The world is generating so much data that new units of measurement have been created to keep track of it

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dated: 2022-11-20 01:06:21 .

Computer monitors display financial data. As more data is created and stored, the use of new measurement units is required.

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Chris Hondros/Getty Images

Computer monitors display financial data. As more data is created and stored, the use of new measurement units is required.

Chris Hondros/Getty Images

As more and more digital data is created and stored, the world needs more standard measurements to keep up with the growing numbers.

To that end, the 27th General Conference on Weights and Measures on Friday introduced four new prefixes to the International System of Units, or metric system: ronna (27 zeros after the first digit) and quetta (30 zeros), which are now at the upper end of the measurement range and Ronto (27 zeros after the decimal point) and Quecto (30 zeros), which are now at the bottom.

“Most people are familiar with prefixes like milligram as milligram,” Richard Brown, head of metrology at Britain’s National Physical Laboratory, who proposed the four new prefixes, told The Associated Press. “But these [new additions] are prefixes for the highest and lowest levels ever measured.”

Yotta (24 zeros) was the largest prefix in the metric system before the newcomers. Now the mass of the Earth can be said to be about 6 ronnagrams instead of 6000 yottagrams. The Sun can be said to have about 2,000 quettagrams instead of 2,000,000,000 yottagrams.

The new prefixes come at a time when scientists and industry are grappling with data that requires measurements beyond the current range.

“The change is largely driven by the growing demands of data science and digital storage, which already use prefixes at the top of the existing range (iotabytes and zettabytes to express vast amounts of digital information),” the National Physical Laboratory said in a statement.

According to market research group International Data Corporation, by 2025 the world is expected to generate approximately 175 zettabytes (21 zeros) of data.

The small number prefixes (ronto and quecto) will be useful for quantum science and particle physics, NPL said. The electron mass is about 1 rontogram instead of 0.001 joctogram (the smallest prefix in front of newcomers).

According to the National Physical Laboratory, this is the first expansion of the measurement system since 1991.

“R” and “Q” stand for Ronna and Quecto, while “r” and “q” stand for Ronto and Quecto. Brown told The Associated Press that the letters were chosen because other prefixes weren’t already using them.

“It was about time. [We] they need new words when things expand,” Brown said. “In just a few decades, the world has become a very different place.”

Source: www.npr.org

The world is generating so much data that new units of measurement have been created to keep track of it

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