Megabyte. Gigabyte. Terabyte. Petabyte. Exabyte. Zettabyte. Yottabyte.
A yotta has 24 zeros after the first digit. Until last week, this was the largest prefix in the metric system. But not anymore.
Last week the 27th General Conference on Weights and Measures introduced four new prefixes to the International System of Units – the first expansion of the measurement system since 1991. The four new prefixes include ronna (27 zeros after the first digit) and quetta (30 zeros after the first digit).
The group also added two new prefixes to the bottom of the metric system. These include ronto (27 zeros after the decimal point) and quecto (30 zeros after the decimal point). These will be helpful in quantum science and particle physics.
The added prefixes are a response to the explosion of data in the digital age. Computers and other devices have enabled us to collect, store, and communicate more information than ever before. As our ability to collect and process large amounts of data increases exponentially, so do our need for larger units of measurement. The new prefixes will help us better understand and communicate data. They will allow scientists and engineers to more accurately discuss data and understand the immense amounts of data generated by our digital world.
The additions also highlight how digital data is expanding in both directions – up and down. Large datasets require larger units of measurement, while quantum science requires smaller measurements. The new prefixes will help bridge this gap and provide a more comprehensive way to discuss data. Digital data is driving innovation in a range of fields, from healthcare to finance and artificial intelligence. The expansion of the International System of Units is a necessary step in our increasingly data-centric world. It will enable us to better understand and communicate digital data, allowing us to uncover new opportunities and insights into how we live, work and play.