Monday, February 2, 2009

Jigsaw Falling Into Place (Part 3): Only Fools Are Enslaved in Time and Space- The Science of Lost

Please, pardon my tardiness. I was supposed to write this a year ago, when the season finale of season four just premiered. I was all jazzed up, on the precipice of going mental, and scooping up the melted pieces of brain off the floor just thinking about the implications of what Jeremy Bentham, a moving island, and a dead Locke can possibly mean for our much adored show, Lost. But alas, life got in the way. Graduation, moving out, and gaining lots of weight from eating all of my mommy's yum yums were on top of my list of priorities, and suddenly blogging about Lost was not as vital. But what seemed like a practice in laziness turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because with just three episodes in the newest season, a rather large piece of the puzzle has fallen into our laps. So, without further ado, I bring you the last chapter in this three part study-- Only Fools Are Enslaved In Time and Space: The Science of Lost.

If you know me, then I'm assuming you know that my thought process has been overrun and dictated by a mean and viscous entity known as the LSAT (or what common folk know as the Law School Admission Test). So everything that has to do with me formulating an argument or making decisions is now governed by logical reasoning. It comes to no surprise, then, that this post will follow the three tenets of an LSAT argument: The premise (The answers of Lost can be sufficiently answered deductively with the proper application of theoretical science), the evidence which is presented to prove said premise (the clues that were dropped on us from the beginning of the show's inception), the conclusions (how these pieces of evidence, or clues, have eventually led us to theoretical application) and the subsidiary conclusions (what can these applications of theory tell us about inferences that can answer such mysteries like the whispers, ghosts, or giant pirate ships in the middle of the jungle?).

The Evidence, or The Clues Leading up to our Conclusions
(note: I assure you that references and allusions to scientific theory and physicists will thoroughly be explained later in the post. For now, we're concentrating on the build up that the past seasons have provided)


1. "Day man! Master of the Night man!"
Mac from 'It's Always Sunny' makes the most relevant, albeit obscure, cameo yet. In episode 3.07, the first Juliet-centric episode 'Not in Portland, we see Mac (or Rob McElhenney) play Aldo, a lonesome Other guarding what looks like a jail, reading Stephen Hawking's 'A Brief History of Time', one of the most popular science books of all time and the quintessential source for everything you want to know about the Big bang, wormholes, black holes, super string theory light cones, and most importantly for our show, how time is implemented in these constructs and how it can theoretically be manipulated.


2. "Only fools are enslaved in space and time"
Same episode. After Aldo is knocked out by a butt of a rifle, Kate, Sawyer and Alex free Carl from Room 23, which, seemingly, turned out to be a brainwashing station ala Clockwork Orange. Weird images of babydolls, coins, cockroaches and other arcane and arbitrary things would pop up, all with slogans of equal mystique, such as: "God loves you as he loves Jacob". As with anything on Lost, the message board and blog hounds took that scene and reversed it, suspecting correctly that if the video was played in reverse we would get a hidden message. What we got was a phrase that would set the tone of the further progression of the show: "Only fools are enslaved in space and time". WTF?!

3. "The Universe has a way of...course correcting"
The following episode, the second Desmond-centric episode titled 'Flashes Before Your Eyes', was the first time the audience viewed a break in the spacetime continuum, all without us knowing it. When Desmond turned the fail safe key at the Swan Hatch at the end of season 2, he was exposed to whatever exotic matter or electromagnetic material the Swan was guarding, making Desmond conducive to break the mold (all this may seem confusing now, but I promise, I will try to explain it in the next section). Desmond goes back to his previous self, pre-island, living and in love with Penny, but consciously knowing that he has been on the island, pressing that damn button every 108 minutes. Desmond, now being free from time and space (apparently, he's no fool) can now dictate the course of his future, deciding to propose to Penny. When he tries to buy a ring, he is stopped by the now very prevalent Mrs. Hawking (the white haired lady that appeared at the end of episode 5.02, 'The Lie', and who is, from deductive reasoning, is Daniel Farday's mum). Mrs. Hawking, Eloise is her first name, convinced Desmond not to marry Penny and basically set out the rules that Stephen Hawking set out for time travel. You CAN'T change the past or the future.


4. "I was on a Ferris Wheel"
At the end of the last episode of season 3, 'Through The Looking Glass', Jack calls the freighter that is parked a couple of miles off the coast of the island, believing it to be rescue despite the cries of John Locke that it is not. When the ring goes through, the first thing Jack hears is a man picking up that says, "Minkowski". With this clue, the whole construct of the Lost universe took one step closer to be fully defined. Minkowski was a reference to German mathematician Hermann Minkowski, whose most pertinent revelation in accordance with our show is his development of what is now known as 'Minkowski Spacetime' (which he developed after doing further work on special relativity, something that his greatest student, Albert Einstein, formulated). In short, Minkowski concluded that are spatial construct and surroundings are one time like dimensions. Our Minkowski ultimately showed up in the middle of season four, traveling through time via consciousness exactly like Desmond.

5. This Valentine's Day, will you be my Constant?
The first detailed explanation of Desmond's condition. Rather than the one experience he had after turning the fail safe key, Desmond goes through what is assumed to be the island's protective barrier, stimulating Desmond's consciousness to bounce back and forth between 1998 and 2004. Faraday explains to us how time and space work with a little bit of pseudo science (i.e. the constant), but we forgive this practice in deception due to the incredible cathartic release when Desmond finally calls Penny.

The Conclusion, or What the Clues Have Led Up To
"We really do not have time for me to try to explain. You have no idea how difficult that would be. For me to try to explain this, this phenomenon, to a quantum physicist, that would be difficult".
-Daniel Faraday (Episode 5.01: Because You Left)

I am, by no means, an expert in physics. Truth be told, most of what I learned in high school and college Physics courses failed to make any sense until I started watching Lost (same goes for philosophy, history, and a general sense of conscientiousness in everyday life...I owe this show a lot). But I feel I have a somewhat solid grasp on the complexities of physics that the show utilizes to attempt to explain this to you all, quantum physicist or not. I must warn you, the upcoming section is heavily theoretical and may involve words that do not occur frequently in our daily vernacular. So let us begin this journey into a brief history of time with...A Brief History of Time (Get it? I is the definition of clever. Booya.)



Stephen Hawking: Not Just a Character on The Simpsons
Stephen Hawking, the most well known and celebrated theoretical physicist of his time, in trying to map out his perception of how time and space work and interact, said this:

"Imaginary time is indistinguishable from directions in space. If one can go north, one can turn around and head south; equally, if one can go forward in imaginary time, one ought to be able to turn around and go backward. This means that there can be no important difference between the forward and backward directions of imaginary time. On the other hand, when one looks at "real" time, there's a very big difference between the forward and backward directions, as we all know. Where does this difference between the past and the future come from? Why do we remember the past but not the future?"
- A Brief History of Time


"Imaginary time" is a concept Hawking coined in an attempt to resolve the fundamental question of what existed before the Big Bang. While "imaginary time" remains a relatively simple concept, it is rather difficult to visualize. Hawking distinguished "imaginary time" from what he calls "regular time", or the causal linear construct of how we see our world unfolding (i.e. we forget to turn on the alarm clock and we wake up late the next morning because of that; causality leads to progression in time). In order to more clearly understand this, visualize "regular time" on an X-axis, or a horizontal line, with the left side of the map labeled "past" and the other side labeled "future", all while "imaginary time" would run perpendicular to "regular time", moving at right angles. "Imaginary time" isn't any different from "regular time", it just runs in a contrasting course, dissimilar from the way we usually experience and go through time.

In essence, what Hawking was trying to do was look at time as if it was a dimension of space, meaning that time is not just a human construct defined by cultural semantics, but is actually occupying space, much like how the bed you sleep on, the desk you work on, and the dishes you never clean that lay on top of your book shelf take up space. This construct of time as a spatially occupying space allows you to move back and forth, forward and backward, beside "imaginary time", just like how you can move back and forth in space.

Hawking wasn't the first one to think of time in a spatial construct. In 1907, a Polish mathematician named Hermann Minkowski (the namesake of our beloved freighter communications officer who died because he couldn't find a constant) calculated that Albert Einstein's (the genius for which Minkowski mentored) special theory of relativity can work if we added a fourth dimension to the traditional view of three dimensional Euclidean space. This added addition is, of course, time--meaning that time is spatially occupies dimensions, coining the phrase spacetime.

The Possibility of Paradox: Whatever Happened, Happened
"You cannot change anything. You can't. Even if you tried to, it wouldn't work. Time is like a string, we can move forward on that string, we can move in reverse, but we can never create a new string. If we try to do anything different we will fail everytime. Whatever happened, happened."
-Daniel Farday (Episode 5.01: Because You Left)

What Faraday explains to our Lostaways is paramount--it sets up the rules of time travel and expertly lays down that paradoxes can never exist. While other lesser programs fail at using time travel as a sufficient device (come on, did you really expect me not to take a jab at Heroes. Seriously, cancel it already and just give us two nights of 30 Rock), Lost employs popular theoretical physics as a construct to their narrative, fulfilling the promise of answering most of our questions with at least a semblance of logical and rational thought.

Lost skillfully sought out to establish that, while the show uses time travel, that the possibility of
paradoxes can never exist. This means that Marty McFly cannot go meet George McFly and get in the way of Lorraine, his destiny, consequently making him disappear on stage in front of hundreds of dancing students at the Enchantment Under The Sea Dance (I've seen that flick way too many times). The study of paradoxes in time travel has been rigorously investigated by Kip S. Thorne, a close colleague and student of, you guessed it, Stephen Hawking. Using the Novikov self-consistency principle (which basically states that even if an event that brings rise to a paradox can possibly exist, the probability of that event is zero [i.e. The Grandfather Paradox, which is what Back To The Future ignores, can never happen]), Thorne adds more to the idea of the non-existence of paradoxes by calculating that there can never be any initial conditions that lead to paradox once time travel is implemented. Thorne surmised this conjecture by using laws of physics and idenfications of universal physical mechanisms, such as Loterntzian wormholes, closed timelike curves, vacuum polarization of quantum fields, and traversable wormholes. I'm not even going to pretend that I understand any of those things, so instead, I'll use a metaphor to summarize our findings:

Think of a river
. In this river, you can go down or forward, and sometimes there might be a whirlpool. When you get sucked into this whirlpool, you can either go forward in the river or back, dislodging yourself from your normal path on the river (in our case, our linear causal view of time). But no matter where you go, you can never change anything that exist already in that river, because it already exists.

The Possibility of Possibility: Whoa Doc, This is Getting Heavy
"This station is being built here because of its proximity to what we believe to be almost limitless energy. And that energy, once we can harness it correctly, it is going to allow us to manipulate time"
-Pierre Chang (Episode 5.01- Because You Left)

One of the most significant clues we received was outside of the 'Mothership', and was seen live by a few lucky thousand people at the 2007 San Diego Comic-Con. After the Lost Panel, a video was shown with who now know as Pierre Chang, formerly known as Marvin Candle, Edgar Haliwax, and Mark Whitman, or better known as the Asian dude who is the spokeman in all them Dharma Orientation videos. In it, we have Chang welcoming the watchers of the video to the Orchid Station, holding a bunny rabbit with the number 15, and dropping a informative H-Bomb on us by uttering the words
"The unique properties of the island lead to a kind of Casimir Effect".

A little course refresher, just in case your brain is as cooked as mine is. What we have established is that Lost retains a universe in which space occupies a fourth dimension, in addition to the three previously established Euclidean dimensions (Hawking/Minkowski). In this construct, think of a river, and on this river we can go backwards and forwards, but we can never change the course of this river, because everything that has happened, happened (Kip Thorne). But remember when I said that in this river, there can be some whirlpools, and once sucked through this whirlpool, we can land in any point previous or after the point we were previously established in? Stephen Hawking, Hermann Minkowski, Kip Thorne, and most notably, Hendrik Casimir saw wormholes as a universal kind of whirlpool, making it conducive to hop between points mapped out on our immeasurable spacetime continuum. By the way, I don't think it was unintentional for the powers that be to name Ken Leung's character Miles Starum, which sounds an awful lot like maelstrom, which is a synonym for whirlpool. (oOOoO. You just got chills didn't you?).

In 1948, physicists by the names of Hendrik Casimir and Dirk Polder postulated what came to be
known as the Casimir Effect. In their calculations, the two geniuses basically mapped out the possibility of vacuums existing at a quantum level; all in all, this basically means that they physicists found that it is possible to develop a force from virtually nothing. Think about it like this: What would happen if you got two ordinary mirrors and placed them together so they are standing face to face. Intuitively, we would assume that nothing would happen at all, when, in fact, an attraction is developed simply by the presence of a vacuum. If you're still having trouble, think about a tiny man in between these mirrors and saying Bloody Mary in the dark 13 times, and two Bloody Mary's pop out and murder the little man (OK. That doesn't make sense. At all, actually. But I just thought that was a pretty cool image, no?) The Casimir Effect was successfully proven in 1996, when physicist Steven Lamoreaux tested its theory at Los Alamos Labs.

Both Stephen Hawking and Kip Thorne (not Minkowski, mofo's dead) were fully aware of the experiments conducted by Casimir and Polder and both suggested that if the application of what
they deemed as "exotic matter" (aka: virtual particles, special properties, limitless energy) was employed with the Casimir Effect, then you can theoretically create a wormhole to bounce back and fourth between points on the spacetime continuum. To be more forthright, "exotic matter" is believed to be any material, element or particle that opposes physical and natural laws. For example, if you drop an apple to the floor and it flies straight up to the ceiling, then that apple contains exotic matter.

Right now, as we are at this point, we can only experience time in a limited way. We are only
living at this moment right now. Here I am, typing this blog, but at the same time on the spacetime continuum, I am also being born, dying, getting married, losing my hair, money, viriginity, religion, etc. This is the only way we can experience time, just like how we can only be at one place at a time, although we know that the space around us is a spatial dimension. Once a wormhole is generated, then one can use it to experience time at different points at the spacetime continuum. Just like we have vessels that can move us around in our spatial dimensions (cars, boats, bikes, planes, etc.), we can theoertically have a wormhole as a vessel that would be conducive to manipulate our experience with time.

On Lost, we can deductively conclude that everything that we have just discussed has already happened, ostensibly, right before our eyes. We know the island has exotic matter that defies the laws of physics (Rose's cancer and Locke's cancer was cured, 48 people survived from a massive plane crash, people heal fast on the island, Richard Alpert is ageless, babies can't be born, etc.), we know that the show subscribes to Hawking's version of the timespace continuum (as explained meticulously by Daniel Faraday and Pierre Chang), and we know the island has specific spots harnessing electromagnetic energy and ridiculous amounts of unknown energy (as indicative of both the Swan and the Orchid Stations). Put all those together and we have an island filled with people stumbling through wormholes with no end in sight.

The Subsidiary Conclusions, or C'mon Eric, Just Tell Us What The Hell It All Means Already
"Sometimes we get frustrated ourselves and decide it's time to download a big chunk of mythology. And then the audience says, 'I find this confusing and alienating and too weird.' So then we pull back, and they say, 'You're not giving us enough'."
-Damon Lindelof (Creator/Writer, on trying to satisfy the audience of Lost)

First thing's first. The picture to the right of your screen has nothing to do with Lost. That's my good friend and former housemate Dan Schneider. We threw a party at our house once, and our other housemate, and siqqest of bros, Filly J. makes a photoshop for the invite (the end result is the aforementioned picture to the right). We recently rediscovered it and couldn't stop laughing. Again, this has nothing to do with the show. I just couldn't find a picture that would be pertinent for this section. On the flipside, Dan also loves Lost. So there we go. A connection! This section is to take what we know currently about where the show is now and how we can make inferrences about questions that still linger and remain unanswerable. These are subsidiary, or secondary, conclusions that are educated guesses. So bare with me.


Billy Pilgrim is Unstuck

In June of last year, in discussing the philosophical implications of Lost, i wrote:

"It seems that the whole template of the Lost universe follows a Kurt Vonnegutt's Slaughterhouse Five lead, with the main character, Billy Pilgrim (sound familiar?) getting "unstuck in time" after minor brain damage from a plane crash (sound familiar?!)... Vonnegutt, like the Lost scribes, based his science on the idea of an "unconstant" plane where time and space are on an equal playing field; that, yes, the universe has a particular course where everything has been played out, BUT, something can happen where an individual may experience something (i.e. a plane crash? maybe being exposed to electromagnetic activity) cause the individual to be conscious of this laid out, universal agenda. How can this clarify Desmond's ability to control his own fate?"

Another course refresher: Desmond's namesake is given to us by Scottish Philosopher David Hume who, among many of his contributions to philosophy and empiricism, developed the idea of compatablism: the idea that free-will and determinism are not separate entities, but, in fact, coexist with each other. Suddenly, the conversation that Faraday and Desmond have in episode 5.01- Because You Left makes all the more sense:

"You're the only person that can help us because, Desmond, the rules..the rules don't apply to you. You're special. You're uniquely and miracalously special".

Philosophical thought, no matter how prolific and influential it may be, has always been viewed as a dimunition of practical application (not my opinion, but according to many pre-med and EECS majors I know, all of us humanities majors are nothing but a bunch of lazy idiots. Anyway, I digress). Compatibalism, therefore, must be explained by the foundation of science, the societal linchpin to all things questionable and answerable. To answer this discrepency between destiny and freedom, we turn again to our MC for the evening, Stephen Hawking, who, as well as discussing a four dimensional plane where "imaginary time" and "regular time" coexist, proposed that wormholes can theoretically be a vessel that can connect an infininte number of parallel universes.

Again, think of a river. The same river that we've been paddling on for this entire bloody diatribe. But say your name is Desmond, your on a sailing boat called the Elizabeth, and all of a sudden, that river suddenly makes a branch to another river, and another one, and so on and so forth. Hawking believes that these rivers that branch off can be parallel universes, where different choices happen and different outcomes are lived with. This "many worlds" theory is the less popular of the two constructs of how space and time work, but remains pertinent in our conversation about Desmond. If Desmond is "unstuck" from our four-dimensional spacetime continuum, then he may have the ability to change the course of spacetime, not by affecting the construct that he was built in, but by paddling on another river. Perhaps Desmond has the ability to create new rivers, or parallel universes; thus, creating a new path and spacetime construct for himself and the world around him.


Birth is Just a Chorus, Death is Just a Verse
“When a Tralfamadorian sees a corpse, all he thinks is that the dead person is in bad condition in the particular moment, but that the same person is just fine in plenty of other moments. Now, when I myself hear that somebody is dead, I simply shrug and say what the Tralfamadorians say about dead people, which is 'So it goes,'”
-Kurt Vonnegutt's Slaughterhouse Five

Desmond shows that the spacetime continuum can be broken into by a human, no matter how simple or modest his or her means. Another example on the show is the case of Miles Straum, our resident ghosthunter and snarky rival of our favorite inbred, Sawyer. While many of us believe that Miles has the uncanny ability to speak to the dead, we have to realize that on our show, "death" is just a societal construct, defined by our limited and mediated perception of space and time. The Tralfamadorians in Kurt Vonnegutt's Slaughterhouse Five see through our mediated perception, and have the foresight and the ability to see the universe as how it is really laid out. The Tralfamadorians do not see death as a indication of sorrow, but rather it is merely a singular moment among a vast myriad of events.

Instead, Miles has the ability to break and see through spacetime. It's not that spirits are nudging him to continue unfinished business like The Sixth Sense, but he can see everything that has happened on a particular spot, in a particular location on a dimensional plane, because, again, everything has already happened. Perhaps this explains the whispers? While Miles can have the ability to hear them willingly (supposedly), perhaps the whispers are leaks in the spacetime continuum? If we listen back to the audio of the whispers, they're mostly arbitrary and undirected statements, such as, "They're coming", "She's here", "Where is he?", etc. What makes these whispers go off is another question. What is the propensity for whispers to suddenly become so ubiquitous?

Another clarification of Miles' uncanny abilities. If Miles were to come into your house and sit on your couch, he can experience everything that has happened or will ever happen on that couch. The first time you made out on it, the second time you made out on it when she puked in your mouth, the third time where you puked in her mouth, and the fourth, where you just gave up and started watching Lost on DVD, all by yourself. Undoubtedly, Miles would call you a loser virgin, but tell you to buck up because you'll get yours someday.

This brings up the notion that the reincarnations of former castmembers that we so often see (mostly through the eyes of Hurley) aren't really "spirits" or "ghosts", but are different versions of themselves at a different point in time before their death. When Boone showed up in Episode 3.03- Further Instructions, his hair was much longer. Fans complained about this discrepency in the show's narrative, claiming that Locke has never seen Boone with his hair long, so this must be an error on the hair and makeup department. However, in episode 3.13- Expose, Boone appears with slightly shorter hair, matching how he looked like on the day the plane crashed. Either way, point is that Boone's hair could have been legitimately long, since he could have been another Boone in a previous point before his hair was short, like say how his hair was in his flashback in episode 2.07, Abandoned? Moreover, when Charlie appears to Hurley in episode 4.01- The Beginning of The End, Charlie has short hair and is dressed like a jetsetter. Hurley has never seen Charlie like this before, so he will have no rational reason for him to imagine him the way he is. Perhaps this is Charlie, hopping through wormholes, from a point where his band was going on its first tour? We've now seen, Boone, Charlie, Ana-Lucia, and a mention of Mr. Eko as resurrected zombies. They are quite possibly now agents of the island, hopping back and forth between wormholes as their previous selves, trying to get the Lostaways to their fixed destinies.

Don't worry. I didn't forget the biggest "ghost" of them all. That'd be Jack's dad, Christian Shepherd. The white-shoe wearing, blue-suit sporting, horrible drunk of a father has been a mystery of the show's lore since episode 1.05, White Rabbit. Christian died in Australia, presumably from a heart attack from drinking too much, and his son, Jack, was sent there to retrieve him and bring him back to the States, only Jack didn't expect to find him dead. When the plane crashed, Jack started seeing his father's body, standing off at vast distances watching his son from afar. Jack eventually followed his "ghost dad" to a stream of water in the caves, where he also found his father's coffin, empty.
During the break between season three and season four, we were given "mobilsodes" throughout the summer and fall to keep us busy. These mini episodes, consisting of about 2-3 minutes of additional scenes from seasons past, were, for the most part, not very good. But the last mobilsode before the start of season four was actually chilling to the very bone. We see Vincent, Walt's dog, run around the island. He eventually walks his way up to what we see are white tennis shoes. The point of view tilts up to reveal Christian Shepherd, towering over Vincent, and uttering the words, "Find my son. He has work to do". Vincent runs off and we cut to the very first scene of the show: Jack waking up in the island, surrounded by bamboo, and Vincent patiently watching over Jack. The implications were tremendous and were fully validated toward the end of the season. When Christian appeared, not once, but twice, in Jacob's cabin, speaking as if he was the Tom Hagen of the island. He then appears before Micahel on the freighter and tells him "You can go now, Michael", informing him that the island can now let him die. Christian Shepherd is undoubtedly an agent of the island and has much more to do with the narrative as originally believed.

So here it goes. My first attempt ever at a crazy crackpot theory. Most of the time, I'll remain mum unless I'm absolutely sure that something can be proven, but not this. I am willing to go out and say that, yes, Christian Shepherd is an agent of the island, and, in addition, Christian Shepherd has always wanted to go back, but was not allowed to until he brought a select group of passengers onto an airplane and have it crash in the middle of the South Pacific. Oh yeah, and to get back to the island, Christian had to die. Sound familiar? Locke, in order to save the island, has to get a select few people, bring them back to the island, and in the process, die. But implications of his ressurection are already out in the open. Perhaps, when Locke returns to the island, he will be all-knowing and powerful as Jacob and Christian Shepherd? Christian is, therefore, not a ghost, but free from the construct of spacetime, existing around the special properties that makes the island conducive for phenomenons like wormholes and time travel, which leads me to another corollary to the already numerous corollaries.


Why are "ghosts" or incarnations of characters from previous points popping up? What gives them the ability to do this? If the island is placed in a position that defies the laws of physics (basically, the island is one giant piece of exotic matter), then if you die on the island, your normal stream of consciousness is broken free in the spacetime continuum. Meaning that, once you die, you are virtually unstuck from time, free to do whatever you want at the island's will. Is this getting too crazy? I'll stop this rambling now. I sound like it's 3am and I've been sipping on cough syrup all night.


This Only is Denied to God: The Power to Undo The Past

Hurley: How does something like this happen?
Rousseau: Are you on the same island as I am?
-Episode 1-24: Exodus (when referring to the appearance of the Black Rock for the first time)

The newly adopted model of the spacetime continuum has liberated explanations for some of the narrative landmarks that had a hand in defining the show in the early seasons, most notably The Black Rock and Danielle Rousseau. We can assume now that these basins of unknowning and usually unwilling travelers were forced into crashing on the island due to accidentally falling into a wormhole. This presumption requires the contingency that the world, our planet earth, has a number of places conducive to the Casimir Effect, and thus the opportunity to harness wormholes.

In 1970, a Scottish naturalist and cartographer named Ivan Sanderson started cultivating an interest in how sailors from the ancient world mapped and charted the Eath. Sanderson started studying voyages that came across mysterious complications, Bermuda Triangle-esque accounts stemming from different parts of the world. Sanderson compiled data of these mysterious occurences and found that incidents, similar to the the Bermuda Triangle, most frequently lies in twelve equallty distributed geographic areas. Most notably around the Tropic of Cancer and at both the South and North Poles. Sanderson labeled these areas as "Vile Vortices".


On the map pictured on the right, we can see the green spots that Sanderson labeled to directly
correlating with some of the spots where mysterious things happen on our show. There is one on the coast of Australia (where our survivors took off), one at the North Pole (where polar bears live), one at Fiji (where the freighter originally ported and took off), one at Madagascar (where the journal of the Black Rock was found), two spots in Africa (where Ben Linus, after turning the frozen donkey wheel, landed, and where fossilized remains of a polar bear were found in Tunisia; moreover, the plane that Eko's brother, Yemi, was on took off from Africa). Although the idea of Vile Vortices have been virtually ignored by the scientific community, the concrete list of events that Sanderson has taken his time to compile remains fact. Most of the unsolved and puzzling events in recent history have occured in these twelve different spots. Whether it be because of wormholes, parallel universes, or four dimensional spacetime is something that has yet to be explored, but Lost certainly believes this to be true.

The "Future" of Lost (Strictly speaking in a linear narrative term, of course)

"I know who you are, boy. I know everything you have you took from me...that island is mine Benjamin. It always was. It will be again."
-Charles Widmore (Episode 4.09- The Shape of Things to Come)

We've reached a point now where the fans can deductively map out what most of the first few seasons have aspired to answer. Laws of physics and theoretical science can be applied properly to answer how Polar Bears got on the island, why Ben Linus was sent to Tunisia after the turning of the wheel, and why Desmond can go to the past but can't do anything to change it. As we get closer to the end date of the show, we are slowly going backwards to the very beginning of everything. In seven days, God created the Earth, on the eigth, I'd like to think that he created the island. The last season of this innumerable cluster of questions we call Lost will most likely focus on, among other thigns, these three key issues:



1. "Their leader is a sodding old man. You think he can track me? You think he knows this island better than I do?"

We will find out the origins of Charles Widmore. How, like Ben, he was brought to the island almost by mistake. He was chosen by The Mayor of Gotham City (Richard Alpert) as the 'Dahli Lama' or 'The Pope' of the Others (they lead the people, but ultimately answer to God [i.e. Jacob]). When Ben shows up on the island, Richard and the Others see Ben as the "real" chosen one, leaving Widmore bitter, confused and resentful. Eventually, Ben takes over as leader, leaving Widmore an outcast from his own group. How Widmore got off the island is another question. Whether he was cast out by Richard's own hands or had to do what Ben inevitably did as well: turned the frozen donkey wheel for the first time. Perhaps Widmore was also placed in a situation similar to Ben's in the end of season four, and was forced to turn the wheel. Since we know that the person who turns the wheel can never come back to the island, Jacob picked Widmore to turn the wheel, casting him out from the island forever. Widmore, since then, became a billionaire, had a hot daughter, and spent 20 years of his life looking for the island. My guess is that season six will focus on Ben, Locke and Widmore going through a power struggle over the rightful ownership of the island.

2. Smokezilla
Oh yes. Smokey the Monster. Who can ever forget you? I'll say it now, I have nothing productive to say about this enigma of a plot device. I was thoroughly convinced of the "nanobots" theory since season one that has since been rebuked by the show's creators. Smokey is the linchpin to whether the show is remembered as a coherent piece of serious and thoughtful science-fiction cultural text, or just a "good, but not great" piece of television. What we do know is that it can scan your brain, it makes a noise that sounds like metal cranks working together, it can only stay close to the ground, and Ben can summon it in a chamber with a door marked with hieroglyphics. We know it's a "security system", let's just hope there is some realistic and awe-inspiring reason why it's a giant pillar of smoke.

[UPDATED] After publishing this post, a friend sent me a link to Jeff Jensen and his Entertainment Weekly Blog focusing on last week's episode Jughead. He talked about a Physicist named John Archibald Wheeler who coined the phrases "wormhole" and "black hole". Wheeler believed that our spacetime construct was governed by a "participatory universe", meaning that we were in one massive feedback loop. Wheeler's premise relies largely on part of what is known on the "uncertainty principle", which is basically the idea that the mere act of observation may have an affect on what is being observed. All this information on Wheeler ultimately culminates into the most chilling of revelations. Here's what Jeff Jensen had to say:

"But my favorite discovery about John Wheeler — the one that gave me chills — was the colorful, monstrous term he invented for Heisenberg's uncertainty principle. Wheeler called it...''The Great Smokey Dragon.'' Wheeler came up with the phrase after the famous Copenhagen debate between Einstein and Bohr, in which the latter scientist argued that the uncertainty principle always allows for a glitch in a system, a fatal flaw in any well-ordered plan. You might say that The Great Smokey Dragon...changes the rules."

You can read the rest of his post here:

http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,1550612_20250233_20255326_3,00.html

3. "Because Richard's always been here"

We'll, without question, find out what the hell the island really is and the historical and cultural context that it comes with. From the easter eggs of blatant Egyptian hieroglyphics, to the giant four toed statue, the island is older than we can imagine. Some speculate that Richard is one of the last descendents of the original inhabitants of the island, believing that Richard is part of the ancient continent of Lemuria (who were rumored to be, you guessed it, ageless). Look for Alpert to be the vehicle in which we find out more about the history of the island's original inhabitants, and why they started to recruit people outside of their living confines (i.e. Widmore, Ben, Locke). And maybe, just maybe, we might find out why Alpert insists on wearing "guyliner". Maybe he has a horribly liking to the detrimental sounds of Fall Out Boy. It's just a hunch, but I'm thinking I might be on to something.

The End is The Beginning Is The End

I have no closing remarks. I am spent, tired, and have reached the limit's precipice. I am convinced that I will never write this comprehensively about Lost again. But who knows? Ther writers can throw another wrench in my thinking and all this can be wrong, which will render it useless and subsequently make me start all over from scratch. Well, here's to eagerly awaiting the inevitable. Cheers.

6 comments:

Mark said...

Love it man, till you tried to explain miles abilities etc, it was a little weak, if he saw the history of a location he was in, how did he talk to the Grandson of Mrs Gardener in her house, assuming that he didn't die there. And if he did die there, how did his Grandmother know he was around? She can see time simultaneously inside a certain space too? Doubt it. Probably better to leave that part alone for now, we don't know enough to say any way.

Besides, not everything on this show is because of time travel.

Jeffrey said...

What is Desmund changing then? If he's creating a new stream, does that stream carry along eveyrthing else from the original stream? And why is he special? Is it because he blew up the hatch? What did that do to make him "unstuck"?

Great stuff. Keep it up

Anonymous said...

My brain has officially liquefied. Good Job.

Mr Deeds said...

How come Des was traveling through his mind and not physically like everyone else it?

Irma said...

Good call on Christian Shepherd being an agent of the island. After tonight's episode, it's clear you're on the right track.

Anonymous said...

Amazing that you wrote this in February. Good job.