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Daily Trivia: The Whitest White | ChemistryTwig

Daily Trivia: The Whitest White

Here’s a bit of random interesting knowledge. Do you know what the whitest substance known to man is?

The answer is at the bottom, so scroll down if you just want the answer. I’ll give you some hints so you can make some guesses first if you want.

The first thing to wonder is what makes a substance appear white. White is created by all color wavelengths of light. Therefore a substance with perfect refraction will produce the whitest white.

Some people wonder why snow is white. Snow is just ice, and ice is clear. So why is snow white? Due to refraction. The arrangement of the ice particles allows for the refraction of light. It’s almost like a million (even more really) tiny mirrors. Very few wavelengths of light are absorbed. Therefore snow appears white.

So far man has not found a substance with perfect refraction, however the substance with closest to perfect refraction is titanium dioxide.

Some trivia on titanium dioxide: TiO2 is used in the white stuff that lifeguards put on their noses. It also used as a base for color paints. You may be thinking, “if titanium dioxide is white, why would it be used it color paints?” Titanium dioxide, since it refracts light very well, works to hide colors behind it and allows for a purer color when combined with other pigments.

[Photo Credit] geir tønnessen

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