If UC Davis student Austin Sendek has his way, the word "hella" will get its due -- in science.
Sendek, 20, has petitioned the Consultative Committee on Units (a subdivision of the Bureau International des Poids et Mesures) to use "hella" to describe the rarely cited quantity of 10 to the 27th power. Thus far his Facebook petition has 60,000 supporters and even Google has taken notice, putting hella on its calculator.
The Los Angeles Times has more on the genesis of the 20-year-old Sendek's effort:
For Sendek, the idea sprang from a physics class. "I asked my lab partner how many volts were in this electric field and she said, offhandedly, 'Oh, man -- there's hella volts,' " he recalled. "It kind of clicked."
At Google, software engineers, who are accustomed to planting " Easter eggs" -- hidden delights --in their programs, got wind of "hella" through one of Sendek's friends and installed it in the service's calculator. Now users can find out, with a little finagling, that our $13-trillion national debt, when expressed in hella-dollars, is a pleasingly tiny 1.3 times 10 to the minus 14th.
Northern Californians back Sendek's movement, but the Consultative Committee on Units -- responsible for the language of weights and measures and not usually known for whimsy, the Times says -- might be a harder sell.
Still, Sendek is realistic about persuading the committee to consider the Californian vernacular. "There's not a huge chance of it happening," he told the Times, "but maybe if they're having a great day."
What do you think? Legitimize hella or not? Weigh in below.