Physics Wiz: Dudes, Use 'Hella' for Waaay Cool Big Number

1, 2, 3 ... hella!
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser User
Posted Jul 6, 2010 2:51 AM CDT
Austin Sendek wants "hella" hella bad.   (Facebook)
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(Newser) – How many California teens does it take to screw in a light bulb? Hella! Now a young physics wiz in the state wants that same term to apply to the mammoth figure of 10 to the 27th power. Austin Sendek, 20, has petitioned an international scientific body to make "hella" official for the number. It started as a joke, but the UC-Davis student's Facebook petition to the Consultative Committee on Units has won hella (in this case, 60,000) supporters. Google was so impressed with his proposal that it has incorporated "hella" in its online calculator.

How did slang born in the San Francisco Bay area in the 90s reach such lofty peaks? Sendak says his inspiration came from a lab partner who once referred during an electricity experiment to "hella" volts. "It kind of clicked," Sendak told the Los Angeles Times. At least one linguistics professor is all for it. "Anything that takes vernacular speech and treats it well—gives it props—is fine with me," said Pitzer Prof. Carmen Fought. But what chances does Sendek's petition have with the academics on the international units panel? Hella minuscule, dude.

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