Wednesday, October 15, 2008

LT136: I Want Some Answers

I believe this is the fourth post in a row concerning the Stopwatch Theory that is sort of being worked out as I write these posts. I guess that isn’t very convincing that we are going to end up with anything solid, but hope you have enjoyed the thought process unfold. If you missed the beginning of this, it might be worthwhile to go back and re-read the past few posts. Today’s post winds down the theory string by showing some examples of how the Stopwatch Theory explains things.


The short summary is that the Stopwatch Theory is really searching for a set of rules that I imagine the writers of LOST have written on some whiteboard in their offices. So far we surmise that the rules include…

RULE 1: You can’t change the past, present or future fundamentally

For example, Locke was truly unable to kill his father, Anthony Cooper, when his daddy showed up by surprise. This is because of Rule 1, which handles the chicken-or-the-egg paradox. You can’t very well kill someone who is going to be your father eventually, because then you wouldn’t be here to pull the trigger.

Even if the rule did allow something this drastic, what would we expect to happen? My guess is the second Locke slides the knife across daddy’s neck, John would cease to exist, vanish, and disappear in a poof of logic.

So how was Sawyer able to kill a man that is actually alive in 1984? I believe because the rule requires a direct impact and there was none. Since Sawyer was killing his parent’s con man, the actions don’t change anyone’s life course fundamentally. Sawyer’s mother would still be conned by someone else. Sawyer’s father would still commit a murder-suicide. Sawyer would still shoot a man the thought was the real Sawyer.

Mrs. Hawkings tell us another rule which we must apply:

RULE 2: Fate can make course corrections.

Perhaps the idea was to give the writers some leeway. I think if you look for true paradoxes (like Sawyer killing his father before his father became his father) you won’t find many. The producers of LOST have promised as much.

But Mrs. Hawkings’ rule allows for minor course corrections.

RULE 3: The Island Box (or Bubble) is preserved in 1984.

One piece of evidence to this is the Noah’s Ark Effect. Since the Swan Orientation tape we have been aware of the six areas of scientific study the DeGroots would be conducting. One area of study mentioned was zoology.

Add in the talk on the show about the world coming to an end all the time and you get an island that is going to act like a life raft for mankind…and animal-kind. The polar bears and bunnies are there to conduct zoology tests. The tests probably have to do with the impact and consequences of the time paradoxes. We have a sort of Noah’s Ark.

This fits nicely with the religious themes that have emerged as well.

RULE 4: You can never travel further back than when the time machines were created.

The two time machines, the Left and the Right, might best be considered as portals. The Left is frozen in time in the year 1984 in honor of the famous book. This time machine encompasses the island.

The Right time machine or portal is located somewhere in real time. When the Survivors of Flight 815 crashed, it was September 22, 2004. Time keeps moving as we are use to observing it behave every day. When 30 days passed on the island, 30 days passed off the island.

However, the Left Time Machine – which is the island – keeps getting reset to some date in 1984. It ages normally with the outside world for about 105-107 minutes, then some guy in a hatch resets the space-time continuum to the beginning point. This gives time travel a reference point.

It also gives time travelers a maximum date that one can travel back to. This is due to the reason that if you travelled to 1970, neither time machine existed yet, so you can’t complete the cycle. That’s a fundamental change directly affecting the time traveler, so jumping prior to 1984 is a no-no.

RULE 5: The Swan hatch hasn’t reset the Left Stopwatch for about a month.

For the sake of explanation, let’s assume September 22 in 1984 is the day the time machines came on line. Exactly 20 years later Oceanic airline sends a plane through the Island event horizon and we get copies/twins/parallel/clones of everything on board that plane.

For the next two months or so, the Survivors observe approximately 60 sunrises and sunsets. They think the calendar would read November 27, 2004. But it doesn’t. The execute button in the Swan Hatch has been resetting the calendar to September 22, 1984.

Desmond believes the same thing which is why he asks Locke what day their plane crashed. The computers in the hatch have been “keeping time” for Desmond – just like everyone’s watch because that is how time is perceived by humans. But the calendar is not advancing. It is like Groundhog Day except none of the events repeat – yeah, think about that one for a minute.

Once the Swan hatch imploded it was November 27, 2004, off the island and in the real world. From that point on the island calendar and the real-world calendar advanced in unison.

So the calendar on the island would now read somewhere in late October 1984 because the Swan hatch has been idle for about a month.


I’m not sure of Ben doesn’t recognize this even though he saw the sky’s appearance when the Swan hatch imploded. Or maybe Ben didn’t know the exact impact this would have.

The phrase Ben used about changing the rules has stuck in my crawl. I think the Stopwatch Theory might address this. The Left Stopwatch is no longer being reset by the holder of it. This means that the island’s time is catching up with real-world time. Ok, it isn’t “catching up” because it can’t go faster than fast (think NFL combine)…but it can at least stay even with it. For decades the island remained a fixed point in time. Now it is advancing and real-world rate.

This means the island’s timeline is beginning to overlap with real-world events. I believe the result of this will be disastrous. Paradoxes are forming and they need to be rectified by Fate. This is what John alludes to as “terrible things have happened since the Oceanic 6 left (or the island moved, you pick).”

Ben has already witnessed one such “course correction” which is now required as the island overlaps time that has already existed: Alex dying.

What would strengthen this line of thought is if the show begins telling us more events that happened back when the time machines were built…and soon after they were put in operation. The Comic Con video does exactly that. The tape sounds like Daniel is back in time convincing a confused but believing Marvin Candle that he is from the future.


You may recall Hurley’s plea to Jack to be kept in the loop – the inner circle of leadership that has formed in this tiny society.

And we have talked plenty about time loops.

And past LOST TIDBITS have explored how especially Jack has been in a loop.

And now Daniel actually having travelled back in time (pre-time machine is yet to be discovered) suggests ability to re-live or loop back in time.

Even the show’s original title was “The Circle”.

RULE 6: There is only one time loop for Survivors.
I propose this rule is included on the Writer’s Whiteboard. This is because we have one set of twins that passed through a time warp, not triplets.

This gets a bit confusing, but consider this: if Daniel did travel back to warn Marvin Candle of his impending doom, he can’t go back a few days later and try a better warning. Or because of other rules already offered, it wouldn’t do any good since fundamental changes are required.

And we have stated that the Left Stopwatch is being reset, so we have thousands of time loops of 108 minute durations. And let’s not forget that Sayid was able to calculate a passage of 16 years from the crazy French lady’s transmission.

But the Survivors are limited to two timelines, no more and no less.

RULE 7: You can outlive yourself, but you probably can’t pre-date yourself.

The only people at risk here would be the young ones like Claire…or anyone else around the age of 20 (2004 – 1984 = 20 years). So Daniel CAN go back to 1984 since he really was alive then. But he can’t travel back to a point prior to his birth.

In the real-world we know (?) the Survivors died in the crash.

CONTRADICTION ALERT: Frank, the pilot, says he recognized the pilot as a fraud since the real pilot always wore a ring. Not sure what to do with this other than to agree this plane was staged, but stick with me.

If they truly died, and Frank was merely mistaken which we could be told later is the case, then we know everyone’s real-world outcome: dead. So we know your “second copy” can live on…in the Left side of the world, the island. This is why returning was such a big deal.

See, there is no real fundamental impact with having dead people still being alive since dead people don’t impact the future very well or much! But Father Time and Mother Fate are still up in arms about having to deal with it. Without a direct conflict they are able to re-enter the real world (which is about 60 days into the future to the Oceanic 6 but they just don’t realize it).

This is why Michael’s mother states, “You disappear for a couple of months…we don’t hear anything from you…and then you show up at my door.” Oh, dear mother, he didn’t show up because he was dead at the bottom of the ocean.

This stuff should remind you of the Sixth Sense. It really looks like they are interacting until we find out they weren’t. Brilliant!


Real world calendar: December 30, 2004.

Island calendar: October 30, 1984.

When Ben walked up to the hotel counter to check in he had to ask the date because since the Swan hatch stopped resetting the Left Stopwatch, island passage had begun to move forward. This throws off the calculation in much the same way passing through the Island Snow Globe affects time oddly. History is being re-written for a second time and this isn’t good. I believe Ben could control exactly where he time travelled before the Swan went boom.

I’ve been trying to formulate a Rule for this, but so far find too many contradictions.


My final thought to share is that the time rate is different for the island considering its odd properties.

To address this we should remember two past events: the rocket and the doc.

The rocket fired outside the bubble and took longer – as perceived by the island – than expected.

The doc with a throat disorder floated on shore before the copy of him on the boat showed up.

This stuff reinforces the Stopwatch Theory which says a copy or clone is made when being in the present you cross a boundary into the past. The 305 degrees seems to mitigate the impact, but any other entry and time goes wacky.

The challenge is that it rushes ahead for the doc showing up early and the rocket showing up late. I think the helicopter ride Des and Sayid made with Frank reinforces this as well. Recall that much of the explanation to events from the show has involved radiation. Now think back to any earlier post of a science project that involved radioactive poison, a cat and a sealed lead box.

So does time rush forward or backwards? Not sure yet. Both, it seems for now.

One piece of this we should focus on is that either explanation confirms that time moves strange. This concept easily fits with time running at twice the speed on the island in an attempt to catch-up with time.

So…the real-word moved 30 days from Swan implosion to Ben turning the wheel. Yet, Ben jumped ten months further than that. This is a factor of roughly 10 times the “make-up rate”.


I hoped you enjoyed the Stopwatch Theory. If you have any ideas to supplement or refute points, please post a comment. And you know if you keep reading LOST TIDBITS you’ll not miss out on any follow-ups to the Rules. After all, we have four more months to spend together before LOST returns.


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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Boy, when I first heard you talking about this "theory" I hated it, simply because I hate time paradoxes. I still kinda hate it. But I do admit its fun to think about... a little.

I think you've got a lot of holes in parts of your theory, but I do think you have a lot of good points. Well, here it goes:
So, they first built the Swan hatch time machine(TM) somewhere in 1984...makes sense. Every 108 minutes, the TM takes the island back to the same point in 1984.
When the Swan hatch imploded, it allowed the island to continue on its timeline.

At first, I was willing to accept the increased island time rate too. However, if it did, then Penny and Widmore's chumps would have found the island (off-island time) without the aid of Charlie's shutting down the Looking Glass. I think that's what the TM was for in the first hide the island from the outside world.

I still think the crashed plane was staged... I don't agree with the John vanishing in a poof of logic if he killed his father...the man still died, and that would have affected John's existence. I know how much you wanted to use Hitchhiker's God-logic paradox, but...NO. That was a stupid idea then, and its a bad one now.

Here's some theories of my own that could apply to yours.

*I think we need to apply Mrs. Hawking's law more. The universe needed those particular people to end up on that island, in order to course-correct itself, which is to get rid of the power-hungry Ben somehow. What better than to have them all in one place (the plane) and push them back in time to 1984, during Desmond's accidental episode.
Then the universe sends a parachute of food, sent in 1984, and being received when the survivors needed it. Faraday's rocket exp. is the universe telling Faraday not to expect things to arrive on the island when he thinks they should. Then the universe brings back the Doctor's body, to accelerate the survivors' actions. And then it allowed W's chumps to get on the island for the same reason.

I think the universe is also responsible for people's sightings of ghosts. A necessity to get people off their asses. John and Hurley seem to need it the most lol.

When they get off the island, they are re-sent to the future, to whenever their minds would think the world is continuing. In other words, their minds are on the off-island stopwatch--I think that's what you were trying to say early in this post.
(PS:I also think that anything electronic/radioactive is also on the off-island stopwatch, hence Danielle's continued distress call, the looking glass's operation, and the Jack+Penelope's radio contact.)
(PPS:Why would Ben tell his people that the Looking Glass wasn't operational?)

Here's another idea... the icy wheel room was another TM, but built in ancient times, probably when that giant statue w/4toes was built. When Ben pushed the wheel, he brought the island back to the time when that TM was built, hence, causing the island to disappear.
Get where I'm going? It didn't move locations, it went back in time. And it will never eventually make it past 1984, which is why it is unseen to everyone in the present.

I think you're off with the overlapping time killing Alex theory. If anything, it was a course correction required for some end or other.
BTW, what Comic Con video are you talking about? I've never seen one with Daniel in it.
I think it's a swing and a miss for Rule 7.

One last thought...Jack, Hurley and the others saw the island disappear, they were still on the island clock. I think they were close enough to be on the clock, but not close enough to be taken back with it.

Well, those are my thoughts, I hope you made it through all of them. I'd like some feedback too.
If there's something more to your theory that you'd like to discuss, just reply to this comment or put it in your next post.

'Til next time,
Ben aka "B"