PART I: SCIENCE
A puzzle of modern physics is why particles don't seem to observe mirror-reflection symmetry the way they do other symmetries (e.g., rotational, translational, Lorentz, guage, etc.). Experiments have shown that electrons and other elementary particles are, in a sense, "left handed," preventing parity from being conserved.
For a time, it seemed that anti-matter might create mirror symmetry, much as it had Lorentz symmetry. In 1964, however, a strange particle known as the kaon failed to display mirror symmetry when reflected into its anti-matter counterpart. To this day, mirror symmetry remains the glaring exception in nature, which most scienstists simply accept is "left handed."
A minority, however, refuse to accede. They insist that, just as anti-matter was needed to preserve Lorentz symmetry, so too is a new type of matter required to restore mirror symmetry. Not suprisingly, proponents of the model have dubbed this stuff "mirror matter," despite a few anti-matter physicists' misappropriation of the name.
In the mirror matter model, all particles, even those of anti-matter, have ghostly counterparts that are perfect mirror images (i.e., same, mass, lifetime, etc.). The only difference is that mirror matter is "right handed" to balance the "left handed" tendancy of ordinary matter and anti-matter.
This symmetry even includes "force" particles, which explains why lab experiments don't produce mirror matter. Regular particles rarely interact with their mirror counterparts because the latter are mostly governed by mirror forces. Gravity, which is a function of mass, is the big exception. Otherwise pure mirror matter can't be seen or detected directly.
Dark Matter, Comets, and Tunguska
Perhaps the leading proponent of the model is an Australian physicist, Dr. Robert Foot. He believes that mirror matter, beyond preserving parity, could also explain several other scientific puzzles. Foot proposes, for example, that mirror matter is a prime candidate for the mysterious "missing" dark matter, which could comprise up to 95% of the universe.
Dr. Foot further speculates there may be entire mirror planets and stars in our own galaxy, detectable only by their gravitational effects. He notes this could explain the phenomenon of wandering planets (they're actually orbiting invisible mirror stars) and of planets detected orbiting nearby stars many times more closely than Mercury does our Sun (mirror planets).
Then there's the puzzle of why some comets fade as they approach the Sun. Foot figures it's because the nucleus contains a substantial mirror matter component. He notes that Halley's "has an albedo of only 0.03 making it one of the darkest objects in the solar system -- darker even than coal!"
But why aren't comets invisible like mirror stars? Foot explains:
Of course, pure mirror matter would be transparent, but if it contained a small admixture of ordinary matter embedded within, it could appear opaque and dark. If the ordinary matter had a volatile component such as water ice, then this would explain the large head and tail observed when the comet passed close to the sun. Such a picture would also be consistent with observations suggesting that many comets lose a large factor (100-1000) in average brightness after approaching the sun for the first time. (Full text here.)I stated previously that mirror and regular matter mainly interact via gravity. But there are at least two other forces that Foot believes could create admixtures: photon-mirror photon transition, and neutrino-mirror neutrino mass mixing. The explanations are too technical for our purposes, but those interested can read more here.
Suffice it to say that mirror and regular matter (or anti-matter) can conceivably mix, which brings me to Tunguska.
A popular hypothesis for this devastation is a strike by some celestial object, but no fragments have ever been found. Foot feels a mirror asteroid or comet could be the real culprit. He speculates that, as it fell, its atoms mingled with our atmosphere via photon-mirror photon transition, causing the mirror body to slow down, heat up, and explode near the ground.
The explosion left no fragments because mirror matter is invisible, but samples could theoretically be separated from the soil with a centrifuge. If mirror matter can be extracted, Foot believes it could have immense powerful applications (e.g., harnessing anti-matter). Plus the stuff has other features that raise a range of strange possibilities.
Backwards Time and Bad Twins
Foot has, for example, suggested that space and time are reversed from the perspective of mirror particles. Could mirror matter then provide a window to the future, or even be the fountain of youth? And what of mirror planets -- could mirror life exist upon them? Maybe we really do have bad twins somewhere out there...
Such speculations, of course, remain the realm of pseudo-science, so this is perhaps a good place to break before we step through the looking glass...
PART II: PSEUDO-SCIENCE
So what might mirror matter mean for Lost? One of my favorite threads is shootfire's tracking the show's mirror images, and I dig johnnyreb's description of the Monster as "smoke and mirrors." Many have posited that a comet or meteor crashed on the Island at some point. Jaystao offers a particularly compelling scenario along these lines.
My speculation is this body had a substantial mirror matter component. Its debris mixed with lava, then cooled under the unique magnetic conditions of the Island to form a dark black rock with remarkable powers. The pseudo-scientific twist is that this rock is the famed Philosopher's Stone, aka Black Stone, aka Shining Trapezohedron, aka Chintamani Stone.
Catch a Falling Star...
Many myths and legends speak of sacred black rocks from the sky. Among the most famous is the Chintamani Stone, chunks of which are purportedly enshrined in Mekka. Here's a description of the Chintamani, alleged to be a meteor or comet from somewhere in Orion:
It appears to be a trapezohedron made of black stone or ore, with glowing striatons. However it is more, or less, than stone. Scientists would not be able to study it completely because it exists only partially in in humanity's concept of matter and space.Note the suggestion that the Chintamani Stone defies ordinary scientific study. Could this be because a portion is comprised of mirror matter, which is invisible in pure form? Or consider this further description from the same source:
It is more than an artifact, it is a key to doors that were sealed aeons ago. (Full description here.)
Roerich's theory about the stone is that it is charged with Shugs, currents of psychic force. He speculated it resembled an electrical accumulator and may give back, in one way or another, the energy stored within it. For instance, it will increase the spiritual vitality of anyone who touches it, infusing him with knowledge, or enhancing psychic abilities, that allow him to glimpse Agartha, the valley of the Eight Immortals.Could the psychic potential of the Chintamani Stone flow from the mirroring of time and space referred to at the end of Part I? And might our Island be the mythical location glimpsed by contact with this blackest of rocks? The pseudo-scientific possibilities seem limitless, which brings me to Smokey, perhaps the darkest object on the Island.
The stone, according to Balam, is a key, a key to all futures and everyone's destiny. It is a point of power, a nontechnological quantum vortex.
The Alchemical Explanation for Smokey
In an update to 108: Restoring the Lost Sun, I suggested that Smokey might be a modern application of the alchemical knowledge of Albertus Magnus, who was reputed to have created a crude robot using the famed Philosopher's Stone. The automaton's description is intriguing:
His writings indicate that after he completed the construction of his first box, Albertus began a thirty year long task of building an automaton which he named "Android." Using the "angels from the netherworld" and the powers of the philosophers stone he created the "metals and material unknown to this world" and chose them "according to the stars and planets...." The android was instilled with the powers of speech, thought, and according to some reports a SOUL. Upon completion of this project, his student St. Thomas, destroyed the "diabolic being" and denounced it as "a tool of satan and a blasphemy to God." (Full text here.)I believe the "metals and material unknown to this world" were none other than our mysterious black rock. I further believe that Smokey is composed of the same material, which contains dark mirror matter, much like the nucleus of a comet.
It's also possible that the Island's soil has a high concentration of black rock particles. If so, then the plant and animal life (including our Losties) presumably do, too. Perhaps this explains their growing psychic awareness, as well as Locke and Rose's respective cures. I've always been struck by the way Aaron kicked for the first time since the crash after being fed Jin's fish.
Maybe this is the source of the "sickness," which involves vivid psychic visions after sufficient amounts of black rock have built up in your system.