Why do we see black objects if they absorb all frequencies?

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A black object absorbs light of all frequencies, but that doesn't mean that it absorbs all light at all frequencies. Some is reflected. Note that gray also absorbs (and reflects) all frequencies.

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Updated on November 19, 2020

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  • user157860
    user157860 almost 3 years

    Black object absorb all frequencies, yet maybe some light is reflected anyway, but why do we see pitch black?

    • G. Smith
      G. Smith almost 4 years
      Does seeing nothing count as seeing? If no photons hit a part of your retina, you “see” black there.
    • probably_someone
      probably_someone almost 4 years
      What else would you expect to see? What alternative is there?
    • Solomon Slow
      Solomon Slow almost 4 years
      The answer depends on what you mean by "see." If the object is perfectly black, then you will be unable to learn anything more by looking at it than you would be able to learn by looking at its shadow. It would look like a black hole---nothing for your eyes to focus on except its outline. But you certainly would know that it was there because of how different it would look from all of the not-black things around it.
    • Solomon Slow
      Solomon Slow almost 4 years
      Most of the things that we call "black" are not truly black. They really are just very dark shades of gray. (I.E., they reflect some light, but not much of it.
  • HiddenBabel
    HiddenBabel almost 4 years
    To add to this, it's partly up to the brain to decide how dark a gray color is. There's that famous illusion: en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Checker_shadow_illusion
  • Solomon Slow
    Solomon Slow almost 4 years
    Vantablack is no longer the record holder. sciencealert.com/…