Sunday, November 16, 2008

LT144: History of LOST - The Beginning


Aristotle was one of the founding fathers of Western philosophy and he said once, “If you would understand anything, observe its beginning and its development.”

With those words in mind, and a couple of months before LOST returns, it seemed like a good time to take Aristotle’s advice. In our quest to understand LOST, we should observe its beginning and its development.

So where to begin?


The story of LOST really does start here. The properties of the island seem unique in that nothing related to LOST could have happened, had not the island existed. As we have observed, the island itself appears to possess many unique characteristics. However, we can’t be sure which characteristics were original and which were brought about by external forces.

What we can safely assume is the island once was home to an active volcano and that we find an odd form of naturally occurring electromagnetism.


I can hear what some readers might be thinking, “Hey, we’ve been down this path before.” I agree. So my intent is not to rehash what has been discussed at length, but to share any new observations.

If I’m guessing right about the readers of LOST TIDBITS then most of us can probably stumble through a basic explanation of what electromagnetism is. But in search for NEW things, can you tell me who the “father” of electromagnetism is? I didn’t know this before now.

His middle name is Christian. After four years of LOST TIDBITS, things can still make me go “Wow, I didn’t know that.” This got me wondering if we missed something during the prior trips down memory lane.

Recall that our and the Survivors big revelation about this island was when they entered the Swan hatch. They had clues prior to this, but the understanding didn’t really come until Jack walks by a wall in the hatch and the key around his neck showed a strong attraction to something behind that wall.

Then the hints and clues starting come fast. We heard about the Dharma Group and Alvar Hanso and their appreciation about the uniqueness of this island.

So imagine my surprise when I discover the father of electromagnetism had a middle name of Christian, like Jack’s father. More surprise to learn he was from Denmark. As I review this history it makes me wonder just how many clues were left for us? Alvar Hanso was earlier identified as Danish. With the clues of electromagnetism, Danish foundations, and the name Christian it seems that the father of electromagnetism should have been fore front on my Google searches. Oh well.

Did I mention the father of electromagnetism’s first name is Hans? Is that close enough to Hanso to convince you a stronger link should have been made to this guy?

When my child was in day care he shared a first name with a handful of other boys. To help keep their things straight, my son had to write “Kyle C” on just about everything to it didn’t get mixed up with “Kyle W” or “Kyle A”. If we apply this same naming convention to the father of electromagnetism then we get:

Hans O.

Hans Christian Orsted.

He discovered electromagnetism by accident. Hans O. was preparing a test using a battery and a circuit. By a stroke of fate, there was a compass sitting nearby and each time he would turn on the circuit, the needle would move. The compass is another strong link to LOST.

It is also interesting to note that Hans was responsible for describing the “thought experiment”.


Scientific method requires a hypothesis or theory is stated and then tested. When those tests would prove to be impractical, Hans O. proposed they turn to thought experiments.

The most famous example of a thought experiment is something known as “Shrodinger’s Cat”. I almost fell off my chair! That cat thing was mentioned in an early post of mine but was arrived at a completely different approach.

With this idea to revisit the beginning and observe its development as Aristotle suggested, you can see a fanatic might get a little excited. The piece that seems to have been overlooked is that Hans Christian Orsted was being pointed out loud and clear and I just missed the chap.

The second most famous example of a thought experiment is known as “Maxwell’s Demon”. This is another new factoid for me. But it caught my eye because of Maxwell. That is the name of the mysterious character behind the same-name group who was manipulating Sam in the Find 815 game from the creators of LOST. The logo for this Maxwell Group was…guess…a compass. Hmmm…


This law deals with temperature (thermo). To use an example, the law states that if two objects of equal temperatures were placed next to each other in an isolated universe that the temperature would remain equal. Two differing temperatures would invoke dispersion in order to reach and equal temperature.

There is an interesting observation made about temperature. If a jar is filled with a gas, we can take a temperature reading, but that reading is actually the average of all the molecules in that jar. We know that the faster a molecule moves, the hotter it gets as the more collisions that take place. Yet, we have noticed that in a jar of gas the individual molecules travel at varying speeds.

Yet, when the sample size is large enough and random, the mean of velocity is always predictable…while the individual molecule speeds vary. This reminds me of a popular theme in LOST: order out of randomness. This is the butterfly effect, fate, the Chaos theory all wrapped into one idea and given to us if we simply had stumbled on Hans O a lot earlier.

Maxwell’s Demon experiment then tries to disprove the second law of thermodynamics. He thought experiment was to fill a container with gas. The container would have a divider with a door that could allow diffusion. The experiment was to imagine a creature which had the ability to see each and every molecule. Then, like a video game of Asteroids when a fast travelling molecule was headed straight for the door, he would open it and let the fast molecules enter the left side of the container. When a slow and pokey molecule was headed towards the right side, he would quickly open the door and let it enter the right side.

The left then would be gaining the faster traveling molecules and the right side over time was gaining the slow moving molecules of gas. This in turn would mean the average temperature would climb in the left side and drop in the right side…thus disproving the second law of thermodynamics that two bodies next to each other would find an equilibrium of temperature.

The connection to the show is the use of thought experiments as we have observed in each hatch. It ties in to other scientific suggestions from the show including quantum physics, nanotechnology and time-space continuum. While possible to have deduced these things as early as Season 2, I’m not sure anyone would have believed us if we suggested that time travel was possible back when Henry/Ben was asking if they had any milk for his cereal.


In literature we find the use of the term in several examples. One stands out. It is called “The Demon Box”. Yeah, the word “box’ caught my eye. In this story, a scientist creates a Maxwell Demon that is able to reverse the aging process.

Man, I love this show!


While Hanso, er, Hans Orsted, could be called the father of electromagnetism, many others after him built upon his basic theories. The most famous of those is Michael Faraday. Another name connection…perhaps the great-great-great grandfather of Daniel Faraday!

Faraday took the ideas of the relationship between electricity and magnetism and applied to mathematical physics. I quickly hit Wikipedia and while I don’t understand the work described, you can probably see why Faraday’s work seems related:

“It had far-reaching consequences, one of which was the understanding of the nature of LIGHT. As it turns out, what is thought of as "light" is actually a propagating OSCILLATORY disturbance in the ELECTROMAGNETIC field, i.e., an electromagnetic wave. Different frequencies of oscillation give rise to the different forms of electromagnetic RADIATION, from RADIO WAVES at the lowest frequencies, to visible light at intermediate frequencies, to gamma rays at the highest frequencies.” Source:

Daniel said the light on the island “looked different”. I just spent the last post on oscillation. Could the radiation be the sickness we’ve heard so much about? And notice on the show how the radio waves from the Freighter did not seem to be impacted by time like physcial mass was. And let’s not forget that Faraday is depicted on some foreign currency that was observed in Ben’s secret room.


In this review of the beginning of LOST we began with the island. We conclude that the only original property of note is the naturally occurring levels of electromagnetism. In hindsight, we can surmise that the writers were pointing us towards Hans Christian Orsted, the father of magnetism. As early as season 2 we could have deduced Hanso, Faraday, radiation, and oscillation.

Next on LOST TIDBITS we follow the known chronological path which will take us to the Hostiles.


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