In vantablackest night

In dark arts and sciences news, a group of researchers in England have created the coolest and most unnecessarily dark substance ever.

The material, known as Vantablack (Very Amazing New and Totally Awesome black), was described by patrons at the Optics Express kiosk at the mall as “really blackety-black”.  It works by taking really thin carbon drinking straws and gluing them to aluminum foil.  Light gets stuck between the tiny straws and is absorbed.*

Vantablack is so dark that the human eye cannot understand what it is seeing, and wanders off in search of simpler colors to look at, like periwinkle and burnt sienna.  It absorbs 99.965% of the light that hits it, setting a new world record for the blackest thing.  The previous record was set by Jack Black and Black Manta at a Clint Black/Black Eyed Peas concert in Blacksburg, Virginia in 2002.

Vantablack’s practical uses include calibrating sensitive imaging systems, which must be pointed at something as black as possible. Today, cameras must be calibrated by pointing them at black items such as a door knocker, London cab, or Audrey Hepburn (below).


There are military uses that the material’s maker, Surrey NanoSystems, is not allowed to discuss.  However, loose-lipped CTO Ben Jensen explained that the landscape disappears on areas covered by it.  “You expect to see the hills and all you can see is like a hole, like there’s nothing there.”  Federal investigators would not comment on any connection between Vantablack and the recent disappearance of certain hills in South Dakota.

Natalie Portman 8100005

The nanostraw material has been grown on sheets of aluminum foil in the Newhaven-based company’s cafeteria. Hot and Bright Star Natalie Portman (shown here floating incorporeally around a dress-shaped hole) told reporters, “I was having lunch at Surrey NanoSystems the other day.  I was enjoying my quiche, but I couldn’t finish it, so they wrapped the leftovers for me in the shape of a Vantablack swan.”

News of the discovery was heralded by groups as diverse as the Goth Poets Society, the National Endowment for the Puritan Arts, and avant-garde hell-raiser Coco Chanel.

Stephen Westland, professour of colour science and technology at Leeds University, said traditional black was actually a colour of light, producing a traditional blacklight to prove his point.  “Many people believe black is the absence of light.  I totally disagree with that.  And I ought to know.  I’m a professour of colour science and technology.”

“It is too a thing!”, he yelled in response to a reporter’s question.  (News that “colour science and technology” was a thing one could profess in was greeted with great excitement by rising third-grader Miranda Johnson of Mrs. Marino’s art class.)

Vantablack is one of a growing number of extreme colors under development.  Scientists in Los Angeles are working on Vannawhite, a white so dazzling it is capable of turning letters, but can only be seen a half hour at a time.  Fantaorange is a shade of orange so orange you can practically drink it.  Colour science experts believe that Fantaorange could be the new Vantablack.

†Visually Appealing but Not Nearly Absolute white

‡Fruity Amalgam of Nectarine, Tangarine and Apricot orange

* Warning: Vantablack should be cleaned periodically with a damp sponge.  Failure to do so will cause it to continue absorbing light until it creates a supernova that rips a hole in the fabric of existence.  Do not dry clean.

Click here to try to see more about Vantablack.  

Click here to see simpler colors like periwinkle and burnt sienna.

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