Wednesday, February 24, 2010

"Hella-" makes it in the California Aggie

Hey everyone,

We've made it into the California Aggie, the school newspaper here at UC Davis. The article printed Thursday, February 18, and was written by Gabrielle Grow.

You can read the article online here.

What's crazier, though, is that the article has spread throughout the internet like wildfire. If you google the terms "hella petition davis", you'll find countless blogs and forums that have discussed the movement (by way of the article), including CrunchGear, Something Awful, and Underbelly. There was one blog, which I will not be linking here, which actually had the nerve to refer to me as a "Bay Area physics student." Darn the Bay, always taking the credit for everything that happens in Northern California...

The California Aggie website has gotten hundreds of thousands of hits because of the article, and our movement has once again picked up speed. After a week-long plateau at around 11,000 signatories, our petition has jumped up to 17,500 signatories in just the past six days.

Yesterday, I spoke with a writer from the Sacramento Bee, who was putting together a piece on the movement. I don't have any details on the article (e.g. when or if it will go to print), but I'll share them as soon as I get them.

You guys are hella-mazing, keep fighting the good fight! Soon, we'll be able to measure stars in hellawatts.

Take care,

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Note to Students of Linguistics 1

To the students of Linguistics 1, planning to write their essay on the "hella" prefix-

Welcome to the MakeHellaOfficial blog! Although this blog is fairly new, you should be able to find a satisfactory amount of information on the "hella" prefix proposal here, especially by reading the official petition. I'm not an expert on the "etymological, grammatical, or sociolinguistic" aspects of the word hella, but I'm happy to answer any additional questions you may have about the movement; feel free to ask your questions here by posting a comment. Though I'll try my best, bear in mind that I may not be able to get back to you by a certain time or date.

Thanks for stopping by, and good luck on your assignment!

Stay Classy,
Austin Sendek

Notable Endorsement

Hello all,

I'd just like to let you know that our petition has been formally endorsed by its first PhD, Dr. Matthew McConeghy of Johnson and Wales University. An article on the movement will be dropping in the UC Davis newspaper soon, so I'm hoping I'll be able to bring you many more notable endorsements soon!

See ya soon,

Hella- movement to be analyzed by students of UCD Prof. Patrick Farrell's Linguistics 1 class

Earlier today, I got a facebook comment from one of my friend and fellow UC Davis Aggie, Johnpaul, who told me to check my email ASAP. When I did, I saw that he had emailed me a copy of the writing assignment he had received in his Linguistics 1 class. It took me a second to realize what he wanted to show me, but once I figured it out, I was blown away. Below I have pasted the assignment in its entirety; check out prompt C!

Linguistics 1 Essay Assignment, Due March 13

Choose one of the following three topics and write an essay of 4-6 double-spaced word-processed pages (in 12 point type with 1-inch margins all around). The essay must be handed in via SmartSite (click on “Assignments” from the course site and then “Essay” and follow the instructions for submitting an assignment, using the “add attachment” option). Be sure to save the file you will upload in .pdf, .doc, or .rtf format only. Please do not upload a .docx file (which is the default for thelatest version of Word). You can simply do a “save as” and choose to save the file in .doc format. Ifyou use WordPerfect (or something else other than Word), you can do a “save as” and choose rich text format (.rtf), if .pdf is not an option. Also, any file in any format (pretty much) can be converted to PDF for free via such web sites as The exact due date is: 11:55 PM, March 13.

A) Do women talk more than men? This is a controversial question, as can be seen by reading someof the hits on the first page of an internet search for the phrase “women talk more than men.”Summarize and evaluate some of the key contrasting claims that have been made and theevidence that these claims have been based on. How do the claims and evidence square with Deborah Tannen’s stance on differences between men’s and women’s conversational styles, asexpressed in the video “He said, She Said” (to be shown in class) and in other work (e.g., thebestselling book You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation), summaries ofthis work (e.g.,, or other commentaries (e.g., dyn/content/article/2007/07/13/AR2007071301815.html)? You may draw on your own observations of women and men in conversations to illustrate your points.

B) Based on an evaluation of the article “Dialect Readers Revisited” by John and Angela Rickford (, discussthe problems that speakers of African American Vernacular English (AAVE) face in learning to read “standard” English, the successes and limitations of experimental uses of dialect readers, and the pros and cons of the authors’ conclusion that dialect readers are worthy of consideration as a tool for teaching reading to speakers of AAVE. You may draw on other sources ofinformation that you deem relevant.

C) Austin Sendek, a UC Davis Physics student is the founder of a movement advocating that theword hella be designated the official SI prefix for the value 10^27 that is now being used instead of 10^24 (= yotta) in calculations of such things as the wattage of the sun and distances between galaxies (see: Thus, one might say, for example, that thedistance between the Milky Way and Andromeda is 6 hellakilometers, rather than 6,000 yottakilometers. Summarize and evaluate this proposal, drawing on an etymological, grammatical, and sociolinguistic analysis of the word hella (i.e., how, when, and where this word developed, how it is used in the grammar of English, and what the social parameters of its useare) and an explanation of the SI prefix system. How well would hella fit into the SI prefix system and is the proposal reasonable? Discuss the pros and cons.

Organization and style

• Generally, you should begin an essay with an introductory paragraph in which you say what it isgoing to be about.
• In the body of the essay you summarize the results of your investigation and present your ideasand conclusions. If you are taking a certain position on an issue, it is important to justify thisposition with evidence and examples.
• If you report on matters you have read about, put things in your own words as much as possible. Quotations may be used only sparingly and must be marked as quotations, with a citation of the source.
• If you mention or rely on source materials of any kind, indicate this in the text using any standard format for citing references and include a list of references at the end. EvaluationThe main questions to be asked when it comes to assigning a grade are as follows.
• Did the author do what was asked for?
• Was the topic well investigated?
• Are the points made clearly and concisely?
• Are the conclusions well motivated?
• Are the examples well chosen?
• If ideas from source materials (readings, videos, web sites, etc.) are discussed, are they characterized accurately?
• Is technical terminology used appropriately?
• Are source materials appropriately cited and listed at the end of the paper?
• Overall, and in matters of detail, is the essay stylistically sound?
• Is it reasonably close to the suggested length?
• Was it handed in by the due date?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

MakeHellaOfficial Store


After proposing some shirt designs to our signatories, many of them expressed interest in purchasing some "hella-" merchandise. Because of this, I am currently in the process of setting up an online store so we can begin getting these shirts out to you. The store should be up by this weekend, so keep checking back for updates. The tentative designs are available for viewing on the facebook group, but I'll post them to the store page as soon as I get it up and running. Check back soon!


Century Mark

Hey all,

Our petition is now over 10,000 strong! Over the course of only two weeks, we have grown from 1 to over 10,000 all thanks to you. Let's keep the movement going! Hella!


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Petition

Below is a copy of the official petition, as it stands now:

To Whom It May Concern:

For all intents and purposes, the SI prefix system has served the scientific community extremely well since its inception. However, we believe there is one significant flaw in the system which demands immediate attention.

As you know, the largest number with a designated SI prefix is 10^24, which carries the name "yotta-". However, in our world of increasing physical awareness and experimental precision, this number is no longer a satisfactory "upper bound" in scientific nomenclature. The analysis of many physical phenomena reveals natural quantities in excess of 27 orders of magnitude, a number which is currently ignored by the SI system.

Designating a prefix for 10^27 is of critical importance for scientists in all fields. This number is significant in many crucial calculations, including the wattage of the sun, distances between galaxies, or the number of atoms in a large sample.

Addressing this issue presents an exciting opportunity. Since the SI system has traditionally adopted the last names of accomplished scientists for unit nomenclature, it follows that prefix designation should do the same. From this tradition comes the chance for the SI system to use nomenclature to honor a constantly overlooked scientific contributor: Northern California.

Northern California is home to many influential research institutions, including the University of California, Davis, the University of California, Berkeley, Stanford University, and the Lawrence Livermore and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories. Countless contributions to science have been made by these and other local schools; in fact, elements 93-103 were all discovered at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in a span of 21 years.

However, science isn't all that sets Northern California apart from the rest of the world. The area is also the only region in the world currently practicing widespread usage of the English slang "hella," which typically means "very," or can refer to a large quantity (e.g. "there are hella stars out tonight").

Thus, we believe that the SI system can not only rectify their failing prefix system but also honor the scientific progress of Northern California by formally establishing "hella-" as the prefix for 10^27.

Under this designation, the complexity of high-magnitude nomenclature would be greatly reduced. For example, the number of atoms in 120 kg of carbon-12 would be simplified from 6,000 yottaatoms to 6 hellaatoms. Similarly, the sun (mass of 2.2 hellatons) would release energy at 0.3 hellawatts, rather than 300 yottawatts.

We believe the designation of the "hella-" prefix would have a positive impact on all parties involved, and thus warrants serious consideration. We thank you for your time.

Austin Sendek
Movement Founder
UC Davis Physics

(List of signatories)

Welcome to the Hellablog!

Hey all,

The "MakeHellaOfficial" blog is up! Through this blog, I'll be able to give updates on our movement to add "hella-" to the list of SI prefixes. I'll be posting such information as notable endorsements, publications regarding "hella," and new merchandise. MakeHellaOfficial is the only place to get all the latest information on the movement! Thanks for stopping by, and be sure to check back soon.