Archive for February 20th, 2008

No, I’m not harkening back to the flap last year that had tacky t-shirts emblazoned with the what was either cleverly hip or cynically horrid “Adoption: the New Black”, but rather the REAL New Black, which is black.

Yep. Black: The New Black.

Blacker than black, this new black is amazingly cool to a science geek wannabe like me.

It’s the Washington Post that puts out a version of this I can wrap my head around … almost … as it describes a new material that absorbs — get this — 99.955% of any light that hits it.

Hmmmmmm … If a moth gets to it, does it leave a Black Hole?

“It’s very deep, like in a forest on the darkest night,” said Shawn-Yu Lin, a scientist who helped create the material at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y. “Nothing comes back to you. It’s very, very, very dark.”

I’m trying to imagine aiming my eyes at a bit of fabric from which nothing comes back.

What’s that like? Brain death, maybe? Like, I’m looking, I’m looking, I’m looking, but there’s so much nothing to see that I might as well not have eyes?


Wondering what use the New Black will have, besides being the height of whatever heights get that groovy designation?

Well, the military is jazzed about adding it to stealth coatings that absorb radar waves. Why not?

But check out this stuff:

Solar panels coated with it would be much more efficient than those coated with conventional black paint, which reflects 5 percent or more of incoming light. Telescopes lined with it would sop up random flecks of incidental light, providing a blacker background to detect faint stars.

And a wide array of heat detectors and energy-measuring devices, including climate-tracking equipment on satellites, would become far more accurate than they are today if they were coated with energy-grabbing superblack.

Of course, I’m thinking of the fashion potential. Those extra pounds I’m toting could disappear with just a little nip and tuck, not of me, but of an outfit sporting strategic touches of “super black”. And think of the contouring possible if it could be added to a makeup line! Double chin! What double chin?

And Halloween! Head! What head?

I also can’t shake the idea of Bug Bunny’s portable holes … those disks of black he’d toss when he needed a quick getaway. With big enough circles of the New Black anyone could appear to exit Stage Right for “Wonderland”.

Of course, having all the light sucked out of the immediate area is one way to hide, but not the only one almost possible these days.

Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak is also in the works, but rather than gobble light the stuff being used bends it backward.

Known as transformation optics, the phenomenon compels some wavelengths of light to flow around an object like water around a stone. As a result, things behind the object become visible while the object itself disappears from view.

Does that or does than not give goose bumps the size of headlamps?

Okay … now that we can cloak a Volkswagon like a Klingon war bird, can we please get that beamy-uppy thing in the works? I’d really like to meet my oldest son’s girlfriend.


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