To observers of the papal conclave, one part of the process will probably stand out as the most visible and exciting. Today, all 115 cardinals will isolate themselves from the rest of the world, their only contact with the outside world being smoke signals.
What the fumes indicate is simple: black smoke means there has been no decision on a new pontiff. But if the "fumata bianca," or white smoke, flows out of the chimney, then the world knows there is a new Bishop of Rome. The color has to be just right, or millions of onlookers will be fooled.
But just how does the smoke get its color? … Read more