Just how black is the darkest black? Well, eumh… black.

In case you didn’t know: there’s a new standard for black. And it’s on display in Brussels until January 25, at the MediaRuimte. Hostage, by Belgian artist Frederik De Wilde, is made of the darkest material known to men. I dropped by the other day and I can say: there sure is more to it than meets the eye. To begin with: De Wilde’s nano-painting is deceptively small (7 by 7 cm). And it has a few, whiter impurities. But apart from that, it’s impossible to see if it is indeed darker than the black we all know. Hostage, which according to De Wilde carries references to the work of Kazimir Malevich and Yves Klein, is made of carbon nanotubes. That ‘new black’ was discovered in 2008 by researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Rice University in the US (read article from Science Daily about that discovery here). In what way is it different? All materials reflect some amount of light. Researchers have since long been looking for an ideal black that absorbs all light while reflecting no light. This new black absorbs more than 99,9 percent of light. And whereas the total reflectance of normal black paint is between 5 and 10 percent, the reflective index of this new material is 0,045 percent; which is more than three times darker than the previous record. And yes, even science professors are human: they have applied for a Guinness World Record, for their efforts. (MediaRuimte, rue de Laekensestraat 104, Brussels, Thursday-Sunday 16.00-21.00, or by appointment. Info here.)

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