Grabbed this off the Houstonist today… thought, "WOW! That’s pretty dang cool!" Just another tall tell sign of how geeky I really am…
A Rice scientist has created what the Chronicle is calling "the darkest substance known to man," a carpet of carbon nanotubes that’s reflective of less than .05 percent of light directly shined on it, making it a hundred times darker than the paint on a black Corvette. (Why a Corvette? Don’t ask us…perhaps they got to expense the vehicle for "testing purposes" and decided they might as well go all out. At least, that’s what we’d have done….)
In any case, the reason the substance is so dark is that it takes carbon–already one of the darkest naturally-occurring substances–and changes the arrangement of the molecules such that they trap even more light than normal carbon, with a smooth molecular arrangement, would.
The new material may appear in the Guinness Book of World Records, and the scientists quoted in the Chronicle article seem more excited about that than if they had to eat cockroaches like that guy did. More importantly, the new material, since it absorbs so much light, might be useful for trapping and storing energy and might also improve the utility and range of instruments like telescopes.