Friday, February 15, 2008

Thoughts on The Economist...

Last night's Lost continued two very positive trends that began toward the end of Season 3 but have come to define the the first few episodes of Season 4. One is more action and adventure -- if this season were a Star Trek film, it would be the Wrath of Khan. Another is resolution to some of the older mysteries on the show -- this is fast becoming the Season of Answers. In the best Lost tradition, moreover, these answers are offered in such a way that they simultaneously raise fresh questions for fans like us to ponder.

A special twenty-three geek salute to the writers for Daniel Faraday. A physicist, Dan the Man is the perfect character to provide the answers that we seek, particularly where (pseudo) science is concerned. A great example was his comment that we discussed last week about the light not scattering right on the Island. Another was his experiment last night demonstrating that the Island is 31 minutes removed from the rest of the world. That latter clue, in particular, points to an interesting explanation of how the Island might be hidden from view.



The inspiration is Stephen King's novella the Langoliers. Passengers on a red-eye flight awaken to find that their fellow travelers and the crew have mysteriously vanished. One of the remaining passengers lands the plane at an airport that turns out to be deserted. They disembark and discover that food has no taste or texture, beer and soda are flat, matches won't light, etc. Eventually, the survivors surmise they have flown through a rip in the fabric of space-time into the immediate past. To get back to the present, they must precisely retrace their route through the rift -- just as Daniel told Frank he must do to return safely to the Freighter.

My prediction: like in the Langoliers, the Island exists in the immediate past, which is why no one can see them. The question isn't just "where" they are but "when." Locating the Island requires more than the usual three-dimensions of physical space -- you also have to account for the fourth dimension of time. As I describe in Cause and Effect, it is theoretically possible to follow a curved trajectory and travel back through 4-D space-time. Apparently, in the sky and underwater around the Island, there are natural wormholes with warped space-time geometries that provide access by depositing one 31 minutes in the past.



Dan's rocket experiment is consistent with this explanation. From his perspective and that of the freighter, the rocket seemingly paused when it reached the Island, then materialized out of thin air a short time later. But that's actually an illusion created by confusing the wormhole's entrance for the Island itself. In fact, the rocket continued traveling for a short distance through 4-D hyperspace *after* reaching the Island's apparent geographic coordinates in 3-D space. The distance isn't far enough to affect radio transmissions (e.g., the sat phones and the beacon). Someone entering the wormhole, however, would experience a brief but continuous journey through higher dimensional space ala Dave Bowman in 2001.



I'll expand on all of this in a separate post, but I want to briefly propose a variation of a scenario I've explored before, e.g., in Lost Time. Let's say the Island naturally exists 31 minutes in our past. Perhaps Oceanic 815 was supposed to crash killing everyone on board. Instead, the intense magnetic field caused by System Failure pulled the plane through one of the Island's natural wormholes, threatening to disrupt the timeline. The second crash was faked to prevent a course correction that would profoundly alter the future -- a future Charles Widmore believes he owns.

Here are some other reactions and questions that I had to and about the Economist:

* The flash forward reminded me a great deal of Stephen Spielberg's Munich, which is loosely based on the true story of how Mossad agents hunted down the Black September members behind the massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics. Like Lost, Munich is very much a story of personal transformation -- i.e., of Avner, who begins the film as a devoted Israeli but is reborn by the end as a conflicted American Jew.

* The Munich comparison leads me to a speculation about why Ben and Sayid are targeting certain people for execution. Did you catch how Sayid recognized the bracelet sported by Elsa in the flash forward as being identical to one worn by Naomi? I think he and Ben are systematically exacting revenge against Naomi's employers, who apparently include Elsa's boss.

* Along related lines, a poster named Crimson Rabbit has a provocative speculation that the body in the casket at the end of Through the Looking Glass was, in fact, Matthew Abbadon's. We now know that Abbadon was one of the people who hired Naomi. What if Sayid is the one who killed him?

* I have this weird suspicion that Regina on the boat is Naomi's sister...

* My whackadoo speculation for the week: Jack will be told that only a limited number of people can leave the Island and that the rest of them must die. He will be forced to choose who among them lives to become the Oceanic Six. That's partly why he's so despondent in the flash forwards -- he has the blood of dozens of Losties on his hands. That's also why Abbadon asked if anyone was still alive -- Hurley and Jack managed to save the lives of at least a few...

21 comments:

Wayne Allen Sallee said...

Can't comment before you do. It would be like Faraday trying to lie his way through why there were Hazmat suits in his metal box. I can be very, very patient, as Alpert told Ben, back in the day..

Caer said...

Although I'm still a little dizzy from how hot Sayid was in the flash forwards (I know such a girl)...
The one thing I do remember is how out of place the first scene was after watching the episode. Was that a flash forward to a time after the end scene with Ben???

Ian said...

caer - I think the guy on the golf course was his previous job before Elsa and The Economist. It just kind of set up what he was doing.

Merrylegs said...

The only thing I know for certain right now is that the title of this series called Lost has little to do with people being lost on an island and everything to do with the the state of my mind so far during season 4. Need to re-watch this episode and maybe the previous two before I can properly process.

Joe Cool said...

merrylegs, you are dead on about that. My head hurts more and more each day, trying to wrap my wee brain around all the stuff that's gone on during the last three episodes.

The thing that most intrigues me is this: How far did that rocket travel? And I'm not talking about miles.

Capcom said...

Right Joe, if sharper heads than mine can figure out how fast it was going, via the countdown between Miles and Regina, maybe we can figure that out?!

Wayne Allen Sallee said...

Hey, Bigmouth and others. Forgot to mention earlier, I was watching the enhanced version of "Confirmed Dead"--it was cut short here in Chicago because of the NIU shootings news conference--but at the very beginning, it mentions that the woman talking to Faraday is "his caretaker." That came out of nowhere, much of the rest told us to check 815.com

lisa (lost pezhead) said...

love the funeral prediction...makes more sense now with sayid becoming a hitman. what is ben up to?! is sayid protecting jack, kate, etc by working for ben? i can't believe hurley let locke use him as bait.

Mang said...

BM,

You have a gift for insightful theory and eloquent writing; kudos to you!

I have always wondered where Ben's prescience came from. We are meant to believe that some of this comes from his keen intellect and ability to ascertin information through his physchological manipulation. Of course, there is also his association with Jacob and the foreknowledge learned from his out-pf-phase existence.

However, with evidenciary proof of a time shift, can't some of this be Ben's ability to use time to his advantage? Perhaps he has a methodology to see the future with some technological (or innate ability for) manipulation of time and space.

My only worry for Ben would be if the time/space phase is so near to another alternate probability, that one day he could look and see the history of another "parallel universe", and use the wrong information. Wouldn't that be a sinister twist, a metaphorical juxtaposition to the flash-forward device used on the show snagging the fans, now snagging Ben.

The multiverse context could also be a separate possibility to explain the "ghost" phenomenon, but that is far afield of this...

Thanks again Bigmouth, and as always, great work.

-Mang

lil-beeyotch said...

I love you BM!!! I was refered to this website by MikeNY who was a amazing theory on the whole of Lost but I love how you analyse each episode =D I totally agree with the other posters about this season hurting your head =[ but the economist was the most confusing so far I think =S for some reason the golf course reminded me of the golf course back on the Island, like a improved version or something? After this episode though, I think I have a pretty good idea about who the Oceanic6 might be...a season 4 poster I saw had a invisible division between Locke and a few others standing on the right and Jack and 5 others on the left. According to the mirror matter blog the real world is left handed I think so I thought the 6 were the ones on the left...so far it seems right specially after this episode as we know Hurley, Kate, Jack and Sayid are out. I dont know if I should count Ben as he had all those passports so maybe he can move back and forth? If we can count him though than I think the 6 will be made out of Jack, Kate, Hurley, Sayid, Ben and Clair [she was one of the 6 in the poster]. It would be kind of cruel of Clair wasnt one of the ones as than Charlie died for nothing =[ and Des did say he saw Clair get on the helicopter? I dont know...cant wait for the next few episodes! Let me know what you think

memphish said...

Great post Big Mouth. I'll look forward to your next post to see if you think that the Island is constantly 31 minutes behind or is there some accumulation of that time difference. For a long time I've felt Ben must have some foreknowledge of events. Maybe he's somewhere between Mrs. Hawking and Desmond in terms of the future flash abilities.

I also would like it if Sayid were to be the one who kills the coffin occupant. The transcription of the obituary mentioned hearing noise in the apartment. I've been suspicious since then that the person who died might have been helped.

As for Jack given the choice as to who can/can't leave, I have a hard time reconciling with Jack putting his desire to leave the Island above any of the other 30 plus remaining 815ers. Maybe that choice will arise and Christian Shephard and his Island minion Vincent will do something to insure Jack is one of the people who leaves. There has to be some very compelling reason for Jack to leave others who want to leave behind and I can't wait to see what it might be.

Bigmouth said...

Wayne: I'll see your Alpert and raise you one Veruca Salt -- I want one now! Verrry interesting catch re Daniel having a caretaker. Do you suppose his mental issues are like Hurley's? Does Dan have a special friend ala Dave and Tyler Durden? Could this explain his Beautiful Mind? More generally, I'm struck by parallels between the freighter folks (i.e., the Fantastic Four) and our Losties. I wonder if some special combination of talents it required to access the Island...

Caer: LOL! No worries because I freely admit to ogling sweaty Kate the other night. As for the scene on the golf course, I'm with Ian that it was mostly a set up for the Elsa story-line. I was struck, however, by the accent of the golfer Sayid killed, as well as the location of his next target in Berlin. There is a clear multi-national flavor to his targets, which brings to mind the Italian patient whose (gorgeous) daughter Jack kissed.

Ian: Good call re the golf scene being background for the rest of the flash forward.

Merrylegs: LOL! I'd say we're Lost together in the Land of Confusion...

Joe Cool: It's not how big your brain is, it's how you use it...LOL! You ask an interesting question re how far the rocket traveled. I wondered about that myself until it occurred to me that it probably doesn't matter. The time differential is caused by the higher dimensional geometry of the wormhole, not so much its length. All we really need to know about the distance the rocket traveled is that it isn't enough to affect radio communications like the sat phones and the beacon.

Capcom: See my comments to Joe Cool above -- the distance traveled strikes me as significant mostly because it isn't far enough to affect communications. The wormhole just joins two discrete points in space-time, the latter of which is on the Island 31 minutes in the past. It's a combination of science and pseudo-science -- equal parts Flatland and The Langoliers.

Still, it's interesting to make some guesstimates. To be precise, we'd have to know not only how much time elapsed from when the rocket appeared to reach the beacon to when it materialized and landed, but also how fast the rocket was traveling. Assuming for the sake of argument that it took roughly 30 minutes to arrive, and estimating that the rocket traveled at 9000 km/h, that would suggest about 4500 km of travel through hyperspace.

Lisa: Oh, very cool speculation about Sayid working with Ben to protect Jack and Co.! I also could see Sayid, who has a dark side, wanting to get revenge himself against the people who caused the deaths of his friends.

Mang: Thank you, my friend! I think you've hit the nail on the head about Jacob providing Ben with his glimpses of the future. Ben may also use psychic children like Walt to exploit flashes of the future for personal gain. Perhaps, as you suggest, there's a technological component, as well.

I agree re Ben getting a glimpse of a possible future that turns out to be wrong. I like your basic premise but would describe the specifics slightly differently. What if actions by someone (Desmond?) changed the "picture on the box," resulting in a different future from the one seen by Ben? Maybe that's what he means when he says things aren't "supposed" to happen this way...

lil beeyotch: Welcome! Mike NY is a long-time friend of Eyemsick. If you're interested in the mirror matter angle, you can check out my Mirror Matter Theory of Lost. I'll be honest, I no longer think that's the direction they're going, but it's a fascinating topic to contemplate nonetheless. I highly recommend Foot's book, portions of which used to be available on-line, but apparently no longer.

I agree that the golf course evoked the Island, which I'm sure was intentional. It sets up an ironic contrast with Sayid's personal redemption on the Island, and underscores why they need to go back. I can't wait for the next few episodes, either! I personally, however, have a bad feeling about Claire. Their were blind items in Kristin and Ausiello last year that seemed to suggest the rest of the cast had issues with Emily...

memphish: I think you are quite right to distinguish between Ben and Desmond's flashes of the future. As Mang and I discuss above, Ben may rely on some combination of Jacob and psychic children to gain foreknowledge. Ben's counterpart is Locke who has received dream visions from Jacob and mentored Aaron and Walt. Great catch re the suspicious noise in the apartment mentioned in the newspaper article! That would *totally* fit with Sayid polishing off the occupant.

Also, good point re the implausibility of Jack putting himself above others leaving the Island. Then again, isn't that basically what he did when making his deal with Ben?

Bigmouth said...

Shoot, I just realized my calculations aren't consistent with the helicopter, which couldn't have traveled 4500 km without refueling. Hmmm...

Bigmouth said...

Also, 9000 km/h is apparently Mach 7.6. Obviously, this is more complex than I suggested above...LOL!

Merrylegs said...

With all this discussion about mirroring, there is one thing I am definitely noticing this season. When Lost first started, I viewed Jack as a good character who cared about the other survivors, and I viewd Sawyer as a bad character who didn't care about anyone but himself and manipulated people to his own end.

This seems to have definitely changed. Notice that it was Sawyer who showed concern for Hurley's feelings after Charlie died. Jack didn't even seem to blink when he found out, nor was he understanding of those same feelings during his game of horse with Hurley. Jack knows why Hurley went with Locke, and the poor big guy is now in a mental institution. Season 1 Jack would have offered some empathy. This new Jack is only concerned about Hurley keeping his mouth shut.

In "The Economist", Jack uses all of his companions. He sends Juliet to the beach to get Desmond so that he can use Desmond to get more information. He sends Kate off with Sayid to help negotiate with Locke to get Charlotte back so that he can use Sayid to get more information from the ship. Granted, Desmond and Sayid do benefit from this as well--they want the same information.

I would have been very surprised to see season 1 Jack shoot someone in the head at point blank range, but season 4 Jack seems to have no problem with it.

Season 4 Sawyer seems generally willing to go along with his group. He wants to kill Ben, but doesn't when Locke tells him not too. Recall a season 1 Sawyer who shot the Marshall (albeit to put him out of his misery). Interestingly, Sawyer did kill one of the others in "Through the Looking Glass" after the Losties had clearly won the battle for the beach. So, I wonder is going to pull another "Long Con" or if the roles of Jack and Sawyer have been somehow reversed.

Capcom said...

Big said: "The second crash was faked to prevent a course correction that would profoundly alter the future -- a future Charles Widmore believes he owns."

This really scares me. I mean, now Widmore scares me. And I really like that thought!

Capcom said...

P.S. And yes I agree, Dan is AWESOME!!! :-) So glad that TPTB created him.

Anonymous said...

One other interesting note from last week's episode was that when Charlotte returned, she did not mention to Dan or Frank that Ben "has someone on the boat." I would imagine that would be one of the first things I would mention to my team when I got back. I think this development lends more credence to the idea I posted last week about Charlotte being the mole. Now, whether or not there was some discussion between Charlotte and Sayid on the way back, we don't know. But I thought it was odd that Charlotte didn't mention anything about her time spent with the other Losties.

A friend of mine pointed out to me that if the island exists about 30 minutes behind the "real world," and if it's been 90 something days since the crash, some simple math says that the time that has passed in the real world is something like 7 and a half years (90 x 30 = 2700 days divided by 365works out to roughly over 7 years.). Or if the implosion of the hatch altered time (that took place on day 67 according to Lostpedia), you would do the same math and determine that time would be 2 and a half years faster in the real world from the hatch implosion. Granted, none of this takes into account the speed of the rocket, which would affect the time (31 minutes) between hitting the beacon and when it arrived on the island. But the passage of time is something to think about in terms of what the Oceanic 6 face when they come back to the real world.

SKID said...

Love your site.

Look at the hatch mural? Do you THINK that the little black and white "house" shown in three different locations could be Jacob's shack??? meaning that someone ELSE (whoever drew the mural even if they were told by someone) knows about it and has seen it jump locations??


I always look for something new in the mural when I log on to your site and that is what I "see" this time . . . in addition to the fact that the black face with the eye x'ed out seems to also be wearing a priest collar.

I would be curious as to your thoughts.

Wayne Allen Sallee said...

@anonymous: one very obvious hing I noticed re: Charlotte was that she seems to be the only one who wore a bullet-proof vest, as if it was expected that Ben would try and shoot her in whatever scenario needed to be played out...even Naomi had no vest, which possible could have kept her insides from being punctured when her parachunte landed.

@bigmouth: Sure, I'll buy you one of those Veruca Salts. They sell 'em cheap on the Pascal Flats. I'd rather try that new drink that's been making the rounds here in Chicago (at least in my little universe)...The Faraday Effect on the rocks.

Lolagrrl said...

Ok... I didn't read thru all the comments so I apologize if this was already asked but, Wouldn't Michael & Walt be the other two members of the Oceanic 6? I mean, they were on the plane. They got off the island... They are survivors.

Right?

BTW - Skid, You just blew my MIND! I've been taking that mural for granted waaaay too long. Hurley himself said he thought the cabin was in a different location... could the houses in the mural be Jacob's cabin?! Is the ring of ash around Jacob's cabin in order to keep it in one place?