Mysterious Steel Pillars Appear around the World

Category: Human Interest


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. monolith / ˈmɒn ə lɪθ / (n) – a very tall pillar or monument that is usually made of one large piece of stone

    The 50-foot monolith that stands in the middle of the park can be seen throughout the city.

  2. intrigue / ɪnˈtrig / (v) – to cause someone to be curious

    I am intrigued by the new popular movie.

  3. conspiracy theory / kənˈspɪr ə si ˈθɪər i / (n) – a belief that certain events are caused by a secret organization or as part of a secret plan

    There are many conspiracy theories about the sudden disappearance of the actress.

  4. own up / oʊn ʌp / (phrasal) – to admit that you did something wrong or bad

    The children quickly owned up to their mistake and apologized to their teacher.

  5. intend / ɪnˈtɛnd / (v) – to design something to be used for a particular purpose

    The coloring books I gave are intended to be a stress reliever for the children.


Read the text below.

Several metal monoliths have mysteriously appeared around the world in recent months, intriguing the public about their origin and purpose.

The first one was found in the middle of a desert in Utah last November. It was accidentally spotted by personnel from the state’s wildlife resources center who were observing the desert from a helicopter. The stainless-steel structure, which stood about 3 to 3.6 meters tall, was taken down a few days later. Soon after, a second monolith appeared in Romania. It was around 2.7 meters tall and looked similar to the first one. The resemblance between the two structures made people speculate that they may be related.

The sudden appearance of the steel pillars did not end in Utah and Romania. A third one was discovered on top of a mountain in California. Following this discovery, monoliths were also found in several other places, including a forest in California and a beach in England. There was also one that appeared in front of a design studio in North Carolina and another in the midst of an entertainment district in Nevada.

The structures’ similarity to the monolith in Stanley Kubrick’s sci-fi film, 2001: A Space Odyssey led to various speculations and conspiracy theories. Some have even attributed the monoliths’ appearances to aliens.

But while the origin of some monoliths is unclear, others have been traced to certain individuals or artist groups. For instance, the Romania monolith was said to be made by a welder. Likewise, a group of four men owned up to the monolith on the California mountain, saying that it was intended to be a piece of installation art.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• What do you think should be done to the people who built the monoliths (e.g. awarded, punished)? Discuss.
• What would you do if a monolith suddenly appeared in your community? Discuss.

Discussion B

• Why do you think some people spread conspiracy theories about things? Discuss.
• Would you believe in any conspiracy theory? Why or why not?