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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

No mysterious origin, but the "Tree of Utah" in the middle of the Utah salt flats, next to the highway...is similarly out of place and unexpected. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metaphor:_The_Tree_of_Utah

I love the fact that it has been added to OpenStreetMap[1] 6 hours ago!

[1] https://www.openstreetmap.org/node/8162265901

> "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.

Invents interstellar travel. Travels 17,000 light years across the universe. Places art work as token of greeting. First contact with human civilization. Alien scientists begin deciphering message. "It reads, 'I am from the Bureau of Land Management...'"

People of Earth, your attention please,’ a voice said, and it was wonderful. Wonderful perfect quadraphonic sound with distortion levels so low as to make a brave man weep.

‘This is Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz of the Galactic Hyperspace Planning Council,’ the voice continued. ‘As you will no doubt be aware, the plans for development of the outlying regions of the Galaxy require the building of a hyperspatial express route through your star system, and regrettably your planet is one of those scheduled for demolition. The process will take slightly less than two of your Earth minutes. Thank you.’

Let me know when this novel is finished. You've got me hooked already.

Don't panic... I'm sure the rest of that story is out there somewhere. ;)

Spoiler alert: 42.

How would they know the laws of federally managed public lands on other planets?

All the federally managed public land policies have been on display at the local planning department in Alpha Centauri for fifty years now.

"It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Flaybooz.”

Beware of the Leopard.

Don't be silly. There are no leopards in Alpha Centauri.

That's why they need the warning sign. Centaurians wouldn't be expecting it.

Good point.

Ignorance of the law is no excuse.

That's what the alien overlords will say when they put humanity on trial.

Well, that is very optimistic view, first we have to survive the AI overlords' trail of humanity.

Probably everyone is a criminal, because no one knows what all of the laws are.

That's the point. The government can compel you as they please under threat of harsh criminal punishment. For example, did you know it's illegal to lie to an FBI agent? Think of how many things could easily be misconstrued as lies in a normal conversation. Introduce yourself to an FBI field agent as a "Jim" when your given name is actually "James"? You've just committed a crime punishable by up to a year in prison.


It has to be "knowingly and willfully", "in any matter within the jurisdiction" of the government. While this is much broader than most people might realize or expect, it probably doesn't extend to using a nickname in a conversation when the agent hasn't asked you your legal name as part of an investigation!

(But the breadth of this kind of rule is definitely a reason that people are discouraged from consenting to an interview with law enforcement without a lawyer present.)

That and there are laws that never go away, like not spitting on the sidewalk or not chewing gum on a Sunday.

Reply below is dead but is spot-on especially for Texas. I believe it's still illegal to wear socks or a tie on South Padre Island.

Sure enough, it is. Found the link[1]

[1] http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,139525,...

Some of these seem perfectly reasonable to me.

> HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. No roosters

Roosters are assholes and AFAIK they're banned in most non-agricultural zoning.

> JONESBORO, GA. No profanity in front of children under 14

A bit moralistic but I could see it happening in a smaller town where people might be more aligned on such things. And looks like the population of Jonesboro is sub-5k.

> JUPITER, FLA. No roadside billboards

I wish this was true everywhere.

> STATE OF TEXAS No walking in the streets if there is a sidewalk

Only complaint I have on this one is that it's cementing car culture worship.


I suspect others are probably over-reactions to single adverse events.

You're not required to know all the laws; but you can't just say "I did not know" when breaking one.

You're not required to know them, but you're presumed to know them.

"no matter what planet you're from", not what planet you're doing it on.

It still works, doesn't it? How would they know the laws on this planet?

Not being a human might indeed be a valid legal defense though! I doubt the law or case history is very clear on that point.

I'm only responding regarding who "they" refers to, not about whether it excuses them.

Pretty sure if they have the technological capacity to travel from somewhere to earth and land undetected they could figure out the laws.

Pretty sure if they have the technological capacity to travel from somewhere to earth and land undetected ... they don't have to care about any human laws.

I’m not convinced. Some economist wrote a thing about how if aliens observed us they would think dogs and automobiles were our rulers cause we spend all our energy taking care of them.

Oh live a little! it was funny

So was the reply you're criticising

Being ignorant of Earth law does not mean one cannot break Earth law.

Why is this being downvoted? Take my chuckle and upvote!

A creature that has highly advanced intelligence but no understanding of the concept of defending one's territory is unlikely.

He shall know our ways, as if born to us.

Open Wi-Fi hotspots

It's a joke.

golden record's whole job

Don't tell Banksy

Or my personal favourite "artist" Wanksy who draws (if he's still going) penises on potholes because they are then considered obscene and therefore will be fixed by the local council

Russian variant of it: if your local authorities aren't cleaning snow, just write "Навальный" on it and it'll be gone at the speed of light. (Navalny is the leader of opposition.)

Downside is that family in the building next to that text is gone as well at the same time.

A friend of mine in Watford had some Wanksy art done in his street and they cleaned off the art and left the pot hole there another year...

He should have called Dominoes: https://www.pavingforpizza.com/

That’s actually genius. A true civil hero.

that said, come forward please so we know who did it!

It’s possibly a Quantum Tunneling Device for interstellar travel.

An old advanced alien civilization created thousands of these QTD, and sent them all over the galaxy, to land on rocky habitable planets, waiting to be discovered one day.

In essence, these devices are synchronized with a quantum clock, for instantaneous bidirectional quantum communication across vast interstellar distances.

It uses the essence of quantum entanglement, whereby every nanosecond, a quantum bit is revealed, and its complement device is triggered. Thus allowing for massive instantaneous communication across vast interstellar distances.

Furthermore, by standing in front of the QTD device, and eliciting an audible command, the device will scan the subject in front of it, and allow himself to be dematerialized and transported to any other node in the interstellar QTD network. Some may call this a Stargate.

Or it was planted there by some hippy high on shrooms.

It doesn’t look like a monolith. More like three panels of metal screwed together by whoever land artist brought the thing there. (you can see the screws in the video)

It reminds me of Stonehenge. I understand that some people may consider this could set a bad precedent but if its not harming the ecosystem in any way why shouldnt it be allowed to stay up? To me this would be like erasing the paintings we made 5000 years ago.

Because ghoulish influencers are already swarming it and publishing to Instagram or whatever looking for likes. Nothing good comes of that.

If it were alien, it would be made of a quasi crystal (a crystal in a higher dimension projected into 3D).

Humans have no way of making bulk quasicrystals.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quasicrystal

^ Pretty interesting, for those of us who haven't heard about these yet. I at first assumed this was a joke like Unobtanium.

Of you wanted to prove you had advanced technology why not just fly your space plane around?

Is there any way to detect quasicrystals at a distance?

Very interesting question. Perhaps by looking at fuzziness in the spectral lines of elements in asteroids (which are sometimes composed of quasicrystals [0]).

Looks like there has been some work on NMR of quasicrystals [1].

Zeeman splitting of spectral lines requires a magnetic field. Maybe if a large quasicrystal passed near a magnetar [3] one would see an effect.

[0]: https://www.pnas.org/content/113/26/7077 [1]: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF03166327 [2]: http://adsabs.harvard.edu/full/1990ApJS...74..437S [3]: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnetar

The 2001 monolith has dimensions of 1x4x9 and that clearly does not.

Of course! It's 2020! You gotta keep up with fashion!

The artist’s name is probably on the bottom face of the piece. :)

I seriously hope this piece of artwork, as it is clearly intended to be, is preserved. Utah already has a tradition in land art with Robert Smithson's, Spiral Jetty [1].

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spiral_Jetty

Look it’s not aliens but there is nothing clearly making this art. It’s far more likely a memorial for someone or something. It’s hidden. It’s expensive. And quite frankly, would be a shitty rip off if it was art.

If not an actual John McCracken piece, then likely heavily inspired by the artist. Beautiful!

This looks exactly like something from the game Control. Specifically, it reminds me of "The Nail" from "The Foundation" DLC.

Extra points for the HNer that puts one on the Moon.

The map in the article of the United States with just Utah filled in was super helpful...

Given that it's a non-American media source, and that the specific location within Utah wasn't released, do you think there's a more appropriate visual that they should have used?

Apologies if I've misread your ellipses, but I noticed that map and really liked it. No need to show the other 47 states; the intended information is highlighted better by leaving them off.

I would suspect that fairly few people from Britain could point to Utah on a map. I couldn't even point to London is handed a map of GB

Reminds me of the fifth element somehow

>Wildlife officials spotted the "unusual" object while counting sheep during a flyover in a remote south-eastern area of the US state.

"So what is it you do for a living?"

Personally, I wonder if there's anything interesting or interactive on the top.

eg: Buttons? display? big red button? wifi password? :>

None of the photos or video seems to have looked there yet. ;)

There is a hunk of metal with a wifi password on it elsewhere in the Utah Desert - south of Green River, there is a place called "Crystal Geyser" - a curiosity from an old drilling site where they ended up hitting a spot that became a man-made geyser that sprays mineral water up on a regular basis. (Or used to... people have been throwing rocks into it over the years so it is not so impressive anymore.)

In any case, there is a little monument there with a wifi password and a solar panel. If you sit next to it on a sunny day, there is enough power to run the wifi and a web server which will give you some basic historical and geological info on the place.

The Utah desert has been used by performance artists before, remember the giant pen a few years back: https://www.sltrib.com/news/2017/09/14/german-artists-built-...

But I am hoping its alien tech ... I think we will find out soon

First impression to me was that it is some sort of modern kinetic projectile[0] from aircraft weapons' testing. I've read US army used something of that shape in recent conflicts, but probably of smaller size.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lazy_Dog_(bomb)

It probably wouldn't be in such great shape after impacting at high speed though.

This is a really good point. I wonder if it could be some sort of new-fangled rail-gun projectile.

That first picture looks so much like a colorized shot from an original Twilight Zone episode. The flight suits (military surplus, and sort of timeless), the (foam and plaster?) rocky background, the big mysterious artifact (that happens to be really cheap and easy for a prop department to source), and no other items lying around to easily date the picture...

The background looks vaguely similar to the prehistoric monolith in 2001. But the dimensions don’t seem to be 1 x 4 x 9

What rare material could a monolith be made from that would almost certainly suggest extraterrestrial origin?

Probably something that is so scarce in earth that the monolith alone couldn't have been made by anyone other than a government, a billionare or aliens. Solid gold maybe?

hah. gold is not that rare. even an entry level billionaire could afford a monolith this size

Printer ink then ;-)

On a more serious note, Rhodium fits the bill: super expensive, hard, durable, silvery and corrosion resistant.

Using the 7,700 lbs estimate elsewhere here, and a price of Rhodium I randomly found on the internet of $16,100 per troy oz, the material of this structure, if made from Rhodium, would cost about $1,749,005. Which is actually not bad, for a very rich person. I guess they'd have to build an even larger one. Or make it hollow and fill it with printer ink.

I think you calculated that wrong. I get $1.8B at that price.[0] Though that 7700 lb estimate assumed the sculpture was made of aluminum; rhodium is about 4.5X as dense, so it'd be closer to $8.1B.

[0]: 7700 lb * 14.5833 troy oz/lb * 16100 $/troy oz = 1,807,891,701

Ah, thanks for the correction. I just quickly googled values and multiplied them but thinking about it, I probably multiplied by "lb/troy oz" instead of "lb/troy oz" or something like that. I'm an idiot :)

Your figure does sound a bit more realistic. Still, printer ink...

Kamacite might be one of the classics:

"Kamacite is an alloy of iron and nickel, which is found on Earth only in meteorites."[0]

As a bonus, it's shiny grey, which means it could even be what this monolith is made of.


Festivus [1] for the rest of us! We find tinsel distracting.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HX55AzGku5Y

Once the signals reached them, the aliens finally watched 2001 Space Odyssey and they thought cool, let's actually put something on that little blue planet.

I am so disconnected. In the title I read metal (the music genre) monolith (the software architecture) found by helicopter and sensed something isn't right here.

finally signs of intelligent life on that continent ;-)

I WANNA BE A MONOLITH! 2001 was such a good book. I think I end up reading it yearly. I probably have an unhealthy connection to the characters.

Is it remotely possible that they put it themselves as media stunt for Utah tourism promotion?

And as it all over world's media I guess they have succeeded.

The BBC news site really has become a "best of Twitter this week" site, hasn't it?

Doesn't that pretty much describe all "news" sites/programs?

Should have used microservices ;-)

Is this not an art installation? I assume the article is part of the art?

All these worlds are yours. Except Europa, attempt no landings there.

"Spotted the monolith while counting sheep".

I bet they are still counting.

Was Stanley Kubrick's movie crew secretly filming “2020”?

Great, this is what was missing from 2020 :-) What's next... asteroid, aliens, mega solar flare, singularity. SPOILER: This metallic monolith (most probably guerilla art) has been out there in the desert since 2015-2016.

I love the fact that someone did this such a long time ago and then just waited patiently.

The only person/people who will know who and when put it there are some NSA emps who are most likely rewinding satellite feed from one of their spy sats right now...

Prepare to be FOIA’d NSA emps.

you can already check aliens off the list: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/28/us/pentagon-ufo-videos.ht...

pentagon confirmed aliens and nobody cared, 2020 is weird.

Wrong dimensions. Supposed to be 1:4:9. Wrong color as well.

The first Geocachers ought to be rolling up any moment now

What monolith? You can clearly see the rivets.

* BBC. back button doesnt work

Maybe bring some apes to that place?

Man, they shot this down even on Parler. Why do I have a Parler account well why I hate myself of course.

why, isn't that the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey ?

Please let it be aliens

Fun art installation, but it should be removed now that it's been found.

Why does it need to be removed?

I understand not wanting to set a precedent, but I wish more organizations adopted a mindset that the original can stay, but no others are allowed. That leaves space for a little bit of whimsy.

Just thinking the same thing. There's no rule the you must clamp down the the first instance of a violation.

Leave it be, and leave the rule in place. If there's an epidemic of monoliths being planted on federal land, then you uproot them all and say "this is why we can't have nice things."

Until or unless that happens, just leave it alone.

There is a rule for the first instance of the violation. The law applies to all instances of the violation, first, last and everything in between.

The thing is the reason why a lot of people are ok with this art thing is because it's not just the first instance of it, but because it's currently quite interesting and tasteful. These are vague qualitative aspects that are hard to define with law and will change over time.

Better to have a simple law everyone can understand and agree on then to find some perfect law that fits with our complicated, blurry and inconsistent definition of morality. The more complicated a set of laws are the more likely people will be able to find loop holes to exploit.

Eh, it's not good enough to get that kind of treatment.

What isn't good to get that kind of treatment.

The purpose of the law is to improve the quality of life. Nothing wrong with changing the law to further that goal. Just give the monolith a permit to make it legit.

You didn't know that this thing existed like 2 hours ago and now you want to change the laws in our national parks to allow art installations across our parks? Why even have national parks and try to preserve wilderness?

Maybe we can set up a Starbucks next to it and some bathrooms too. It's the famous monolith! Come one come all!

> The purpose of the law is to improve the quality of life.

I don't see how litter in my national parks is improving my quality of life.

> You didn't know that this thing existed like 2 hours ago and now you want to change the laws in our national parks to allow art installations across our parks? Why even have national parks and try to preserve wilderness?

On the other hand, you didn't know it existed until 2 hours ago and now you want it removed.

Yep, you're exactly right. I'm unsure of the point you're trying to make, however.

Simply put, I think it is cool and would like to to stick around. For what it is worth, here are a few points to consider.

There already is art Throughout the wilderness and I think it is great. Sometimes the art is as simple as a statue or plaque commemorating a historic location, other times it is DIY art like this.

The point of national parks isn’t to preserve wilderness for the sake of preservation. The point is recreation. This is why they are full of artificial modifications like roads, trails, and sometimes attractions with shops and bathrooms.

Also, as far as I can tell, this isn’t in a national park, but on federal BLM land Used for hunting and off-roading.

> The point of national parks isn’t to preserve wilderness for the sake of preservation. The point is recreation.

The national parks service philosophy is very preservationist. They advise people to follow guidelines that are literally called “leave no trace”. Their mission statement uses the word preserve in the first sentence. Hell, part of the reason why Big Bend national park never became an international park (among many others) was because the parks service disagreed with the laxer, conservationist approach that Mexican authorities favored.

>The point is recreation. This is why they are full of artificial modifications like roads, trails, and sometimes attractions with shops and bathrooms.

Those modifications are done carefully to have as little impact on the environment and a lot of types of recreation are completed banned in national parks, hunting being the obvious one. The use of vehicles (including bicycles) is completely banned in federally designated wilderness.

What steps did whoever installed this take to make sure that this thing isn’t going to leech metals into an ephemeral watering hole used by wildlife?

I agree that the NapS is ver preservationist, compared to the blm, where the monolith is located. For what it is worth 66/75 of national parks permit hunting.


Well you can certainly have your own perspective, I just disagree 100% with it and will use whatever means I have to make sure that the tiny bits of nature we have left are preserved to the extent possible. Some aluminum "art" in the middle of nowhere is a perversion and should be garbage collected. That's my view, which I will use dollars and my vote toward.

We might just have agree to disagree. I have literally seen tens of thousands of pounds of garbage dumped on public land. The idea that some out of the way and moderately interesting art is a priority is laughable.

> I have literally seen tens of thousands of pounds of garbage dumped on public land.

Yes, and they shouldn't be.

> The idea that some out of the way and moderately interesting art is a priority is laughable.

I don't think it's that interesting, but besides that I don't follow your rationale. Because some people litter against the rules, we shouldn't clean up this thing someone put on federal lands? Even so, wouldn't large pieces of litter take priority over smaller ones simply due to human nature?

I really feel like you're stretching here. Frankly, it's interesting to watch people defend some thing they just found out about and have no attachment to.

What counts as an original in this context? Would another unauthorized art piece of a different type in the same protected land be an original? Would a metal monolith in a different park count as an original for that park? Would a unauthorized art piece of a different type in a different park be an original? What if one of these originals was 100' high?

If you allow the original but remove a 2nd and it is goverment land, are you opening yourself up to legal issues regarding the 1st amendment.

Why? Because it was installed illegally.

Change the law, and/or file an injunction to stop it's removal if that is your wish.

But I firmly believe that The Rule of Law matters in our country.

Specific to this case, it's not an organization, it's a federal law. And whimsy might bring cheer to you and I, but it does not really belong in federal law.

Happened in Dublin, Ireland a couple of years back - a joke plaque was installed a bridge, the council removed it and after public outcry they reinstalled it.


From the article:

>The department has not disclosed the exact location of the monolith, fearing explorers may try to seek it out and "become stranded". The big horn sheep wildlife officials were counting are native to many parts of southern Utah, where the terrain is rugged.

The point still stands, it shouldn't be allowed. It's a natural area for animals and it is a dangerous location. Those well trained/equipped who would normally explore areas like this would be fine -- but this could encourage people with less experience to venture into these areas unprepared for what they will face.

That terrain in Utah is no joke and many people have gone missing in those areas.

That’s a poor justification. The scenery there is already attractive enough that stupid people will already hike there.

It’s not a natural location for animals. It is federally managed land for camping, hunting, and 4 wheeling.

Inexperienced people die venturing into nature all the time. The solution is to warn and educate people, not discourage them from enjoying the outdoors.

Its a big place, and only a few busy Rangers. I imagine folks can just drive in unnoticed. And die of exhaustion or dehydration once they've had a breakdown, lost their way, run out of gas or whatever. Where in that process do we have an opportunity for education? Other than the Darwin sort.

This is true of any wilderness. We should put a warning poster at the obvious trailheads and let the rest of the idiots die.

A more aggressive strategy might involve teaching children in schools not to walk out into the desert without water, or into the ocean if you can’t swim

This is a federally protected land, there are no special rules for art unless it was before when such laws were made.

FWIW, I find this piece of trash to be a showoff moment for some wannabe 'artist'. Mimicking a movie prop to me sounds like a low-effort, untalented mindset.

The feds say that it's illegal to install structures or art as in this case.

Presumably it's been laying unfound for a while now. If nobody's noticed it all this time, I don't see the point in removing it.


That's quite bizarre logic. I'd prefer the natural areas stay pristine and not cluttered up with art that was left randomly in the middle of nowhere.

This isn't that great, it's not worthy of any sort of exception here.

People are really suffering from "it's new and shiny" syndrome.

"I'd prefer" isn't logic either so clearly we're in the realm of what we each find comfortable.

Well, as others have said, it was illegal. "I'd prefer" includes "I see no good reason to make this an exception to the law".

There is also a legal process to allow it to stay, so the law isn’t really an issue. It is more of a question what the people want

You're assuming that it's art. Maybe it's a critical piece of the machinery inside the earth, the one small probe that needs to be exposed to the atmosphere. I wouldn't want to break it and send the whole planet hurtling into the sun.

I expect the monolith to disappear and periodically reappear at different places, e.g., inside a shopping mall, in SF harbor wild seal rocks, on the White House lawn during Biden's inaugural,etc.

But seriously, they should examine the monolith's RF characteristics, monitor/test the field strength around the thing to determine its size and whether it is wired into something.

I bet this is a marketing strategy by DHH just before launching the new Rails version with the hey stack stuff.

Now, I'm no conspiracy theorist, and of course we don't know anything for certain, but is it even remotely possible that this could be a prototype of the Xbox Series X?

> I'm no conspiracy theorist

hmm. we've been shamed out of questioning things due to that one label.

> but is it even remotely possible that this could be a prototype of the Xbox Series X

reminds me of Simpsons episode where they found angel bones but it was used as advertising for the grand opening of a new shopping mall

That might be the heat sink.

It is an exact replica of the monolith from 2001: Space Odyssey, from what I’m seeing.

Not even close. Wrong color (2001 monolith was black, not stainless steel). Wrong shape (2001 monolith had a rectangular cross-section, this one has a square cross section (plus or minus).

Also, you can see the construction methods.

No. This was clearly installed by a mischievous person relatively recently.

So PS5 then.

Too small to be a PS5 prototype

A friend suggested that they'll find the name Acme on it and when it's removed there'll be a very flat coyote under it. (American cartoon reference.)

Monoliths are supposed to be made of stone, hence the name...

I think stele would be the right word maybe?


Probably not. Solid metal objects at that scale have not been a feature of human history for particularly long, they probably don't have a name that's normally used in an archaeological context.

that’s super cool!

In fact there is an art-historical precedent, dating back half a century, for calling modern vertical land art pieces "stele." Michael Heizer did it.



So lith, from Greek lithos, stone. Problem is there's no straight equivalent for a metal bar - perhaps rávdos/rabdos, meaning ingot/rod.

So, "Monorabd"?

métallon is probably the most analogous word to líthos. unfortunately "monometal" just sounds kinda dumb.

Not for a metal band that refuses to jump on the "stereo" hype!


"Sideros" (roughly) is iron in Greek.


Big hunk o' metal

What is metal, if not refined rock extract?

Also correct for the musical genres.

Haha brilliant!

Also: hardcore.

Technically correct is the best kind of correct.

Perhaps but the term lithography refers to a printing technique that can use stone or metal.

Most of the ones I've seen over my career are made of spaghetti.

Or mashed potatoes?

"This means something..."

UHF! I caught that reference.

It took me years to understand that reference fully. When I saw UHF originally it bugged me that I knew it was a reference to something but I didn't know what. Finally, a decade later I saw Close Encounters of the Third Kind and I finally put two and two together.

I saw close encounters as a kid. I don't know how much I enjoyed it, but it at least gave me a deeper appreciation of UHF and the Simpsons.

It was meant to be a direct reference.

I've only seen one part of UHF - Michael Richards' scene w/"The FIREHOSE!!"

You're missing out. UHF is packed with hilarity.

For those of us who don't know: what does "UHF" stand for here?

it's a comedy movie starring Weird Al Yankovic


Due to my age when I watched UHF I had not seen many of the movies that it referenced: Conan the Barbarian, Rambo, Indiana Jones & The Temple of Doom, Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Close Encounters - only over time did I come to appreciate it.

probably the weirdest comment on HN to which I've ever thought "me too!"

Should we call them monoghetti?


That sounds more like something from Lovecraft's mythos.


Or mud

Or code

They got all that iron out of one really big piece of ore.

I think its named after the space odyssey 2001 version

I have a Monolisp.

I have a lisp - but I am very monotonous.

Most monoliths I've dealt with are 20,000+ line legacy C files

Ha! I once reduced a 10,000 line module in a Broadcom 802.11 driver to one page - a template to construct a message. Calls to the old code (5-6 lines) went to nothing - simply pass your structure to the message API.

But that was an eggregious driver. Previous version: ~15 modules. Rewritten by some purist: 900(!) modules. I kid you not.

Please tell me more! How come the calls to the old code went to nothing? It does not surprise me but I wonder how it happened in this specific instance.

Who did the 900 modules rewrite?

Instead of declaring a message and creating it with a call to the (now obsolete) module specific to the structure being transmitted, one simply passed the structure to the message-send api. The conversion template to 'Message' automatically rewrote the structure argument as a message argument.

I was re-writing the driver as a simple C++ set of pure virtual objects and implementations for my hardware. So when I scavenged code to send a certain structure as a message, I simply didn't make the old calls. I remember I did (for some reason) edit all the old modules to use the new API, to prove it still worked I guess. A long afternoon of search and replace.

The (Korean?) company that owned the driver must have had a team or something. It was extremely brain-dead code for every element of an 802.11/ethernet abstraction as a separate module, done twice (once for the driver; once for the module firmware). Double structure definitions for everything.

My team wanted a walk-thru of the existing driver. I scheduled two hours, one before lunch and one after. I opened with "I've brought just the 500 most significant modules today, and we're going to walk thru a connection and message send". Proceeded to open dozens of nested module references on a very long path from triggering a connection attempt to exchanging the first message for negotiation. The hour was up.

Nobody came to the 2nd hour after lunch.

> Double structure definitions for everything.

I wonder if that's because two different teams worked on the two different abstractions.

> Nobody came to the 2nd hour after lunch.

I guess that the pain of that first hour convinced them that your rewrite was trustworthy.

In Spore the video game you send down a monolith to upgrade a planet. I found this to be a very tasteful tidbit that paid homage to Kubrick.

> In Spore the video game you send down a monolith to upgrade a planet. I found this to be a very tasteful tidbit that paid homage to Kubrick.

There is a similar game mechanism in Will Wright's 1990 title SimEarth.

It felt incomplete in some ways but Spore was so cool. I don't think there's been anything like it in the sim genre since tbh

It felt incomplete because it's not a real game, it's a pageant — like little kids dressing up as shepherds and wise men and telling the story of Christmas.

You feel it's cool and big, because you're looking at the story of going from the origins of life to the galaxy, but the gameplay doesn't actually support that ambition. Most of what you accomplish has very little impact; it's just a series of hoops you need to jump through, so that you can say that you did them.

I get that, but I'd prefer games that tell a story rather than cause angst whilst they siphon your wallet. Played LoL quite a lot and haven't learnt a thing from it :(

Best games don't tell stories - they generate them. There's no need to make games more like movies or graphic novels because we already have movies and graphic novels.

That's just, like, your opinion, man. There's clearly a market for, say, JRPGs, and that market is comprised of people who fully disagree with you. Ultimately what you're saying is "there's no need to make games I don't like".

Personally, for what it's worth, I love games where you neither generate nor are told stories, but rather where you uncover them. Outer Wilds is the best recent example I know of-- the entire game is essentially a detective mystery/archaeology expedition where you have to piece the story of the game together. Similar DNA lives in games like Dark Souls and Myst, where the game lore is predetermined but not necessarily shoved in your face.

Ultimately what I'm saying is that computer games are wasting an opportunity to be good what they do best: interaction and simulation. No one condemns basketball, soccer or chess for having poor story. They are however good at generating stories people tell to each other later. Computer games do that even better.

Unfortunately not - there's too many of them, so they don't work as social objects in most contexts anymore.

I could tell endless stories about the crazy flights I've done in Kerbal Space Program - like that time when I miscalculated Δv in my moon lander and had to plot an emergency intercept on a suborbital trajectory, to let the crew EVA over to the command module before the lander crashed into the moon's surface...

... but nobody cares. I have no one to tell them to. Everyone has their own set of games they play, and the intersection of these sets contains very few games, if any at all.

Just want to add that I was actually thinking about Outer Wilds when I wrote my parent comment. That game was a literal journey of the soul for me.

There is room for many types, and when it comes to more traditional storytelling, games can create more direct emotional connections by making you the character, rather then the protagonist just being someone you watch.

But most games nowadays actively avoid that! They make you control Geralt or Solid Snake or Master Chief or whatever. You know, someone cooler than you could ever possibly be. They introduce third person cutscenes if the game isn't already 3rd person by default. You can't choose what to say or are very limited in what or how you say it. You pursue someone else's goals.

Half Life 1 is one of the few games that got it right, but does it have imitators? A silent protagonist is something to be ashamed of nowadays.

Silent protagonist games still exist. 'Prey' comes to mind (though an AI character speaks to you using your character's voice, and you can also hear your character speak on a few recordings you can find. But in the tradition of HL, your character never utters anything while you are in their perspective, and there are no third person cutscenes. Spoilers: the entity you are playing as is not actually the character it's presented as, so technically you never actually hear your character's voice.)

The new Doom games also have silent protagonists, but unfortunately have some third person cutscenes and are extreme examples of 'cooler than you'.

At some point story generators are barely games and more like tools or toys. Dwarf fortress doesn't have a ton of replay value as a fortress manager. Maybe five or six attempts to make a stable fortress but i could spend hours just tweaking the world gen parameters and looking through the legends mode.

I can't disagree more. Stuff like minecraft(which I assume you mean) just have no lessons to teach. They are great games. But they can't grow beyond that. They can't be masterpieces precisely because they don't tell a story.

I'm shamelessly pasting a wikipedia quote because it puts it better and more succinctly than I could.

"Non-games are a class of software on the border between video games and toys. The original term "non-game game" was coined by late Nintendo president Satoru Iwata, who describes it as "a form of entertainment that really doesn't have a winner, or even a real conclusion".[1] Will Wright had previously used the term "software toy" for the same purpose.[2] The main difference between non-games and traditional video games is the lack of structured goals, objectives, and challenges.[3] This allows the player a greater degree of self-expression through freeform play, since they can set up their own goals to achieve."


Will Wright is the designer of Sim City, and he deliberately called his creation this way. I think the above wikipedia distinction is spot on. I don't think the term "non-game" is ideal, but I can't think of any better one that's short. Sandbox, entertainment software, etc. "Sandbox" doesn't capture graphic novels. I think Will Wright also compared Sim City to a ball. You can play a game with a ball, you can invent some rules, but it's not a game by itself.

Speaking of Minecraft, you can make a game within it, or out of it. But it's not a fully fledged, "batteries included" game. Minecraft is very similar to Lego, and if you remove one dimension - even a painting set.

The term "non-game" is somewhat useful for me because I specifically look for games for my active entertainment. I'm annoyed when I have to wade through several quasi-games on a review site to find one proper game. I don't necessarily think games in classical sense are inherently better or more challenging. But if the word "game" ceases to have any meaning on computers, someone will have to come up with a game2 term, which would be silly.

I wouldn't go so far as to call Minecraft educational, but it certainly can teach things. It's probably taught the utility of logic gates to at least a few kids. The comparison to Lego seems apt. Most will probably just build houses or spaceships, but some with the aptitude will start building differentials or digital calculators.

That's also in SimEarth, from 1990. Given both games were designed by Will Wright, perhaps not a surprise!

Surely it would be homage to Arthur C. Clarke, the author who invented it.

The screen play was actually written first by both Kubrick and Clarke, the novel was released after the movie came out. I think it’s fair to give them both credit.

Kubrick was at the very least involved in the design of the monolith for the set: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2001:_A_Space_Odyssey_(film)#D...

I seem to recall there is a monolith floating in space somewhere in Eve Online.

Should be decomposed into microservices.

Then they'd be a medium blog post about it, so not so secret.

Encore! You sir, deserve a prize for this one.


"We could just leave the Utah monolith alone and mind our business.

And not summon an alien or demon or whatever during the one of the worst years in our lifetimes."

This was the best part of the article.

Given the BBC based most of its news of social media...

“It’s obviously Bigfoot, the human/ape hybrid the greys use when on Earth.”, says a source near to the monolith.

Use for what?

Omg, it was there the whole time?!

I forgot where I have left it years ago ...

I hope this isn't the black Marker.

No one seems to have watched 2001: A Space Odyssey. Sad.

It's mentioned in the article.

Mr Hutchings speculated that the monolith may have been installed by "some new wave artist", or a fan of 2001: A Space Odyssey, the 1968 film directed by Stanley Kubrick.

New wave artist? Like Devo?

The dimensions of the monolith in 2001 were related as 1:4:9 according to the book, this one doesn't appear to follow that relationship.

This is clearly a reference to this movie. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/2001:_A_Space_Odyssey_(film)

What's really fascinating is how such projects are funded. The cost estimates are probably wrong but why?

Is it, though? If I were going to go to the expense of putting up a monolith, I would at least try to get the proportions correct, if not the texture.

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