Wednesday, October 8, 2008

LT134: Time Machines and Wormholes

This blog continues a theme started in LT133, so be sure to review that post first in order to enjoy this one more.

Another matter we must attend to before jumping into my Stopwatch Theory is that this is a TV show and the producers have made it clear that pseudo-science or science-fiction is involved in this wonderful tale. What we will try to avoid is the temptation to add more “fringe science” than has been suggested on the show. In other words, we will keep it real except where the show specifically tells us to include a certain scientific theory. With Wikipedia, we then can easily quickly any theory floating around out there.

With that said…


Time machines and wormholes have been offered as scientific theory we need to include into the realm of known scientific law. Time machines have directly been mentioned (the Dharma Wheel) and wormholes indirectly (best explanation to time travel and visual clues).

The Stopwatch Theory takes the show’s time travel acknowledgment and tries to make sense of it all. We can accomplish this by suggesting the two stopwatches we are holding are the time machines. The details of HOW time travel happens is really immaterial at this point, so it can be wormholes, cosmic string theory or just some cool CGI effects. The important piece(s) we are after are the RULES the show uses to structure time. I imagine some white board in the offices of the LOST writers with the “Rules of Lost” written on them. Follow those rules, and the show works.


The Dharma Initiative began in the 1970’s. One of its initiatives was to study the feasibility of time travel. Sometime during the decade, they successfully built a time machine. They built two time machines: Left one and a Right one.

I’ve tried to timestamp this event, but it has been difficult.

We do know the time machines had to have been invented prior to 1981 because the Swan Orientation tape was copyrighted in 1980. The tape mentions “the incident” happening prior to the making of the tape which I take to mean the time machines were in operation during the incident.

You have to get the machines and quasi-science research hatches built. So, it was most likely the time machines were in operation prior to even 1980. Other clues to the date might come from researching the items in the hatches and dating them. But as you will see, that is merely a possibility, not proof.

Keep in mind that the Swan Orientation tape doesn’t really prove anything. It is entirely possible the time machines come later and that they have nothing to do with the “incident”. In fact, a logical progression would suggest the incident should have happened prior to the time machines.

Unfortunately, the best we can timestamp the creation of the two time machines is somewhere in the 1970’s or 1980’s. For the sake of convenience, let’s pick 1984 since it is the title of a book and you know how LOST likes to reference literature.


The section above alluded to a logical progression. If we stop and think how things would have fallen into place we can begin with the DeGroots. They had the knowledge to pull this off. Hanso had the money. What would the checklist look like?

- Find and buy a research island
- Build research hatches
- Hire staff
- Conduct research projects

I propose that we had six major research projects going on in this island which is supported by the hatches as well as Hanso’s website. The Swan hatch was involved with electromagnetic study. It would seem the Swan hatch learned to generate or harness some large magnetic field.

One day in the 1970’s they lost control of this power and this is the “incident” they refer to. As a safeguard they added two new protocols. First, they built a Reset switch which stops the build up of the magnetic force. The build-up then starts over again.

The keyboard was shown as inoperable when the Countdown Timer was outside of that final four minute window. It clearly did not matter if Desmond reset the Timer at 104 minutes. This suggests to me that the research needed the magnetic field to build up to a certain level, but that after 104 minutes it wasn’t safe to continue the build-up. They locked the keyboard at other times, so they could count on a certain levels. We have also seen that 109-ish minutes appear to be within the acceptable range (Lockdown episode).

The second protocol added was the Failsafe key. If push came to shove, then Desmond was under orders to turn that key and blow up the hatch as well as the Magnetic Field Magnifier once and for all.


The Swan hatch clearly involved magnets. Perhaps the Magnetic Field Magnifier served as the engine to run the time machines. We think of power planets, but Dharma may have discovered how to harness the energy of magnetic fields to a new level. I read in one of my surfing expeditions where if time travel was possible the “power station” required would have to be the size of Mars.

It doesn’t seem like much of a stretch to conclude the Swan hatch was a magnetic field generator.

Each time Desmond performed his duty in the Swan hatch, he was resetting one of the time machines back to the day they were put in operation: 1984. This is our Left Stopwatch resetting every 108 minutes or so…it keeps getting set back to zero.


To be precise, the Orchid Hatch is our Left Time Machine/Stopwatch. The Swan is the “battery” that runs it.

If the Stopwatch Theory has it right, then the computer button is resetting the Left Time Machine’s timestamp back to 1984. It ages for 108 minutes and then resets. This begins to explain why Richard Alpert never (or rarely) ages. Except this brings up a conflict which wonders, if Richard doesn’t sit inside the time machine then, “Why is he repeating 108 minutes of 1984 over and over?”


The concept here is that the whole island is inside a box which also contains the Left Time Machine. Therefore, anything that happens to the Time Machine also affects the Island. Personally, I’m not happy with this explanation until I came across a scientific research that coined the phrase, “Schrodinger’s Cat”.

Wikipedia describes it as, “Schrödinger's cat is a though experiment, often described as a paradox, devised by Austrian physicist Erwin Schrodinger in 1935. It illustrated what he saw as the problem of the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics being applied to everyday objects, in the example of a cat that might be alive or dead, depending on an earlier random event. In the course of developing this experiment, he coined the term entanglement.

The theory is that placing a cat, radioactive poison, and a device to break and release the poison inside a steel and sealed box, if the jar holding the poison were to randomly break up, would the cat be dead or alive?

It gets a little hairy at this point, but the concept I grasped was that radioactive material is such that it operates at the atomic level in unique ways. Science has revealed that atoms spin in all directions at once. It can be left and right at the same time. NOW, let’s ponder the question, “Which answer is correct?” Ok, let’s not.

Atoms can be up and down at the same time. Very unique creatures, to say the least. We have also learned that when you observe or measure an atom it then, conveniently for humans, chooses whether to be either left or right, up or down, etc. I’ve always wondered how we know atoms spin in all directions whenever they are not being observed when it would take observation to know that. But this stuff is not even fringe science, it is readily agreed principle, so let’s scratch our heads and move on.

Being the poison is an atomic-active substance, then anything contained within the thick steel box would share the same fate as the atoms in the radioactive substance. The question becomes is the cat dead or alive the moment the gas is released? Some say both dead and alive is the correct answer. We do know that once the box is opened, we begin to observe and measure the state of the cat and like the atoms, it chooses either dead or alive which are able to ascertain.

I feel there is enough collaborating science to agree that the island is inside some sort of box with the time machine. The time machine is like the radioactive material in that what happens to the time machine happens to everything inside the island box.

And this belief is supported by the references to boxes on the show. One example being the black magic box that Ben mentions and then produces Locke’s father from. And of course, Locke worked in a box company that Hurley owns.


What is the island box then? It would seem that the Dharma Checklist for Time Travel required that prior to the time machines, the Dharma team needed to create a time box. Or if you know who Jim Croce was, then “time in a bottle”.

I propose they built a time-space container. This leads to the parallel universe, but that whole angle has little credible scientific support. Einstein’s theory leaves the door open a crack to the possibility of multi-universe’s, but it has been directly mentioned on the show or even indirectly to a documented theory…that I can think of.

With a lack of clues available, the picture in my mind is a large plastic bubble. Perhaps the shape of a biosphere. Or a snow globe. All the references to cold, snow, and ice are references to the snow globe design of the Island box. So, I guess that means more of an Island Globe.

NOTE: We have to be careful here, because just like changing one thing in history can change the future, we must also take care that a simple change from box to globe means we lose the circumstantial evidence offered about Locke’s job and Hurley’s ownership of a box company. Hey, I’m trying to stay pure. If we wanted, we could twist Croce’s song title alongside the bottle full of notes sent with Michael’s raft and say the show is about a Police song, “Message in a Bottle”. HA!

So, let’s keep the change a box because of the reference to Ben’s black box. I just imagine the shape of the influence area is not one of those rules the writers bothered to write on the whiteboard.


My next post will explore the Stopwatch Theory a little deeper. If the Left Stopwatch is constantly being reset or “frozen” in 1984 then our Survivors time on the island is not moving one bit while the rest of the world moves on. In the next LOST TIDBITS I hope to explain how the Stopwatch Theory allows the Others years and years of background checks it would take to accumulate files on all the Survivors.


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