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?
Judy Avery
That's Lake Michigan hanging down there with Chicago making that blob of light. Detroit is to the right near Lake Erie.
Aug 28, 2022 4:59PM
Chris Brown
This one has left me in the dark!
Oct 12, 2023 11:53PM
Doris Dallaire
Judy Avery, you’re right!
Apr 20, 2023 4:47PM
Fred Mayes
Ruthanna Battilana, My wife and I took a cave tour once and they turned all the lights out. The guide said to touch your thumb to your nose. Now wiggle your fingers. Then he turned the lights back on. Wish I had taken a picture of everyone then.
Nov 26, 2022 4:38PM
Thank you! Very interesting! 😊👍
Jan 5, 2022 6:04PM
Cindy Ursan
Very interesting! Especially since my favourite colours are black and blue…
Jan 1, 2022 5:37AM
Shirish Shah
Good to know that black is not black because some light is always present and and some is reflected. If power fails on a New Moon day in Monsoon, there can be.total darkness. I.experienced.such a condition where I could not see my hand Shirish. Shah
Dec 15, 2021 4:51PM
Ruthanna Battilana
Do you see black in a cave/cavern where there is no light at all?
Nov 2, 2021 2:53AM
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


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