A student at the University of California, Davis is trying to get the word Hella, a slang adverb meaning “very,” defined as an official mathematical term. According to an article by Carlos Alcala in the Sacramento Bee:

Forget 15 minutes of fame. Austin Sendek is getting hella minutes.

The UC Davis physics undergraduate has reaped international attention since March, when The Bee wrote about his campaign to establish a new, scientifically accepted prefix, “hella,” to be used in front of units of weight, distance or just about anything.

Hella would mean… 1 followed by 27 zeroes.

The largest unit prefix currently in the International System of Units is Yotta, 1 followed by 24 zeros.

According to Sendek (image above), the universe is 1.4 hellameters diameter and the sun’s power is equivalent to 0.3 hellawatts.

Sendek began his campaign in March, after jokingly using the term in a class. He then started a Facebook campaign to get the term accepted. The campaign now has some 63,000 fans.

Scientific prefixes (e.g. kilo, giga) are determined by the French-based International Bureau of Weights and Measures. The bureau may officially hear the idea at its meeting in September. The bureau is decidedly unlikely to approve the word, or, as the Bee article put it: “Chances of approval are considered to be hella slim.”

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer