Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Saga of Nazi Space Buddha

This story has been making the rounds on the social networking sites lately, and let's face it - any headline that includes Nazis, space, and Buddha is going to get some attention. It refers to a 24 centimeter Buddhist statue of the deity Vaisravana that was taken back to Germany by the Nazis in 1939, perhaps because it depicts a swastika symbol on the figure's breastplate. Between 10 and 20 thousand years before that, though, the metal from which the figure is carved actually fell from space. The statue was in fact made from a piece of a meteorite that struck the earth along the border between Siberia and Mongolia.

More precisely, Buchner's team has managed to tie the statue to a known meteorite – the Chinga ataxite, which fell to Earth between 10,000 and 20,000 years ago near the border between Siberia and Mongolia. It fragmented as it fell, and just two pieces heavier than 10 kilograms were known before the new analysis. The "Space Buddha", as Buchner's team has dubbed the statue, is the third such piece, at 10.6 kilograms.

"Having looked at some of the published trace element data for this artifact, it looks pretty convincing to me that this is very likely originated from Chinga iron meteorite," says Meenakshi Wadhwa, director of the Center for Meteorite Studies at Arizona State University in Tempe.

Other venerated objects are thought to have had similar extraterrestrial origins – including the Black Stone in Mecca, Saudi Arabia – but Wadhwa says it is difficult to verify these assumptions because the objects have never been fully analysed scientifically. And none of these supposed meteorite fragments has been carved into a religious sculpture, making the Space Buddha the only one of its kind.

No documentation survives from the Nazi investigation of the statue, so we probably will never know if they discovered anything of interest regarding it. You never know, though. Many Nazis were obsessed with the occult, so they might have engaged in some sort of magical experimentation that modern scientists would probably never perform. That possibility raises an interesting question - would a religious icon that originated in space have special magical properties, and if so what would they be? One thing I know is that I would jump at the chance to play around with this one and find out.

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Mister Lee said...

The headline in my local paper was "Iron Man stolen by Nazis from space". It could only have been better if it were literally true.

Scott Stenwick said...

Heh. That one's awesome, especially if you read "Nazis from space" as descriptive.

Too bad there are no super-suits or extraterrestrial fascists involved in the story. But maybe it's an idea that the writers working on Iron Man 3 should consider. Wasn't there a comic book at some point about a secret Nazi moon base? That would be a good start.