Sunday, May 11, 2014


Meaning: One quintillionth* of one second; a nanosecond is a mere billionth of a second.

Logofascination: 2. I find the specificity of science words fascinating (though see below re: quintillion); yoctosecond and zeptosecond sound rather like someone made them up. I suspect whoever got to pick the prefixes for those ones went looking for the interesting sounds. In this case, atto- is from the Danish for 18.

In the wild: In a gorgeous Nautilus piece on the speed of photography - apparently we're getting close to attosecond exposures.

Usefulness: 2. When a nanosecond is just too long: "I will be with you in an attosecond."

*to a certain value of quintillion. It's like billions - it depends who you ask.

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