From Arthur C. Clark’s 1951 short story, “The Sentinel,” part of the inspiration for 2001: A Space Odyssey:
Nearly a hundred thousand million stars are turning in the
circle of the Milky Way, and long ago other races on the worlds of other suns
must have scaled and passed the heights that we have reached. Think of such
civilizations, far back in time against the fading afterglow of Creation,
masters of a universe so young that life as yet had come only to a handful of
Theirs would have been a loneliness we cannot imagine, the
loneliness of gods looking out across infinity and finding none to share their
thoughts. They must have searched the star-clusters as we have searched the
planets. Everywhere there would be worlds, but they would be empty or peopled
with crawling, mindless things.
Such was our own Earth, the smoke of the great volcanoes still
staining the skies, when that first ship of the peoples of the dawn came
sliding in from the abyss beyond Pluto. It passed the frozen outer worlds,
knowing that life could play no part in their destinies. It came to rest among
the inner planets, warming themselves around the fire of the Sun and waiting
for their stories to begin.
Those wanderers must have looked on Earth, circling safely in
the narrow zone between fire and ice, and must have guessed that it was the
favorite of the Sun’s children. Here, in the distant future, would be
intelligence; but there were countless stars before -them still, and they might
never come this way again.
SO THEY LEFT A SENTINEL, one of millions they have scattered
throughout the Universe, watching over all worlds with the promise of life. It
was a beacon that down the ages has been patiently signaling the fact that no
one had discovered it.
Perhaps you understand now why that crystal pyramid was set
upon the Moon instead of on the Earth. Its builders were not concerned with
races still struggling up from savagery. They would be interested in our
civilization only if we proved our fitness to survive -by crossing space and so
escaping from the Earth, our cradle.
That is the challenge that all intelligent races must meet,
sooner or later. It is a double challenge, for it depends in turn upon the
conquest of atomic energy and the last choice between life and death. Once we
had passed that crisis, it was only a matter of time before we found the
pyramid and forced it open.
Now its signals have ceased, and those whose duty it is will
be turning their minds upon Earth. Perhaps they wish to help our infant
civilization. But they must be very, very old, and the old are often insanely
jealous of the young.
I can never look now at the Milky Way without wondering from
which of those banked clouds of stars the emissaries are coming. If you will
pardon so commonplace a simile, we have set off the fire-alarm and have nothing
to do but to wait. I do not think we will have to wait for long.
The story deals with the discovery of
an artifact on Earth's Moon left
behind eons ago by ancient aliens. The object is
made of a polished mineral, is tetrahedral in
shape, and is surrounded by a spherical forcefield. The narrator speculates at
one point that the mysterious aliens who left this structure on the Moon may
have used mechanisms belonging "to a technology that lies beyond our
horizons, perhaps to the technology of para-physical forces."
The narrator speculates that for
millions of years (evidenced by dust buildup around its forcefield) the
artifact has been transmitting signals into deep space, but it ceases to
transmit when, sometime later, it is destroyed "with the savage might of
atomic power". The narrator hypothesizes that this "sentinel"
was left on the Moon as a "warning beacon" for possible intelligent
and spacefaring species that might develop on Earth.
The story was adapted and expanded
upon in the 1968 film, 2001: A Space Odyssey, made by
filmmaker Stanley Kubrick. Kubrick and Clarke modified
and fused the story with other ideas. Clarke expressed impatience with its
common description as the story on which the novel and movie are based. He
continually annoyed by careless references to "The Sentinel" as
"the story on which 2001 is based"; it bears about as much relation
to the movie as an acorn to the resultant full-grown oak. (Considerably
less, in fact, because ideas from several other stories were also
incorporated.) Even the elements that Stanley Kubrick and I did actually
use were considerably modified. Thus the 'glittering, roughly pyramidal
structure… set in the rock like a gigantic, many-faceted jewel' became—after
several modifications—the famous black monolith. And the locale was moved from
the Mare Crisium to the most spectacular of
all lunar craters, Tycho—easily visible to the naked eye from
Earth at Full Moon.
mysterious Arthur C Clarke-style monolith appears in ROMANIA after unexplained
metal vanished from Utah – so who (or what) put it there?
metal monolith has appeared in northern Romania after another vanished from the
desert in Utah
triangular pillar was found on Batcas Doamnei Hill in the city of Piatra Neamt
One side of
the structure, which is 13 feet tall, faces Mount Ceahlau, known locally as the
A mysterious metal monolith has
appeared in Romania this week after another similar structure found in the
remote Utah desert was removed by an 'unknown
The shiny triangular pillar was found
on Batca Doamnei Hill in the city of Piatra Neamt in northern Romania last
It was spotted a few metres away from
the well-known archaeological landmark the Petrodava Dacian Fortress, an fort
built by the ancient Dacian people between 82 BC and AD 106.
The peculiar find comes after a similar monolith was found in the Utah desert with no explanation, sparking wry speculation that it could have been the work of aliens, but is more likely the work of a prankster inspired by science fiction novel 2001: A Space Odyssey.
In the book by Arthur C Clarke, later
made into a film by Stanley Kubrick, a monolith first appears on Earth in
Africa three million years ago and appears to confer intelligence upon a
starving tribe of great apes to develop tools.
A Space Odyssey is a 1968 science fiction novel by Arthur C Clarke, later made
into a film with the same name by Stanley Kubrick.
the book, a monolith first appears on Earth in Africa three million years ago
and appears to confer intelligence upon a starving tribe of giant apes to
monolith is used as a tool by an alien race to investigate worlds across the
galaxy and to encourage the development of intelligent life.
the book, the tribe approach the monolith, and unknown to them, their minds
were being studied and their actions controlled by an alien
great apes use their tools to kill animals to eat meat to end their starvation,
and to kill a predatory leopard.
next day, the main character, Moon-Watcher, uses a club to kill the leader
of a rival tribe of apes, leading to an awakening of intelligence and the
development of humans.
book explores technological innovation and traces the development of humans
from great apes. It considers the evolution that has led to intelligent
When 2001: A Space
Odyssey was written, humans had not yet set foot on the moon. The book offers a
glimpse of Clarke's imagination of what space exploration might look
The monolith is used as a tool by an
alien race to investigate worlds across the galaxy and to encourage the
development of intelligent life.
In the book, the great apes use their
tools to kill animals to eat meat to end their starvation, and to kill a
predatory leopard. The next day, the main character uses a club to kill the
leader of a rival tribe of apes, leading to an awakening of intelligence and
the development of humans.
In Utah, the pillar, which protruded
approximately 12 feet from the red rocks in southern Utah, was spotted last
Wednesday by baffled local BLM officials who were counting bighorn sheep
from a helicopter.
However the three-sided structure was
removed by an 'unknown party' on Friday evening, the Bureau of Land Management
Utah said in a statement.
News of the discovery in Utah quickly
went viral online, with many noting the object's similarity to the strange
alien monoliths that trigger huge leaps in human progress in Kubrick's classic
sci-fi film '2001: A Space Odyssey.'
In Romania, the triangular structure
has a height of about 13 feet and one side faces Mount Ceahlau, known locally
as the Holy Mountain.
It is one of the most famous mountains
in Romania, and is listed as one of the seven natural wonders of the
Romanian officials still do not know
who is responsible for erecting the mysterious monolith.
Neamt Culture and Heritage official
Rocsana Josanu said: 'We have started looking into the strange appearance of
'It is on private property, but we
still don't know who the monolith's owner is yet. It is in a protected area on
an archaeological site.'
She added: 'Before installing something there, they needed permission from our institution, one that must then be approved by the Ministry of Culture.'
But many tracked down the co-ordinates
and published them - leading people to drive many hours through the night to
reach the 12ft aluminium structure.
And it was revealed that a similar version
appeared nearly 20 years ago on New Years Day in Seattle.
However access to the site involved a
45-minute off-road drive on a dirt track many miles from any major town at
10mph - and then a 15-minute hike up a dry stream bed.
Across the globe UFO spotters and
conspiracy theorists became obsessed with the shiny, triangular pillar.
Though the structure was only
discovered by authorities this month, Google Earth images show it had been
standing since at least 2015 or 2016.
Lieutenant Nick Street, a spokesman for
the Department of Public Safety, said it's possible the structure had been
there for '40, 50 years, maybe more.'
'It's the type of material that doesn't
degrade with the elements. It may only be a few years old, who knows. There's
no real way based on the material it's made out of how long it's actually been
there,' he said on Tuesday.
Others pointed out the object's
resemblance to the avant-garde work of John McCracken, an American artist who
lived for a time in nearby New Mexico, and died in 2011.
McCracken was known for his
freestanding sculptures in the shape of pyramids, cubes, or sleek slabs.
The monolith most closely resembles
McCracken's plank-like sculptures featured at his exhibit at the David Zwirner
art gallery in New York.
On Tuesday a spokeswoman for David
Zwirner said it was not one of McCracken's works, but possibly by a fellow
artist paying homage.
However later in the day Zwirner gave
another statement which suggested the piece was indeed by McCracken, meaning it
had lain undiscovered in the desert for nearly a decade.
'The gallery is divided on this,'
Zwirner said. 'I believe this is definitely by John.'
Utah has a history of 'land art,' unusual installations that
cropped up far from population centers in the 1960s and '70s.
The most famous, Spiral Jetty, a
1,500-foot-long coil by artist Robert Smithson in 1970 that's composed entirely
of mud, salt crystals and basalt.
Located on the northeastern edge of the
Great Salt Lake near Rozel Point, the jetty appears and disappears depending on
So far, no one has stepped forward to
claim responsibility for the monolith, though
Earthlings, It Seems, Not Aliens, Removed the Utah Monolith
photographer said four men dismantled the mysterious shiny object that has
captivated the country.
It was, by most standards, a short
stay. The that
became the focus of international attention after it was spotted in a remote
section of the desert on Nov.
18 Government officials continued to
insist on Monday that they had no information about either the installation or
removal — and possible theft — of the piece, which had been placed on public
The office of the San Juan County
Sheriff at first announced that it was declining to investigate the case in the
absence of complaints about missing property. To underscore that point, it
uploaded a “Most Wanted” poster on its website, or rather a jokey version of
one in which the But by the end
of Monday, the sheriff’s office had reversed its position and announced that it
was planning a joint investigation with the Bureau of Land Management, a
It was left to an adventure
photographer, Ross Bernards, to disclose evidence .
Mr. Bernards, 34, of Edwards, Colo., was visiting the monolith on Friday night
when, he said, four men arrived as if out of nowhere to dismantle the
sculpture. Mr. Bernards had driven six hours for the chance to ogle the sculpture
and to take dramatic photographs of it. Using upscale Lume Cube lights attached
to a drone, he produced a series of glowy, moonlit pictures in which the
monolith glistens against the red cliffs and the deep blue of the night sky.
Suddenly, around 8:40
p.m., he said, the men arrived, their voices echoing in the canyon. Working in
twosomes, with an unmistakable sense of purpose, they gave the monolith hard
shoves, and it started to tilt toward the ground. Then they pushed it in the
opposite direction, trying to uproot it.
“This is why you don’t leave trash in
the desert,” one of them said, suggesting that he viewed the monolith as an
eyesore, a pollutant to the landscape, according to Mr. Bernards.
The sculpture popped out and landed on
the ground with a bang. Then the men broke it apart and ferried it off in a
“As they walked off
with the pieces, one of them said, ‘Leave no trace,’” Mr. Bernards recalled in
a telephone interview.
He did not photograph
the men who took down the sculpture, saying he “didn’t want to start a
confrontation by bringing out my camera and putting it in their face —
especially since I agreed with what they were doing.”
But a friend who accompanied him on the
trip, Michael James Newlands, 38, of Denver, took a few quick photographs with
“It must have been 10 or 15 minutes at
most for them to knock over the monolith and pull it out,” he told The New York
Times. “We didn’t know who they were, and we were not going to do anything to
stop them.” He added, “They just came in there to execute and they were like,
‘This is our mission.’”
The photos are blurry, but they
fascinate, nonetheless. Here are images of several men working beneath the
cover of darkness, wearing gloves but not face masks, standing above the fallen
monolith. We can see its exposed insides. It turns out to be a hollow structure
with an armature made from plywood.
The photographs are the only known
images of the culprits who removed the sculpture; they may not have been the
same people who installed it in the first place. Lt. Nick Street, a spokesman
for the Utah Department of Public Safety, said last week that the monolith had
been embedded into the rock.
In the past few days, artists had been
casually speculating that whoever put the sculpture up probably had taken it
down once it was discovered, as if aspiring to be anonymous artist-activists,
the Banksy of the desert.
speculation had not yielded too many facts. Initially, the monolith was linked
a California-born artist who died in 2011 and harbored a taste for science
fiction. David Zwirner, the New York art dealer who represents the artist’s
estate and first identified the monolith as an authentic McCracken, stepped
forward on Monday to tell The Times that he had studied photographs of it and
no longer had any idea who had made it.
Almine Rech, who represents the artist
at her galleries in Paris and Brussels, also contacted a reporter to deny that
the desert monolith was a McCracken.
All of this leaves us not an iota
closer to solving the mystery of the Utah sculpture.
On the plus side, the
monolith that captivated the country over the past week, then disappeared as
quickly as it entered public consciousness, continues to provide a pleasant
sensation of uncertainty. Would it lose its aura and power if we knew who had