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We'd Like to Tell You What This Story is About


When it comes to scientific breakthroughs, we usually leave the coverage to our science writers, because they have a fighting chance of understanding them.

Nonetheless, we could not resist bringing you a science story about the color black. Yes, we know, black is technically not a color. It's the absence of light. Tell that to those of us who used a black crayon all through our childhoods. Or had a black cat. Did we not see this cat?

Don't despair. This science story has nothing to do with black holes in space. Even our science writers don't understand those. As we said, it's about the color black itself. Sorry. There we go again.

Researchers at two U.S. universities have developed a black that's so black, it makes walking in a darkened cave like a blindingly bright day at the beach. This black is almost 30 times darker than a carbon substance that the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology uses to define what black is. It absorbs 99.99 percent of all light that hits it.

The material is made from clusters of carbon nanotubes, 400 times thinner than a strand of hair, standing on end. Without those science writers, that's as profound an explanation as we can offer.

This black is so black, it's said to be 100 times blacker than the blackest automobile, and at least that much blacker than that black cat. Maybe blacker than black holes. And if you think those black, bat-shaped Stealth bombers are hard to spot now, wait till they paint them in whatever this new black color is called.

There we go again. No doubt blacker-than-black isn't a color, either.