Why can we see the color black?

Because black isn’t black. What?

Things appear dark because they reflect less light than other things, but our brains have a pretty generous definition of what “black” is. Supposedly, the darkest color should reflect no light at all, but since we never encounter anything that reflects no light at all, the concept of “black” is pretty vague.

Everything reflects some light. Take a look at this black car, for instance:

That’s seriously black…or is it? Notice how you can see the curves and shape of the car by the way the light reflects off of it. It doesn’t reflect as much light as a white car, but you can still see it. It actually looks more greyish than black, because it’s outdoors where there’s a lot of light to reflect. It would look much closer to black in a dark room, but so would everything else.

All right, let’s find something blacker - specifically, a substance called vantablack, which reflects almost no light at all:

These are two nearly identical objects, but one of them is coated with vantablack, which absorbs 99.96% of all visible light. That’s about as close to pure black as you can get - if that were in empty space, it would be pretty hard to see. And yet, if you look at it just right, you can still make out the contours of the face. That 0.04% of visible light is still enough to see.

Now look out at the empty space beyond the Earth’s atmosphere:

That’s a real photo taken from the International Space Station. You’d think empty space would be the darkest thing you could find, since it’s pretty much nothingness. And yet, if you look at it, you’ll see the light of billions of stars across the entire universe. There is not a single spot you can look at in any direction where you’re not seeing some source of light, even if it’s billions of light-years away.

So, to answer your question, we can see “black” because what we think is black isn’t really black. There is no matter that we know of that reflects zero light (except maybe dark matter, which we’ve never been able to find because, well, we can’t see the dang stuff). Thus, a human eye has never seen a truly black object, and most likely never will.

This information was taken from Quora. Click here to view the original post.

Have you ever heard about vantablack before?

#Science #color #Quora


What are your thoughts on this subject?
Leticia Olsen
👍🏼It’s good to know.
Aug 23, 2021 10:36PM
Boyette Zaragoza
Very informative..
Oct 28, 2019 1:37PM
Susan Golebiewski
Very interesting! Did not know this.
Sep 25, 2019 7:52PM
Educational and descriptive it good to learn something new every day
Sep 1, 2019 6:45PM
Yogi Arya
Truly educative. This description be simplified, for small children to grasp. 👍🏿
Jul 7, 2019 1:48AM
Lynne Zeman
I beleive I had read a while back that white is the absence of all color, and black is the combination of all colors.
Jun 9, 2019 9:33PM
Ashok Chirvi
Knew about why colours look so, to human eye. The black in the universe as we see is informative.
Apr 13, 2019 8:07PM
Linalinda Eichin
Good to hear
Jan 17, 2019 10:29PM
Jane Elise Naylor
Barbara Glasper, black is NOT black: there are 100's of different colours of black if you compare them. True black is the total absence of colour. The only things we really know to be black are black holes, which we can't see and aren't holes but very solid high gravity stars from which light cannot escape!
Oct 30, 2018 6:14PM
Jane Elise Naylor
Any colour is just the colour reflected by the item at which we look: a red object absorbs all other colours of light. Colours look different under artificial light to sunlight because artificial light does not contain all the colours of the spectrum. Mixing light has the opposite effect to mixing pigment: mix red and green light and you'll get white! Mix the same coloured pigments and you'll get a very dark brown but not quite black for the reasons explained in the article.
Oct 30, 2018 6:07PM
Karen Whitney
Very interesting, i never looked at it that way before.
Oct 23, 2018 12:02AM
Andoy Angeles
It is all in the mind?
Oct 16, 2018 2:19AM
the best way to explain go into a closet with the light on eyes open turn the light off what do you see that,s true color that what we see all the time.
Oct 8, 2018 1:07PM
vasily tchaikovsky
santopoco, I like your humor statement I was laughing ,probably you voted for Donald because it is close to MacDonald
Sep 26, 2018 4:14PM
Robert A. Mercer
WAIT A DARN MINUTE! Since the statue is standing against a bright background and blocks the reflected light of the BACKGROUND from reaching you, you’ll ALWAYS see the black object as a “hole” in the background light no matter whether the OBJECT is a little dark, a lot dark, or 100% non-reflecting! Surely you are pulling our leg!
Sep 17, 2018 7:17PM

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