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Metal monolith found by helicopter crew in Utah desert (bbc.co.uk)
906 points by m1 on Nov 24, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 493 comments

A reddit user [1] found its location [2] and another figured out it was installed sometime during 2015-2016 based on when the satellite imagery changed.

[1] https://www.reddit.com/r/videos/comments/k01dc3/mysterious_m...

[2] https://goo.gl/maps/2xdrTqcnguX3ky8AA

This guy really is something:

> I looked at rock type (Sandstone), color (red and white - no black streaks like found on higher cliffs in Utah), shape (more rounded indicating a more exposed area and erosion), the texture of the canyon floor (flat rock vs sloped indicating higher up in a watershed with infrequent water), and the larger cliff/mesa in the upper background of one of the photos. I took all that and lined it up with the flight time and flight path of the helicopter - earlier in the morning taking off from Monticello, UT and flying almost directly north before going off radar (usually indicating it dropped below radar scan altitude. From there, I know I am looking for a south/east facing canyon with rounded red/white rock, most likely close to the base of a larger cliff/mesa, most likely closer to the top of a watershed, and with a suitable flat area for an AS350 helicopter to land. Took about 30 minutes of random checks around the Green River/Colorado River junction before finding similar terrain. From there it took another 15 minutes to find the exact canyon. Yes... I'm a freak.


You have to love the internet sometimes. Someone who works construction (as he stated) can develop a fun investigatory hobby just via the internet. The he can sign his work with a silly name like bear__f##ker (which I'm guessing is a reference to the movie super troopers).

On the other hand, it was people like this that once fingered the wrong person for the Boston Marathon bombing. It's all well and good as long as we remember not to put too much stock in it when it really matters.

Once an entire government worth of people led the US into war that cost millions of lives over fake reports of nukes.

It would be interesting to compare the damage caused by open, crowd-sourced investigative efforts against the damage caused of closed "authoritative" investigative efforts.

I think it’s amusing that the takeaway from this episode is “the intelligence agencies screwed up” and not “the intelligence agencies found no evidence, and then were directly pressured by their political masters to construct evidence to justify a desired military outcome.”

It wasn’t even a real intelligent agency that drummed up support for war. It was a temporary agency created by Rumsfelds and Cheney with the Orwellian name of “Office of Special Plans.” They deliberately lied and misused raw intelligence signals to force us to war.


There's some CIA disinfo right there. Rumsfeld and the neocon claque certainly ginned it up. The spooks though, said it would be a "slam dunk" that there would be WMD in Iraq. Here's Tenet grousing he was quoted:


So season 2 of TV Series 24 aired between October 29, 2002 May 20, 2003. Its main theme was US govt using fabricated evidence to attack middle eastern countries. The Office of Special Plans (OSP) existed from September 2002 to June 2003.

Reminds me of the "House of Special Purpose"


The intelligence agencies repeatedly highlighted that the information was dubious at best.

The politically appointed heads of the intelligence agencies used this information to lie to the American public.

If the people at the agency had integrity, they would have immediately brought these concerns up the chain or public.

Who is to say they didn't bring them up the chain, and the chain just ignored them?

Try to bring issues to the public and they'll charge you with "espionage"/"mishandling classified information"/etc. Even if the charges don't succeed, you'll lose your career and the court case will ruin you.

Not just a court case though, an investigation or a "psych eval" are enough to ruin someone. Take a look at Russ Tice.

Also, read Ronan Farrow's piece from the New Yorker last week. They targeted a straight-laced DOJ lawyer with >20 years of experience. These organizations are out of control and pose a very serious threat to our freedom.



Thanks for posting this great article in the new yorker!

>Who is to say they didn't bring them up the chain, and the chain just ignored them?

And that is why those senior public servants with power in security agencies hate wikileaks and are willing to trash the constitutional protections for journalists to get Assange and also want to destroy Snowden so very badly.

See: Edward Snowden

See Deep Throat, while you're at it.

Here, let me save y'all from the results of a Google search for that one: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deep_Throat_(Watergate)

They did. And they did again.

And the public had literally millions of people on the streets shouting about it.

And we still went to war anyway.


Australia and East Timor negotiated a treaty to divide up oil and gas in the sea between the two countries. Australia bugged the East Timorese government offices to get an unfair advantage in the negotiations.

The East Timorese government found about this, and then sued Australia in the Permanent Court of Arbitration to have the treaty invalidated.

An Australian intelligence agent (''Witness K''), who knew about the bugging, contacted East Timor's lawyer – Australian Bernard Collaery – offering to testify for East Timor.

The Australian government responded by cancelling Witness K's passport to stop him from testifying, raiding the offices of East Timor's lawyer, and now both of them are on trial – in secret.

The word on the street that the extremity of the "in secret" part is the Director of Public Prosecutions, Christian Porter, protecting old party mate, Alexander Downer, to keep his name out of the mud for as long as possible, as it's likely he was the top of the chain of authorization for the bugging, being that he was the Minister for Foreign Affairs at the time and was outspoken against East Timor for accusing Australia of spying.

The problem is that in protecting one person's reputation they're ruining the reputation of an entire country.

Shameful Australia.

I agree with you.

Minor factual correction though: Christian Porter is the Attorney-General, not the DPP

Sorry, yes, Christian porter is the Attorney-General and the Director of Public Prosecutions is a position within the Attorney-General's Department.

I'm sorry but whats wrong with this?

It's exactly the job of the Australian intelligence agencies to protect for the countries interests and gain advantages where they can.

This case is even more reasonable as it's a country spying on a country so both parties have the opportunity do so.

The NSA has directly spied on corporations (Airbus) and passed the information to their own corporations (Boeing) in the past which seems less acceptable to me.

There is no way East Timor has an equivalent opportunity to spy on Australia.

Australia needs these island states to stay friendly for national security reasons.

It shouldn't be taking advantage of their small and relatively unsophisticated governments to make a quick buck.

I think there's an argument that kind of underhanded behaviour is not in the best interests of Australia.

Getting caught at it is not in the best interests. Getting away with it presumably is.

There's obviously something fairly deeply wrong with it, or wrong with it being known by the Australian public, given the government's efforts at suppressing it.

The thing is that we are always told there is evidence, like for sure, trust us:

Assad bombed his own people

The Russians hacked the election (a very broad statement, like “let’s believe in evolution”)

North Korea hacked SONY

All at very convenient times for our moves abroad and totally nonsensical from the point of view of motivation of the ones doing it (like Assad)

It’s like they don’t even try anymore. They just say “17 intelligence agencies all concur” with each other.

Ha, if only they had the guts to be so specific! They just hid behind the blanket statement of "WMD"s and deflected any questions of specifics. Could have been nerve gas, could have been a biological agent. Everyone played their role (media and government) in deflecting attention away from the core issue that we were being bullshitted.

> Everyone played their role (media and government) in deflecting attention away from the core issue that we were being bullshitted.

That would never happen today.

> war that cost millions of lives

Not to show support for the invasion of Iraq, but it was a far cry from "millions of lives". https://www.iraqbodycount.org

I think the only cost is not the body count. One must look to the displaced populations, affects of the drop of GDP, etc. And how one thing led to another and in the end gave rise to (or at least provided the dirt to grow for) IS, etc.

It's clearly possible to be against jumping to conclusions with crowd sourced material and also being false claims by the government (especially given that in the case of the Iraq invasion we don't how much fraud or bad faith really went into it).

Which is to say that measuring damage done by the Iraq invasion versus damage cause people falsely finger individuals for crimes is an exercise in fallacious analogy. The US isn't planning to crowd source their next invasion research question.

I bet a comparative study can be done. Some places have a history of vigilantes and lynch mobs and a banning of that practice for the authoritative form.

I wouldn't actually be surprised if people actively debated this and did some analytical legwork when they were prevalent as some twisted justification for the practice

It wasn’t over fake reports of nukes. The weapons reports were how it was justified for a while, it is quite doubtful that the war calculus relied on this for decision makers in any way more than as a coin to sell the war to the people.

> It would be interesting to compare the damage caused by open, crowd-sourced investigative efforts against the damage caused of closed "authoritative" investigative efforts.

I hate that word “interesting” when used for things that are downright fucking despicable.

Human history is rife with witch hunts. Perpetrated by communities against people living on the fringe of society or anyone they just didn’t like. Someone to blame for nothing in particular when they can’t find any other outlet for frustration. I guarantee you wouldn’t find it “interesting” if you were the target of oPeN cRoWdSoUrCeD iNvEsTiGaTiVe EfFoRtS.

And you wouldn't like being the target of a governmental agency either. The question is which is worse and in what ways.

I thought there was some convincing evidence of nuclear centrifuges being buried in the head scientists back garden by his genocidal sons?


I mean I quite like this summation by Christopher Hitchens about the Iraq war: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VABqrEiuP0I

Read “The Bomb in my Garden” by Obeidi. As I recollect, he buried the plans for a centrifuge and some key parts.

If I read this correctly Obeidi hid that parts from Saddam, not for him, from the article above:

“Had the secret cache been discovered by Saddam’s security elements, Obeidi and his family might have been eliminated.”

And those were the leftovers from dismantling the stuff which was used before 1991, as far as I understand: definitely not a smoking gun, more the old rusty non-functional parts which Saddam didn’t know existed.

As an analyst, something in me twitches involuntarily at your response. By people like this you mean redditors doing internet sleuthing?

But redditors doing internet sleuthing could be anyone; from detectives, to judges, to professional analysts, to trolls, to pr firms, to fraudsters and framers.

The evidence they use can be anything from high quality to low/ fraudulent.

And then we have the fact that the alternative official systems also have incentives/disincentives and also get things wrong: imagine writing about police or courts "they once fingered the wrong person for crime X, so don't put too much stock in it when it really matters".

if the Wikipedia article is anything to go by, the Boston bombing case was a bunch of internet people reacting on a rumour of similarity to descriptors/ images released by the authorities.

whereas in this case, a smart fellow follows a systematic and logical system to come to a reasonable conclusion.

I'd rather tell people to learn to judge evidence and the analytical thought that goes into making the conclusions.

Of course, we mustn't entirely discount the possibility that all this is just some PR stunt and this guy is in on it :p But either way, I'd say the better message is to learn to be skeptical, think analytically, and judge things on the quality of the evidence and the thought process used to come to the conclusion.


But redditors doing internet sleuthing could be anyone; from detectives, to judges, to professional analysts, to trolls, to pr firms, to fraudsters and framers.

Am I out of line to thinking that at least some of the types of people listed in your hypothetical group of sleuths have some sense of professional ethics to not recklessly speculate on a public web community in terms of a manhunt as was the case in Boston?

They probably do. Unfortunately, the mechanics of Reddit favor any random dope posting something that is exciting and sounds good over smart and careful people taking their time to make sure they get it right.

And of course, "Hey guys I've got it, this is totally it!!!" goes up much faster than "I found something that might be interesting, let's check it out, but I'm not sure yet, so don't anybody go off half-cocked".

LEeroy Jeeenkins.

Answering in a short, simple, probabilistic sense: they probably wouldn't comment.

Answering as a more seasoned, cynical person professional sense: that's way too simplified. Processes and standards for police, judges, officials etc, differ all over the world, as do professional ethics and culture. In practice there are various incentives and norms and "professional wiggle room for professional ethics". The police often release images of suspected persons or specific evidence precisely because they want the public to connect the dots and report their suspicions, knowing full well it results in false positive reports (and often withholding additional evidence for release). A doctor might not be allowed to euthanase, but they can prescribe high amounts of pain killers. A prosecuter might not go post on reddit, but they might act through a sock puppet or leak through the media. A defence may do the same. Corporations hire consultants and PR firms to give the illusion of justification and action at a distance. A judge would probably not comment on reddit (if not just because of the professions technical illiteracy), but the conditions of their appointment, their staff, political alignments, social circles, tenure, and professional ethics etc are far from uniform and sterile. All of the above are liable to cognitive, emotional and systematic failings and biases in addition, as well as the failings of their education and background: on a personal anecdote, I find judges and lawyers notoriously bad at reasoning that requires math or probability. In my experience also, those in power frequently strategically leak, work through proxies and associations to avoid the image of going against professional standards and save reputation.

additionally, in adhering to professional ethics, we don't necessarily approach the truth (which is presumably our goal), as following systematic cultures and professional ethics can lead to bias: as I pointed out, these official systems frequently come to the wrong conclusions as well, and going against the norms of professional standards can be used to silence critics, shun whistle blowers, and protect the general institution.

All this comes back to my original point: don't just believe something because it's posted in reddit. But don't discount it as being inherently inferior either.

Be skeptical, but be a skeptic of reddit and officeholders. Think critically. Learn to think and the process of thinking: it's not just natural, it needs to be learned and practiced. Learn the biases and common mistakes. Observe the evidence and the process used to come to the conclusion, and then make a judgement.

It's not very reasonable to assume that all amateurs lack professional ethics solely on the basis of the Boston manhunt incident (especially considering the different ethics associated with hunting for people and locating an artifact in the desert). It's worse to take that inference and impugn any particular amateur as the OP did when he likened the redditor who located the monolith with the redditors who misidentified the Boston Bomber.

>> It's all well and good as long as we remember not to put too much stock in it when it really matters.

> But redditors doing internet sleuthing could be anyone; from detectives, to judges, to professional analysts, to trolls, to pr firms, to fraudsters and framers.

I think you and GP agree. Reddit sleuthing is all good and fun but it should not be trusted at face value (or at all, really) when there are real people and real consequences on the line.

> I'd rather tell people to learn to judge evidence and the analytical thought that goes into making the conclusions.

Implied in this position is that you have to be skeptical of reddit sleuthing until you have a reason not to be. The problem is that people are _not_ skeptical of reddit sleuthing because there is a "We did it reddit!" attitude that the platform is super capable and should be believed by default. You and GP are both warning against that.

> it was people like this that once fingered the wrong person

And it's people like you who try to judge them equivalent in public view, when they clearly aren't.

It's fine if it matters. What isn't fine it's if it's unverifiable.

Right, what if it was accepted as fact, but turns out the monolith was there for millennia and was only recently uncovered by a sandstorm?

I feel the same way about the people who do OSINT, which is featured in HN every now and then. A fascinating world, to be sure!

Bear_Fucker, actually. I don't think # is even allowed in Reddit usernames.

Imagine if these people would investigate voter fraud. No mainstream media would ever report that ;P

These kinds of people are investigating voter fraud.

44 bits.

It's relatively well known that 33 distinct bits is enough to uniquely identify any individual person now alive on Earth.[1]

Geospatially, assuming 10m resolution, 44 bits is enough to identify any unique location on Earth's land surface (46 bits buys you the oceans).

Searching for a ~1m^2 monolith visually within a 10m^2 square is reasonable.

GNU units:

  You have: ln((.3 * 4 * (earthradius^2) * pi)/10m^2)/ln(2)
  You want:
          Definition: 43.798784
  You have: ln((1 * 4 * (earthradius^2) * pi)/10m^2)/ln(2)
  You want:
          Definition: 45.535749
49 bits buys 1m accuracy, 63 1cm, 69 1mm. Land or sea.

For comparison, cellphone positioning accuracy is typically 8--600m:

- 3G iPhone w/ A-GPS ~ 8 meters

- 3G iPhone w/ wifi ~ 74 meters

- 3G iPhone w/ Cellular positioning ~ 600 meters





1. https://web.archive.org/web/20160304012305/33bits.org/about/

Is this relevant? It is "well known" that log2(world population) is about equal to 33, so theoretically if you numbered every human alive consecutively you would only need 33 bits to store the number. But this is a long shot from estimating the amount of data required to pick someone out of a crowd. For example, perhaps you are just given a bunch of low-resolution pictures of people's foreheads: do you only need "33 bits"? What does that mean?

Likewise, identifying a random location on earth from a photo is certainly doable, but I would say it has less to do with the logarithm of the surface area of the earth and much more to do with expertise in geography, geology, etc.

I find it interesting. I make no claims for relevance.

Knowing the 33 bits trivium, I was curious what the equivalent was for individual spatial locations. The maths are easy and GNU units near.

You're right that trying to ascertain the number of bits contributed by any one item of data is difficult. I broke that down in part in a reply to the Reddit comment (after posting here): knowing the feature was in Utah (280k km^2) and having the flight track probably narrowed the region to about a 10km square (100 km^2) region ... which still contained 10,000 10m^2 areas. The geographic clues were enough to find the specific one. It's easier to work backwards and determine how much information was deduced by given data, based on search space eliminated.

Keep in mind that "expertise in geography, geology, etc." is specifically the capability of extracting geospatial information from available data. This could have included, say, sun height and angle based on date and time (exif image data frequently encodes this, if not geolocation itself), cues from aircraft noise in live video (mentioned in another geolocation example within the thread), correlated with flight data.

In 2001, the likely approximate location of Osama bin Laden was claimed by a geologist who was familiar with rock formations shown in a video. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/1608272.stm

That claim seems to be accurate --- Al Qaeda forces were found in the Tora Bora cave complex in the region.

The practical upshot is that if you know where something is and don't want others to know the location, virtually any information leakage can be critical.

For your crowd example, much depends on the number of suspects you already have. The question is usually one of mapping between two sets --- which of the blurry foreheads matches which another set of interest. Determining intersections is key to ost investigations.

And more generally, almost any process of discovery can be modled as searching through a space. The more irrelevant targets are excluded, the smaller the remaining space remains. Insight is exclusion. The search itself might not be binary in the classic sense, but it is one of ever narrowing scope.

64 bits definitely buys <1cm^2 accuracy using S2 Cells/S2id. I'm always wondering why S2 doesn't see wider use for encoding location/area data.



You may also find 4chan users' tracking of Shia Labeouf's flag interesting.


Internet Historian did a wonderful series of videos about this. The investigative abilities of some people is just awe inspiring.


The phrase "weaponized autism" used to be a thing on 4chan when I cruised that back in the day.

It honestly opened my eyes to a severely under-tapped resource in the job market. Individuals with autism tend to be able to focus on tasks more, and tend to see things in a way that lets them analyze systems and logical steps phenomenally well. In the social-sciences fields, they tend to be overlooked, because of either the stigma or actual lack of interpersonal abilities, depending on the specific individual.

It is because of 4chan that when I am hiring for technical positions (now, this is higher ed, so I'm talking about the interpretation of federal legislation or state mandates, or systems and process evaluations, not programming) I target individuals on the spectrum.

What a weird thing to see written out.

I love the phrase "weaponized autism" as well, speaking as someone on the spectrum. A previous manager of mine once told me I am great with coming up with unique solutions to problems.

Like you said too, some of these people lack good interpersonal abilities. I know a friend who is also on the spectrum and is one of the smartest people I know, and excellent when it comes to math. However his lack of interpersonal and social skills has made it difficult for him to find meaningful employment.

As someone with ADHD, I'm kind of a kissing cousin to autism (they share some genetic indicators [https://www.spectrumnews.org/news/risk-genes-autism-overlap-...] and some but not all symptoms; I certainly don't claim to understand the unique struggles of being a person with autism of course) and can relate to the benefits of different types of intelligence. I can be smart as a whip when it comes to finding solutions to technical problems, and if you find me the right project I can (unintentionally) hyperfocus and tear through it. But man, I am not your person for organizational skills or planning skills.

I wish there were a way to be more open about this. On the one hand, you have things like ADA really dictating from a legal perspective how companies can discuss these sort of things; on the other hand, you have very real stigmas that people have against neurodiverse people. (For instance, I have not and will never tell my boss I have ADHD; I have heard far too many stories of people being lulled into thinking it was safe to do so and then finding their professional relationship irrevocably changed.) It's a shame because I think it could be a net positive for all if done in a healthy way.

I've started to just own my ADHD as a way to destigmatize it. I'm your go-to for breadth-first search, latest tools and frameworks, creative solutions, and wielding everything from soldering irons to cloud deployments. But you might need to ride my ass a bit to stay on task.

It also has pushed me to a very CI/CD-centric and statically typed workflow (in a python-heavy AI/CV department), because I need to be able to reason about stuff I wrote on a bad brain-fog day. My philosophy is if it's easy for undermedicated me to reason about it, it's easier still for my coworkers.

Just a heads up that that phrase has been heavily adopted by the QAnon conspiracy community, and using it without context might give the wrong impression.

As someone on the spectrum I really loved the phrase "weaponized autism". I've been telling people most my adult life that high functioning autism is kind of like having a weird super power, but that was the first time I ever saw so many people understand the unique abilities that some people on the spectrum have.

Exactly how I describe it! A super power but one most people can't even recognize.

As someone on the spectrum, I approve this message. I wish society was a meritocracy.

Or just more understanding of different types of intelligence.

Just a heads up the term meritocracy was actually coined to describe an impossibility, since all judgement of worth in society is subjective.

Even if you pick an objective metric, it was decided upon subjectively and with bias.

I can appreciate wanting society to be more egalitarian, but perhaps you’re in search of another word.

So is egalitarianism.

Some agencies are well aware of the benefits of neurodiversity!


60 Minutes had a segment on this exact topic of employment for people with autism and their talents


I wish the video there included the post-capture flagpole. Did the guy actually replace it with an American flag? Don't leave us hanging!

"Down went Shia's white flag of defiance, up went a red Trump hat..."

Which is remarkably unclear. Did someone just toss a Trump hat into the air after pulling down the flag? Was the stream stopped before morning returned, and so the only shots are in the dark?

Is it an important set of questions? No. But still a better ending than the "oh yeah they stole the flag, now here's a shot of the flag flying during the day again".

No, I remember the footage, they actually put a MAGA hat and a MAGA shirt on the pole and it was on live stream.

Edit: The footage is on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4rbA3ouyPw

That is a much better ending, thank you! Not entirely sure why it wasn't included in the article's video. (Also really not sure what the idea behind using a shirt as a flag was)

And of course there's a couple of Internet Historian videos: https://youtu.be/_p4h3jwJob0 (warning - very /pol/, exactly as should be expected)

As someone who is house-hunting at the moment, this is exactly what I do all evening for houses without an explicit address in the online exposé. Most of the time, the combination of solar panels and the positions of rooftop windows and the chimney is a collision free hash value.

What I figured from the Internet is technical proficiency in random fields isn’t rare, but a stable, provable, predictable proficiency, on top of passable level of social acceptability, coexisting in a single consistent humanframe, is what is rare.

> but a stable, provable, predictable proficiency, on top of passable level of social acceptability, coexisting in a single consistent humanframe, is what is rare.

Seems like every 'weird job' or skill gets you an American reality TV contract these days. Either that or some Youtube followers.

This reminds me of #SmashTheStone from a few years back when the 4chan community came together track down and prevent 9gag from burying a meme-carved rock. Video from the internet historian: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nzFykQv6Q08

The internet sleuthing might just be smoke and mirrors. It's possible this guy already knew where the monolith because he knew the installer or is the installer. Either way, he's comes out looking good.

Not sure which is more likely.

Eh there are whole communities of people who do stuff like this as a hobby. There's no particular reason not to believe it.

Yep. I sometimes do this with ads for the housing market here in the 30k inhabitants town. Track down a house where the ad shows some exterior but doesnt tell the exact address, only the town or district. It helps a lot having done some OSM Mapping in the past and it is actually fun.

Wasn't trying to suggest it's unbelievable or discredit the guy's ability to chase things down.

Merely raising the possibility that he could have gotten his information another way.

People who put up things like this often want them to get found.

Considering the post is on /r/geoguesser it's much more likely they're just really good at stuff like this.

Some people are just insane at that game.

People like this make OpSec hopeless.

OpSec is (largely) a red herring.

What you want is impunity.

Henceforth to be cited in my circles as Dredmorbius' Iron Rule

I don't put that much faith in me.

[citation needed]

I don't have a citation, just inferences based on years of observation.

I also didn't lay OpSec is mostly useless. I'm not convinced that's true, though it may be.

OpSec alone is useful but brittle. If it's all you've got, you'll probably eventually have a bad day. Looking at entities considered "masterminds", what I often find is ... some intelligence, yes, but a lot of shielding from, or disregard of, risk.

Impunity is actual or believed freedom from consequence.

There are a few categories:

- The proficient: extremely good at their game. Effective, so long as it works. Covert.

- The well-protected -- friends in high places. State actors and their contractors, generally. Often under diplomatic covered. "Too big to jail" and politically-conneccted (Brock 'Stanford Rapist" Turner https://www.cnn.com/2016/09/02/us/brock-turner-release-jail/...) The Mossad team assassinating Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assassination_of_Mahmoud_Al-Ma...) (though most of the team were effectively burnt). May include some non-state actors: warlords, terrorists, narcotics gangs, though most of these fall below. Covert, but can retreat quickly to safety, or are at low risk if caught.

- The brazen. Operations with overwhelming force, whether shown or used. Military campaigns, many criminal organisations, warlords, militias. Overt.

- The uncaring: those who have no care whether they live or die. Most suicide attacks, 9/11 bombers, the original "hashīshīn", etc. 2008 Mumbai attacks. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/2008_Mumbai_attacks Overt or covert.

- The ignorant: Simply unaware of the risks. Child soldiers, the Boxers (China), "wrong way 'round" Pan Am flight 18602 landing at Surabaya, Dutch East Indies, unknown to the pilot, in a heavily-mined harbour. https://medium.com/lapsed-historian/the-long-way-round-part-...

- The expendable. Assets who need only be used once, whether burnt (retired) or killed afterwards. This includes a segment of the consulting or management workforce, who have a certain ablative funtion. Martin "Pharma Bro" Shkreli. https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/0...

The relatively recently disclosed Crypto AG case, where the Swiss manufacturer of a widely-used manufacturer of communications encoding equipment was shown to be a CIA-owned front is a case in point. Signals intelligence relied not so much on exceptional decryption capabilities, but on the widespread use of a backdoored technology. The strong focus of US intelligence policy on similarly backdooring networking hardware (Cisco), telecoms switches (Greece), computing hardware, operating systems, and softwaare, speaks to the probable usefulness of this method. It's not OpSec but influence and immunity that enables this.

Update: Parent's question, if brief, was entirely fair. Which is why I answered it.

s/didn't lay/didn't say/

I listen to the Arms Control Wonk Podcast and I feel the same way when the go through a propaganda video of a rocket launch and get so much more information about its capabilities and testing location than the government ever meant to reveal.

Opsec is about shrinking your attack surface, not eliminating all risk, because the latter is impossible.

Maybe the surveillance planes made opsec hopeless.

I believe the term of art for this, self-described by its adherents, is "weaponized autism"

Like the Focused in the novel "A Deepness In The Sky" by Vernor Vinge.

I can’t get into Deepness after reading Fire.

Too different and my expectations for the scale he set up are too big...

You'd be even more frustrated by Children of the Sky. Not only is it limited in scope (to Tines' World), but it leaves a bunch of plot threads unresolved, presumably for a sequel. :/

I liked the other two, but I stopped reading Children for exactly the reason you described.

I like all three of the novels in the series, but for dramatically different reasons and feelings.

Holy shit. I would not want to play geoguesser against that person.

You have also heard about capture the flag reddit has done? It is amazing what they can do with limited information. https://www.reddit.com/r/OutOfTheLoop/comments/614zy7/what_i...

If this guy live streamed himself playing GeoGuessr I’d watch the hell out of it

Watch GeoWizard. He’s pretty much the same.

He introduced me to the site! He’s a great content creator

Thanks for the tip, I've now subscribed!

Then, incase you have not seen this, you will be amazed by it: https://youtu.be/3s54_MF2XPk (reconstitution of the Beirut blast).

Information wants to be free, in the sense of leaking out via unexpected sidechannels. But this strongly reminds me of "Entangled Truths, Contagious Lies" which uses a fairly similar example.


that's got to be one of the happiest things i've seen online in quite a while



There it is.

How someone found it:

"I looked at rock type (Sandstone), color (red and white - no black streaks like found on higher cliffs in Utah), shape (more rounded indicating a more exposed area and erosion), the texture of the canyon floor (flat rock vs sloped indicating higher up in a watershed with infrequent water), and the larger cliff/mesa in the upper background of one of the photos. I took all that and lined it up with the flight time and flight path of the helicopter - earlier in the morning taking off from Monticello, UT and flying almost directly north before going off radar (usually indicating it dropped below radar scan altitude. From there, I know I am looking for a south/east facing canyon with rounded red/white rock, most likely close to the base of a larger cliff/mesa, most likely closer to the top of a watershed, and with a suitable flat area for an AS350 helicopter to land. Took about 30 minutes of random checks around the Green River/Colorado River junction before finding similar terrain. From there it took another 15 minutes to find the exact canyon. Yes... I'm a freak."


Source for those interested.


I'm still gobsmacked about the specific geological knowledge and application here turning into a very precise and relatively small search area.

With the risk of sounding like downplaying it, I think the crucial part here is the potential range of the helicopter, which is fairly limited with the information given (start location, time etc.), and the fact they can walk in from somewhere flat enough to land the helicopter.

The geological part is nice but not necessary (you just need to be able to tell the colors of rocks).

I don't think it would have happened without the helicopter flight path....utah is a big place, even with a lot of geological clues.

this type of knowledge is quite expected from certain analysts in certain agencies [this comment will self-destruct in 5 minutes]

Not a follower of the show but I see on IMDB that WestWorld was filmed near that location in 2016. Maybe something left off during filming?

At least some of it was filmed by Lake Powell, closer to the southwest corner of Utah. It was really weird to see a bunch of troops coming ashore where I was hanging out on the beach a year earlier, against a very recognizable backdrop. Definitely broke the suspension of disbelief.

Try living in Los Angeles. Every other movie has some local detail pretending to be somewhere else. And if you're ever going up the highway east of the Sierra Nevada, be sure to stop in at Lone Pine's film history museum. The Alabama Hills just west of town have been stand-ins for every western state, as well as Mars, Afghanistan, the entire Middle East ... It's disconcerting to be watching a movie and seeing known landmarks pop up on alien planets, or see Mt. Whitney in the background of a shot in the "Himalaya."

"Vancouver Never Plays Itself"


I feel you. As New Zealander watching lord of the rings with local soap opera actors appearing randomly really break whatever immersion you tried to build up...

Sometimes, this happens to me just because the same actor pops up in two films. I can never quite get over Lord Elrond being Mr. Smith from the Matrix, for example. Perhaps because the acting in the two roles seems so similar to me. I don’t watch movies very much. People who do, must have this happening to them all the time.

"Welcome to Rivendell, Mr. Anderson."

'Hollywood' in general is like this. All the film studios have real life people working in them and who have lives outside of their work. One of the reasons that Bel-Air, Beverly Hills, Malibu, etc. are what they have become is that they are a commutable distance to the studio lots. The same is then true of shooting locations in southern CA. The ability to go back home on the weekends/evenings (in the least) is very attractive as a shooting locale.

Apparently the pay is also different if you're within the 30-mile zone: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Studio_zone

[Also, my original comment should have said "southeast" not "southwest", d'oh]

I believe the reason why movies started getting made in Los Angeles was because of the diversity of terrain within a reasonably short distance.

I had something similar happen on a show, I believe this one titled Drive:


They had a scene that was "outside Gainesville, FL". That's where I went to university and from the highway it's basically flat forests. The scene instead looked semi-arid with mountains in the background...

Ah, looks like my exact story is documented exactly on IMDB!


The show only lasted 6 episodes, so...

The location is only 15 miles from Moab as the crow flies.

My bet is someone living in Moab wanted to do a desert art project and chose this location that was reasonably close, but still fairly remote.

People do all kinds of stuff out in the desert around Moab.

Just about 10-20 miles northwest of this monolith there's a small slacklining festival called GGBY held in a similarly remote location. Look up Fruit Bowl Highline Area on google maps and check out youtube to see some of the wild stuff people do!

Maybe someone or a specific studio didn't pay the bill to remove it.

> installed 2015-2016 based on satellite imagery

Unless the artist practiced very good OpSec or was so disciplined that he never checked for satellite imagery of his monument, someone with the right credentials -- like the government with a subpeona or a Google insider -- could identify the artist based on his IP address.

Murderers have been identified and convicted by looking up a unique map coordinate on Google Maps, even going back as far Yahoo Maps.

That's how they found the boyfriend of Olivia Newton-John, who had faked his own death. He was the most frequent visitor to the website set up to help find him(that's literally true - the website was a trap they had hoped he would visit)


> The investigators claimed McDermott disappeared to avoid debts, including US$8,000 owed to his ex-wife for child support

That's...a surprisingly small amount to fake your own death over.

Google is very unlikely to keep logs for so long.

I wouldn't bet on that at all

Why would they expose themselves to liability?

There's no liability in keeping logs. They are useful for many things.

Logs that can be tied to individual users are PII and very much a liability.

Their privacy policy states that IP addresses are anonymized after 9 months and cookies after 18 months[1].

[1]: https://policies.google.com/technologies/retention?hl=en-US

I thought the US government decided it would be easier to pay tech giants to keep data longer than collecting it itself and storing it. That way they can just ask for it when they need it.

What makes you think that?

You can be convicted for looking at a map where the only thing was tracked is your ip? This is all kinds of insane. No wonder the US incarcerates so many innocent people.

2001 Expedia map


> The federal complaint says ... the newspaper received a letter that said ''nice sob story,'' with a computer-generated map showing an intersection in West Alton in St. Charles County, along with a handwritten X.

> ... searchers found human skeletal remains within 50 yards of the location shown by the map's X, about 300 yards from where the decomposed bodies of Ms. Wilson and another victim, Verona Thompson, had been found.

> A search by Illinois State Police of Internet mapping companies led to an exact match between features on a map sent to the Post-Dispatch and one found on Expedia.com.

> On June 3, the Microsoft Corporation, which tracks access to that Web site, showed the F.B.I. that only someone with the Internet Provider address visited the Expedia.com site and searched the West Alton area within days of the map's mailing to the Post-Dispatch. The user name of that IP address was ''MSN/maurytravis.''

Well there was also a video which showed him killing a woman. So he was only found via looking at a map but not convicted.

Unlikely. But it can be a clue that leads to the right person, which can then lead to more direct evidence that could form the basis of a conviction on the "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard of proof.

It's just basic detective work, updated for new technology.

I see some dotted lines nearby on the Google map. Hiking trails? Jeep trails? I’m wondering how much that thing weighs and how they got it there. Maybe drive it there with a large off-road pickup truck and then got a bunch of guys to carry it down the wash behind it?

It's pretty near Moab, UT - which is an adult kid's playground. The area is abundant with trails. Much of that land is regularly explored with various 4x4s for sport, even (and especially) off the trails. And Moab would also be a place enriched for people with the skill and desire to make a giant metal slab and find a place to stash it.

The 'monolith' is just a bit SE of the "Dead Horse Point" (SW of Moab), just on the east side of the river on this map [1].

[1] https://www.discovermoab.com/4-wheeling/

I see a small dirt road immediately to the north. Given that dirt road intersects with hwy 211 I assume it was driven there in a large ATV. Most likely a 4wd truck and a large ATV went out there with the sculpture in the truck, and then the ATV and a few people with shovels drove it down to the gully to the site to install it.

What I really want to know is if that is a solid piece of metal or just a metal “shell”?

So looking at the instragram post it looks like steel plates just screwed together. The screw holes are visible too so definitely a hollow shell. Makes it a lot less cool to me :(

I'm not quite sure about the satellite imagery comparisons. The angle of the sunlight is obviously different looking at the shadows of the surrounding geology.

Went to that google map link. They had a popup advert

"Discover food deliveries nearby"

Fairly sure that's going to be a tough challenge at that location!

I'm so disappointed it isn't Oumuamua.

This reminds me of other "land art" installations around the country. Presumably, these are done with the landowners permission:

The Lightning Field:


Spiral Jetty:


Negative Space:


Amarillo Ramp:


Adding to this list Nancy Holt's Sun Tunnels - the best of the genre IMO: https://www.diaart.org/visit/visit-our-locations-sites/nancy... I believe that most of these were sponsored by the DIA art foundation and had some administrative backing.

Adding Maya Lin's Eleven Minute Line: https://www.sartle.com/artwork/eleven-minute-line-maya-lin

Not quite art but related: Mojave Phone Booth: https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/mojave-phone-booth

Does anyone know what those wire grids are in East Palo Alto, just west of the landfill? I can't tell if they're art or synthetic aperture radar. https://www.google.com/maps/@37.4464497,-122.1130144,156m/da...

My guess is that they are antennas related to the Palo Alto airport which is right next door. Being in a circular pattern points to VOR, though I could not locate any database, either VOR or AM/FM broadcast that would list that location.

The Palo Alto airport information [1] says: "+100 FT TRANSMISSION TWRS E OF ARPT".

[1] https://www.airnav.com/airport/kpao

Prada Marfa

Apparently this guy was just there a few minutes ago: https://www.instagram.com/p/CH_iU8JgeIr/

This video shows it up close. Sheet metal riveted together, siliconed in the cut out ground.


I wish they had included a video where they knock on it with a knuckle so we can hear the reverberations.

As a side note. The video quality seems incredibly good for a video hosted on Instagram.

They need to get this removed ASAP


Not OP, but I’d imagine to stop idiots from stumbling through the desert and either fucking up the surrounding nature or getting themselves lost/injured

Probably same reason McCandless's van was finally removed. People dying or needing to be rescued while trying to visit it.

(deleting, because now my comment is getting pasted all over the Internet, and though it was not to my knowledge misleading, it didn't actually provide any useful information)

> And the sister of the brother who died there is asking for people to please not go there and for the link to be deleted (from the group; I'm not sure they realize how viral it went).

That seems a very strange request given that it is public land. If it were private property that would be different, but this location is owned by the public.

Also, if it’s a memorial, it seems he might want people to visit it. Isn’t that the point of a memorial? To remember something?

> And the sister of the brother who died there is asking for people to delete the post and to please not go there.

That's an unreasonable request without an explanation.

Even with the explanation it’s an unreasonable request, because the public owns that land.


Fellow Utah County man here. If I was you, I'd contact the BLM with the full story and share the confidential information with them at least to try to convince them not to remove it. I really feel for the sister, probably her worst nightmare for this story to blow up like it has. Curiosity can be destructive.

I don't know if it's true or not, but of all the text I've seen on the internet, this comment has to be the most likely to make the people who read it reply with "tell me more!!!"

well done

I know. I'm sorry. I have a screenshot if push comes to shove but I'm being vague on purpose for the privacy of those in my community.

No I totally get it. Is the implication that the monolith marks a human grave?

I don't think it's a grave just a memorial. Someone probably fell off the cliff or something.

I think it implies it's a cenotaph.



Might as well delete that. Turns out this information is wrong. The sister later explained that she misread the coordinates which are nearby, but are not at the exact location of, the monolith.

I can no longer edit or delete my parent comment here.

So please explain..

Kind of interesting. You can google map yourself to within a few 100 meters of the thing. I suspect the people who "found it" were really just pimping it? If there isn't already there will be trash around it soon. https://www.google.com/maps/dir/Green+River,+UT/38.3431111,-...

You can see its shadow clear as day right next to the pin

Wow this is getting a lot of PR. I've seen this article on the on so many news sites now. It's funny, but front page news? Seems of all the random things that go on, this was picked as special for some reason. Just interesting how some things you wouldn't expect rise to the top.

It's a fun mystery that gives the mind something to chew on apart from pandemic, elections, murder hornets, etc.

I mean, it’s pretty cool. There’s that fact. But my guess it’s probably being drive to top due to the parallels to 2001. I’d imagine there’s a large Kubrick fanbase on HN, if not just a 2001 fanbase.

The book and the film where written and developed cooperatively so both really ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ However, they are both based on clark's 1951 short story The Sentinel[0].

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sentinel_(short_story)

Indeed, and to my feeble defense:

> The book was credited to Clarke alone.

TIL :)

Does anyone remember the monolith that showed up in Seattle in 2001? It moved around a bit, including to a swampy island in the middle of green lake.


I recall that. At the time I knew someone who claimed to be in contact with the perpetrators, and I had heard that the city made an arrangement for a permanent installation of that piece.

I think I can infer from the wiki page that this either fell through, or my friend was making stuff up, because it appears to be at a metalworking shop.

I friggin love guerilla art. It always weirds me out how much effort is put into making the world un-artistic. Amazing murals being painted over, shrines being removed from nature, amazing homes made by off-skew people being demolished to put in bland main-stream housing.

At least this one lives on: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mill_Ends_Park

Removing fancy litter from what is supposed to be a natural preserve isn’t in the same category as housing. I agree that human occupied areas need art, but encouraging wilderness to be even more littered with human scars is the last thing we need.

It is a fine line between tastefulness and crap. Even here there is a 50/50 between folks who like it and folks who think it's just screwing up the landscape. And this is a fairly tasteful piece.

If there were a blanket "Leave it alone, it's art" policy, I can see junk popping up everywhere.

> "It is illegal to install structures or art without authorisation on federally managed public lands, no matter what planet you're from," the department said.

Is that really true though? Does earth rules apply to life from other planets? And what if the extraterrestrial life are magnitudes of order stronger and technologically advanced than us? I mean we could demand it but in effect it would be nothing but words. The only reason that laws work is because of the threat of what happens if you don’t obey. If we are not in a position to threaten the extra terrestrials then we are also not in a position to dictate rules for them to follow.

> Does earth rules apply to life from other planets?

Any law applys to their territory, independant on whether the culprit is a citizen of that country or a foreigner. Whether they can execute the law is of course a different story. But from where someone comes from doesnt matter in the first place.

Though, you could argue whether laws are limited to humans or whether they apply to every species. AFter all we don't apply the same laws to animals and humans, there are usually differnt sets for each.

> The only reason that laws work is because of the threat of what happens if you don’t obey. If we are not in a position to threaten the extra terrestrials then we are also not in a position to dictate rules for them to follow.

This is a classical problem of international laws. Country A can't execute laws to citizien of country B, because country B is stinky, or citizien already has left country A. Usually there are contracts for this, so in certain cases country B will give their citizien to Country A if the case is heavy enough to justify such an act. But of course they can also just ignore it.

>Though, you could argue whether laws are limited to humans or whether they apply to every species. AFter all we don't apply the same laws to animals and humans, there are usually differnt sets for each.

Please enlighten me on which laws are written for my cat.

How should I know, I don't know which country you are living...

Though, usually it's not laws which are meant to be understood by the animals. Those laws are about how humans handle and integrate animals in their human society. They regulate who can own a pet, what rights and duties they have and which rights other people around those animals have (landlords for example, or research facilities doing animal experimentation).

But usually you will not find a law that demands your cat to go to school, or wear clothes, or paying taxes, that it's forbidden to enter private ground, to steal or kill, and such things. As also anything like having any citizen-rights and duties coming with them. Majority of laws are written for people who are able to understand them and can follow them, not for those who are living besides us.

As an example, "Pets not allowed on this hiking trail."

How expensive would a solid piece of metal that size be?

For just that weight of metal...not too expensive. To get it formed into that shape, potentially very expensive.

It looks like aluminum. Someone posted 23.5" x 23.5" x ~144" as the dimensions. This comes out to be 46 cubic feet, and would weigh about 7,700 lbs. A floor of the price would be ~40 cents/lb scrap price, or ~$3,100. Ballpark 80-120 cents/lb might be a more realistic price if it were straightforward to manufacture like that (which it's certainly not).

As an industrial engineer and former employee of one of the largest aluminum plants in the world, I can safely say I doubt it is solid rolled aluminum, and bet it would be way bigger of an extrusion that is possible. And logistically, it would be far easier to transport to a remote location via helicopter if it wasn't solid. Any machining, metal forming, etc. would require specialized large equipment, and would quickly drive the cost up, potentially an order of magnitude higher than material costs.

Which is all wrong.

The monolith in 2001 had dimensions in ratios of 1:4:9 [and continuing into other dimensions...].

Why the heck would you go to all the work of putting a monolith of the wrong shape out there?

1:4:9 is too 2000's. 1:9:49 is what you want these days.

Can you please explain the significance?

television ratios joke. 4:3 became 16:9 for widescreen. Further from square and closer to the "golden ratio", so make something closer with different prime squares.

1:22:33 becomes 1:33:77

In reality I was joking about fashion. The new trend in monoliths is a metallic finish and slender proportions, skipping one prime square - The original is 1²:2²:3² and the new one is 1²:3²:7² (skips primes 2 and 5). The dimensions continue, of course. In Clarke's 2010 it's kind of assumed it'd mean it'd be integers, but the new one fits better with primes.

Nobody prooved it has any relation to 2001. It's not even black, why do people even assume it must have some connection with that story?

Because of the hilarious implication that the installer believe intelligent life had not yet been seeded in the Utah area.

> Any machining, metal forming, etc. would require specialized large equipmen, and would quickly drive the cost up, potentially an order of magnitude higher than material costs.

It seems unlikely that there are serious tolerances to be kept here, couldn't this just be cast messily using a sand/clay mould and then cleaned up with portable power tools?

That way you don't need any special equipment and you can use whatever Aluminium you can get your hands on. Hell, you can even recycle Aluminium cans.

Large scale castings are also tricky. You can't cast a rectangular prism and get good results. As the metal freezes (solidifies), it shrinks. You'd end up with a very poor surface finish at best, and chunks missing at worst. The shrinkage needs to be made up for with some additional molten metal.

The fix is pretty simple though. You need directional solidification, meaning the freezing starts on one end and moved towards the other. If you apply a draft angle of 1 degree or so to the parallel faces, you will have enough difference in dimensions to get directional solidification working fine.

>That way you don't need any special equipment and you can use whatever Aluminium you can get your hands on. Hell, you can even recycle Aluminium cans.

I'd advise against mixing alloys, but you may still be alright to get something, but it will be worthless if you try to recycle it again. Mixed scrap fetches far less than sorted scrap when you try to sell it. E.g. Some alloys might allow 1-2% copper, while others require <0.01% copper. Each pound of type 1 mixed with type 2 requires lots of pig (pure aluminum, no alloying elements) to be added to get the proportions back to something you can legally call whatever alloy you're targeting.

Aluminum cans aren't a wonderful source for things like this because they contain a thin plastic film on the inside to prevent the liquid contained from having its flavor tainted. Normal recycling processes handle this fine, but cannot handle the plastic labels added on many small brewery cans. Those should be cut off prior to recycling.


Side note - It is incredibly energy intensive to mine bauxite, refine it through an electrolysis process into alumina, and finally alloying it into your preferred type of aluminum. It recycles incredibly well though. Recycling 1 ton of aluminum saves about 95% of the energy compared to new aluminum. This 95% savings is about 14,000 kWh. The energy intensity is part of why Iceland houses 4 smelters. With nearly 100% of electricity production coming from hydroelectric, they have incredibly cheap electricity, and it's economically viable for the likes of Alcoa, Rio Tinto, and Century Aluminum to haul bauxite ore from around the world to a tiny country with almost no manufacturing base, process it, then haul it around the world to its final destination.

Iceland's electricity production mix seems to be typically about 70% Hydro and 30% Geothermal (which does not change the overall point - just interesting).

Ah, good catch! I was rusty on my numbers from a year and a half ago when I wrote a paper on this for school. Back in the 80's they were nearly 100% hydro.


When I visited in 2018, we came across a 5 kW turbine installed in 1927 near a famous waterfall. It's no longer online, but was neat to see.


Just a note about aluminum recycling. Humans tend to trash things instead of recycling. Out here in the desert where people dump things I have noticed old steel cans rusted to nothing mixed with aluminum cans which seem to not degrade over time.

Arguably if you are worried about the environment and account for human laziness steel cans are better for the environment IMO

I've read around 75% of the aluminum ever produced is still in use today. If you machine a new surface on aluminum, it will form an aluminum oxide layer in a matter of hours. I believe (but am not certain) this effectively prevents it from degrading the way steel does over time.

Aluminum can recycling rates tend to be higher in states that offer deposit programs. Back when they were getting introduced in the 80's, $0.05/container had a lot more buying power than it does today. It's enough of an annoyance now, they'd be best off eliminating it or increasing it to ~$0.15 or so. Or since this is HackerNews, maybe we could use block chain technology to verify each can is properly recycled and reimburse with bitcoin.

A classmate of mine in college made all of his sculptures out of plywood and Bondo, reasoning that they were likely to last much longer than anything made out of metal due to having no scrap value.

It would be hard to maintain a flat surface that large manually, doable but tough.

> And logistically, it would be far easier to transport to a remote location via helicopter if it wasn't solid.

Cue reddit researchers combing through old helicopter flight plans/paths from the relevant time frame? Though I would have thought an off road vehicle might be more likely; looks like it's only about 2-3 miles from the nearest road.

Edit: actually there appears to be a dirt road ~1k feet or less away

The road is Lockhart Basin Road, well-known among Utah off-roaders. I've been there, and also camped on one of the fingers of Hatch Point, directly above the monolith.

I took this one on the point overlooking the monolith: https://www.instagram.com/p/BUFR5GZF2fX/?igshid=11nr2ljs2dh6...

I took this photo not too far from the monolith:


I didn't realize it was so close to a road. I'd really like to think it came in via helicopter though, because it's a more cool and clandestine story.

Sand cast and polished...

As I noted in another response, you can't cast a rectangular prism and expect a good result. You'd need to add some angle to the edges to ensure it solidifies correctly, but doing so takes away from the monolith feel.

That's also a lot of polishing for the finish you would get from sand casting.

There is a video of it, it has a triangular cross section.

There appear to be screw holes (or rivets), so I'm going to guess that it's three aluminium sheets screwed onto an interior scaffold.


If you look closely there appear to be small rivets, so I don't think that it is solid.

A quick look around the internet[0] gives 6" aluminium square bars at $1,473 for 144".

The monolith is about 141" long, and has sides of about 23.5", so 16 of those bars would neatly fill it.

So if it is solid aluminium, that's about $23,500 in material.

[0]: https://www.onlinemetals.com/en/buy/aluminum/6-aluminum-squa...

Good math... Aluminum comes in different alloys, this is likely 6061 (precipitation-hardened aluminium alloy, containing magnesium and silicon as its major alloying elements) - 6061 is about two bucks per pound [2]...

Using the weight calculator [1], and plugging in 23.5/23.5/141 (all in inches) I am getting about 7.7K lbs, or around $15K in material costs. Given it’s unusual shape, I’m assuming that normal is producing it. This would require additional costs for machining and processing Dash I’d probably say it would be several thousand dollars in additional costs. Overall this looks to me like a $25,000 piece of metal...

[1] https://www.bostoncenterless.com/tools/metal-weight-calculat...

[2] https://fastmetals.com/collections/aluminum-extruded-square-...

That does t hold. Aluminum that big isn’t just something you’d buy from McMaster-Carr.

Aliens may not know that. Since McMaster Carr is the web site with the best UX for materials supply, and has been so for 20 years, they would have not known any better, especially given the propagation time for their TCP packets.

It looks like it might be sheet metal screwed to a wooden frame, judging from what look like screws near the edges. Why would aliens bring a solid block of aluminum all the way across the 8th dimension?

Given that the excitement will have died down by the time its precise structure is revealed, I'd say a simpler design served its purpose quite well.

Depends on what type of metal. Tungsten? Very expensive. Steel? Somwhere between $1000-5000

It's also going to be extremely heavy.

Assuming the "monolith" is around 10ft tall with a 1.5ft square base, it would weigh 5 tonnes if it were made of solid steel. Whoever installed it would have needed serious machinery to haul it over there and stick it in the rock.

Thin sheets of metal, either welded or riveted together, would have been much easier to build and install. It could even have been filled with some other material (e.g. sand) before the top was put on.

> Thin sheets of metal, either welded or riveted together, would have been much easier to build and install. It could even have been filled with some other material (e.g. sand) before the top was put on.

Yes, it was a prism shaped object with 3 pieces of stainless steel panels riveted together, the bottom has concret and silicone:)


Isn't it hollow?

I would bet it is just metal sheets cut to size and then riveted or screwed together on site, then filled with rocks for stability. Metal sheets could be carried there, hole dug out and then assembled by 1 person basically.

It looks to be. In this video you can see what are most likely rivets holding the sheet metal sides on.


Looking at this video, it seems to be sheet metal https://www.instagram.com/p/CH_iU8JgeIr/

There's no chance it is solid. It's probably 5mm thick at most.

The news reporters linked on the original reddit post said it was solid.

While that's true, there are clearly screws or rivets in the video's of it. It's extremely unlikely to be solid metal, though it may be filled with rock/sand/something.

Did the news reporter drill into it? How would they know?

Probably they hit it with a rock and decided it didn't sound hollow. They may also have noted an absence of seams. Seams could be hidden with welding and grinding, but that would suggest it wasn't assembled on site.

"Probably". I wouldn't trust journalists on this sort of thing. It would be completely insane to make this solid. It's almost certainly welded sheets with ground welds, assembled off-site.

A lot if its platinum.

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