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...