Palace of Versailles, west of Paris.

The UK's National Physical Laboratory, which led the push for the new prefixes, confirmed the resolution had been adopted.

Since SI was founded in 1960, the scientific community has been forced to move on to an increasing number of prefixes. The last time was in 1991, when chemists who wanted to express huge molecular quantities and thus adopted the addition of zeta and iota.

A jotmeter is the number one followed by 24 zeros, i.e. 10 to the 24th power.

But even the mighty iota isn't enough to handle the world's voracious appetite for data, according to Richard Brown, head of metrology at the UK's National Physical Laboratory.

New prefixes can simplify the way we talk about quite large objects. "If we think about mass, the Earth weighs about six ronograms," which is a six followed by 27 zeros, Brown said.

And as he added: "The new terms were circulating unofficially, so it was clear that SI had to do something."

Regarding how the new terms came about, he mentions: The words are more or less based on Greek and Latin. However, the new metrical prefixes would have to be shortened to their first letter, and since B and H were already taken, bronto and hella were ruled out. The only letters not used for other units or other symbols were R and Q. Additionally, convention dictates that larger prefixes end in A and smaller prefixes end in O.

After the new addition see the new detailed list of SI unit prefixes, along with the date they were introduced:

  • 10^30 quetta Q (2022)
  • 10^27 Ronna R (2022)
  • 10^24 yotta Y (1991)
  • 10^21 zetta Z (1991)
  • 10^18 exa E (1975)
  • 10^15 peta P (1975)
  • 10^−15 femto f (1964)
  • 10^−18 atto a (1964)
  • 10^−21 zepto z (1991)
  • 10^−24 yocto y (1991)
  • 10^−27 ronto r (2022)
  • 10^−30 quecto q (2022)

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Written by Dimitris

Dimitris hates on Mondays .....

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