Wednesday, September 30, 2015


Whether they are reliving childhood anxieties or visiting imaginary landscapes, most people dream.

But there’s a small subset of the population who claims either to have stopped dreaming, or never to have dreamed at all. A group of researchers recently decided to look into the sleep patterns of self-proclaimed non-dreamers, to try to determine whether they may still be producing dreams.
The researchers, whose study was published in the Journal of Sleep Research  recruited a unique group of participants. They wanted to look specifically at people who have REM sleep behavior disorder—a condition that causes people to act out their dreams. Because people with the disorder move around or speak in their sleep, their sleep patterns and behaviors are easier for scientists to observe.

According to New York Magazine, four percent of the participants in the 289 person study said they never dreamed or hadn’t dreamed in over a decade. However, upon observation, many of them appeared to dream, moving, speaking, or reenacting imaginary scenarios in their sleep. For example, one participant in his 70s, who claimed not to have dreamed since his 20s, was observed arguing with, punching, and swearing at an invisible enemy as he slept. Upon waking, however, he claimed not to have had any dreams.

The researchers recognize that the appearance of dream behavior is not definitive proof of dream production. More research is still needed to determine whether behaviors like sleep-talking and moving correspond to actual mental images. Still, the study provides strong initial evidence that non-dreamers may, in fact, be dreaming. 

This is an interesting study to apply to the sideways world when the characters "forgot" about all their time on the island.

If alleged "non-dreamers" dream but don't remember their dreams, does that not fit the pattern or premise of the sideways world? The characters had to be "jolted" into remembering their past. For Jack, it was touching his father's coffin. 

So if we transpose this scientific observation into the LOST story line, we get this possible explanation.

We know that the sideways world was the after life because Christian told Jack that everyone in teh church was dead.

Being dead, the characters could not "remember" their island time or the other characters.

Now, there would be two possible explanations of this: 1) the dead souls don't have clear recall of their past lives or 2) the dead souls can vividly dream (and probably collectively).

Now, many other researchers have been studying the purpose of dreams. Some believe it is a way humans try to solve real life problems in a safe and secure fashion. Some believe that dreams are a way for the body to rest and recharge (but the mind has to always be active since it controls all bodily functions). 

Why would the dead need to dream?

Perhaps, the same way the living do: in order to sort through their problems, anxieties, fears, and regrets in order to become self-aware, self-assured and self-healed in order to "move on."

Whether in work or relationships, some people do get bogged down to the point of being unhappily stuck in a situation or hurt from a missed opportunity. This paralysis can be long lasting and bitter.

The dead LOST souls needed a means of reviewing the errors in the lives, making peace with the choices that they made in life, and accept who they were in order to move on in the afterlife.

So it is possible, despite the similar living issues and problems the characters had, each of them were also "non-dreamers" who could not remember working out their issues in their own minds.

Sunday, September 27, 2015


As public understanding of mental illness grows, it is increasingly old news to point out that telling depression sufferers simply to "cheer up" is not an effective treatment. Most ordinary people believe that mental illness is all emotional or conscious behavior. It is more than that simple notion.

Beyond the basic understanding that depressive symptoms correspond to a chemical imbalance in the neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, modern science still has yet to provide a reliable solution to the multitude of undesirable psychological conditions grouped under the heading of “depression.” 

At best, pharmaceutical aids and psychological counseling can significantly alleviate depression’s effects, but the most effective treatment varies from one individual to another and is generally unpredictable (as well as time-consuming and sometimes costly). A recent study from the University of Warwick, however, suggests a more natural treatment for depression: time spent with friends.

Evidence to support this bit of advice, which isn’t as trite as it initially sounds, can be found in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, where researchers published their peer-reviewed results.

Head researcher Edward M. Hill, a PhD student specializing in public health and infectious disease epidemiology, analyzed data from the 1994-1995 National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, which surveyed respondents enrolled in grades 7-12 (roughly corresponding to ages 13-18). During in-home interviews, the respondents listed up to ten friends, five male and five female, and indicated the presence or absence of symptoms associated with depression. 

When Hill and his co-authors modeled the data 10 years later, they found that “adolescents with five or more healthy (that is, non-depressed) friends have half the probability of becoming depressed over a six-to-12-month period compared to adolescents with no healthy friends.” 

For the young respondents unlucky enough to already be exhibiting depressive symptoms, “adolescents with 10 healthy friends have double the probability of recovering from depressive symptoms over a six-to-12-month period compared to adolescents with three healthy friends.” 

In other words, healthy, happy friends were a strong influence in making a healthy, happy individual.

Fortunately, the emotional cause-and-effect seemed to be a one-way street: depressed individuals exerted no negative influence on their healthy friends. However, there is an evident paradox here, in which the individuals most likely to benefit from the cheering impact of time spent with healthy companions are also the most likely to self-segregate, thereby denying themselves an opportunity for exposure to those with more positive outlooks. 

The message, then, is not only that the depressed should seek happiness in the glow of others, but also that healthy friends should do their part to uplift their struggling loved ones, even if doing so simply entails spending more time with them. 

In LOST, one the better themes and life lessons was the power of friendship. Most of the main characters had no true friends. There were workaholics, loners, depressed individuals with no drive, dreams or ambition. We pass these type of people on the street every day. They just blend into the background. 

What friendship was in the series was various unrelated characters coming together in order to survive. In real life, true friends mean daily survival from the depressing daily routine so many people fall into these days. True friends cherish and respect their friends. Their happiness is tied to other's happiness. In a world that is now less personal (through technology that eliminates the need for one on one personal contact or interaction), friendships grow stronger when both parties open and honestly communicate with each other. As a result, this support allows both parties to thrive and overcome the demons that plague everyone at some time during their lives.

Thursday, September 24, 2015


Oliver Sacks has died at age 82. He told us how the knowledge of his death sat with him, as a man, and to some extent as a doctor. He wrote the following for the New York Times in February, pausing to quote David Hume:

"It is up to me now to choose how to live out the months that remain to me. I have to live in the richest, deepest, most productive way I can. In this I am encouraged by the words of one of my favorite philosophers, David Hume, who, upon learning that he was mortally ill at age 65, wrote a short autobiography in a single day in April of 1776. He titled it “My Own Life.”

“I now reckon upon a speedy dissolution,” he wrote. “I have suffered very little pain from my disorder; and what is more strange, have, notwithstanding the great decline of my person, never suffered a moment’s abatement of my spirits. I possess the same ardour as ever in study, and the same gaiety in company.”

I have been lucky enough to live past 80, and the 15 years allotted to me beyond Hume’s three score and five have been equally rich in work and love. In that time, I have published five books and completed an autobiography (rather longer than Hume’s few pages) to be published this spring; I have several other books nearly finished.

Sacks was both a doctor and writer. In his medical work, he sought to understand what made people different and the same. He struggled to awaken patients who had suffered from a sleeping sickness, and recounted that experience in his 1973 book Awakenings (later a film starring Robin Williams and Robert De Niro). He realized that the experience of human consciousness is both shared and unique, and regardless of what consciousness is, it is valuable. He helped to awaken in his readers a sense of the shared human experience, via stories of people suffering from neurological conditions.

Among many poignant stories Sacks related in his 1985 book The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, he introduced us to "Jimmie G.," a patient who had been unable to form new memories since 1945. In that book, like his recent NYT column, Sacks returned to Hume, in this passage about Jimmie's diagnosis (emphasis added):

 ‘He is, as it were,’ I wrote in my notes, ‘isolated in a single moment of being, with a moat or lacuna of forgetting all round him ... He is man without a past (or future), stuck in a constantly changing, meaningless moment.’ And then, more prosaically, ‘The remainder of the neurological examination is entirely normal. Impression: probably Korsakov’s syndrome, due to alcoholic degeneration of the mammillary bodies.’ My note was a strange mixture of facts and observations, carefully noted and itemized, with irrepressible meditations on what such problems might ‘mean’, in regard to who and what and where this poor man was—whether, indeed, one could speak of an ‘existence’, given so absolute a privation of memory or continuity.

I kept wondering, in this and later notes—unscientifically— about ‘a lost soul’, and how one might establish some continuity, some roots, for he was a man without roots, or rooted only in the remote past. ‘Only connect’—but how could he connect, and how could we help him to connect? What was life without connection? ‘I may venture to affirm,’ Hume wrote, ‘that we are nothing but a bundle or collection of different sensations, which succeed each other with an inconceivable rapidity, and are in a perpetual flux and movement.’ In some sense, he had been reduced to a ‘Humean’ being—I could not help thinking how fascinated Hume would have been at seeing in Jimmie his own philosophical ‘chimaera’ incarnate, a gruesome reduction of a man to mere disconnected, incoherent flux and change.

Sacks, the fascinated neurologist, driven not only to identify disorders of the brain, but to understand the creation of the brain: the mind. What is the mind? And what do we make of it? If our experience of life is altered or reduced because a misfire of the brain, can it be understood, treated, or accommodated? Why are some patients so cheerful despite their plights? What joy is innate in humanity? 

The irreducible fact of life is that death is coming; Sacks of course realized this and celebrated what life he had left. This is logical, although it's sad for those of us who remain.
Sacks reflected on the future:

    “I rejoice when I meet gifted young people — even the one who biopsied and diagnosed my metastases. I feel the future is in good hands. I have been increasingly conscious, for the last 10 years or so, of deaths among my contemporaries. My generation is on the way out, and each death I have felt as an abruption, a tearing away of part of myself. There will be no one like us when we are gone, but then there is no one like anyone else, ever. When people die, they cannot be replaced. They leave holes that cannot be filled, for it is the fate — the genetic and neural fate — of every human being to be a unique individual, to find his own path, to live his own life, to die his own death.

    “I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. I have had an intercourse with the world, the special intercourse of writers and readers. Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.”

In the end, it's wholly appropriate that Sacks would find time to write his way through his final months, finishing up books, and sharing his thoughts as he approached the inevitable. What remains is not just a large body of his work,  but the memory of a man who recognized his own position among his fellows, who took it upon himself to heal when he could, to explain when he could, and simply to live when that was what remained as his legacy.

Sunday, September 20, 2015


One of the bedrock assumptions of science is that for a study's results to be valid, other researchers should be able to reproduce the study and reach the same conclusions. The ability to successfully reproduce a study and find the same results is, as much as anything, how we know that its findings are true, rather than a one-off result.
This seems obvious, but in practice, a lot more work goes into original studies designed to create interesting conclusions than into the rather less interesting work of reproducing studies that have already been done to see whether their results hold up.

That's why efforts like the Reproducibility Project, which attempted to retest findings from 100 studies in three top-tier psychology journals, are so important. As it turns out, findings from the majority of the studies the project attempted to redo could not be reproduced. The New York Times reported:  
Now, a painstaking yearslong effort to reproduce 100 studies published in three leading psychology journals has found that more than half of the findings did not hold up when retested. The analysis was done by research psychologists, many of whom volunteered their time to double-check what they considered important work. Their conclusions, reported in the journal Science have confirmed the worst fears of scientists who have long worried that the field needed a strong correction.
This is a serious problem for psychology, and for social science more broadly. And it's one that, as the Times points out, observers in and around the field have been increasingly worried about for some time. 

Why is psychology research (and, it seems likely, social science research generally) so stuffed with dubious results? There are  three likely reasons:

A bias towards research that is not only new but interesting: An interesting, counter-intuitive finding that appears to come from good, solid scientific investigation gets a researcher more media coverage, more attention, more fame both inside and outside of the field. A boring and obvious result, or no result, on the other hand, even if investigated honestly and rigorously, usually does little for a researcher's reputation. The career path for academic researchers, especially in social science, is paved with interesting but hard to replicate findings. (In a clever way, the Reproducibility Project gets around this issue by coming up with the really interesting result that lots of psychology studies have problems.) 

An institutional bias against checking the work of others: This is the flipside of the first factor: Senior social science researchers often actively warn their younger colleagues—who are in many cases the best positioned to check older work—against investigating the work of established members of the field. As one psychology professor from the University of Southern California grouses to the Times, "There’s no doubt replication is important, but it’s often just an attack, a vigilante exercise."
This is almost exactly what happened in an incident earlier this year when a couple of grad students first started to find discrepencies in a major study about attitudes toward gay marriage. The study, which claimed to find that attitudes on gay marriage could be quickly made more positive by a 20 minute chat with someone who is gay, turned out to be built on fake data. The grad student who uncovered the fakes has said that, over the course of his investigation, he was frequently warned off from his work by advisers, who told him that it wasn't in his career interest to dig too deeply.

Small, unrepresentative sample sizes: In general, social science experiments tend to work with fairly small sample sizes—often just a few dozen people who are meant to stand in for everyone else. Researchers often have a hard time putting together truly representative samples, so they work with subjects they can access, which in a lot of cases means college students.

One of the most controversial topics today is global warming. To critics, it is a fraud and shame. To proponents, it is the most important discovery since the big bang. The problem with the billions of dollars spent on global warming studies is that the results are based upon "models" created by the researchers which discount actual, verifiable facts like actual temperature readings. The models are created to make assumptions, which can be manipulated by the type of data used in the pre-determined formulas to get a pre-defined result.

In elementary school, we learned about the planet. It's environment had changed over time. There was a massive ice age which covered much of the planet. Then a massive warming spell that carved the Great Lakes from the receding ice flows. Montana used to be a tropical jungle when the dinosaurs roamed the planet. And all of these great climate changes had nothing to do with mankind's industrialization of the planet. The Earth's climate is really determined by the radiation from the sun, the ozone layer which reflects much of the radiation, the tilt of the planet's axis, rotation of the planet around the sun and moon, and ocean currents which are the engine for all weather patterns. 

The problem with global warming research is that various scientific groups cannot verify results because the inherit flaws in the proprietary models used by the various groups. The result is like two children arguing whether the sky is white or gray. 

True science has been a major influence on the quality of life for us. Real, verifiable and repeatable research has led to life changing medicines, vaccines and inventions which have enriched our lives. But there is an alarming trend of pseudo-science and academic fraud which diverts valuable resources from worthy research efforts. Our we getting lazy? By getting grant money for projects in which we rig the results beforehand in order to appease a political viewpoint is the new norm, are we dooming ourselves to a state of lethargic, intellectual appeasement?

Friday, September 18, 2015


Sleep is a must for all animals, including you. You must sleep to live. When we sleep it may seem like we’re not doing much. But this is when our bodies are busy growing, healing, and learning—especially our brains. They make sense of the lessons, games, words, feelings, and thoughts we had during the day. 

We have something inside our bodies called a circadian (sir-CAY-dee-an) clock that tells our bodies when it’s time to sleep. It’s not a real clock! The circadian clock is a system controlled by neurons, or brain cells, behind your eyes that react to light. This clock tells us to be awake during the day and to go to sleep at night.

Because the human brain evolved before we created electric lights. You’re not reading this on the computer or phone in bed, right? Because that’s a bad idea. The light from the computer tricks your circadian clock into acting like it’s daytime, so you’re not as sleepy. When you stay up late and lose sleep, your brain and body don’t work as well the next day. It’s harder to learn new things, remember old things, and not be cranky.

The LOST universe contains many aspects of necessary sleep: vivid dreams about being chased in the jungle, the falling feeling like the plane crash, the quest for love and to be loved - - -  all fairly common dream episodes in individuals. But there is also a strange element to the LOST saga that is underappreciated: very rarely did we see any character actually sleep. The key moment was the eye lid shot of the character's eye opening (which some believed was a symbol to the gateway of their soul - - - in a corresponding flashback.) 

And when in the sideways (death) universe, the characters had to "awake" in order to remember so they could move on in the after life. But this would mean that the characters prior to the sideways universe were (a) asleep all the time or (b) that immediately after life, our limbo existence is a sleep state not to maintain one's life forces but to organize your memories so you don't forget who you are in your next existence. It is not so much as reincarnation but re-recognition of what made you who you were - - - every experience is a learning lesson which sets in motion future decisions, good and bad.

Some scientists believe that another reason we dream is to work out our real world problems in a personal laboratory setting called our mind. If you want to ask out a young woman, you may dream of different ways of asking her out so you prepare you conscious state for the time you have the courage to make your dreams come true. The restless energy of a dream mimmicks the butterflies in one's stomach so you are training your mind to react to a real world event.

Some people are better at anticipating future real world events, especially in personal relationships. Other people have problems or are clueless to how others will react to their advances. Some people who have difficulty relating to other people may find more comfort working through their life dreams in a dream state than trying to apply their wants or desires in the real world. 

The LOST landscape is littered with characters with the latter traits. Loners who are intense dreamers who perceive their future in unrealistic happiness. Introverts,  who would rather run away from the hard work of forming lasting relationships, caught up in the bitterness of their own self-loathing. Their only escape is to dream that they are famous, adventurous, a criminal, an outback survivalist, a miracle surgeon, a military McGyver, a rock star or an unwed mother. Throw all these dreams into the reality of a vivid, collective dream scape, you have the basis of LOST.

Thursday, September 17, 2015


Study the past to divine the future. --- Confucius

It is hard to argue against a master's pure thought.

Human beings do dwell on the past in order to divine or predict their future.

They do so in work: if I did X,Y, and Z then I should get that promotion.

They do so in relationships:  if I did A,B, C with Lady One in the past but that did not work out, if I do X, Y, Z with Lady Two I will have a better relationship with her.

Sometimes, we get trapped in the past. When the "what if" scenarios begin to consume your thinking and reflecting time, you get caught up in the past which freezes the present to cause a fantasized future hope.

If you replace the "what if" with a more proactive, positive "what's next" attitude, then you are living in the present with a better outlook for the future.

This is best observed when people date and break up. Depending on how sudden or blindsided the break was, two things can happen. One, some can hide in the past (the good memories) to the point where they obsessive chase to get their former lover back in the future. Their future is a time loop of disillusion and rejection. Failure.  Two, some can let go of the past to the point where they can move on to find a better friend and lover. Their future is moving forward into the future with confidence and new awareness based upon experience. Progress.

The perfect character study for this behavior pattern was John Locke.

Locke carried with him additional baggage from his childhood abandonment issues, and added more baggage with each failed relationship. His past haunted his present and clouded his future.

His obsession with his con man father, even after he conned him out of a kidney, destroyed the best relationship he ever had with another person, Helen.

In the real world, he found a woman who loved him for who he was, but since Locke had so much personal baggage unresolved in his mind (that he could not love himself enough to be loved), he effectively destroyed the best chance he had for happiness.

And even if one considers the sideways world as Locke's "fantasy" future to try to get Helen back after their final break up on the mainland (island time frame), that did not work out either since Locke ended the series alone in the church.

Human beings try to project future happiness upon themselves. But just fantasizing about it will not make it happen. Action speaks louder than words. Action also speaks more to obtaining a new future than just thinking about it.

Locke never tried to replace Helen in his life. And that was his down fall. His failing. His past ruining his future because once he realized that Helen was very good to him (and for him), it was too late. He could have went back into the dating pool to find a new Helen (learn from his past mistakes) but he was too afraid. He envisioned himself as some grand outback warrior, but that was pure fantasy clouding his judgment and detouring him from real, tangible goals.

And this trap is what makes people have lonely lives.

Monday, September 14, 2015


Another LOST element may have an alleged scientific claim.

A boarding school in central Massachusetts is being sued by parents who claim the school’s Wi-Fi signal is making their son sick, according to Boston media reports.

The Worcester Telegram & Gazette reported  that the unidentified plaintiffs have filed a lawsuit against the Fay School in Southboro. The parents say their 12-year-old son has “Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity Syndrome” and has suffered headaches, nosebleeds and nausea since the school activated a stronger wireless signal in 2013.

The family is seeking $250,000 in damages and wants the school to switch to Ethernet cable Internet or turn down the Wi-Fi signal, according to The Telegram.

The school said in a statement that a company analyzed the Wi-Fi and found the signal is well within federal safety limits.

WBZ-TV’s Dr. Mallika Marshall  previously reported that a number of people believe invisible rays are making them sick, but some doctors say there is no evidence of a link between Wi-Fi and illness. 

These are just allegations that electromagnetic signals cause illness such as nosebleeds.

But that was a major clue in trying to explain the LOST inconsistently confusing time-skip story arc. Daniel claimed that when a person's mind "time skipped" it needed to have a constant in both time spheres or the brain would be affected causing nosebleeds then death. The problem with the idea of only a mental time shift was that we saw that full physical time shifts of people to different eras.

So what if Daniel's theory was totally wrong. That in itself is a good enough basis to explain the time shift arc. If we take the island's unique electromagnetic properties as true, then the idea of a hypersensitivity to magnetic waves in some people could cause a serious illness is plausible. Yet the consistent exposure to the waves (and the light force) would have affected the people who time shifted the most the worst (in theory). But Locke, Ben, half of the returning O6 did not suffer from any nosebleeds. 

The time shift story arc was the least logically constructed element to LOST. It really was a bad filler story line which added many story tangents but little foundational support for the LOST mythology.

Thursday, September 10, 2015


Stephen Hawking revealed a new theory at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden. He claims to have potentially solved the Information Paradox. 

The paradox a conflict between the quantum mechanics and general relativity models that has vexed physicists for more than four decades. The Information Paradox arises from black holes - - -  specifically what happens to information about the physical state of objects that fall into one. 

The quantum mechanical model posits that the information remains intact while general relativity argues that it is indeed obliterated under the black holes immense gravitation. But Hawking has developed a third opinion: the information never actually makes it into the black hole. "I propose that the information is stored not in the interior of the black hole as one might expect, but on its boundary, the event horizon," he said.

Basically, Hawking argues that the information about particles sucked into the hole sit on the surface of the event horizon as holograms  (2D afterimages of a 3D object). 

"The idea is the super translations are a hologram of the ingoing particles," he told the crowd. "Thus they contain all the information that would otherwise be lost." What's more, that information can actually escape a black holes pull thanks to Hawking Radiation -- the concept that photons can sometimes be ejected from a black hole due to random quantum fluctuations.

Hawking further stated black holes are boundaries or gateways to another universe.

Humans could escape from black holes, rather than getting stuck in them, he stated.

Unfortunate space travelers won’t be able to return to their own universe, according to Hawking. But they will be able to escape somewhere else, Hawking said.

Black holes in fact aren’t as “black” as people thought and could be a way of getting through to an alternative universe.

“The existence of alternative histories with black holes suggests this might be possible,” Hawking said, according his report.  “The hole would need to be large and if it was rotating it might have a passage to another universe. But you couldn’t come back to our universe. So although I’m keen on space flight, I’m not going to try that.

Hawking’s proposal is an attempt to answer a problem that has tormented physicists about what happens to things when they go beyond the event horizon, where even light can’t get back. The information about the object has to be preserved, scientists believe, even if the thing itself is swallowed up — and that paradox has puzzled scientists for decades.

Now Hawking has proposed that the information is stored on the boundary, at the event horizon. That means that it never makes its way into the black hole, and so never needs to make its way out again either.

A paradox is a statement or proposition that, despite sound (or apparently sound) reasoning from acceptable premises, leads to a conclusion that seems senseless, logically unacceptable, or self-contradictory.

It seems absurd or self-contradictory matter changes its status but not "information" when caught in the event horizon of a black hole. It would seem then there is a different cosmic physical state when at the edge of the gravitational pull. 

How would that work on organic objects. If the "information" is created to a holographic state of "being," then would the organic life forms still be "aware" of an existence? And if the "information" is stored on the event horizon, what actually transfers into the other universe?

We set this question out because of the paradox between the island time line and the sideways world (which was stated as a place of death.) But there was evidence in the Hatch that the countdown timer was a release mechanism to "escape" a place of death. It could be that the light source is the holographic projector of the human beings caught in the event horizon of a black hole. The "information" and matter of the human beings, in essence their personal life force, continues on trapped in a new reality which appears to be the island. 

How the trapped information which must wind and rewind like a video projector can interact or change is unclear. If the information on transformation is set in its final stage, then the LOST universe is merely a "replay" of past events. If the information on transformation is not set, and can change through the interaction with other newly trapped information holograms, then the LOST universe is a hybrid reality.

The Hawking concept could lend some support to the fan theorists believing that the island was part of black hole engulfing our solar system. The island could have been the "cork" or electromagnetic counter to the black hole's gravitational pull. But that does not explain the parallel time lines between the island and the sideways worlds.

In a multiple layered theory of Hawking's concepts, he may be actually trying to explain what spiritualists would call each individual's life force or soul making its journey to another level of existence.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015


Three of the oddest plot points in LOST may now have a theoretical scientific basis.

Scientific America reports that Spanish physicists have crafted a wormhole that tunnels a magnetic field through space.

"This device can transmit the magnetic field from one point in space to another point, through a path that is magnetically invisible," said study co-author Jordi Prat-Camps, a doctoral candidate in physics at the Autonomous University of Barcelona in Spain. "From a magnetic point of view, this device acts like a wormhole, as if the magnetic field was transferred through an extra special dimension." 

The idea of a wormhole comes from Albert Einstein's theories. In 1935, Einstein and colleague Nathan Rosen realized that the general theory of relativity allowed for the existence of bridges that could link two different points in space-time. Theoretically these Einstein-Rosen bridges, or wormholes,  could allow something to tunnel instantly between great distances (though the tunnels in this theory are extremely tiny, so ordinarily wouldn't fit a space traveler). So far, no one has found evidence that space-time wormholes actually exist.

The new wormhole isn't a space-time wormhole per se, but is instead a realization of a futuristic "invisibility cloak" first proposed in 2007 in the journal Physical Review Letters.  This type of wormhole would hide electromagnetic waves from view from the outside. The trouble was, to make the method work for light required materials that are extremely impractical and difficult to work with, Prat said.

This discovery gives some basis for several bizarre and troubling aspects of the LOST story.

First, many fans theorized that the island was at the gateway of a space-time vortex, a wormhole, as a gateway to explain why the island would shift in time when the light cave FDW was turned. Since wormholes are not controllable (they are destructive galaxy inhalers), it was hard to wrap a scientific basis for this plot element. But if the island was conducting electromagnetic experiments, the Dharma-military complex could have been attempting to create an artificial "wormhole." It makes sense that Dharma would be funded as part of black ops defense budgets. A space-time device would be a radical new weapon to actually "replay" and re-position assets to guarantee victories.

Second, the artificial wormhole could be used as a "cloaking device." This would explain how the O6 helicopter "saw" the island disappear. In our known physical universe, an island is attached to the ocean bottom miles from the surface. If the island vanished as seen, the displacement of millions of square feet of earth in the ocean would have caused a massive whirlpool tsunami effect. But none of those physical ocean changes were seen by the O6 survivors. The conclusion was that the island had to have been cloaked (and in the confusion the pilot overshot the island and crashed in the ocean.)

Third, the idea of an artificial wormhole with layers of invisible EM energy would help explain why the island was hard to find. It would also explain the light differentials Daniel observed on the island (because the island shifts between dimensions in order to be obscured, and more energy would make the island then shift in time.)

Monday, September 7, 2015


"There are anxieties from dreams that are more real
Than the ones life brings; there are sensations
Felt only by imagining them
That are more ours than our very own life.
There are countless things that exist
Without existing, that lastingly exist
And lastingly are ours, they’re us…"

Fernando Pessoa

Saturday, September 5, 2015


Ockham's Razor is a philosophy described by the following eponymous laws: 

"With all things being equal, the simplest explanation tends to be the right one"

 The complexity and tangential aspect of the LOST stories makes it hard to find the simple explanation for the show. The Big Premise may be lurking in the shadow of many other story tropes.

We have tried to digest the story lines from front to back, and back (ending) to start (landing on the island). There are so many u-turns, dead ends and filler arcs (like the other 48 days) it makes it hard to separate the wheat from the chaff. 

The simplest question to ask may be "what was LOST about?" The snarky answer would be "about six years."  But in a basic review, the answers could include:

1. A survival story of plane crash victims on a Pacific Island.

2. A story of lost people trying to find purpose in their miserable lives.

3. The secret lives between strangers trapped in an uncomfortable situation.

4. The fantasy dream world of an individual or group of individuals.

5. A metaphoric journey from life to death.

Thursday, September 3, 2015


At various levels, many of the characters on LOST were lost in a state of depression.

Claire with an unwanted baby; Locke without a true family; Jack without the respect of his father; Hurley with abandonment issues; Kate with alleged abuse issues.

If LOST itself was one big, tortured group therapy session to end manic depression, well, there is a little science that would back up that point.

Happiness not only spreads, it could actually help prevent depression, according to a new study. 

Depression is not contagious,  according to a new study published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society.  Happiness, however, is more likely to spread between friends, and the results from the study may help remove some of the stigma surrounding depression.

The World Health Organization estimates that 350 million people are currently living with depression. Preliminary studies have now shown that social support and friendships may be a major factor in lifting people out of depressive states. A detailed study shows some empirical evidence that happiness is contagious, and that those who befriend depressed people are not in danger of becoming depressed themselves.

Researchers examined data from over 2,000 teenagers who had reported their network of friendships and answered questions about their levels of happiness as part of an earlier research project. Based on the survey results, the scientists classified each student into either a “low mood” (depressed) category a or “healthy mood” (not depressed) category. Then, they mapped out friendships and ran computer simulations to determine whether happiness and sadness spread between friends like an infectious disease.

The conclusion that depression is not contagious is supportive. However, some people can still be uncomfortable or get down around a depressed friend of relative. Who has not been around a party pooper?  

Meanwhile, happiness not only spreads—it may prevent (and even help people recover from) depression. The model suggests that teens with five or more happy friends have half the probability of suffering from depression over a six to 12-month period than teens without no “healthy mood” friends. And adolescents with 10 healthy friends have more than double the probability of recovering from depressive symptoms.

“This was a big effect that we have seen here,” said Thomas House, mathematics professor at the University of Manchester and coauthor on the study. “It could be that having a stronger social network [the real-life version, not Facebook] is an effective way to treat depression.”

Since the study suggests teens are not at risk of “catching” depression from their friends, and having happy friends may prevent and even pull teens out of depression, House and his colleagues stress that it is important to promote any friendship between adolescents. Friendship is a win-win, the study says—it can’t hurt, but it may be both protective and curative.

“If we enable friendships to develop among adolescents (for example providing youth clubs) each adolescent is more likely to have enough friends with healthy mood to have a protective effect,” House said in a prepared statement. “This would reduce the prevalence of depression.”

One of the true lessons of the LOST series was the importance of people finding the bonds of true friendships. It changed people's lives. It allowed them to move past the baggage of their prior lives, to set a path for a better self and better future.