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Chinese Students Designed an ‘Invisibility Cloak’ That Evades Security Cameras

Zhang Tong wrote . . . . . . . . .

Several Chinese graduate students have invented a plain-looking, low-cost coat that can hide the human body, day or night, from security cameras monitored by AI, according to the team.

The InvisDefense coat can be seen by human eyes but is covered in a pattern that blinds cameras in the day and sends out unusual heat signals at night, according to the team.

Their work won first prize in a creative work contest on November 27 sponsored by Huawei Technologies Co as part of the China Postgraduate Innovation and Practice Competitions
The project was overseen by Professor Wang Zheng, of the school of computer science at Wuhan University, and the developers’ paper on the invention has been accepted by AAAI 2023, a top academic conference on artificial intelligence.

“Nowadays, many surveillance devices can detect human bodies. Cameras on the road have pedestrian detection functions and smart cars can identify pedestrians, roads and obstacles. Our InvisDefense allows the camera to capture you, but it cannot tell if you are human,” Wang said.

During the day, cameras often detect human bodies through motion recognition and contour recognition. Bearing a specially designed camouflage pattern on its surface, the InvisDefense can interfere with the recognition algorithm of machine vision, effectively blinding the camera so it cannot identify the wearer as a person.

At night, the camera tracks human bodies through infrared thermal imaging. Irregularly shaped temperature-controlling modules nestled on the inner surface of InvisDefense create an unusual temperature pattern that confuses the infrared camera.

“The most difficult part is the balance of the camouflage pattern. Traditionally, researchers used bright images to interfere with machine vision and it did work. But it stands out to human eyes, making the user even more conspicuous,” said Wei Hui, a PhD student in the team who was responsible for the core algorithm.

“We use algorithms to design the least conspicuous patterns that can disable computer vision.”

The team carried out hundreds of tests over three months before coming up with the best pattern.

Another advantage of InvisDefense is its low cost. Printing a pattern on the surface is relatively cheap, and only four temperature control modules are needed to blind the infrared camera.

“The cost of a complete set of InvisDefense is less than 500 yuan (US$70),” Wang said.

“This is the first product in the industry that can avoid public pedestrian detection and does not arouse suspicion from human eyes. Through campus testing, the accuracy of pedestrian detection can be reduced by 57 per cent – that number could be even higher in the future.

“Our results prove that there are still loopholes in current artificial intelligence technology and computer recognition technology, researchers could use our algorithms to improve current models.

“InvisDefense might also be used in anti-drone combat or human-machine confrontation on the battlefield.”

Source : SCMP

Humour: News in Cartoon

After Falling Births, China’s Marriage Rate Sees New Low — Again

Ye Zhanhang wrote . . . . . . . . .

Young Chinese are just not in the mood to marry.

China’s marriage rate slumped again in 2021, with the country recording the lowest number of nuptials since 1985, financial outlet Yicai reported Thursday, citing data from the National Statistics Bureau. Only 11.58 million people tied the knot for the first time last year, down by 0.71 million from 2020.

The figures, which aren’t yet available on official websites, add to growing concerns over the country’s ability to avert the population crisis plagued by low birth rates and aging. Demographers worry that China will be unable to reverse the falling birth rate, which also plunged to its lowest level since the early 1960s last year, with several provinces recording negative population growth for the first time in the country’s modern history.

“It’s also expected that the aging ratio will continue to rise due to the decline in marriages,” Dong Yuzheng, dean at the Guangdong Academy of Population Development, told Yicai.

As of 2021, people aged over 65 accounted for 14.7% of China’s total population, well above the level of 7%, which the United Nations defines as an aging society. Next year, neighboring India is set to overtake China as the world’s most populous country, indicating the country’s demographic quandary.

In the wake of the looming crisis, Chinese authorities at all levels have introduced a raft of policies, encouraging people to marry and have children. Such provisions usually aim to reduce the burden of childbirth and parenting by offering an extension of parental leave, tax rebates, and other financial benefits.

Meanwhile, to save marriages from breaking down, authorities instituted a 30-day “cool-off” period for divorcing couples into the country’s first-ever Civil Code in 2020, which they claim is working. In recent years, some experts have also proposed lowering the minimum age for marriage — it’s currently 22 for men and 20 for women — to better sync with the change in family planning policy.

However, such incentives are often met with lukewarm responses, especially among the urban younger demographic, who prefer to delay marriage due to commitment issues or costs associated with starting a family. In 2020, the average age for those marrying for the first time was 28.7 years old, an increase from 24.9 years old in 2010, according to the latest national population census.

“At this stage, I just want to focus on my career and gain more financial freedom for myself,” a 24-year-old woman surnamed Li told Sixth Tone, adding she wouldn’t consider marriage for the next five years. “If I can’t even take care of myself, how can I take care of another person and a family?”

And the reluctance toward marriage is likely to continue this year, too. Official data showed that only 5.45 million couples tied the knot in the first three quarters of this year, down 7.5% from last year and its lowest number since 2007.

Source : Sixth Tone

Charts: The Best and Worst Performing Assets in November and YTD

See large image . . . . . .

See large image . . . . . .

Source : Deutsche Bank and Bloomberg

IMF Head Urges China to End Mass Lockdowns

David McHugh wrote . . . . . . . . .

It is time for China to move away from massive lockdowns and toward a more targeted approach to COVID-19, the head of the International Monetary Fund said days after widespread protests broke out, a change that would ease the impact to a world economy already struggling with high inflation, an energy crisis and disrupted food supply.

IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva urged a “recalibration” of China’s tough “zero-COVID” approach aimed at isolating every case “exactly because of the impact it has on both people and on the economy.”

Georgieva made the comments in a wide-ranging interview Tuesday with The Associated Press in which she also cautioned it is too early for the U.S. Federal Reserve to back off on its interest rate increases and held out hope that an energy crisis driven by Russia’s war in Ukraine will speed the push into renewables in Europe. She also called increasing hunger in developing countries “the world’s most significant solvable problem.”

In China, protests erupted over the weekend in several mainland cities and Hong Kong in the biggest show of public dissent in decades. Authorities have eased some controls but have showed no sign of backing off their larger strategy that has confined millions of people to their homes for months at a time.

“We see the importance of moving away from massive lockdowns, being very targeted in restrictions,” Georgieva said Tuesday in Berlin. “So that targeting allows to contain the spread of COVID without significant economic costs.”

Georgieva also urged China to look at vaccination policies and focus on vaccinating the “most vulnerable people.”

A low rate of vaccinations among the elderly is a major reason Beijing has resorted to lockdowns, while the emergence of more-contagious variants has put increasing stress on the effort to prevent any spread.

Lockdowns have slowed everything from travel to retail traffic to car sales in the world’s second-largest economy. Georgieva urged it “to adjust the overall approach to how China assesses supply chain functioning with an eye on the spillover impact it has on the rest of the world.”

The Washington-based IMF expects the Chinese economy to grow only 3.2% this year, on pace with the global average for the year.

The Communist Party has taken steps in the direction Georgieva recommends, switching to isolating buildings or neighborhoods with infections instead of whole cities and made other changes it says are aimed at reducing the human and economic cost. But a spike in infections since October has prompted local authorities who are facing pressure from above to impose quarantines and other restrictions that residents say are too extreme.

Asked about criticism of a crackdown on protests, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman defended Beijing’s anti-virus strategy and said the public’s legal rights were protected by law.

The government is trying to “provide maximum protection to people’s lives and health while minimizing the COVID impact on social and economic development,” Zhao Lijian said.

China, a founding IMF member, has a prestigious single seat on the the organization’s 24-member executive board, unlike most countries that must share a seat. Its 6% voting share is behind only the United States and Japan.

While China’s policy ripples out worldwide, Georgieva said the greatest risk facing the global economy is high inflation that requires central banks to raise interest rates, making credit more expensive for consumers and businesses. Coupled with that is the need for governments to take care of the most vulnerable people without undermining central bank efforts with excess spending.

“Policymakers are faced with a very difficult time in the year ahead,” she said. “They have to be disciplined in the fight against inflation. Why? Because inflation undermines the foundation for growth, and it hurts the poor people the most.”

Asked if the U.S. Federal Reserve should pause interest rate increases that are strengthening the dollar and putting pressure on poorer countries, Georgieva said that “the Fed has no option but to stay the course” until inflation credibly declines.

“They owe it to the U.S. economy, they owe it to the world economy, because what happens in the United States if inflation does not get under control can have also spillover impacts for the rest of the world,” the Bulgarian IMF chief said.

Inflation data is still too high in the U.S. and Europe and “the data at this point says: too early to step back,” Georgieva said.

She warned that international tensions between the China and the West and between Russia and the West threatened to restrict trade and its beneficial effect on economic growth and prosperity. She added that while there are concerns about supply chains disrupted by the pandemic, “we have to work harder on finding a way to counter these protectionist instincts” while being honest about supply concerns.

Georgieva said the world was already seeing signs of increased hunger before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine disrupted grain supplies to Africa and the Middle East. More investment in resilient agriculture and support for small farmers as well as efforts to reduce food waste would be part of the solution, she said.

“We have to admit in the wealthiest societies, in the wealthier families, that we waste food on a daily basis, even in quantities that are sufficient to feed the rest of the world,” she said. “Hunger is the world’s most significant solvable problem.”

Yet hunger has been increasing in recent years.

The world needs “a focus on food security in a comprehensive way that reduces waste, increases productivity and most importantly, focuses more attention on small-scale farming, where a great deal of livelihoods of people, especially in developing countries like that, would go a long way to bring this solvable problem finally to an end,” Georgieva said.

Russia’s war also created an energy crisis after Moscow cut off most natural gas supplies to Europe as Western allies supported war-torn Ukraine. The resulting high energy prices have created an opportunity to “accelerate the transition to low-carbon energy supplies” through incentives for green investments.

Source : AP

Young Chinese Are Still Seeking Serenity — Now Through Digital Fish

Zhang Liting wrote . . . . . . . . .

This is not the easiest time to be a university student. Sure, some of us are making do — meeting our needs for social interaction through cloud clubbing, cardboard pets, or coordinated crawling parties — but between the ongoing pandemic controls and the struggling economy, it can be hard to stay positive.

That goes double when you’re a second-year master’s student. The internships we land this year are crucial to a successful job search, but even if you can get off campus, there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to enter your company’s office.

That’s how I found myself at Wang Bin’s house on a recent Wednesday afternoon. A friend of mine, she invited me over for company while we each interned from home as best we could.

We chatted as we worked. I told her about a married couple I’d interviewed, and she complained to me about the unreasonable demands of her clients. The more she talked, the angrier she grew. A frown crept over her face, her back tensed, and she swore with an almost religious devotion.

Then, just as suddenly, she stopped, took out her iPad, and began intently tapping the screen with her stylus. Stealing a peek, all I saw was a wooden fish. Every time she tapped it, the iPad emitted a crisp, almost ethereal sound and the words “Merit +1” popped up on the screen.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

“Knocking on a wooden fish,” she said, matter-of-factly. “I knock it 500 times a day.”

I couldn’t help but feel amused at her latest preoccupation. Wooden fish have a long history in Buddhism and Taoism. Nuns and monks knock on them to chant or ask for alms. Fish, they say, do not close their eyes; the shape is meant to remind believers never to forget their faith. This was the first time I’d seen one inside an iPad, however, much less an iPad belonging to a 24-year-old.

“It’s not just me, it’s on the phones of thousands of young people,” Wang explained, somewhat defensively. A quick online search suggested she had a point. Maybe I was the weird one. The app, Muyu, or “Wooden Fish,” had briefly surged to second place on the Apple App Store’s free app download list in China. To date, it’s been downloaded almost 5 million times.

Not everyone is tapping their own fish: Douyin, the version of TikTok accessible on the Chinese mainland, has over 150 million videos related to virtual wooden fish. If you search for “virtual wooden fish” on the popular video streaming site Bilibili, some of the top results have hundreds of thousands or even millions of views.

This all may feel overly wholesome, but the initial reason for the popularity of virtual wooden fish is anything but. If you’ve never heard of “hell jokes” before, the concept is self-explanatory: A kind of mean-spirited meme, they’re jokes made at the expense of other people’s misfortune. If you laugh, then you’re “going to hell.”

Wooden fish apps first caught on as a kind of tongue-in-cheek way to wipe your spiritual slate clean. Whatever cosmic debt you accrued in the process of laughing at a hell joke — to say nothing of the guilt — could be worked off by tapping a virtual wooden fish to acquire merit and get back in the Buddha’s good graces.

“Hell jokes can be wicked, and while everyone knows that knocking on wooden fish and listening to the Great Compassion Mantra to acquire merit is a joke, it does serve as a simple, convenient, and comforting ritual,” explained Hu Wan, a classmate of mine and another ardent virtual wooden fish knocker.

Indeed, on the subway back from my friend’s house, I began to wonder if I was the only person at my school not knocking fish. Scrolling through my social media feeds, I came across one of Hu’s videos in which she filmed herself simultaneously tapping a virtual wooden fish and fingering prayer beads on her wrist. She’d even superimposed a Buddhist saying calling on her followers to attain enlightenment.

“At first, I just thought it was funny, but later I found the rhythmic sound to be quite soothing,” she told me. “Some of the sound effects seemed to purify my soul. Especially when I have to get a paper done quickly, I can be really anxious. I need some calming sounds.”

Hu’s video is typical of a new class of wooden fish power user. The once-simple gag now centers on increasingly elaborate setups, as bored young Chinese think of ever-more complex ways to accumulate virtual merit. Why be satisfied with tapping a wooden fish on your iPad when you can also burn digital incense, play mantras through your phone speakers, and count off prayer beads on your smart watch?

App developers have responded to the shifting market by rolling out a whole school of virtual wooden fish to knock, from simple programs like Wang’s favorite to more deluxe offerings that let you engage in the not very Buddhist-seeming activity of competing against your friends for the highest merit score.

Many of these offerings operate in a legal gray area. China strictly controls online religious content, especially where money is concerned. While some developers seem to have taken a devil-may-care approach to regulation, others prefer to downplay the religious themes. In the app Wang uses, you can buy sound effects, and knocking the fish increases your “merit” counter, but there’s no overt religious messaging.

That stripped-down symbology suits her just fine. Young Chinese may not believe in Buddhism — one study found that less than 7% of Chinese under the age of 30 consider themselves Buddhist — but we associate its iconography with feelings of peace and calm, two things that are in increasingly short supply these days.

In the weeks since, I’ve found myself repeatedly thinking back to that day at Wang’s house. We wrapped up our work around six, just as her mother called us for dinner. The home-cooked meal was delicious — it’s been a long time since I’ve been back to see my own family — but the table talk quickly turned to the ice-cold job market.

I’d submitted three résumés that day, and Wang two. Neither one of us has any idea if we’ll be able to land a job after graduation. Her mom tried to be helpful. She knows a recruiter. Maybe he can help find us a job.

Maybe. And maybe accumulating a bit of extra merit wouldn’t be such a bad idea, after all.

Source : Sixth Tone

Chinese Spaceship with 3 Aboard Docks with Space Station

Three Chinese astronauts docked early Wednesday with their country’s space station, where they will overlap for several days with the three-member crew already onboard and expand the facility to its maximum size.

Docking with the Tiangong station came at 5:42 a.m. Wednesday, about 6 1/2 hours after the Shenzhou-15 spaceship blasted off atop a Long March-2F carrier rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.

The six-month mission, commanded by Fei Junlong and crewed by Deng Qingming and Zhang Lu, will be the last in the station’s construction phase, according to the China Manned Space Agency. The station’s third and final module docked earlier this month, one of the last steps in China’s effort to maintain a constant crewed presence in orbit.

The crew of the Shenzhou-15 will spend several days working with the existing three-member crew of the Tiangong station, who will return to Earth after their six-month mission.

Fei, 57, is a veteran of the 2005 four-day Shenzhou-6 mission, the second time China sent a human into space. Deng and Zhang are making their first space flights.

The station has now expanded to its maximum size, with three modules and three spacecraft attached for a total mass of nearly 100 tons.

Tiangong can accommodate six astronauts at a time and the handover will take about a week. That marks the station’s first in-orbit crew rotation.

China has not yet said what further work is needed to complete the station. Next year, it plans to launch the Xuntian space telescope, which, while not part of Tiangong, will orbit in sequence with the station and can dock occasionally with it for maintenance.

Without the attached spacecraft, the Chinese station weighs about 66 tons — a fraction of the International Space Station, which launched its first module in 1998 and weighs around 465 tons.

With a lifespan of 10 to 15 years, Tiangong could one day be the only space station still up and running if the International Space Station retires in the coming years as planned.

While China’s crewed space program is officially three decades old this year, it truly got underway in 2003, when China became only the third country after the U.S. and Russia to put a human into space using its own resources.

The program is run by the ruling Communist Party’s military wing, the People’s Liberation Army, and has proceeded almost entirely without outside support. The U.S. excluded China from the International Space Station because of its program’s military ties, although China has engaged in limited cooperation with other nations’ space agencies.

China has also chalked up uncrewed mission successes: Its Yutu 2 rover was the first to explore the little-known far side of the moon.

China’s Chang’e 5 probe also returned lunar rocks to Earth in December 2020 for the first time since the 1970s, and another Chinese rover is searching for evidence of life on Mars.

Officials are reporting considering an eventual crewed mission to the moon, although no timeline has been offered, even as NASA presses ahead with its Artemis lunar exploration program that aims to send four astronauts around the moon in 2024 and land humans there as early as 2025.

While proceeding smoothly for the most part, China’s space program has also drawn controversy. Beijing brushed off complaints that it has allowed rocket stages to fall to Earth uncontrolled after NASA accused it of “failing to meet responsible standards regarding their space debris.” In that case, parts of a Chinese rocket landed in the Indian Ocean.

China is also reportedly developing a highly secret space plane and its increasing space capabilities feature in the latest Pentagon defense strategy, which said the program was a component of China’s “holistic approach to joint warfare.”

Source : AP

Humour: News in Cartoon

The U.S. National Semiconductor Technology Center


The CHIPS for America initiative will invest $50 billion to supercharge the U.S. semiconductor industry and revitalize our innovation ecosystem. This funding includes $11 billion for research and development—the focal point of which will be the National Semiconductor Technology Center (NSTC), an innovation hub that will advance semiconductor technology and seed new industries built on the capabilities of a wide range of advanced chips.

The NSTC will be a public-private consortium that provides a platform where government, industry, customers, suppliers, educational institutions, entrepreneurs, workforce representatives, and investors converge to address the semiconductor ecosystem’s most pressing challenges and opportunities.

Using a whole-of-government approach, and as specified by statute (15 U.S.C. § 4656(c)), the NSTC will develop a comprehensive semiconductor research and development program that will include research, prototyping capabilities, an investment fund, and workforce development programs.

National Semiconductor Technology Center Mission

The National Semiconductor Technology Center (NSTC) will serve as the focal point for research and engineering throughout the semiconductor ecosystem, advancing and enabling disruptive innovation to provide U.S. leadership in the industries of the future.

Mission Elements:

Focal Point

The NSTC will have a core of centrally operated, in-house research, engineering, and program capabilities combined with a network of directly funded and affiliated entities that takes advantage of regional expertise and assets throughout the country. The NSTC also will serve as a key convening body for the ecosystem.

Research and Engineering

The NSTC will work across a range of activities including applied research, start-up company support, prototyping of devices and processes in a real-world environment, challenges related to scaling, or development of advanced manufacturing tools and processes.

Semiconductor Ecosystem

The NSTC will work across the semiconductor technical stack and its supply chain, including design, materials, capital equipment, and facilities. The NSTC charter also extends to the broader community that supports and enables the industry, such as workforce and training institutions, capital providers, and semiconductor end users.

Advancing and Enabling

The NSTC will engage in and support research through collaboration, technical exchanges, convenings, and grant programs.

Disruptive Innovation

The NSTC will focus research and engineering on challenging projects with a time horizon beyond 5 years. The NSTC will focus on delivering broad benefits to the U.S. semiconductor ecosystem, even when working with individual entities.

U.S. Leadership

The NSTC will work with allies to complement and reinforce existing research assets and capabilities, while strengthening and growing U.S. capacity.

Industries of the Future

The NSTC will welcome the participation of semiconductor users, device makers, designers, application and software product developers, and other market shapers to develop promising use cases to bring to commercialization.


The NSTC will be a public-private consortium, as required by statute. The Department of Commerce (the “Department”) anticipates the creation of an independent entity with NSTC leadership reporting to a governing board informed and advised by indus­try, academia, government, and key stakeholders. The U.S. government is developing further guidance regarding the governance structure but anticipates a structure that includes public interest directors both to ensure that public objectives are met and to pro­vide accountability for spending taxpayer funds.


To inform the development of the NSTC, the Department has conducted and continues to conduct significant stakeholder engagement. The Department received more than 250 responses to a request for information (RFI) that included questions on the scope of the NSTC. Responses represented input from different sectors of the semiconductor supply chain including design software developers; integrated device manufacturers; materials suppliers and equip­ment vendors; fabless, automotive, industrial, and consumer companies; and academic institutions and organizations representing labor. In alignment with the RFI, the Department hosted 26 workshops and listen­ing sessions with different parts of the semiconductor value chain. Two workshops specifically focused on the NSTC and the National Advanced Packaging and Manufacturing Program, drawing a combined 350 registrants. The Department also is considering the recommendations from the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, public reports like one recently published by the Semiconductor Industry Association, and input from potential part­ners. The Department will continue to reach out to interested members of the community as plans are developed.

At present, the Department is engaged in four high-priority tasks:

  1. Evaluating potential gaps in research and engi­neering that could be filled by the NSTC. As part of the whole-of-government effort, the NSTC will complement the many excellent centers already established by industry, academia, allies, and other governmental agencies. The Department will create a preliminary landscape analysis with the benefit of recommendations developed by the CHIPS Industrial Advisory Committee. Ultimately, the NSTC itself will finalize the focus areas, but this early work will inform further decisions.
  2. Evaluating and defining a structure and governance model that fulfills the CHIPS for America goals of promoting U.S. economic and national security and protecting taxpayer investments while ensuring technical excellence and leadership.
  3. Creating a preliminary operating, business, and financial model that will serve as a road map for near-term investment informed by an understanding of what will be required for long-term sustainability.
  4. Identifying a slate of candidates for the NSTC chief executive.

The Department will release a white paper in the first quarter of 2023 that will summarize the results of the landscape analysis, governance structure, and prelimi­nary operating and financial model. At that time, the Department will issue guidance on when to expect requests for proposals.


The Biden-Harris Administration and a bipartisan group in Congress made the bold decision to establish a new and important public-private consortium that will benefit the country for generations to come. The Department will invest taxpayer funds deliberately and effectively to ensure the greatest potential impact for the U.S. economy and national security, and looks forward to working with the broader community to achieve this objective.

Source : NIST

New Measures for Size, as World’s People Surpass 8 Billion

Thomas Adamson wrote . . . . . . . . .

What is bigger: A ronna or a quetta?

Scientists meeting outside of Paris on Friday — who have expanded the world’s measuring unit systems for the first time this century as the global population surges past 8 billion — have the answer.

Rapid scientific advances and vast worldwide data storage on the web, in smartphones and in the cloud mean that the very terms used to measure things in weight and size need extending too. And one British scientist led the push Friday to incorporate bold new, tongue-twisting prefixes on the gigantic and even the minuscule scale.

“Most people are familiar with prefixes like milli- as in milligram. But these are prefixes for the biggest and smallest levels ever measured,” Dr Richard Brown, head of Metrology at the U.K.’s National Physical Laboratory who proposed the four new prefixes, told The Associated Press.

“In the last 30 years, the datasphere has increased exponentially, and data scientists have realized they will no longer have words to describe the levels of storage. These terms are upcoming, the future,” he explained.

There’s the gargantuan “ronna” (that’s 27 zeros after the one) and its big brother the “quetta” – (that’s 30 zeros).

Their ant-sized counterparts are the “ronto” (27 zeros after the decimal point), and the “quecto” (with 30 zeros after the decimal point) — representing the smaller numbers needed for quantum science and particle physics.

Brown presented the new prefixes to officials from 64 nations attending the General Conference on Weights and Measures in Versailles, outside of Paris — who approved them on Friday.

The conference, which takes place every four years in France, is the supreme authority of the International Bureau of Weights and Measures. The new terms take effect immediately, marking the first time since 1991 that any new additions have been made.

Brown said the new terms also make it easier to describe things scientists already know about — reeling off a list of the smallest and biggest things discovered by humankind.

Did you know that the mass of an electron is one rontogram? And that a byte of data on a mobile increases the phone’s mass by one quectogram?

Further from home, the planet Jupiter is two just quettagrams in mass. While, incredibly, “the diameter of the entire observable universe is just one ronnameter,” Brown said.

He explained how the new names were not chosen at random: The first letter of the new prefixes had to be one not used in other prefixes and units.

“There were only the letters ‘r’ and ‘q’ that weren’t already taken. Following that, there’s a precedent that they sound similar to Greek letters and that big number prefixes end with an ‘a’ and smaller numbers with an ‘o,’” he added.

“It was high time. (We) need new words as things expand,” Brown said. “In just a few decades, the world has become a very different place.”

Source : AP