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The color of ineradicable mimeo-ink stains, fuligin is a shade darker than black.

Gene Wolfe first used the noun (probably derived from fuliginous, an adjective meaning sooty or dusky, dating to the 17th century) to describe a cloak in The Shadow of the Torturer (1980). It is the sigil color of the Torturers’ Guild:

The hue fuligin, which is darker than black, admirably erases all folds, bunchings and gatherings so far as the eye is concerned, showing only a featureless dark.

Among other uses, the word appears in Julia Ecklar’s “Terminus Est” (1986) and Stephen Donaldson’s The Last Dark (2013).

However, the concept goes back at least to E. E. Smith’s Gray Lensman (1942):

Well, we have a black coating now that’s ninety-nine percent absorptive, and I don’t need ports or windows. At that, though, one percent reflection would be enough to give me away at a critical time.

The real world caught up to the science fiction in 2011, when NASA engineers developed a material that absorbed more than 99 percent of ultraviolet, visible, infrared and far-infrared light, and in 2014, the UK’s Surrey NanoSystems Ltd. released “Vantablack,” a substance made of nanotubes that absorb 99.96 percent of visible, infrared, and ultraviolet light.

While Surrey NanoSystems intended their coating for scientific, military and industrial purposes, they also sold exclusive rights to “Vantablack” for artistic uses to well-known British artist Sir Anish Kapoor (Chicago's “Cloud Gate” aka “The Bean,” London’s “ArcelorMittal Orbit,” ktp). This hoarding of a unique material riled up artists everywhere, and in particular UK artist Stuart Semple, who went on to create “Pinkest Pink,” as well as an inexpensive, more art friendly black acrylic paint indistinguishable from “Vantablack” to the human eye, which he banned Kapoor from purchasing.

In 2019, MIT scientists created an even blacker substance that can absorb 99.995 percent of visible light.

More reading:[edit]

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