Saturday, August 02, 2008

Dr. Chang, I Presume...

Another year, another Comic-Con. And with it, comes an intriguing new Dharma video starring Francois Chau. This time, he identifies himself as theoretical astrophysicist Pierre Chang and reveals that his other names (i.e., Marvin Candle, Mark Wickmund, and Edgar Halliwax) are lies. Dr. Chang claims to be broadcasting through a "pinhole" 30 years into the future. He displays knowledge of current events and claims to know from a "reliable" source that he'll be dead from the Purge by the time we receive the broadcast.



Obviously, this is meant mainly as a teaser for the new alternative reality game, the Dharma Initiative Recruiting Project. But I believe there are also some important clues contained in Dr. Chang's video transmission. Here's what I've noticed so far:

Pierre Chang: My guess is his new name is a sly reference to the actor who plays him. Pierre=Francois, and Chang=Chau.

Theoretical Astrophysics: Dr. Chang identifies himself as a professor of theoretical astrophysics from the University of Michigan -- the same institution as the DeGroots. Chang's area of study reminds me of another famous astrophysicist, J. Richard Gott of Princeton. I've written before about Dr. Gott's potential relevance to the show, particularly his interest in doomsday equations and time travel. Could Gott be the inspiration for Chang?

Kerr Metric: Dr. Chang came to the Island to study the Kerr Metric, which is also mentioned on Daniel Faraday's chalkboard and in his journal. The Kerr Metric is a solution to General Relativity that describes the geometry of spacetime around a massive rotating body. In the case of a rotating black hole, the Kerr Metric predicts a region of spacetime where time travel into the past is theoretically possible.

At a minimum, the writers are using "Kerr Metric" to signal time travel, much like they used "Casimir effect" as shorthand for "wormhole." But consider the whackadoo possibility that the Island's bubble in spacetime is located within the "safe" region of a massive rotating black hole and accessible by a wormhole. As with the best Lost explanations, this one toes the line between science fact and fiction. Physicist Igor Novikov hypothesizes that information and energy might be extracted from the interior of a Kerr black hole via wormholes.

30 Years: Dr. Chang mentions that he's transmitting through a "pinhole" (presumably, in spacetime) 30 years into the future. I believe this time interval is a reference to the film Frequency, which I've mentioned before in various posts. In the movie, solar activity opens a wormhole that swallows a communications satellite, allowing a son to make radio contact with his deceased father 30 years in the past. Aside from the shared time interval, there are other Lost parallels, including a character named Jack Sheppard. Elizabeth Mitchell, who portrays Juliet on Lost, also stars in the film.

The question is whether Chang's link is similarly two way -- can he receive messages in addition to sending them? His foreknowledge of the presidency of George W. Bush, the existence of the internet, and the death of the Dharma scientists in the Purge all seems to indicate the answer is yes. But there's also the question of Chang's "reliable" source...

Reliable Source: My instinct is Chang's source isn't just a voice at the other end of a radio link. I believe it's someone physically in his presence. Initially, I thought it might be Ben, who gained foreknowledge of events through some combination of the Island/Jacob. But a number of posters have raised an even more intriguing possibility. Listen again to the voice off-camera who converses with Chang. Doesn't it sound like Daniel Faraday's? Maybe he eventually travels back in time from 2008 to 1978...

Mysterious Object: The inference of physical time travel is bolstered by a mysterious object on the shelf behind Dr. Chang. The camera lingers on this item quite conspicuously, leading me to believe it's significant. At first, I thought it might be a notebook -- either Daniel's or maybe even the Black Rock Ledger. Here again, however, other posters have persuaded me to think again. What if Dr. Chang has firsthand knowledge of the internet? Maybe the mysterious object over his left shoulder is, in fact, a laptop computer...

23 comments:

Scott said...

What about the possibility that Pierre Chang is somehow related to Miles Straum? Perhaps he's there to summon his dead father?

I'm guessing that it's Miles crying the video. He's appears to be about 30 now.

Here's a link to the HQ version of the video

Bigmouth said...

*Scott* I've updated my original post with the high-quality version -- thanks to you and Dark UFO for the link. And that's a brilliant speculation regarding baby Miles! The timing would seem perfect. This also seems to indicate the pregnancy problem began after 1978...interesting.

Wayne Allen Sallee said...

Hey, Big. If that is Faraday in the film, it kind of explains something for me. Every time he is looking in his huge journal, it seems as if he is flipping backwards to find something current like the Orchid diagram. I agree on the Miles thing because of that one comment he made to Charlotte..."What DO I mean...?"

Bigmouth said...

*Wayne* That's a great point re Daniel's journal! There are so many interesting possibilities raised by this scenario. For example, would the Purge have occurred absent Daniel's time travel? Or was it something of a self-fulfilling prophecy? I have this weird suspicion that Dharma didn't even know about the Hostiles until Chang's "reliable source" told them about the Purge...

I also wonder if Daniel was instrumental in getting baby Miles and baby Charlotte off the Island. Maybe they were never supposed to leave, which is why they were drawn back after all these years. On that note, what if Abbadon is a Chronology Protection Agent?

Capcom said...

I'm wondering if Miles' extreme rage about Ben when he first got to the island was because Ben killed his father. The guy was seriously angry. It could also be why he wants to stay, to make sure the Ben gets his comeuppances. And I wonder how Miles will react when he finds out that Ben is no longer on the island. :-o

I don't know how that would apply to the 3.2 mil deal, unless it was a numerical code to Ben as an exchange of info. Hopefully we'll find that out soon.

Bigmouth said...

*Capcom* What if the $3.2 million was Miles's way of saying he knows Ben killed the elder Chang? For example, maybe Chang offered -- or Ben demanded -- that specific sum as ransom. Or perhaps that's the price Pierre had to pay to smuggle baby Miles off the Island.

Capcom said...

That's what I was thinking. Especially after one of them said to the other, "I know who you are," or "You know who I am," or something like that. It seems like it would mean like what you said, or something similar.

I like the idea that Chang gave 3.2 mil to get Miles off the island. Then Miles would be getting his dad's money back, as well as avenging his death. :-o

80sPro said...

I always thought there was something interesting about the amount.

And Ben seemed pretty agitated to see Miles, too. Not in an "a stranger wants to kill me" sort of way, but in an "uh-oh, not HIM!" sort of way. The 3.2 didn't seem to register, but Ben is able to fake his way through those sort of shocks. By then he knew who Miles was, so he wouldn't be shocked to hear that figure.

That explains why Miles is "special", it explains why he knows about Charlotte, and it explains why he was a bit of a Lost soul himself (when we met him).

And it's especially interesting to think that Daniel's head troubles are from years of time travel back and forth and not just experiments in a lab...

Nice post. Been waiting LONG time for it!

Wayne Allen Sallee said...

I forget who once used the line "the devil is in the details." But $3.2 million was a detail, it wasn't 2.3 or 4.2 to make it one of the Numbers. The "ransom" or "cost" matching this number makes sense. When I first watched the video, I thought the implication was that Faraday's Zodiac raft got sucked back to 1978. That's why I commented on his journal being written in such a way. Bigmouth, here's a wackadoo idea for you, if Abaddon is a Chronal Protection Agent, why would he have Naomi (who was obviously confused about his choices) take three people with ties to the Island and Lapidus (who had ties to 815)? By getting Faraday, Charlotte, and Miles to the Island, was Abaddon trying to fix everything we've seen from season one on (or, at least events that happened PRIOR to the crash of 815)? What would have happened if Keamy and his team weren't on board to mess things up? When Abaddon asks Hurley whom is still alive, is he asking about Faraday? If Daniel went back to 1978, Abaddon would likely know something about this, whether it was a course-correction or just the Keamy wild card scenario. Of the entire group from the freighter, I've always thought Faraday as the most important character.

I've mentioned on Capcom's blog that a joint Charlotte/Miles flashback in Season 5 would possibly explain a lot, particularly if it was linear, as with Ben and his dad's arrival on up to the Purge.

The Purge was meant to happen, I find it interesting that Chang accepts that. Just as Ms. Hawking explains to Desmond, and eventually Charlie is resigned to knowing he will die.

Capcom said...

I don't know about the devil and details, but Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (20th C. modern architect/designer) liked to say that that God is in the details. :-)

That's an interesting thought that Chang accepts the Purge, Wayne. What exactly is he asking us to do in his new video? I'm kind of confused about that actually.

Anonymous said...

I think he was asking to reserect Darma.

Capcom said...

Right, but how can *we* do that, if the DI is already in motion, asking for volunteers, setting up booths at Comic Con, etc? That's the part that I didn't get. And is the new DI working with the message of Chang already? Is that why they are asking for volunteers? :-\

Perhaps he means reconstitution of the original intentions of the Hanso-formed DI. That brings us back to the Valenzetti Eq. though, and it looked as if TPTB had put that on the back burner.

Wayne Allen Sallee said...

Capcom, the devil is in the details comes from trying to find something at the scene of a crime. As anon sd, the video obviously ties into the Dharma recruitment, though the interesting part is that its not HansoGroup, but Octagon Recruiting. I've said in the past that I despise these ARGs and we may not get more that a little understanding of the Comic-Con video. But look at last year's, we got quite a bit more info about the time-travelling bunnies, we just had to wait. A version of the Chang video will show up in Season 5 in some form. And recall, time IS the essence. Maybe he simply wants Dharma to concentrate on time travel (was the cover for that meteorology in the original Dharma programs?), once they reconstitute.

Capcom said...

Interesting about the devil/details thing. :-)

Your'e right. Since we'll probably never again get a LOST ARG as ambitious as TLE-1, the best thing about these now are the "secret" videos, for sure.

I'm pretty sure that meteorology was on the DHARMA plate in TLE (it would be hard to find a scientific discipline that wasn't!) but I like your idea that Chang wants them to concentrate on that now, in future-hind-sight. :-)

machramm said...

Something I noticed in the video: at about the 2:30 mark he looks down and rubs his left wrist as if it is hurting. This appears to be a foreshadowing of him appearing in a (evidently) later video missing a hand.

Wayne Allen Sallee said...

Capcom, way back when they had the first Hanso website up, they listed something like five initiatives. Meteorology was one of them. When Kate and Sawyer were breaking up rocks, a few people thought that was the falling meteor part. I hated TLE most of all because, unlike now, the clues weren't listed day by day. Maybe they heard from enough cranky old men like me that the last two are implementing the day by day clues (or at least Lostepedia is).

Machramm, the Chang video seems to be circa 1978, and the time-travelling bunny video might have been around that time, I think the Orchid Orierntation video said 1980. We can assume that Chang was guessing that we were watching the video 30 years from when he made it, maybe he was off by a few years. Maybe the numbness in his hand kept getting worse until he had to get a prosthesis. But if he was on the Island for such a long period--I have always thought the Orientation films (until the Orchid one)were made in the US or in Norway or even in Ann Arbor, why didn't the Island heal him if it was such a slow injury. Is that why he looked at it as if he couldn't understand WHY it wasn't healing? Is Chang the guy who gives Faraday for Eloise and her maze, only Farday forgets the details just as he cannot recall meeting Desmond in 1996?

Wayne Allen Sallee said...

@Bigmouth, you can delete my double post. Comcast bites the big one.

@Capcom, sorry, you are right. I looked up my Glossary in GETTING LOST and it was Mathematical Probabilities, not Meteorology. But Extraterrestrial Life was listed back then, too; I was likely thinking of that.

Capcom said...

All good points and ideas, Wayne! :-)

Chang looked to have prosthetic arms in the Swan, Orchid, and Flame videos, but without looking it up, I don't think that he did in the Pearl video. I bet that Lostpedia has the dates all laid out for those, I should go refresh my brain on those details.

Yes, TLE was kind of a surprise in 2006. Although some good ARG blogs did show up to keep track of things, we're even more ready for them now! :-D

Bigmouth said...

*Capcom* OK, just to play devil's advocate here for a moment, if Miles knows Ben murdered Chang, why would Miles accept any ransom at all? I'd expect him to say, in Princess Bride fashion: my name is Miles Straum, you killed my father, prepare to die!" I wonder if Miles read that number in Ben's head the way he sensed Mike was lying about being Kevin Johnson or Charlotte's suspicion she was born on the Island.

BTW, wasn't meteorology one of the fields of study mentioned in the Swan Orientation film?

*80sPro* I actually got the sense that $3.2 million was a number of some significance to Ben. He seemed weirded out and made a point of asking why Mils asked specifically for that number. But I really like your suggestion that Miles's memory loss may be the result of actual time travel, as opposed simply to experiments in the lab -- good thinking!

*Wayne* I do note that $3.2 million could conceivably refer to the Numbers (i.e., as the reverse of 23). Still, that strikes me as a tenuous connection, which is why I agree with you and everyone else that 3.2 million is a number of independent significance. As for Abaddon's motives as a Chronology Protection Agent, I think they're more long term. Some event in the very distant future depends upon certain people being on the Island. My suspicion is that this event relates somehow to our evolution as a species...

You raise an interesting point re Chang's apparent fatalism about the Purge. But I think it's a mistake to equate his outlook with Ms. Hawking's. After all, Chang also urges viewers to reconstitute Dharma so they can change the past and avert the Purge. Also, keep in mind the broader context of Dharma's mission to change the core factors of the Valenzetti. I think CP Agents maybe working to effectuate the Valenzetti -- or at least some version of it like the Seldon Plan in Asimov's Foundation series.

*anonymous* Yep, he did indeed mention reconstituting Dharma -- see my comments to Wayne. I have a feeling Dharma isn't supposed to be reconstituted.

*machramm* Good catch re Chang's arm! I wonder if we can begin to pin down when exactly when it was lost. As Wayne notes, Chang's transmission probably took place in 1978, while the Swan is dated 1980. As Capom notes, Chang still has his arm in the Pearl video, which is also dated 1980. Assuming these dates are correct, doesn't that suggest he lost his arm sometime that year?

Wayne Allen Sallee said...

Hey, Big. Good comments. I hadn't really thought of Chang wanting to avert the Purge, as you suggest. But then, over the past few years, as you've brought up course correction and chronal agents, I thought, well, hmmn. But you were right on the money (as you've shown us with links to previous posts).

Do you think Faraday was sucked to 1978 because he was on the Zodiac raft? So the Chronal agents want/need certain people on the Island? The wooden men on a chessboard from "White Rabbit"? I've mentioned this before, but just the way you bring it up, I again think the numbers represent individual people. Maybe Valenzetii saw his Equation as something else, the time left before the world ends. Well, if you are suggesting that something happens in the future, this could be the end of the world via the Equation or even that whole 2012 hoo-hah, why COULDN'T the chronal agents change the Numbers to people, since they've already seen the Numbers in the future? Again, I hope I'm making sense. Some sense.

I'm hoping that, with no more flash backs or flashforwards that we have three time frames to play on, 1978, 2004, and 2008. Its brilliant if it is Faraday with Chang, because it means we might see Annie or little Charlotte or teenage Ben. Will Farady remember them, because he did forget meeting Desmomd in 1996. And my biggest wackadoo *your patented term* idea, the time-travelling bunnies in The Orchid will influence Faraday's own work at Oxford in 1996. Andddd, what if this little video in 1978 is what creates (if you will) the need for chronal agents in the first place?

Capcom said...

The Kerr theory does allow for multiple concentric inner shells of time, right? The more the merrier to me, to get all the backstories that we have needed (read: been promised) for so long!

It's a given that when a lot of the scenes begin in Season 5, we won't really know "when" we are, so we'll have to keep our eyes peeled for era-specific props for hints as the scenes unfold. But I suspect that TPTB will assure a very generic visual as much as possible to confuse us as long as possible, like in "Ji Yeon". On the island that won't be too difficult, as jungle looks like jungle when-ever you are. :-) But inside the barracks, Pottery Barn will = present, and tacky (e.g. avacodo and mustard paisley) will = 1970s, heheh. Although, the Swan had a pretty good mix of current props (new washers) juxtaposed with 70s props (lavalamp) so it might not be too easy.

I'm not glued to the $3.2 mil ransom theory, it's just fun to think about as an option. But going with that, it's kind of like a lawsuit, money won't bring back something lost, but it can often buffer the pain somewhat. And TPTB showed us how much Miles likes money in his FB. Also, how he might be the type of person to rub someone's nose in the facts.

It could even be an amount of money that Ben got for something, and Miles just wants to deprive him of it, while also giving him a little signal since they couldn't talk when Kate was present for some reason. Maybe the Hostiles actually paid Ben to be their spy inside the DI, to bring it's downfall. We've always wondered how Ben could afford to do/get all the things he does.

Great comments everyone! :-D

dj said...

Hey all you goofballs! Long time no something.

I got in a mood and just started reading stuff on Lostpedia... don't remember where I saw it, but there was mention of something huge happening in the Pilot, some undiscovered something... we haven't seen anything to indicate what it could be, but supposedly it's there.

What if it's the very beginning of the episode -- Jack's introduction? This dude wakes up in the middle of the jungle while all the real business is down at the beach. Huh? The only other person to have a similar experience is Bernard, who finds himself in the trees and all... but anyway. I'm seeing similarities between Ben's little "experience" (donkey wheel -> desert) and Jack's (??? -> island). I don't think the Jack we see waking up on the Island was on 815 just before all this. I mean, sure, Jack had to have been on 815 at some point... but something else happened between then and err, then. There's also some weirdness with Christian and Vincent from that mobisode. I can't put it all together, but it definitely seems to stick out as something worth some attention!

Ah, jeez... how many more months of this... =(

Wayne Allen Sallee said...

hey dj and everyone else. I finally got caught up on the mobisodes now that I'm on high speed. My thoughts now that I've seen the one you mentioned, dj: Jacob is inhabiting Christian's body, but the "job" he has Vincent doing is to wake Jack and then get Locke and Walt together (remember Locke making the dog whistle?). In the early episodes, Locke was watching Walt through Jacob's eyes (or somesuch manner), and in some way Vincent possibly did something to Jack, as well. There's no other reason for Jack to have been by himself, other than if Vincent dragged him in the first place. Was Jacob using Vincent to see who was good and who was bad? How long does everyone think Jack was unconscious? Fifteen minutes?