Do you know what the name is for the quantity 10 to the 27th power? The odds are you don’t because it doesn’t have a name - at least not yet. If UC Davis physics major Austin Sendek has his way it will soon have a proper name to represent itself by, and so far over 60,000 people have chimed in agreeing they like the way the 20 year old is thinking.
10 to the 27th power is a huge number. It’s so huge in fact that it rarely ever comes into play in any calculation. In honesty, there just are not many times any number with 27 zeros is needed to express a sum. In case you are wondering, another way to think of what the proposed name would represent is a million billion trillion. Still, Sendek points out there are many numbers that are seldom used which have names or symbols to express them. Infinity is a sum that comes to mind, and the Mobius Band has represented that expression for a really long time.
If Sendek gets his way - which the odds are hella long against - 10 to the 27th would become known as Hella. It’s a hella big number, so why not just call it that? Over 60,000 people have signed an online petition supporting the new name. Google has gone so far as to add Hella to it’s online calculator. Seriously, you can go check it out right now. Sendek admits this all just started as a joke, but if this is what the people want why not give it to them?
Until now no one has ever tried to name the quantity 10 to the 27th power. It’s so seldom used that it is very possible nobody even thought of giving it a name. That is what makes it beautiful though. Since this is a number with little real practical application it really will not be an inconvenience to mathematicians or scientists that may at some point in their career need to express the quantity.
In practical use, hella is already slang. No Doubt recorded the hit single “Hella Good”, it’s in all reality nothing more than an updated abbreviated version of helluva. Weaving hella with the quantity of 10 to the 27th power would even give the term better definition. If someone were to say a party was “wicked good”, as things stand now that could be interpreted the same as a party that is “hella good.” However, if hella were to become the name for 10 to the 27th power, then a hella good party takes on a whole new meaning.
The reality of it all is that even if 600,000 or maybe even 6,000,000 people signed a petition to name 10 to the 27th power “Hella” it in all likelihood will not happen. While it is a fun idea that really hurts no one nor is even an inconvenience, the global weights and measures regulators are probably a bit too stuffy to have some fun with this. Those that sit on some of the international committees, most notably the CCU, have generally commented it is funny, but hardly appropriate.
Consider this though - new terms have been added fairly recently. Zepta which is 10 to the 21st power along with relative newcomers Zetto, Yocto and Yotta really don’t sound any more brilliant or serious than Hella. In fact, if you say Yotta aloud three times fast it is almost impossible to not think of the Seinfeld “Yada” episode and laugh.
What it will really come down to though is if anyone in the CCU feels that a term is needed to express 10 to the 27th power, and if so, what is a good name? Hella does have a ring to it if you think in terms of things like Hellameters, or Hellayears, but given their previous picks like Zetto, Yocto, and Yotta, they may be prone to go a more serious route like Groucho, Harpo or Zeppo.