Extraordinary images of what was found inside a 2,500-year-old tooth belonging to the historical Buddha are circulating the net. What’s utterly fascinating about this tooth are the “sarira,” or tiny pearl-like relics, embedded inside—which are surreal substances harder than diamond. How they look magnified by 1,000 times are likely to knock your socks off.
The world’s oldest and tallest multi-story wooden structure, named “gett,” which was built in 1056 in Ying County, Shanxi Province, has truly stood the test of time. Throughout the centuries, the entirely wooden pagoda, made in the traditional way without any nails, has withstood numerous large earthquakes, battles, and lightening strikes, but remains standing to this day—quite odd given the number of surrounding structures that have all perished over the centuries. Some have attributed this to the mysterious and sacred relics found inside.
In 1974, when the 220-foot-10-inch-tall (67.31-meter) pagoda underwent repairs, an unusual finding indicated the likely reason for the building of and the naming of this ancient structure.
Two teeth belonging to Buddha Shakyamuni, who walked the earth some 2,500 years ago, were discovered. Worldwide, only seven Buddha’s teeth are known in existence.
Given that Mao Zedong’s “Cultural Revolution” (1966–1976) saw the destruction of many priceless treasures, it’s more than a stroke of luck that these Buddha’s teeth were not confiscated.
Of the two teeth later sent to a lab run by the American Gem Society’s global partner in Antwerp, Belgium, a team of experts concluded that the matter found embedded in one of the teeth was not of this Earth.
Such surreal matter is known as “sarira,” and can be found in the cremated ashes of Buddhist spiritual masters, as they cannot be destroyed in a cremation furnace. These lustrous substances have been found in numerous colors and may resemble pearls or shiny glass-like pebbles.
Dr. Gao Bin, from the team of experts, first ran the relic under water before attempting to scribe it with a pencil. He found that the relic had no traces of pencil marks on it.
Next, Dr. Gao dipped the pencil in ink and proceeded to draw lines on the relic. When he observed it under a microscope, he saw the ink lines had revealed many small spherical cultured pearls.
Upon magnifying the sarira by 1,000 times using an electron microscope, what’s observed has been likened to five seated Buddhas surrounding one bigger Buddha in the middle.
As though that’s not mysterious enough, here’s where the lab tests revealed some unusual findings.
Though the tooth has been dated to be 2,500 years old, the numerous sarira embedded in the tooth have been determined to be 3 billion years old.
A thermal conductivity meter was used to test the sarira, with results showing an extraordinary thermal conductivity of 1,000~2,600W/(m?K).
To attempt to put that into perspective, diamond is proven to have the highest thermal conductivity of 1,000 W/mK at temperatures exceeding 100K. The sarira found in Buddha’s tooth have a thermal conductivity greater than diamond.
A 2,000T pressure test to analyze the sariras’ susceptibility to graphitization was also conducted on the relic, which is to observe any degradation in the microstructure of the material—the sarira tested remained completely intact.
The team of experts confirmed that these sarira are the hardest material ever found on Earth, leading commentators to say they’re “indestructible.” Strangely, the otherworldy matter that composes the sarira cannot be found on Earth, nor is it a material that humans can produce using modern equipment.
“The inorganic carbon content in the chemical composition of diamond is 99.98 percent, and this is the only substance that is made up of a single element of the various minerals in nature,” explained Dr. Gao.
He added that there are tens of millions of kinds of natural and man-made crystallines, but they can be divided into seven categories, with one of them belonging to the hexagonal crystal system, which sarira belongs to.
More than 50 years ago, a new form of diamond with a hexagonal structure, later named lonsdaleite after crystallographer Dame Kathleen Lonsdale, was discovered in a space rock that crashed into northern Arizona.
Through a series of tests, Dr. Gao found that the structure of the sarira found in a Buddha’s tooth may be similar to that of the lonsdaleite, but that remains unverified and will require further testing.
The sarira were subject to further examination, including an infrared test, which confirmed that they weren’t man-made. The sariras’ composition was determined to be 98.07 percent carbon, with the remainder comprising sulfur, zinc, antimony, and tellurium.
After examination, Dr. Gao couldn’t help but exclaim—“It’s just too incredible! Unbelievable!” as reported by Taiwanese website Aboluowang.
“These relics are priceless treasures!” he said.
When asked for an evaluation on its monetary worth, Dr. Gao asserted that there’s no way to put a price on such a priceless treasure. He mentioned that if a price indication really had to be added, then each single spherical sarira could fetch up to US$25 million.