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Wikipedia helpfully explains:

The yobibit is a multiple of the bit, a unit of digital information storage, prefixed by the standards-based multiplier yobi (symbol Yi), a binary prefix meaning 2^80. The unit symbol of the yobibit is Yibit or Yib.1[2] 1 yobibit = 2^80 bits = 1208925819614629174706176 bits = 1024 zebibits[3] The zebi and yobi prefixes were originally not part of the system of binary prefixes, but were added by the International Electrotechnical Commission in August 2005.[4]

Now, what in the world actually takes up 1,208,925,819,614,629,174,706,176 bits? The information content of the known universe? I guess this is forward thinking -- maybe astrophyics or nanotech, or even DNA analysis really will require these orders of magnitude.

How far off do you think all this is? Are these really meaningful units?

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I didn't quite follow the bit where it says 280 bits is equal to 1208925819614629174706176 bits. Implies 280 = 1208925819614629174706176, which I have on good authority to not be correct. EDIT: Oh! 2^80! That would make more sense, huh? –  JBirch Oct 17 '10 at 5:12
    
yes; corrected. –  Joseph Weissman Oct 17 '10 at 5:24
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It isn't a relevant number now, but just wait a few days (only slightly exaggerating for effect). –  Robert Harvey Oct 29 '10 at 17:30
    
personally, i'm looking forward to measuring things in cubits (bits cubed) and quabits (bits cubed over time) –  Steven A. Lowe Dec 5 '10 at 4:14
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closed as not constructive by Mark Trapp Nov 14 '11 at 0:58

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4 Answers

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Fifty years ago who could imagine a "gigabyte" of data? The entire text of War and Peace takes up ~3.7 MB! What in the world would you need a thousand of them for?

Enter Multimedia Stage Left

Video and audio take up a huge portion of what we know as the internet [source]. The sheer size of this crap is mind boggling. We are always finding bigger and bigger things we need stored. There is no limit.

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Lol, videotape my whole life and put it on facebook! –  Job Dec 27 '10 at 3:31
    
@Job: Assuming 10 billion people did that for 10000 years (assuming mankind will still exist then) with a generous 10 Gbit/hour then you'd have a 1e24 bits by then, which is barely a zebit ;) –  back2dos Nov 13 '11 at 22:15
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It is clearly meaningful. A meaning has been defined.

Is it useful? Probably not ... except when you want to impress people with your geek credentials. (And even then, I'd not be impressed.)

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Well, thats roughly 10^27! We can imagine exaop/second computers (thats 10^18), so thats only about a factor of a billion away! But, realistically, if we stored one bit per atom the memory would weigh about a ton! So I don't expect we will ever get there (not in this universe ). Perhaps all the storage in the world some day may approach this number, but I can't imagine even a world beating future supercompter ever getting this much capacity.

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It depends entirely on your field of interest.

Most normal people (non-programmers) think that "higher-order function" is a meaningless and useless term, but many functional programmers find ther term essential to describe a fundamental concept in their field of interest.

So, yes: "yobibit" is both meaningful and useful if you need to talk to people about... er... yobibits. To the rest of us, however, it is - at best - a curiosity.

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