Friday, February 15, 2008

4.03 The Economist: More Thoughts
So I've slept on it and thought about it some more. My column for last night's episode is now up here, and there has been much discussion of the episode on my boards here.

So one of the main points of debate is what the heck was going on with the time inconsistency. On the one hand, there's a time lapse between the rocket being launched and "reaching" the beacon, and actually reaching the beacon. A time lapse of 31 minutes. Yet, as Brian pointed out in the comments, if time is moving differently off the island than on, shouldn't there be a lag time in the radio transmissions? How are they doing that in real time? Hell, even on CNN when someone is reporting from overseas, the anchor will say, "Do they think there will be an insurgence?" Pause. Pause. Reporter blinks. Pause. Reporter touches earpiece, nods. "Yes, they do." So if 31 minutes is passing between the outside world doing something and the island doing something, how are they talking from both "worlds" so easily?

Another question: What does the 31 minutes mean? In the outside world, no time at all seemed to pass. But on the island, 31 minutes went by. I speculated that maybe to the outside world, the survivors have been gone for years, not 100 days, but by this experiment, wouldn't it be the other way around? Wouldn't it be more like a day has passed, rather than 100 days? I'm confused... I'll need a physics major (or even better, someone who's read a lot of time travel sci-fi) to explain what the experiment really meant. On the one hand, as I mention in my column, it could explain why Walt has aged so much by being off the island, but on the other hand, as Saza mentioned, when Desmond looks at the readout of when the electromagnetic occurrence happened, it was September 22, which was the date both on and off the island. So is time really moving differently?

One thing could be this mysterious bubble surrounding the island. I'm wondering, after spending 3 hours between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. with an infant who wouldn't sleep and so I sat in the dark thinking about all of this while he cooed and giggled... could the time warp be in the shield surrounding the island? What if on the island it's December 24, and off the island it's December 24, but when you try to leave the island you can actually get stuck in the bubble and inside that particular barrier, which is a wormhole of some kind, time passes differently? Hawking talks a lot about black holes in his book and how time would pass differently if you were in one of them, but he also suggests that you'd be ripped limb from limb and turned into "spaghetti" if you were to fall in one. But what if Walt, on attempting to leave, got stuck in one, and therefore aged more rapidly for a short period before coming back out, and was suddenly a few years older? What if the plane was momentarily stuck in it? What if the helicopter was? It would be like living on the outside on September 22, then getting stuck in the wormhole and 3 months pass in the blink of an eye, then coming back through it and you're back in September 22 again. Could this be an explanation for what's happening in the flashforwards? Are they really 3 years in the future or do they just think they are? Notice how Dan tells Frank to make sure he follows exactly the same trajectory on his way out as on his way in. Maybe they'd discovered a hole (or when they entered they MADE a hole) and Dan wants to make sure Frank doesn't fall into the wormhole, but actually passes through safely?

Okay, my head's starting to hurt, and that paragraph is making less and less sense the more I type, so I'll stop.

Paticus suggested in the comments that maybe in the season 3 finale, when Kate says to Jack, "He'll be wondering where I am" that she could have meant Ben! I love that idea. What if, on the island, Ben has figured out all of their deepest desires and thoughts, just as the audience has, and now he's using them all against them for his own purposes. He's got Sayid in his clutches, and makes a comment that he hopes Sayid doesn't start following his heart instead of his head, because he knows what happened the last time he did that. Could he be talking about something that happened on the island? Or could he mean Nadia? Maybe Sayid gets off the island, finds Nadia, and makes a fatal error and she dies, and now he's completely dead inside and just doing Ben's bidding. Or maybe Nadia's in some sort of trouble, care of Ben, and he's forcing him to do his bidding so Nadia DOESN'T die. Hmm...

That's all for now. I'll have more again later. :)


Brian Douglas said...

• Why do Daniel and Charlotte decide to stay on the island? Have they been given a mission that’s being kept a secret from Frank?

Well, Daniel's probably in heaven right now doing his physics experiments. Did anyone else think there was a spark between him and Charlotte?

Emilia said...

Wasn't Charlotte revealed to be an anthropologist? I'm sure she has her own island research to work on (four-toed statue, anyone?).

Brian Douglas said...

Okay, I did the relativity calculations, and the payload had to have been going 99.99% the speed of light to cause the 31 min. time dilation. That's 186,000 miles per SECOND (over 670 million MPH)! That would mean it traveled 350 million miles (the circumfrence around the equator is only 25,000 miles).

Needless to say, I don't think relativity is to blame here, which is a shame because Faraday's experiement is the type of thing real physics do to measure its effects. I'm guessing the answer is something more sci-fi than real world physics.

Matthew D said...

Might the reason the payload got lost in time and the phone conversations happen in real time be the difference between electrical waves and a physical object? More than likely, the 'bubble' is some sort of electrical/magnetical energy. Notice that they're not using any kind of regular cell phone, walkie-talkies etc. These are some kind of state of the art communication devices that could use a wavelength unaffected by the bubble.

Remember Frank saying he burned up a lot of extra fuel getting to the island? How far did the payload travel according to Regina? Think about how fast she was counting down the kilometers it traveled. I'm at work, but someone should time her counting. Off the top of my head her count speed means the payload was traveling approx 3miles/sec.

Follow me here... The freighter has found the bubble and assumes the island is 50-60km from them inside it. They've found a crack they can travel through but what if the island isn't really inside the bubble. What if the crack is the wormhole and the island is half-way around the world.

I don't have the timer screenshots but someone should calculate the speed of the payload and the travel time and figure how far it really traveled.

I wonder if they shot the payload through the crack or just at the beacon?? Maybe the crack allows close to real time travel.

I have to think that the island is a whole lot further from the freighter than they think it is.

Nikki Stafford said...

Brian: thanks for the calculations! that's really cool stuff.

Matthew: You're definitely thinking the same way I am, but I lack the language right now to convey it properly (yours made more sense than mine). I definitely think the bubble is caused by the electromagnetic energy, and when Desmond imploded/exploded the hatch, it interfered with the bubble and caused Penny's guys to see it finally, by creating a crack in it that was permanent. Whereas when the plane incident had happened, it caused a momentary opening in the bubble that immediately closed, which is why the guys in the blizzard saw it briefly before it quickly disappeared again.

Matthew D said...

On a completely different note. Do you think the sub was the only way anyone could get on and off the island? Passports make sense with a sub but not with wormholes. Ben obviously travels lots? At the end of the ep is Ben living in Berlin or does he just pop in there to check in with Sayid? My guess is that Ben can go and be anywhere he needs to be.

Was Elsa the target on the list or her boss? Does Sayid understand German? He didn't seem to be interested in finding the 'safe house' she was talking about. Since they gave us the subtitles, mabye there's nothing else to that storyline. If there were, might they have made us translate it ourselves? What was his mission? Ben seems to be ready to give him another name instead of wanting him to go after her boss.

Has anyone printed a transcript of the barely audible background conversation at the beginning of the show? That has to be important. Otherwise they'd have moved it further into the background or not included it.

Brian Douglas said...

mathew: Good idea. Let's see....

According to Regina, the payload is traveling on average at 2 km/sec she starts counting down at 40 km, and says the payload should arive 20 seconds later). For those who prefer Imperial units, that's about 25 miles distance at about 4500 mph.

First of all, that payload is going damn fast! That's not just supersonic, that's hypersonic (more than 5 times the speed of sound). But I'm digressing so....

Now then, assuming the payload is travelling at that speed during the missing 31 minutes and 19 seconds, it would travel 3800 km or 2350 miles. How far did Greg Grunberg say they were off course in the Pilot?

Brian Douglas said...


I don't think the island's electromagnetic field is causing the time lapse, at least not directly. E-M waves are affected by electromagnetism as shown by Faraday (the real one, not the Lost character). Now if there was a gravitational affect that caused the time lapse, that would affect matter (which have mass) by not E-M waves (which are massless).

The best theory I've got is that there is some kind of temporal wormhole around the island, or something like that.

Jeremy Barker said...

Hey Nik, was just thinking about this reference in your column: "When Sayid looks at one of Ben’s fake passports, the name on it is Dean Moriarty. Moriarty is the main character in Jack Kerouac’s On the Road"

Could there not be another literary connection, perhaps to the Moriarty of Sherlock Holmes fame?

Brandon / job: fan of LOST said...

Awesome episode.

Highlights: Sawyer's talk to Kate, time-lapse, ending!!!

Sawyer and Sayid have both had major character changes. Sawyer has truly lost all purpose to leave the island once he killed Cooper, and Sayid has gone from a reformed torturer to a ruthless hitman working for the man he punched viciously in the hatch. To truly show the change in Sawyer, watch the season one finale. There, Sawyer is ecstatic when the "rescue boat" arrives", but now look at him. Oh how I love character development.

I enjoy the "wormhole" theory to explain the time-lapse, and am thinking that the hatch imploding definitely has something to do with it, or maybe the smoke monster as well?

As to who the rest of the Oceanic Six, will be, here's my rundown.
We KNOW: Jack, Kate, Hurley, Sayid.

I PREDICT (after LOTS of thought)
: a variation of Claire and Aaron. It depends whether you count them as on or two of the Six. I feel though, if they each count as one, that Aaron will leave, because I can't see them leaving the baby on the island. I just think, with two slots left, is it too obvious that it would be the mother and child?

Anyway, that is currently my theory as to who Kate is referring to in the season 3 finale as well: Aaron. As to how she's not in jail, perhaps she got a probation or something, but I think it would be cool if she was looking after Aaron for Claire, whether something happened to her or if she was forced to make some decision.

As for the last slot, I don't think Sin&Jun would split, and it logically can't be Locke or Sawyer, so I'm going to go with Michael. Then again, wouldn't Walt be one as well? Aw, crap, this is hard to determine. Anyway, I'm banking on some kind of Aaron/Claire variation, and if Aaron is the one, then he is being taken care of by Kate.

Also, where is Jacob's cabin? Is Locke losing the power to see it, and it really is there? Or is the cabin an illusion altogether? Or maybe it does "summon" you, as Ben says, and you don't simply travel to it. As for the volcanic ash, perhaps it is a trail of some sort on which the cabin travels and appears only close to that line? Mabye?

All in all, very good episode, with many more questions than answers (as usual for this show). Looking forward to "Eggtown", and am very happy that Season 4 will air its entire story arc, even if it is a bit condensed. Thanks Nikki and fellow bloggers, and keep posting your thoughts!

Anonymous said...

This is a response to Matthew d.'s 3:54 PM comment.

I thought that Else's boss was the target. In addition, I think they had her phone tapped (or something) in such way that if he called her from anywhere, Ben would know where it was and would somehow insure that he was killed. (Sayid might have rigged this when he took the pager device with him to the opera.) Sayid seemed to think her boss's death was imminent (minutes away), and he did not seem to think his actions would be required. He also says pretty clearly that Else should leave Berlin. He had no intention of killing her if she had not shot him first. Once he realizes that Else and her boss seem "on" to him or to their plot, he shoots her in self-defense. Whether Ben's "people" were able to kill the "economist-employer" is left uncertain.

The captions said that some of the background voices in the cafe at the beginning of the episode were of someone singing in German and then someone else singing in French. But there was no translation. Hopefully someone who can refine and enhance the sound will post a translation somewhere.

Thanks to those who are trying to make real-physics sense of the time lapse.

I think it is significant that Ben meets Sayid in some sort of dog shelter or hospital at the end.
To me it connects with Vincent's role on the island and with the picture of the dog in Jacob's cabin.

Nikki, what is your view of Mobisode 13 (And So It Begins) now up on the official Lost site? (It supports your view of Christian's importance to the story.) This episode's way of working into the open eye shot of Sayid at the beginning seems to comment on the mobisode. First, he is just meditating (for some significant screen time); then he opens his eyes, as if being called to awaken.

Bill S.

The Chapati Kid said...

Gosh, the wormhole theory makes SO much sense, given also that Charlotte finds the polar bear in the Sahara desert.

The Chapati Kid said...

Also, what's the deal with the extra-sensory powers? This is the second character we have on the show who has powers. First Walt - who kills living creatures (also seen in the Mobisode), and yet no harm comes to Vincent, and now Mike(?) who can talk to the dead. Is this just a red herring thing, or significant?

Jazzygirl said...

I'm surprised no one has mentioned how ODD is was that Faraday was able to TOUCH the payload right after it landed? Before reading the calculations, one could have assumed it was traveling very fast. Wouldn't it be blazing hot from friction, etc? Is this just an "oops"/oversight of the writers?

Brian Douglas said...

jazzygirl: I would think it would be too hot to touch, but then I'm not (literally) a rocket scientist.

redeem147 said...

is it possible that the time was different because the island moved - typing one handed holding new grandson

Brian Douglas said...

redeem: If the island was moving at near light speed, then the probe would have arived is less time than Regina thought, not more. Not to mention the whole communication problem.

Or did you mean beacause the island moved further away? That wouldn't result in any time lapse, it would just take longer. I.e. the rocket would still take 31 minutes to reach Faraday, but the clocks would have been in synch.

redeem147 said...

this is why i wasn't a science major. i'll go with wormhole

Matthew D said...

My guess is that we're being a little over-anylitical on the physics of the payload. Because this is TV, my guess is that we should ignor the count down from Regina and the fact that the payload wasn't hot. It would make for boring TV for us to sit and wait for those things to happen in real time.

I do think that 31 minutes is significant. Anyone know how fast an object fired from a ship's gun/cannon really travels. I think Regina started her countdown with 40 or 50km. I think we can take that as a good number for the distance they measured from the ship to beacon.

Brian, thanks for all the figures. I'd love it if the writers were going to that extent to be correct. My guess is that the big picture idea is important, the individual measurements aren't.

Didn't Naomi's helicopter crash out in the water? I wonder if that happened at the edge of the bubble. She must have been pretty high to make it to the island. Was she piloting her own copter?

Does anyone else think there's possibly more code being spoken on the phones between the team and the boat? I'm intrigued by the almost silly talk used during such a serious mission.

Anon, if you watch the Feb 8th Lost video podcast, Roland Sanchez introduces us to the "set dog" who is the subject of the painting in Jacob's cabin. If they went to the work of having someone paint a specific dog, my guess is that we'll see the dog later on. There's absolutely a reason Ben and Sayid met in a Vet clinic.

Brian Douglas said...

redeem: Don't feel bad about asking a question. Half of the major breakthroughs in science ccome from somebody asking a "dumb" question (the other half come from "failed" experiments).

matthew: Regina started her countdown at 40 km, but that wasn't until 7 s after the payload was launched.

Also, the payload was a rocket which is self-propelled, not just fired. Scramjet rockets can reach up to Mach 12 and posibly higher (accounts vary). For reference, the payload was traveling at Mach 6 according to Regina's countdown.

Matthew D said...

Funny thing is it wasn't traveling that fast when it came into view and hit the ground. I have to think that something that size traveling at mach 6 would have made a crater in the ground. It looked like it was traveling a couple hundred mph at best. There definately wasn't a sonic boom and we heard it before it hit the ground which wouldn't be the case if it was traveling faster than the speed of sound...right? Sound waves would arrive after the object correct?

Its possible it slowed way down as it traveled through the bubble and that is was traveling mach 6 until that point. That would allow for the physics to work out if they're really putting that much thought into it.

Lol... what kind of a dork is Dan for putting the beacon 20 feet from the helicopter? How close did the payload come to hitting the copter. That would have been really funny.

Brian Douglas said...

matthew: could be it indeed slowed down. Or maybe Regina just flunked physics and the rocket was actually going much slower than she thought (I would think Faraday would have noticed this though, but you ever know with eccentric genius types). This wouldn't explain the clock, unless she set it wrong too! The whole thing could just be cause Regina's a bad scientist, lol!

ROFL on the payload hitting the helicopter!

Brian Douglas said...

Faraday: Um...oops. My bad.

Frank (on the phone): Minkowski, we need you to come pick us up. Daniel blew up the helicopter again.

Jazzygirl said...

I do think there are multiple layers of communication and alliances going on with the team and boat people. The most obvious being that Frank did not want Dan talking to Minkowski (I know I just screwed the spelling up LOL). It's almost as if the scientists were forced to help them in exchange for being able to research on the island.
In watching it again, I want to mention something I heard the first time I saw it (and rewound to double check). I blew it off as me not hearing it right but I swear I heard it again just now.
When Sayid is in the cafe, right before turns to Else's table, I swear it sounds like someone whispers something. And the way Sayid turns so suddenly to the table, it's as if he's got an earpiece on and someone told him where she was. At first I thought it had to do with the singing in the background but I really don't think so???
Also, I listened really hard when Sayid was covering Naomi and Jack is talking to Miles in the background. We had mentioned before there was probably something in there. Well, I caught most of it and they are just talking about how Locke has Ben and Charlotte how Locke killed Naomi. I didn't catch anything revealing. Maybe someone has been able to isolate it?
My personal highlights for quotes are (in no particular order):
Hurley saying to Sayid "I saw what you did to that guy's neck with your legs doing that breakdancing thing you do."
Like everyone else, when he says "Awesome. They sent us another Sawyer."
When Miles says to Sayid "You think you're going without me." And Sayid says deadpan "Of course not." Miles reaction is priceless.

Matthew D said...

Can you just see Dan's face when the payload plows into the helicopter! The only funnier face would have been Mile's face in reaction to it had he been there.

That would have been priceless!

Miles is kind of like Dewight on The Office. He's the guy I absolutely want to see someone prank on! Just way too serious.

Anonymous said...

I agree with brian douglas. I have never believed that there is a time difference on and off the island (the writers constantly give indications of this). The time difference on the clock suggests a discrepancy in distance. If the rocket landed when it was expected, but the clocks showed a 31 minute lapse... now that would be freaky! Could the rocket circle the island for 31 minues until it found a way through to the beacon?

Brian Douglas said...

annonymous: If that were the case, the clocks still would be in synch. Now if they circled the island for 31 minutes at near light speed, that would explain it!

Nikki Stafford said...

Brian and Matthew: I was SO convinced that rocket was going to hit the helicopter! Every time I've watched the episode I think it again. :) That's hilarious that you guys were thinking the same thing.

Matthew D said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
michelle woolley said...

So many thoughts and not enough time to sit and type them all out. Just a few though:

Who’s wondering where Kate is: I don't think it's Ben. I wonder – maybe Kate’s son? It would make sense that she would have had to leave the island if she were pregnant (foreshadowing from last season’s ending when the Others were coming to take some of the women) – and then therefore maybe Sun would be one of the remaining 2 of 6 to leave the island (and therefore Jin along with her?).

Who died in the future: I don't think it's Ben either - I think it is Michael. I believe (correct me if I’m wrong) that in the newspaper article it mentioned something about the deceased having a teenaged son. If Michael did make it back to the States then it would make sense that he would take on a different identity or else he’d be hounded by the airline/media/etc on the crash. And if there is some kind of time difference it would account for Walt being a teenager at that point (or it could be far enough in the future that Walt would be a teenager anyway).

The time difference: Time can’t be running at a different speed on the island as compared to generally off the island – at least not for all the years that Desmond has been on the island. If it were then Penny would have looked one heck of a lot older than she did when Charlie saw her in “Through the Looking Glass”.

With so many references in Lost to Stephen King’s “Dark Tower” series, I wonder if the Island is more like the tower – a nexus to multiple dimensions/times/worlds/etc. A temporal distortion in reality. Also – from what I’ve read, with temporal distortion theory a moving clock moves slower than a stationary clock – which could also account for the time differences shown in this ep.

I’m running out of time for writing this so excuse me that I don’t have the person’s name – but I thought the same thing as you regarding Moriarty and Sherlock Holmes :)