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What are the common SI metric Latin prefixes and their conversion factors?

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Quick Answer

For quantities smaller than the basic unit, the SI prefixes used in decreasing multiples of 10 are deci, centi, milli, micro, nano, pico, femto, atto, zepto and yocto. For quanities bigger than the basic unit, the SI prefixes used in increasing multiples of 10 are deca, hecto, kilo, mega, giga, tera, peta, exa, zetta and yotta.

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Full Answer

The SI system of units allows for prefixes to be added to the basic measurement to allow measuring quantities that may be bigger or smaller than the basic unit. In this way, long exponents can be avoided. For example, instead of using 0.000002 meters or 2 x 10^-6 meters to measure the size of the cell, the quantity can be written as 2 micrometers. Starting at the basic unit, if the unit is divided by 10 (or multiplied by 0.1), the prefix "deci" can be used. Smaller prefixes are centi (factor of 0.01), milli (factor of 0.001), micro (0.000001), nano (0.000000001), pico (0.000000000001), femto (0.000000000000001), atto (10^-18), zepto (10^-21) and yocto (10^-24). Starting at the basic unit, if the unit is multiplied by 10, the prefix "deca" is used. Bigger prefixes are hecto (factor of 100), kilo (1000), mega (1000000), giga (1000000000), tera (1000000000000), peta (1000000000000000), exa (10^18), zetta (10^21) and yotta (10^24). All conversion factors are multiplies of 10 for ease of changing units.

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