Black-wikipedia

Etymology

The word black comes from Old English blæc (“black, dark”, also, “ink”), from Proto-Germanic *blakkaz (“burned”), from Proto-Indo-European *bhleg- (“to burn, gleam, shine, flash”), from base *bhel- (“to shine”), related to Old Saxon blak (“ink”), Old High German blah (“black”), Old Norse blakkr (“dark”), Dutch blaken (“to burn”), and Swedish bläck (“ink”). More distant cognates include Latin flagrare (“to blaze, glow, burn”), and Ancient Greek phlegein (“to burn, scorch”). Black supplanted the wonted Old English word sweart (“black, dark”), which survives as swart, swarth, and swarthy (compare German schwarz and Dutch zwart, “black”).

Color or light in science

Nighttime

Black can be defined as the visual impression experienced when no visible light reaches the eye. (This makes a contrast with whiteness, the impression of any combination of colors of light that equally stimulates all three types of color-sensitive visual receptors.)
Pigments that absorb light rather than reflect it back to the eye “look black”. A black pigment can, however, result from a combination of several pigments that collectively absorb all colors. If appropriate proportions of three primary pigments are mixed, the result reflects so little light as to be called “black”.
This provides two superficially opposite but actually complementary descriptions of black. Black is the lack of all colors of light, or an exhaustive combination of multiple colors of pigment. See also Primary colors

† various CMYK combinations

c m y k
0% 0% 0% 100% (canonical)
100% 100% 100% 0% (ideal inks, theoretical only)
100% 100% 100% 100% (registration black)

In physics, a black body is a perfect absorber of light, but, by a thermodynamic rule, it is also the best emitter. Thus, the best radiative cooling, out of sunlight, is by using black paint, though it is important that it be black (a nearly perfect absorber) in the infrared as well.
In elementary science, far Ultraviolet light is called “black light” because, unseen, it causes many minerals and other substances to fluoresce.
On January 16, 2008, researchers from Troy, New York’s Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute announced the creation of the darkest material on the planet. The material, which reflects only .045 percent of light, was created from carbon nanotubes stood on end. This is 1/30 of the light reflected by the current standard for blackness, and one third the light reflected by the previous record holder for darkest substance.[1]

Absorption of light

A material is said to be black if most incoming light is absorbed equally in the material. Light (electromagnetic radiation in the visible spectrum) interacts with the atoms and molecules, which causes the energy of the light to be converted in to other forms of energy, usually heat. This means that black surfaces can act as thermal collectors, absorbing light and generating heat(see Solar thermal collector).
Absorption of light is contrasted by transmission, reflection and diffusion, where the light is only redirected, causing objects to appear transparent, reflective or white respectively.

Usage, symbolism, colloquial expressions

Authority and seriousness

Black can be seen as the color of authority and seriousness.

Goth costuming

Clothing

Demography

Music

Philosophy

  • In arguments, things can be black-and-white, meaning that the issue at hand is dichotomized (having two clear, opposing sides with no middle ground).
  • In ancient China, black was the symbol of North and Water, one of the main five colors.

Politics

  • The List of black flags, although not exclusively political, gives many political meanings.
  • The Lützow Free Corps, composed of volunteer German students and academics fighting against Napoleon in 1813, could not afford to make special uniforms and therefore adopted black, as the only color that could be used to dye their civilian clothing without the original color showing. As these volunteers were greatly praised and glorified by later revolutionaries, their choice of the black color might have influenced its later connotations.

Black is a common symbol of anarchism, originating as a symbol in the 1880s.

Science

Sexuality

Sport

Ambiguity and secrecy

  • A black box is any device whose internal workings are unknown or inexplicable. In theatre, the black box is a smaller, undecorated theater whose auditorium and stage relationship can be configured in various way.
  • A black project is a secretive project, like Enigma Decryption, other classified military programs or operations, Narcotics, or police sting operations.
  • Some organizations are called “black” when they keep a low profile, like Sociétés Anonymes and secret societies.
  • A polished black mirror is used for scrying, and is thought to help see into the paranormal world without interference or distraction.
  • Black frequently symbolizes ambiguity, secrecy, and the unknown.

Beliefs, religions and superstitions

  • Black is a symbol of mourning and bereavement in Western societies, especially at funerals and memorial services. In some traditional societies, within for example Greece and Italy, widows wear black for the rest of their lives. In contrast, across much of Africa and parts of Asia, white is a color of mourning and is worn during funerals.
  • In English heraldry, black means darkness, doubt, ignorance, and uncertainty.[3]
  • The Black Sun is an occult symbol used by those who believe in Nazi mysticism.
  • In the Maasai tribes of Kenya and Tanzania, the color black is associated with rain clouds, a symbol of life and prosperity.
  • Native Americans associated black with the life-giving soil.
  • The Hindu deity Krishna means “the black one”.
  • The medieval Christian sect known as the Cathars viewed black as a color of perfection.
  • The Rastafari movement sees black as beautiful.
  • In the Japanese culture, Black is associated with honor, not death with the white color being associated with death.
  • Black-dog bias is a veterinarian and animal shelter phenomenon in which black dogs are passed over for adoption in favor of lighter colored animals.
  • Black cats may be thought of as either good luck or bad.

Economy

  • To say one’s accounts are “in the black” is used to mean that one is or “no longer in the red”, or free of debt .
    • Being “in the red” is to be in debt—in traditional bookkeeping, negative amounts, such as costs, were printed in red ink, and positive amounts, like revenues, were printed in black ink, so that if the “bottom line” is printed in black, the firm is profiting.

Fashion

  • In Western fashion, black is considered stylish, sexy, elegant and powerful.
  • The colloquialism “X is the new black” is a reference to the latest trend or fad that is considered a wardrobe basic for the duration of the trend, on the basis that black is always fashionable. The phrase has taken on a life of its own as a snowclone, and has been stretched and parodied as a rhetorical device and a cliché.

Symbolic dualism with white

  • Black magic is a destructive or evil form of magic, often connected with death, as opposed to white magic. This was already apparent during Ancient Egypt when the Cush Tribe invaded Egyptian plantations along the Nile River.
  • Evil witches are stereotypically dressed in black and good fairies in white.
  • In computer security, a blackhat is an attacker with evil intentions, while a whitehat bears no such ill will. (This is derived from the Western movie convention.)
  • In many Hollywood Westerns, bad cowboys wear black hats while the good ones wear white.
  • Melodrama villains are dressed in black and heroines in white dresses.

Historical events

Expressions

Namesake of the idiom “black sheep”

  • A black-hearted person is mean and unloving.
  • A blacklist is a list of undesirable persons or entities (to be placed on the list is to be “blacklisted”).
  • Black comedy is a form of comedy dealing with morbid and serious topics.
  • A black mark against a person relates to something bad they have done.
  • A black mood is a bad one (cf Winston Churchill‘s clinical depression, which he called “my black dog”).[4]
  • Black market is used to denote the trade of illegal goods, or alternatively the illegal trade of otherwise legal items at considerably higher prices, e.g. to evade rationing.
  • Black propaganda is the use of known falsehoods, partial truths, or masquerades in propaganda to confuse an opponent.
  • Blackmail is the act of threatening to reveal information about a person unless the threatened party fulfills certain demands. This information is usually of an embarrassing or socially damaging nature. Ordinarily, such a threat is illegal.
  • If the black eight-ball, in billiards, is sunk before all others are out of play, the player loses.
  • The black sheep of the family is the ne’er-do-well.
  • To blackball someone is to block their entry into a club or some such institution. In the traditional English gentlemen’s club, members vote on the admission of a candidate by secretly placing a white or black ball in a hat. If upon the completion of voting, there was even one black ball amongst the white, the candidate would be denied membership, and he would never know who had “blackballed” him.
  • Black tea in the Western culture is known as “crimson tea” in Chinese and culturally influenced languages, ( , Mandarin Chinese hóngchá; Japanese kōcha; Korean hongcha), perhaps a more accurate description of the color of the liquid.
  • “The black” is a wildfire suppression term referring to a burned area on a wildfire capable of acting as a safety zone.
  • Black coffee refers to coffee without sugar or cream.

Pigments

Black pigments include carbon black, charcoal black, ebony, ivory black and onyx.

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