Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Possibly the best headline written

At least in a very long time, by an outfit that's not known for publications in supermarket check-out lines.

"Nazi-Acquired Buddha Statue Came From Space"

It sounds like a mash-up of Indiana Jones' plots, but German researchers say a heavy Buddha statue brought to Europe by the Nazis was carved from a meteorite that likely fell 10,000 years ago along the Siberia-Mongolia border.

This space Buddha, also known as "iron man" to the researchers, is of unknown age, though the best estimates date the statue to sometime between the eighth and 10th centuries. The carving depicts a man, probably a Buddhist god, perched with his legs tucked in, holding something in his left hand. On his chest is a Buddhist swastika, a symbol of luck that was later co-opted by the Nazi party of Germany.


The iron man first came to Germany after a 1938-1939 Tibet expedition by zoologist and ethnology [sic] Ernst Schäfer, who was sent to the region by the Nazi party to find the roots of Aryan origin. The statue then passed into the hands of a private owner.
Stuttgart University researcher Elmar Bucher and his colleagues first analyzed the statue in 2007, when the owner allowed them to take five miniscule samples of it. In 2009, the team had the opportunity to take larger samples from the inside of the statue, which is less prone to contamination by weathering or human handling than the outside where the initial samples were taken.

They found that the statue is carved from a rare class of space rocks known as ataxite meteorites.

Very strange and cool. And I like how the headline sounds overblown but isn't at all. This is meteorite material we're talking about, after all. Who wouldn't want a chunk of it?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Self-portrait morning

Escher has nothing on a Japanese astronaut.

(NASA/JAXA image. Hat tip: NBC News Photoblog. Original caption: "Japanese astronaut Aki Hoshide's self-portrait, taken during a Sept. 5 spacewalk, shows the International Space Station and Earth mirrored in his helmet visor.")