Therefore Bill Gates should buy North Korea and solve a lot of problems
New Super Black Material Absorbs 99.965% Of Light
Goths of the world, rejoice. Scientists have produced Vantablack, a product so dark it becomes impossible to make out shapes formed from it.
Surrey Nanosystems, a British nanoelectronics company have used carbon nanotubes 10,000 times thinner than a human hair to absorb 99.965% of visible light, a world record. The tubes are so small photons cannot get inside, but can fit into the small spaces between the tubes, where they are captured.
For comparison, fresh asphalt reflects 4% of the light that falls on it, and after a while this rises to 12%, while coal seldom gets below 0.5%.
"You expect to see the hills and all you can see … it’s like black, like a hole, like there’s nothing there. It just looks so strange," Surrey Nanosystems’ technical director Ben Jensen told The Independent.
The manufacturers grow Vantablack (Vertically Aligned carbon NanoTube Array) on aluminum foil, making it easy to create complex topography that is entirely invisible to the eye. They point out their low-temperature nanotube growth processes give it a significant advantage past super-black materials that require high temperatures to produce, and are therefore incompatible with sensitive electronics.
While there is probably a market for practical jokes, Surrey Nanosystems are talking up the capacity of Vantablack to calibrate astronomical cameras and infrared scanners, which need to be shown the darkest object possible for comparison with tiny points of light. They also hint darkly at military uses, which may benefit from the enormous tensile strength and heat conductivity.
“We are now scaling up production to meet the requirements of our first customers in the defense and space sectors, and have already delivered our first orders,” said Jensen. So far at least Vantablack is far too expensive to be used for clothes or toys but Jensen said, “You would lose all features of a dress. It would just be something black passing through.”
The properties of Vantablack have been described in Optics Express.
A Rainbow in the Clouds
If you see a rainbow among the clouds low in the sky on a sunny summer day, it’s a natural phenomenon called a circumhorizon arc. It is seen nearly exclusively in summer, because it requires that the sun be very high, to create the right angle of light beams.
It also requires thin, wispy cirrus clouds. Cirrus clouds are thin layers extremely high in the atmosphere and the water they contain is usually frozen. The ice crystals act like small prisms, fracturing the sunlight passing through them. If the clouds are across the sky you might see a full rainbow arc, but if there are only shreds of them here and there you’re more likely to just see a fragment of a rainbow.
The sun can produce a number of types of cloud rainbows, but circumhorizon arc rainbows are always parallel to and often not too far above the horizon.
photo by Gavin Anderson, shared on Wikimedia Commons
(via: Peterson Field Guides)
The patient received antivenom within 30 minutes of being bitten in the finger. Rattlesnake venom inhibits blood coagulation (among other things), and pictures A and B shows this five days after the bite. The patient had a full recovery.
Read the case at NEJM
Apophenia is the experience of seeing meaningful patterns or connections in random or meaningless data. The term was coined by neurologist Klaus Conrad and defined as the “unmotivated seeing of connections.”
Apophenia is the term of art generally used in psychology for this phenomenon. However, there have been a number of other coinages of similar or related concepts in academic and popular discourse. Michael Shermer for instance coined the term “patternicity” to describe apophenia.
4 different variations (among many) are:
- Clustering illusion: Related to an inability to recognise actual random patterns. Uneven clusters caused by true randomness are mistaken for patterns.
- Confirmation bias: A bias towards testing to confirm ones’ hypothesis rather than disprove it.
- Gambler’s fallacy: Feeling that past events reflect and alter probability when, in fact, they don’t.
- Pareidolia: Seeing shapes, most often faces, in random patterns.
The explanation put forth by evolutionary psychologists for apophenia is that it is not a defect of human cognition, but selected for. For example, someone might hear a noise that sounds like a predator growling. If he believes that it is a predator, but it’s just the wind, the cost is only losing a moment’s travel time to stand on guard. If he believes that it is just the wind and it actually is predator, the cost is his life. (source)