Posted in History & Literature


When you close your eyes, what do you see? When you look into the night sky, what do you see? Most people describe darkness as pitch black, but this is not quite true.
The colour that we see in perfect darkness is not black, but more of a dark grey colour. This colour has a special term called eigengrau, which is German for “intrinsic grey”. Similarly, when you look into the night sky the actual colour is a deep navy.

The reason for this is that the brain uses relative contrast to determine true black rather than the absolute brightness. So when you see darkness, the optic nerve still fires off some signals that the brain interprets as eigengrau. When you see a black object, the brain compares it to the surrounding to cancel this effect out to see true black.

The night sky is lit with stars and the moon, giving it a darker colour than eigengrau due to contrast, while retaining the blue hue produced by the dust diffracting light in a particular manner. Because of this, ninjas actually wore dark navy clothes instead of the black that we associate with them in the present.

An interesting point regarding darkness is that people often see it as a symbol of the negative side (e.g. The Dark Side). However, darkness is technically the opposite of light. It is in fact defined by the absence of light, which in other words suggests it is the default state.

The default state of the universe is nothing.