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Black is the darkest color, the result of the absence or complete absorption of visible light. It is an achromatic color, a color without hue, like white and gray. It is often used symbolically or figuratively to represent darkness, while white represents light. Black and white have often been used to describe opposites such as good and evil, the Dark Ages versus Age of Enlightenment, and night versus day. Since the Middle Ages, black has been the symbolic color of solemnity and authority, and for this reason is still commonly worn by judges and magistrates.
Black was one of the first colors used by artists in neolithic cave paintings. It was used in ancient Egypt and Greece as the color of the underworld. In the Roman Empire, it became the color of mourning, and over the centuries it was frequently associated with death, evil, witches and magic. In the 14th century, it was worn by royalty, clergy, judges and government officials in much of Europe. Black was the color of the industrial revolution, largely fueled by coal, and later by oil. It became the color worn by English romantic poets, businessmen and statesmen in the 19th century, and a high fashion color in the 20th century. According to surveys in Europe and North America, it is the color most commonly associated with mourning, the end, secrets, magic, force, violence, evil, and elegance.
Black ink is the most common color used for printing books, newspapers and documents, as it provides the highest contrast with white paper and thus the easiest color to read. Similarly, black text on a white screen is the most common format used on computer screens. As of September 2019, the darkest material is made by MIT engineers from vertically aligned carbon nanotubes.
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