How much more black could this be? The answer is none. None more black.
July 17, 2014 5:45 PM   Subscribe


 
It's like, how much more black could this be? And the answer is none. None more black.
posted by buriednexttoyou at 5:51 PM on July 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


"It is so dark that the human eye cannot understand what it is seeing. Shapes and contours are lost, leaving nothing but an apparent abyss."
posted by oulipian at 5:51 PM on July 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


This is pretty black, right?
posted by trip and a half at 5:54 PM on July 17, 2014


Nifty.
posted by kjs4 at 5:57 PM on July 17, 2014


Okay.

* The Internet on an iPad is pretty much the real-life version of The Guide.
* This here is the paint for the Disaster Area stuntship.

I can't decide whether I want the Point Of View gun or the Infinite Improbability Drive to be real next.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:59 PM on July 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


It's the new black
posted by hal9k at 6:00 PM on July 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


The nanotube material ... has been grown on sheets of aluminium [sic] foil

I'm now imagining grabbing the wrong roll out of a kitchen drawer to wrap dinner in: "Shit, where'd the roast go?? There's just a big HOLE in the middle of the oven!"
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:01 PM on July 17, 2014 [4 favorites]


I put on the cloak... the hue fuligin which is darker than black, admirably erases all folds, bunchings and gatherings so far as the eye is concerned, showing only a featureless dark.
posted by NoMich at 6:02 PM on July 17, 2014 [12 favorites]


I can't decide whether I want the Point Of View gun or the Infinite Improbability Drive to be real next.

I'd settle for Ford's Electronic Thumb.
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:06 PM on July 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yes, but is it blacker than my ex-wife's heart?

Thanks. I'll be here all week.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 6:09 PM on July 17, 2014 [4 favorites]


The picture is really neat. I mean, you have to assume it's all crinkly tinfoil underneath, but the area covered by the "material" looks like that hole that just showed up in Siberia.
posted by uosuaq at 6:11 PM on July 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


Came in to make the Gene Wolfe reference, left satisfied.
posted by me & my monkey at 6:12 PM on July 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


I once saw a B-2 fly overhead, and to me it looked like a hole in the sky.
posted by MtDewd at 6:12 PM on July 17, 2014


Now I know what I want for my birthday.
posted by louche mustachio at 6:14 PM on July 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


I can't wait to cover all the surfaces in my anechoic chamber with this.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 6:14 PM on July 17, 2014 [11 favorites]


Hey, we were just talking about this at the Raleigh mefi meetup on Tuesday! Neat!
posted by something something at 6:18 PM on July 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


The material conducts heat seven and a half times more effectively than copper and has 10 times the tensile strength of steel.

Watch for a new line of cookware from Cuisinart. Screw that fancy Calphalon stuff!
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:19 PM on July 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


So the blackness can only be experienced by direct visual contact? It can't be communicated by media unless the media is itself made of the material? Is that right?
posted by Bwithh at 6:21 PM on July 17, 2014


I'd love a Road Runner Superbird this color, but I'm not sure it would be safe. Have to put anti-collision lights all over it I guess.
posted by ob1quixote at 6:21 PM on July 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


The FPP article makes it look like a thick slab of liver or something, but this other image (via) shows just how remarkably thin the substance is, more like a coating of slime or a layer of mold. It's not even enough to weigh down the edges of the foil.

buriednexttoyou: "It's like, how much more black could this be? And the answer is none. None more black"

Well, 0.035% more black.
posted by Rhaomi at 6:23 PM on July 17, 2014 [6 favorites]


Black is a powerful color, or, lack of color, or, whatever...

When my punk rock skater mohawked kid told me, at the age of 15, he wanted to paint his room, I said, sure...why not... He said he wanted to pick the color, I said, sure, why not....

He picked black, flat black...

"one thing..., when you move out, you have to paint the room before you go...." "Sure, why not..." he said..

He started on it one Saturday morning...got bored after an hour or so and went skating for a while.. I went in to check out the progress. He had started in one corner, painted out about 5 feet on each wall, and the same on the ceiling.

Walking into that corner was like walking into death...you could feel the life sucked out of you, you wanted to curl up into a fetal position and let the last breath leave your shrinking body....

That was with just one corner painted... over the weekend he finished the job, while I lined up mental health services for anyone who dared walk into the room...If he had used this stuff, I suspect the entire village would have been sucked into some vortex of dark.

He lived like that for about two years.... which, probably, explains why Ben Affleck is playing Batman...

note he did not paint the room... I had to paint the room.... it took about five coats of a dark blue to cover it... Do NOT allow your kid to paint his/her room black, you've been warned
posted by HuronBob at 6:25 PM on July 17, 2014 [13 favorites]


Heh, my folks would not let me paint my room black when I went through That Phase as well. So I covered the walls in tinfoil.

NOBODY COULD TELL ME WHAT TO DO.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:29 PM on July 17, 2014 [13 favorites]


The pull quote really set me up to believe Sir Mix-a-lot would be involved somehow.
posted by MoonOrb at 6:33 PM on July 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


If they can make it fuzzy then I would never wear another fabric again. It would be my dream material.
posted by winna at 6:36 PM on July 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


You know, a room painted regular black would just be depressing and morbid. But a room painted in this black...it would be like "Oh, yeah, when you open that door, you will find a floor, bed, and some bookshelves floating in the midst of an infinite void." I actually think it would be pretty cool. When you turned on the lights, all the things on the floor would appear, but the walls would remain invisible and unchanged.
posted by Bugbread at 6:37 PM on July 17, 2014 [33 favorites]


When you turned on the lights, all the things on the floor would appear, but the walls would remain invisible and unchanged.

* ponders *

I WANT THIS
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:40 PM on July 17, 2014 [6 favorites]


I have always wanted an indoor pool with the sides and bottom painted black. It would be like floating in space.

This should be the new material for that project.
posted by winna at 6:42 PM on July 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


I have always wanted an indoor pool with the sides and bottom painted black. It would be like floating in space.

I recommend not having a shallow end, or a "no diving" sign.
posted by maxwelton at 6:46 PM on July 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


Imagine a warehouse, all interior surfaces covered in this stuff, but bright lighting so you can clearly see yourself and others... containing a human-sized maze painted with this.
posted by jason_steakums at 6:48 PM on July 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


I came here specifically to make reference to fuligin and now my day has been ruined by NoMich. I hope he is happy.
posted by Justinian at 6:48 PM on July 17, 2014


Like the darkness of my soul!
posted by bile and syntax at 6:49 PM on July 17, 2014


I recommend not having a shallow end, or a "no diving" sign.

Oh no that was part of the awesome plan would be that it would all be twelve feet deep. and there would be tiny lights in the bottom so they would look like stars.

But if I ever build it after winning the lotto I will make sure to have a no diving sign!
posted by winna at 6:51 PM on July 17, 2014


Anybody got a red door? I have an idea.
posted by ardgedee at 7:04 PM on July 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I'm pretty sure Scarlett Johansson's flat was made out of this stuff in Under The Skin. She had a black pool as well, only, well, you don't want to swim in it.
posted by valkane at 7:07 PM on July 17, 2014 [5 favorites]


I can't wait to cover all the surfaces in my anechoic chamber with this.

I think you would start hallucinating.
posted by VTX at 7:20 PM on July 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


Well, I already have five black turtlenecks ... time for some in a slightly darker black.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:22 PM on July 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


Me Mum's black pudding is so black, even the white bits were black.

From TFA:

Many people think black is the absence of light. I totally disagree with that. Unless you are looking at a black hole, nobody has actually seen something which has no light," he said. "These new materials, they are pretty much as black as we can get, almost as close to a black hole as we could imagine.

This guy does not understand the concept of black-body radiation. Black is the absence of visible light. You don't need a black hole to quench all UV and IR and every other invisible electromagnetic radiation.

Every decent photographer knows there are two maximum blacks. There is black like an illuminated matte black surface. And then the darkest black is like total darkness in a darkroom. This guy just made a really matte black. I assure you that if you shine a light on it, it will be visible.

The two maximum whites are left as an exercise for the reader.
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:25 PM on July 17, 2014


charlie don't surf: "I assure you that if you shine a light on it, it will be visible."

Given the fact that it absorbs 99.965% of visible light, do you have any reason we should believe your assurance? Some kind of counter-evidence or something? Or is it just a "you should believe me, because, hey, I'm a nice guy" thing?
posted by Bugbread at 7:36 PM on July 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


I have two black and white cats. If I owned anything in vantablack, it would pretty quickly resemble a galaxy of floating hairs.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:37 PM on July 17, 2014 [6 favorites]


charlie don't surf: "I assure you that if you shine a light on it, it will be visible."

Bugbread: Given the fact that it absorbs 99.965% of visible light, do you have any reason we should believe your assurance?


I read and posted the article, because I found it fascinating, but my grasp on physics is tenuous at the best of times, and I don't really understand the particulars of this light-absorption business.

Can anyone 'explain this to me like I'm 5'?
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 7:45 PM on July 17, 2014


Given the fact that it absorbs 99.965% of visible light, do you have any reason we should believe your assurance?

If you shine a bright light on it, some of the visible light will be reflected. It's still way up the histogram of the Black Body curve, on the visible light spectrum. If you shine a bright light into a vast darkened cavern, there is nothing to reflect light at all, it's down on the invisible end of the curve. That's the only practical conditions of invisibility: no light reflects because there is nothing to reflect off of.
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:45 PM on July 17, 2014


Can anyone 'explain this to me like I'm 5'?

I'm talking about a Black Body.

There is a black like a matte black surface (like this invention) and then there is the ultimate black of looking into a deep abyss.
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:55 PM on July 17, 2014


Black-body radiation has absolutely nothing to do with this. Nothing. At room temperature, black-body radiation isn't visible to the human eye. At room temperature, an ideal black-body would not be visible to the human eye. Full-stop. So much for the mention of black-body radiation. It has nothing to do with the difference between a deep matte black and total darkness to the human eye, because that difference is purely the result of the fact that a deep black matte surface is still reflecting enough visible light to be, well, visible.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:57 PM on July 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


Under the Skin is fantabulous, by the way.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 7:59 PM on July 17, 2014


Well, yes, no one at any point claims that this absorbs 100% of visible light. The claim is that it absorbs 99.965%, a new world record. If you shine enough light at it, of course it will be visible, because 0.035% of an incredible amount of light is still quite a lot of light. The argument is that when you shine a fairly average amount of light at it, like the light of a room light bulb, the amount of reflected light is so low that you can barely see it.

And what the hell are you talking about a Black Body for? Nobody, anywhere, except for you has said anything about this material absorbing all electromagnetic radiation.
posted by Bugbread at 8:02 PM on July 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


The FPP article makes it look like a thick slab of liver or something, but this other image (via) shows just how remarkably thin the substance is, more like a coating of slime or a layer of mold. It's not even enough to weigh down the edges of the foil.

Thank you for that. I was wondering if it was just a deep puddle of something.

I still don't understand what its texture is like though - is it a liquid? A powder? A thin latex-like thing? Fuzz?
posted by hypersloth at 8:05 PM on July 17, 2014


Ivan, the article compares the substance to a black hole which would be as close as possible in this physical universe to a black body.

Their explanation doesn't make sense. They describe the material as a dense "fur" (well that's how I'm visualizing it) of carbon nanotubes. OK let's say that light does go down these little black tubes, and disappear just like it would down a bottomless pit. But that would rely on an effect similar to Total Internal Reflection in a fiber optic tube. Light would have to go down the "abyss" to be absorbed, but light hitting the tubes at an oblique angle would reflect, sort of like shining your light on the edge of the bottomless pit, rather than down into it.

Now conceivably you could make these nanotubes into a packed structure so the openings of the nanotubes all point the same direction, and they could possibly absorb almost all light from a collimated source like a telescope, as the article describes. That is a long way from making an invisible "little black dress."
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:08 PM on July 17, 2014


charlie don't surf: "Ivan, the article compares the substance to a black hole which would be as close as possible in this physical universe to a black body."

It compares the lack of visible spectrum emissions to a black hole. Saying "no, it's not all that black, because black holes emit non-visible light" is like saying "No, it's not all that black, because it doesn't have an immense gravitational pull". Not the point of the metaphor.

Also, given that black holes aren't black bodies, and this isn't a black body, doesn't that actually stand in favor of the black hole comparison? "It's really black. It doesn't absorb all light, but quite a bit. Like a black hole." "No, that comparison doesn't make sense, because black holes don't absorb all light, but quite a bit."
posted by Bugbread at 8:15 PM on July 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


Watch for a new line of cookware from Cuisinart.

Staring into the abyss makes me queasy . . . . we'll call it --

QueasyNart®!
 
posted by Herodios at 8:25 PM on July 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


note he did not paint the room... I had to paint the room.... it took about five coats of a dark blue to cover it...

(A) Negative Parenting Points for not figuring out a way to psych the kid out such that he re-painted of his own volition. :D

(B) for reference to all future parents of teens, silver spray paint covers a multitude of sins. Trust me.
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:27 PM on July 17, 2014


Greg_Ace: "for reference to all future parents of teens, silver spray paint covers a multitude of sins. Trust me."

So if your skater son paints the walls black, you cover the black walls with silver spray paint, and paint a normal color over that? Does that produce a pretty bright color, or are you going to want to go silver over the black, then white over the silver, and then your final intended color?
posted by Bugbread at 9:48 PM on July 17, 2014


That is an...unsettling thing to see.

Stare not into the Abyss etc. Seriously, I understand this is a remarkable scientific achievement but it is just so creepy.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:19 PM on July 17, 2014


... you cover the black walls with silver spray paint, and paint a normal color over that?

More or less, yeah. The basic idea of silver spray paint is that it keeps whatever's underneath from bleeding through, so once you've silvered over $thing you can just proceed as if you were working with a plain white undercoat. I know for sure it works with with ink, magic marker, your average stains, etc. on normal paint; but to be honest I haven't tried this on a full matte-black paint job.
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:38 PM on July 17, 2014


I assure you that if you shine a light on it, it will be visible.

Also, an aeroplane will never be able to take off from a treadmill.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:39 PM on July 17, 2014 [5 favorites]


I've heard reports that the bullet train can reach speeds of 200mph but I assure you that trains cannot go faster than 30mph because if they did it would be too fast for the passengers to breathe.
posted by Bugbread at 11:14 PM on July 17, 2014


And yet I still have that photo open in a tab and can't stop looking at it every few minutes.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:12 AM on July 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


ctrl-f fuligin
ok metafilter, you did ok
this time
posted by fleacircus at 12:30 AM on July 18, 2014


Well, I already have five black turtlenecks ... time for some in a slightly darker black.

The Vantablack Tactleneck.
posted by FrauMaschine at 12:55 AM on July 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


Their explanation doesn't make sense.

You're overcomplicating your attempted explanation for how such a low reflectivity would happen and thus wrongly concluding that it couldn't. Through absorption-and-reemission, the visible light striking this material becomes infrared light. Maybe a small portion ends up as visible light, but that residual is maximally scattered (and not requiring the mechanism you hypothesize).

Under normal lighting conditions, the amount of light that reaches an observer's eyes is, apparently, near or below the threshold of perception.

That brings to mind a couple of things. First, there's the oft-heard assertion that the human eye is sensitive to a little as a single photon. That's not quite true. In fact, there's a whole lot of environments which will be totally black to us even though there's some light. Second, given the claims in this article, we can make some safe assumptions about the environmental conditions under which these claims are supposedly true. That is, the amount of illumination, its distance to the material, and the material's distance to the observers. Given the claimed amount of the reflectivity (in the visible spectrum) is specified as a percentage to some precision, someone (not me) could do some back-of-the-envelope calculations to discover about how much visible light from the material would be returned to an observer's eye and check that against what we know a human eye/brain can perceive.

If I had to guess, my guess would be that this amount isn't below the perceptual threshold in isolation, but in context it is. That is to say, at maximum dilation the human eye would be seeing, and the person perceiving, the light reflected back at it from this material when illuminated by standard room lighting if everything but the reflected light from that material were removed from the environment. Which you couldn't do. And in the actual environment, not only is the iris going to be smaller and much less light allowed in; but the brain's processing isn't going to make any sense of that blackness in the context of all the bright stuff around it. Yes, we do make sense of even really black matte things. That's because they are still reflecting quite a bit more light than this stuff does. That's why this stuff is special.

In relative terms, not a lot of stuff re-emits the bulk of visible spectrum as infrared. Black materials are usually made up of many different kinds of molecules, some of those atoms will be converting visible to infrared but others won't be. These materials will also be good scatterers. To get extremely low reflectivity you need to maximize both attributes, and that takes a very unusual material.

"Also, given that black holes aren't black bodies, and this isn't a black body, doesn't that actually stand in favor of the black hole comparison? 'It's really black. It doesn't absorb all light, but quite a bit. Like a black hole.' 'No, that comparison doesn't make sense, because black holes don't absorb all light, but quite a bit.'"

Maybe I'm misunderstanding you and you're paraphrasing something you know isn't right. But black holes do, in fact, absorb all light (that passes the event horizon) just like they absorb everything else.

For what it matters, the region around a black hole is still usually very "bright" because of various things that happen to matter right before the event horizon is crossed — EM emitted at that point, aimed away from it, will get free. As long as there's matter falling into it, black holes aren't actually black in the sense that right outside the event horizon is blazing with EM, so it would "look" bright. (But I think most of the EM is x-rays and gamma rays.)

Also, black holes aren't totally black in a more fundamental sense because of Hawking radiation. They still do absorb everything that falls into them — but through a roundabout process they emit some energy that represents a corresponding loss of mass. (Which causes them to shrink, when there's not new mass falling in! This is very, very slow for large black holes but faster for small black holes and if microscopic black holes exist, they disappear essentially immediatey after they form.) All without anything actually coming out of the event horizon, which never happens, period.

In the real universe, as anyone would ever encounter a black hole or image them from a distance, they're going to be quite visible in one form or another. Variously, depending mostly upon the infalling matter and the mass of the black hole and its angular momentum. However, the region won't necessarily be undifferentiated with stuff falling in from all directions. It could be very differentiated, with the matter mostly corralled into a narrow disc, for example, in which it spirals into the black hole and the EM coming almost exclusively from that region. From many angles, then, you might see something like a disc with a hole in the middle of it. But that's still pretty relative, really, as these would all be extremely energetic environments so that "black" part that looks like a hole would be so only as a contrast to the ultra-bright disc because there'd be a lot of infalling matter everywhere. Just that most of it would be in the disc. Even informed artistic depictions are pretty fanciful.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:15 AM on July 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


So there.
posted by fullerine at 2:13 AM on July 18, 2014


Under the Skin is fantabulous, by the way.

I know, right? Maybe somebody (hint, hint) could post it to FanFare, and then we could talk about it. Because I really need to talk about it.

Anyways, VantaBlack? More like SeriousBlack, right?
posted by valkane at 4:00 AM on July 18, 2014


Under normal lighting conditions, the amount of light that reaches an observer's eyes is, apparently, near or below the threshold of perception . . .

In the real universe, as anyone would ever encounter a black hole or image them from a distance, they're going to be quite visible in one form or another. . . .

"The thing about a black hole -- its main distinguishing feature -- is it's black. And the thing about space -- the colour of space, your basic space colour -- is black. So how're you supposed to see 'em?"

 
posted by Herodios at 4:16 AM on July 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Nobody can see the rather large black hole at the centre of the galaxy, although we know it's there.

someone (not me) could do some back-of-the-envelope calculations to discover about how much visible light from the material would be returned to an observer's eye

I came up with some tens of thousands of photons per second reaching the eye, per square centimetre of material, illuminated by a 100W light bulb at a distance of 6 metres. So yes, it should be slightly visible if your eyes were adjusted to the dark despite being in a room with a 100W light bulb, if my even more haphazard than usual estimate is correct.
posted by sfenders at 4:50 AM on July 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Ivan Fyodorovich: "Also, black holes aren't totally black in a more fundamental sense because of Hawking radiation. They still do absorb everything that falls into them — but through a roundabout process they emit some energy that represents a corresponding loss of mass."

That's what I was referring to (since charlie seemed to be considering any electromagnetic radiation to be "light", but just not visible spectrum light, I was going with that use of the word "light" to describe Hawking radiation).
posted by Bugbread at 5:27 AM on July 18, 2014


ob1quixote: I'd love a Road Runner Superbird this color, but I'm not sure it would be safe.

Once, back in the 1970s I was hitchhiking and got a lift from one of these. It wasn't infra-black, though. It was orange. It was hyper-orange. How orange was it? It was so orange . . .

Oh, and, no, as it turned out, it was not 'safe'.

posted by Herodios at 8:00 AM on July 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


I keep wishing the announcement could have been incorporated into an episode of Black Adder, so we could have been treated to Percy announcing to the world he had developed pure green black.
posted by sardonyx at 8:18 AM on July 18, 2014


I keep wishing the announcement could have been incorporated into an episode of Black Adder, so we could have been treated to Percy announcing to the world he had developed pure green black.

But this would make Edmund disappear.

Cuz if it's pure black --

can't get any blacker --

none more black --

then there can't be a black-adder.
 
posted by Herodios at 9:14 AM on July 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Herodios: “It was orange. It was hyper-orange”
Amusingly, the actual name of he color was "Vitamin C Orange." A 440 Hemi in a car painted a color named for something urban legend says makes your drugs work better? Of course it wasn't safe.
posted by ob1quixote at 9:57 AM on July 18, 2014


Amusingly, the actual name of he color was "Vitamin C Orange." A 440 Hemi in a car painted a color named for something urban legend says makes your drugs work better? Of course it wasn't safe.

I'm thinking this cat hadn't drunk any OJ in years, but the back seat was full of crushed beer cans.

Short version: We're on a two-lane in Kansas, about 3 or 4 in the afternoon. He's got a beer open in front to match the empties in the back. To make conversation I ask, "What's this little notebook for, with the two columns of figures?"

"That's so when I peg out my speedo, I can tell how fast I'm going from the tach."

"Here, I'll show you . . ."

"No, that's OkoooooOOOooo . . . "




Not safe.
posted by Herodios at 10:54 AM on July 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Through absorption-and-reemission, the visible light striking this material becomes infrared light. Maybe a small portion ends up as visible light, but that residual is maximally scattered (and not requiring the mechanism you hypothesize).

Well of course, that's how all black surfaces work, it doesn't reflect any light strongly, it absorbs all frequencies, so it appears black. But how does it absorb so much light? Your explanation is totally dissimilar to theirs:

Vantablack...works by packing together a field of nanotubes, like incredibly thin drinking straws. These are so tiny that light particles cannot get into them, although they can pass into the gaps between. Once there, however, all but a tiny remnant of the light bounces around until it is absorbed.

OK these nanotubes are too small for photons to enter, it's like trying to push a baseball through a drinking straw. But the photons can go through the spaces between the tubes, which are sort of like tubes. That is pseudoscientific BS. In any case, this sounds more like my description of Total Internal Reflection, except we're trying for total internal absorption and any unabsorbed light is reflected by the tube walls, so it goes deeper down the tube for more absorption by the tube walls.

The article really goes off the deep end here:

Stephen Westland, professor of colour science and technology at Leeds University, said traditional black was actually a colour of light...

That is the stupidest thing I ever heard.
posted by charlie don't surf at 1:24 PM on July 18, 2014


Maybe somebody (hint, hint) could post it to FanFare

Done!
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 2:02 PM on July 18, 2014


"It's blacker than my cousin Femi!"
posted by Tom-B at 2:23 PM on July 18, 2014


"Your explanation is totally dissimilar to theirs...

It's a shitty explanation because science journalism is generally pretty shitty.

But the way I interpret that is that the absorption/reemission is probabilistic and so total absorption is a function of how much light is scattered back toward the material allowing further chances at absorption/reemission. This material, due to its carbon nanotube structure, has high absorption of visible light because it's carbon, but importantly also high repeated scattering back into the material facilitating the possibility of absorption -- which is because of the material's nanostructure.

I don't think anyone should have attempted a natural language narrative for what's precisely happening, even assuming the scientists involved have a strong understanding of it.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:36 PM on July 18, 2014


Well now we're talking about the same thing, which is subsurface scattering. There is always going to be some backscattering which I presume they calculated at the .035% figure.

And the absorption and reemission as IR interests me. Just as an example, there was a notorious problem with the sensors in the Leica M8 camera, it was too sensitive to IR and lots of black surfaces (especially fabrics) showed up as purple, unless you used an IR filter over the lens.

Subsurface scattering also accounts for some of the black paint effects discussed upthread, about having to paint a silver coat over black, so the top layer isn't darkened. This is what artists call underpainting. Paint is pigment particles suspended in a binder. It is always translucent to some degree, so light penetrates and bounces off the rear substrate. This is why artists prepare canvases with a white base, and use light, transparent earth tones like ochre for the underpainting. This keeps the top layers of paint bright. Anyway, with a black underlayer like the punk kid's wall repainted blue, the light penetrates the blue paint and hits the particles beneath the blue paint surface. Much of the light scatters back off the blue pigment, but some of it hits the black underlayer and does not reflect back out, so the top layer of paint seems dull. In photographic film they call this an anti-halation backing (although its purpose is different).

I'll give you a practical use for all this BS. I used to occasionally scan old newsprint on a flatbed scanner, and frequently it has bleed through, the ink on the back side of the page would show through the paper and it was visible in the scan. You can almost completely eliminate this effect by putting a sheet of matte black paper behind the newsprint when you put it on the scanner. It absorbs any light that penetrates the paper.

Well anyway, sorry to go on about this but pigment technology is one of my professional interests. Not to the level of nanotech, although that stuff is pretty damn interesting. I would like to see a proper technical analysis of the stuff.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:12 PM on July 18, 2014


A 440 Hemi in a car painted a color named for something urban legend says makes your drugs work better?

Just a side note but can we get over the fiction of the "440 Hemi"? I refer you back to a comment I made in January that should have ended any further misuse of the term.

Thank you from the bottom of my Hemi-loving heart.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 10:32 PM on July 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


You know it's funny, I had "426" in there right up until the last edit I made before posting. So few Superbirds were built with the 426 I decided at the last second to change it to 440 but didn't also change "Hemi" to "Six-Pack" instead. Mea culpa.
posted by ob1quixote at 4:27 PM on July 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


Can't believe no one mentioned Father Ted
posted by night_train at 3:57 PM on July 20, 2014


"I assure you that if you shine a light on it, it will be visible."

It would appear that you are 99.965% incorrect.
posted by stenseng at 4:26 PM on July 21, 2014 [3 favorites]


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