Saturday, October 4, 2008

LT133: Pushing the Button

Today’s blog is at the end of a long, long day, so I’m going to do my best to layout a theory about LOST that is a work in progress. Let’s call it the “Stopwatch Theory”.


LOST is always on the forefront of my mind. So, I’m watching football this weekend and something makes me think of those NFL combines. A combine is the try-out for college athletes who have a good chance at being drafted. The college graduates show up at one of the combines and execute a series of speed, strength, and skill tests. Most the NFL teams send a scout to conduct their own tests on each future draftee and report their findings back to the people in each organization who is responsible for making their draft day decisions.

LOST comes in because I think of two NFL scouts – one from the Chicago Bears and one from the Miami Dolphins – standing at the finish line of a 40-yard dash. They are timing a well-regarded wide receiver from Iowa. On the signal, the player takes off and runs as fast as he can. As the player crosses the finish line, the scouts will PUSH THE BUTTON to stop their stopwatches.

The scout from the Dolphins records a time of 4.3 and the Bears’ scout records a slower time of 4.4 (which makes sense when you consider the Bears are always a little slower than the Dolphins as any NFL fan knows!).

Which time is correct?


Consider with me the various arguments that could be made for either time being the correct time.

What does “correct” mean? We have a philosophical debate on our hands. Without belaboring the finer points, let’s just appreciate who two guys with very large brains could argue what “correct” means until the cows come home. We can picture that scene in our heads. We understand the debate even if it might more us. If you are thinking two politicians at a debate, then you are getting the same idea of how of endless arguments almost designed to purposefully NOT reach a consensus. But, I’m jaded, so let’s get back to point…

This stopwatch scenario is the origin of the Stopwatch Theory.


Supporters of the Dolphins stopwatch reading of 4.3 seconds to run the 40-yard dash could argue that it must be the correct time because you can’t get a faster time than the shortest time.

This point requires many assumptions such as the scouts started the stopwatches at the same time and the proper time (when the wide receiver began to run). We then assume that neither scout stopped their stopwatch prematurely (before the runner completed the distance). If those two assumptions are accurate, then the faster time has to be correct because you can’t get any slower time than the fastest recorded (gain, assuming the assumptions are accurate).

What this argument also proves is that the Bear scout pushed the button slower or later than the more accurate Dolphin scout.


The proponents of the Bear’s time must argue for margin of error. This then makes the 4.4 seconds the correct time. Humans always struggle with numbers even in simple tasks. Whenever we need to deal with a one-time chore, we tend to desire accuracy more. For example, you want to carpet a room. You measure the width and length and reach your number. But everyone with experience will tell you to estimate higher square feet.

In other words, it is better to plan for a guy to run a pass route at 4.4 speed and have him be able to execute at 4.3 speed, then it is to expect 4.3 and then be disappointed with the slower speed. To error of the safe side, fans of the Bears time will argue, “Both sides agree that he is able to run at 4.4, so that is a fact. Only half of us believe he can run that distance in 4.3, so the correct time is the time universally accepted and builds in a margin of error on the safe side.”


Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and the same is true of time. Imagine the two scouts do to competitiveness nature of evaluating NFL talent, do not share their times so they are unaware there even was a discrepancy? Then each believes they have the correct time on their stopwatches.

Time, therefore, is established by the observer. The Miami scout observed 4.3 and the Bears observed 4.4 for the same event. Both are correct since the correct answer is different for each. Or something like that.

Consider our own experiences with time. The word day literally drags on and on and time just seems to crawl. Yet our weekends fly by. Our brains realize the second hand is not spinning any faster or slower, it is merely the perception of the observer. A wife who thinks the time flies during the opera can’t experience a faster moving time while the spouse thinks this night will never end. Not if they are at the same opera anyway. No, time moves the same “speed” for everyone, but it is perceived differently.

So, both NFL scouts times are correct. Correct to the scout. We, as third party observer, then have a different perspective in that we observe both times. Which one then is right for us? This is what was answered in the two sections above – well, not answered, but presented.


Picture you are holding two stopwatches. You PUSH THE BUTTON to start them at exactly the same time. We will label the stopwatches Left and Right to help us identify them. Most stopwatches have three buttons: Start, Stop and Reset.

If you are like me, then you are picking out some key LOST words: stop, watch, time, button, and reset. Just thought I’d point that out.

We observe the time increasing on each stopwatch at the same rate. Then after about 108 minutes, we push the Reset button on the Left Stopwatch only. Then we push the Start button to start accumulating its time measurement.

Which stopwatch is has the accurate time? Both are correct, of course, but for their own reason they are different times explained by the fact the Left one was reset. From this point on, every 108 minutes you will reset the Left Stopwatch and start back up again.


My intention for this blog was to set the stage for the Stopwatch Theory. In Wednesday’s blog I hope to explain how the two stopwatches explain LOST.


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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

LT132: Flexibility


Test 7 has been posted on the site. This test determines if you are a black or white swan. Ok.

Besides some cryptic clues and most of those dealing with how to cheat the tests, I don’t see a whole lot going on. About six people have been promoted to “Instructor Level” which means…well, I don’t know. They get t-shirts as recognition.

If anything interesting breaks, I’ll let you know.


A new rumor is saying Wednesdays on February 4, 2009. Another switch in nights, but you know how these things go, so sit tight until we get solid confirmation.


“He changed the rules,” Ben muttered. The idea here is that Ben’s original timeline of events doesn’t have Alex dying. This likely then alters this new timeline for Ben and perhaps the world via the butterfly effect. To course-correct, Ben needs to kill Penny.

Sayid is working for Ben, but why? Ben made a promise to give Sayid another chance with Nadia. Again, this strongly implies that Ben knows how to alter timelines. Once all the problems caused by the improper jumping (Widmore forced his hand), they can return to the island and jump back once more to pre-crash and live life over again…hopefully, for the better.

Keamy and Company were originally never intended to find the island, but did. This altered events and Ben went into his secret room to inform someone. That someone, Jacob?, felt the best way to course correct was by sending the Smoke Monster after the military gang.

The visions of Kate’s horse, or Jack’s father or even the Whispers are used to course correct – nothing more. Some visions give specific instructions like “Go stop Charlotte and Daniel from shutting off the gas in the Tempest Hatch”. Sometimes, it is merely their presence that makes a difference. Consider then that Jack’s father led his son over a cliff’s edge…was that meant to be, but Jack thwarted Fate? How often do you see the word thwarted? HA!


We know Sawyer passed this way at one time. But is there more to the cities the writers select?

In Tallahassee they have:

- Indian Mounds – a burial grounds

- The National High Magnetic Field Lab – home to the strongest man-made magnet. This link explains what they do there and why it has to be so cold to work!

- Juliet’s degree is from Florida State University

- FSU has conducted several studies on meteorites including one that fell in Canada and is said to have some strange properties. Recall Hurley’s Chicken Shack was wiped out by one.

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

LT131: The Truth is Out There?


Jack’s desire to return is only partially explained to us. What we learn is that terrible things have happened on the island after the Oceanic 6 left.

Now consider our Season 4 ended with Jack and the funeral parlor to find Locke in the casket. Do you recall the name of the funeral parlor?

The name, Hoffs/Drawlar, is an anagram which rearranged spells “Flash Forward”. It doesn’t seem random to me that we wrap up a season in a building named for time jumping with the three principal leaders all present: Jack, Ben and Locke.


Imagine my surprise when I learn there is a book named Flash Forward.

Please notice the author’s name…oh, the J. stands for James…JAMES SAWYER!!!

The book was written in 2000, plenty of time for some writers to come along and use it as a blueprint for a TV show in 2004.


Apologies if I’ve mentioned this before…but in Switzerland there is this super collider science project going on. It is a 17-mile long circular tube that sits 300 feet below ground at near absolute zero and zings protons around at near the speed of light, held on course in the tube by very strong magnets, in order to collide into each other. Why? To see what happens, of course.

300 feet deep: John asks Ben while riding down the Orchid Hatch elevator, “How deep is this thing?” Well, about a 35-story-building deep, John.

Absolute zero: It looked very cold in the Dharma Wheel Room.

Speed of light: Daniel says the light looks “off”, light flashes when island moves

Magnets: Electromagnetic stuff all throughout the show beginning with Jack’s key attracted to something behind the Swan Hatch wall

Colliding protons: Fringe science just like the Dharma Initiative were conducting

Why?: Same logic offered in most of Ben’s answers.

Some have feared that when to basic sub-atomic particles collide in Switzerland that a black hole could form and swallow the world whole. Well, we won’t find out for a number of months as the machine ran into some technical problems the first time the scientists took it for a test drive.


The book mentioned above is a story about a scientific research group in Switzerland whose goal is to develop the world’s most powerful particle accelerator in order to smash electrons into each other. The real Super Collider project has been underway in one form or another for 25 years, so the author is doing the Dan Brown thing (if you get my reference) by borrowing heavily on real-world circumstances and established-legend as a backdrop for his own tale. So why couldn’t LOST do the same? offers this review of Flash Forward:

“What would you do if you got a glimpse of your own personal future and it looked bleak? Try to change things, or accept that the future is unchangeable and make the best of it? In Flashforward, Nobel-hungry physicists conducting an unimaginably high-energy experiment accidentally induce a global consciousness shift. In an instant, everyone on Earth is "flashed forward" 21 years, experiencing several minutes of the future. But while everyone is, literally, out of their minds, their bodies drop unconscious; when the world reawakens, car wrecks, botched surgeries, falls, and other mishaps add up to massive death and destruction.”

Remind you of anything?

Could the terrible things that Locke warns about to happening on the island in the future refer to similar events found in the Flash Forward book? Maybe not exactly, but of the same nature? The point to consider is that time jumping has to have some bad effects. Every kid who dreams of teleporting (which is really time travel if you think about it) wonders if he could be transported into a solid wall. Even Ben points out that island jumping isn’t an exact science, John.


One most consistent thing I yell at the TV screen when watching LOST is, “Won’t you people talk to each other? Share information!” This is my wish, that someone would tell someone what they have learned. They should have one big meeting around the camp fire, pass out the Dharma Beer and just share.

Now imagine the book scenario: once everyone zaps back to their bodies after the time shift of a few minutes. Would you talk about it?

I suppose it depends if you are in a group or all alone. The isolated people probably pick themselves up, dust themselves off and think, “That was weird”. For the most part, people are uncomfortable talking about things they don’t understand.

Amazon review continues:

“Slowly, as recovery efforts continue, people realize that during the Flashforward (as it comes to be called) they experienced a vision of the future. The range of visions is astounding--those who would be asleep in the future saw psychedelic dream landscapes, while others saw nothing at all (presumably they'd be dead). But those who saw everyday life 20 years hence have to come to grips with evidence of dreams forsaken (or realized). Soon, the physicists who caused the Flashforward are struggling to help the world decide whether the future is changeable--and whether the experiment is worth repeating. Robert James Sawyer has captured a truly compelling idea with Flashforward, and he fully explores what such an event might mean to humanity.”

NOTE: After this description it mentions the book is out of print…just like “The Valenzetti Equation” book is out of print!


When the Oceanic 6 left the island they did so under the wrong circumstances. Perhaps this was their two minutes into the future and the six are simply returned to their prior state. Jack’s dad is still Chief Surgeon and Kate’s biological father is still drinking and so on. They are forced to relive their future they just witnessed…or to try and change it…or die trying.


Readers of the book have shared additional similarities:

The review on is written by a Ms. Littleton – same last name as Claire

The author is a winner of the prized Hugo Award for best science fiction works. Hugo Reyes, anyone?

A man dreams of the future and finds himself naked like Desmond

Sydney, Australia is mentioned

The whole test is ran on a computer where a push of the button starts the test


Pillars of black smoke is found in the book

CERN is described much like the Dharma Initiative

The scientists had an “incident” during the research work

When the world flashed forward for a few minutes, the date was October 23

After the world returns from their time journey, the populace begins having “visions”

The author’s other works center around religion and science with faith always winning out over mysticism


The title of the first episode of next season has been discovered. It is simply entitled, “Because You Left”. I’m thinking we are going to see the destruction caused by the Oceanic 6’s butterfly effect.

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