Thursday, June 30, 2016


The Guardian (UK) had a recent article which explained that there are actually three different kinds of intelligence.

It was under the pretense that even smart people with high IQs make dumb and stupid mistakes all the time. The reason for it that intelligence and common sense do not parallel each other.

Having a high IQ score does not mean that someone is intelligent. IQ tests only capture analytical intelligence; this is the ability to notice patterns and solve analytical problems. Most standard IQ tests miss out two other aspects of human intelligence:creative and practical intelligence. 

 Creative intelligence is our ability to deal with novel situations. Practical intelligence is our ability to get things done. For the first 20 years of life, people are rewarded for their analytical intelligence. Then we wonder why the “best and brightest” are uncreative and practically useless.

Most intelligent people make mental short cuts all the time. One of the most powerful is self-serving bias: we tend to think we are better than others. Most people think they are "above average drivers."  If you ask a class of students whether they are above the class average in intelligence, the vast majority of hands shoot up. Even when you ask people who are objectively among the worst in a certain skill, they still tend to say they are "above average."  Not everyone can be above average – but we can all have the illusion that we are. 

We desperately cling to this illusion even when there is devastating evidence to the contrary. We collect all the information we can find to prove ourselves right and ignore any information that proves us wrong. We feel good, but we overlook crucial facts. As a result the smartest people ignore the intelligence of others so they make themselves feel smarter.
Being "smart"  can come at a cost. Asking tricky questions, doing the research and carefully thinking things through takes time. It’s also unpleasant. Most of us would rather do anything than think. A recent study found that when left alone in a room, people preferred to give themselves electric shocks than quietly sit and think.  This may be why work place procrastination is on the rise. 

Being smart can also upset people. Asking tough questions can quickly make you unpopular. People may perceive you as snobbish, arrogant or rude.

Intelligent people quickly learn these lessons. Instead of using their intelligence, they just stay quiet and follow the crowd – even if it is off the side of a cliff. In the short term this pays off. Things get done, everyone’s lives are easier and people are happy. But in the long term it can create poor decisions and lay the foundations for disaster.

This line of thinking helps explain the vexing problem on LOST when we used to yell at the screen why characters did not ask simple questions to other characters to gather basic information in order to adopt a meaningful response or plan of action. When characters came back from a mission or a dangerous encounter, rarely did the beach campers ask what was going on. They preferred to remain as quiet as sheep. And when they learned about the Hatch and its safety against the Others, no one questioned why the top leaders kept the place to themselves.

They did not challenge authority because it could make them look stupid in front of the group. But the majority of the group was in the same holding pattern - - - stay quiet and follow the crowd mentality. But this also was a bad plan because those characters who spoke up to be leaders, such as Locke or Jack, did not have enough practical intelligence to make the correct choices. They thought their analytical intelligence was superior to the other castaways. Again, it was confusing one skill set from another - - - more practical one needed to assess survival options to craft solution to major problems.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016


Though it was front and center in the series, LOST rarely tackled the issue of privilege and class.

The presumptive aspect of survival has no racial, sexist or class overtones. When Jack told the survivors that they had to work together or die alone, he meant it. He was not dividing the castaways into their social strata, he was trying to unite them toward one goal.

But sociologists and psychologists believe that everything gets filtered through class identification.

For the wealthy, it is a question of privilege over work, success or opportunity.

In LOST, the richest character was Widmore, an industrialist who obtained his vast wealth for one purpose: to reclaim "his" island from Ben. To Widmore, wealth was power. He could do anything, buy anyone, and create any world in his own image. He even broke down and bragged that he staged a fake plane crash, complete with human remains, in order to keep the island hidden from search parties.

Far from it to conclude that the rich and famous are mentally sound.

But even with the secondary characters like Shannon, who was used to being a lazy, upper class rich girl. Even in the face of the prospect of death after the plane crash, she continued to live her life as one being serviced by others. She did not work. She did not want to participate in missions. She would rather get a tan than get blisters on her hand. This attitude is a reflection of her penthouse upbringing and the ability to use her looks, charm and family name to get money, friends, booze, drugs and the other faux happiness aspects of living a jet set lifestyle. But her past did not give her the skill set to survive on the island. Her life did not give her any true or lasting friends prior to Flight 815. She learned to use her step brother, Boone, as her cleaner, her banker and her fool.

Jack grew up in upper middle class world. His father was a successful surgeon in LA. He had all the advantages of being Christian Shepherd's son. But even with an easier road to becoming the top in his profession, Jack was hollow inside because he never learned the gritty nuts and bolts of relationships. In essence, his LOST experience was the means of shedding his privileged baggage in order to learn how to deal with people and problems outside the medical field.

On the other end of the spectrum, there were many characters who did not have fame or wealth. Ben was the son of a drunken janitor. The Dharma move gave him the opportunity to amass wealth and power through barbarian practice of a coup against the island leadership. Kate was a rural farm girl who did not excel at much except getting in trouble. Though she was from a lower middle class background, she never seemed to chase wealth - - - she instead viewed life as best lived being chased by others. She became fixated on danger and heart racing challenge of escape. Locke bounced from low paying job to job with no goal or direction. He grew up bouncing from foster home to foster home. He had no family in which to mold his values or goals. As a result, he had no privilege or path as young adult. But he wanted the trappings of privilege - - - recognition, friends, money and status (the things that were dropped in the lap of Jack because of his upbringing.)

And when LOST tried to merge two different worlds together, it got the Jin and Sun story arc. Jin was the poorest of the characters - - - a fisherman's son living in a squalor village. Sun was the daughter of a rich and powerful Korean businessman. Sun's family had the connections to make things happen. Jin only had wild dreams of becoming wealthy. So when Sun rebelled against her father's controlling nature, she wed Jin  who found his doorway to his rich dream. But the couple's diverse background led to issues - - - Jin quickly turned into a lower version of her father, and she began to be treated as a second class citizen. Sun, like Kate, decided that danger and upsetting the status quo would get her the attention and thrill she thought she deserved in her life. Sun had an affair, but that ended badly for her lover. She wanted to runaway, but chickened out since she realized that she loved her family's wealth more than her personal freedom.

The only couple that seemed to get along the best were Bernard and Rose. Both were middle aged professionals who had good careers. They were both hard workers. They were both easy going personalities. They truly loved each other. Since they were compatible in a social class aspect of their relationship, no one really saw the difference in their race.

In fact, LOST took a more utopian view of race. It was not taken as a flash point (with a few exceptions when Sayid was called out as suspect because of his Iraqi background). Blacks were not segregated from the main group. Michael, Eko and Walt were not excluded from the decision making process or main story lines. But if we look at the finale in the church, there was more an assembly of the well-off than those who struggled to make ends meet. Michael, Eko and Walt were not in the church reunion. The lowest class worker in the room had to be Locke, but he was there alone.

But it could be said that those members of the cast in the church had the privilege of becoming friends which each other, through thick and thin, good and bad. And that may have been the most important lesson.

Saturday, June 18, 2016


Scientists are perplexed by the fact that our Milky Way galaxy is traveling significantly faster than the two adjacent galaxies.  Under the Big Bang Theory, all matter should be traveling away from the initial core at the same velocity. However, there is something at work that makes our galaxy behave differently. Some call the unknown mechanism "the Great Attractor," pulling us faster than our neighbors.

Some speculate that it may be a concentration of dark matter or dark energy that is the force that is moving galaxies around like ping pong balls in a steady breeze. Others think it may have to do with gravitational pulls from unknown objects or forces that create gravity itself.

If we know that our system is traveling faster in space, thence faster in space-time, than another galaxy, that would mean that travel in space (and the time to travel in space) is not universally linear.

It is one of those wordy math problems about two trains leaving the station at the same time, but traveling at different speeds but having different stops. Which trains arrives at the end station first?

But this has a place in LOST lore. Daniel's time-rocket experiments from the freighter to the island showed that the island was moving away from the ship. Which was a problem for a stationary island. If island time, and Daniel observed the light being "different," was moving at a different rate than the rest of Earth, we have the same problem as scientists have with the Milky Way issue.

The localized time difference led to theories about the island being an anomaly. It was either a space-time portal, or on event horizon of a stable micro-black hole. It was also thought as an interdimensional bridge between universes.

If there are parallel universes, what type of matter would be between its layers? Is this the area where dark matter resides?  Does the parallel universes masses have gravitational pulls through the separation zones into our own universe (thus explaining the speed differences between galaxies)?

If you look at Earth itself, its crust sits mostly stationary on the surface while tectonic plates are moved about through the pressure and movement of the hot magma at the planet's core.  If our universe sits on the crust of known space, the parallel universe's forces could be equated with the subsurface geologic properties which have a direct effect on the surface plates.

If the Milky Way is traveling at 2.2 million km/hour in space, why do we feel time is a slow 60 minutes in an hour? Our perception of time comes from the solar cycle of the sun around our planet. We do not feel or sense that we are moving at speeds 2,500 times faster than a jet airliner because everything around us is traveling at the same relative speed. We only become aware of the differences in relative speed when something is slower or faster than our current position. When one is jogging at 1 mile/10 minutes and a bird flies by and zooms off into the distance, we know that the bird is traveling faster than we are at that moment. But if we are traveling 55 mph in a car and we overtake a bird flying down the road, we know that we are traveling faster than that creature.

The same must hold true in space. The Milky Way is the car and the neighboring galaxies are the birds being left behind in our wake.

But this opens up a practical question. If our galaxy is moving away faster from adjoining galaxies, would it not take more force, effort and time to move against the forces that is driving us a part? It would be swimming against a strong current.

If Einstein was correct and the speed of light is the fastest anything can go in space, would someone traveling to our galaxy make it quicker to us then us trying to travel to them?

And when would arrive at a place that is traveling slower in space time, would we have aged slower or become younger? It is an odd tangent that space travel could be the real "Fountain of Youth." Aging is a measure of the passage of time. But what happens when one reverses the process of time in the aging process? Do you become immortal? Is it like Eloise Hawking - - - or Bill Murray in Groundhog Day - - - being alive long enough to know everything?

But as NASA scientists have said, any trips to Mars would essentially be one-way missions. The amount of fuel to propel a massive space craft with supplies to set up living quarters on Mars would be prohibitive of a return trip. But even against that death sentence, thousands of people signed up for a private colonization of Mars. Why? Because they must believe their time on Earth is finite and uneventful while a trip to Mars would be immortal history of space exploration.

Did the LOST characters stumble upon a remnant of ancient space exploration disguised as the island? Perhaps. Nothing is outside the realm of possibility when it came to the divergent streams of show plot and story lines.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016


The only question to be answered in the pilot of Wrecked, the new TBS series, is whether the show is worthy of die hard LOST fans' appreciation.

It is very difficult to bridge parody, comedy and amusing situational comedy on the backbone of a legendary dramatic series like LOST.  Could the creators of Wrecked do it?


The characters were flat, the performances stiff and the story line non-existent.

It seemed the writer's room had a bunch of index cards with words or scenes from LOST then they tried to make a joke about one or two. The ensemble cast had no continuity.  There was no connection to the characters so I could not remember any of their names.

The irony of the pilot episode, "All is Not Lost," was the fact that the dashing, handsome leader of the castaways, a 10 year special ops soldier from Australia, was killed by a falling plane part just as Jack was supposed to have been killed in the LOST pilot.

There were some strange set-ups with no pay-off. A guy addicted to technology gathers up all the cell phones to try to get a signal to phone for help (another LOST scene). But when he gets a signal, none of the people can remember an actual telephone number. The scene painfully stalls quickly. It takes one of the oldest bits about answering machine fake-out messages, last used recently in the animation series Archer.

Another scene had a character's ghost father berate his son for being a coward and a loser for being freighted about removing dead bodies from the airplane. The character wanted people to respect him so he lied and said he was a police officer. The resolution of that snippet was the character going back in the plane to yell back at his ghost dad.

There was no one funny joke or humorous spit-take in the entire hour of the show. It was a train wreck. There are many shows that can make gallows humor work; M*A*S*H jokes in the ER to the gross humor of South Park. But nothing showed up in Wrecked. The xfinity Dish diss commercials were more entertaining that the show.

Verdict: PASS.  The show is not worth a view even as summer filler.

Thursday, June 9, 2016


One of the mysteries of the island was its ability to shift in time and space.

On June 30th, 1905, Albert Einstein started a revolution with the publication of theory of Special Relativity.  This theory, among other things, stated that the speed of light in a vacuum is the same for all observers, regardless of the source. In 1915, he followed this up with the publication of his theory of General Relativity, which asserted that gravity has a warping effect on space-time. For over a century, these theories have been an essential tool in astrophysics, explaining the behavior of the Universe on the large scale.

However, since the 1990s, astronomers have been aware of the fact that the Universe is expanding at an accelerated rate. In an effort to explain the mechanics behind this, suggestions have ranged from the possible existence of an invisible Dark Energy to the possibility that Einstein’s field equations of General Relativity.

As published in Universe Today, scientists from Japan using the Fiber Multi-Object Spectrograph (FMOS) on the Subaru Telescope created the deepest 3-D map of the Universe to date. All told, this map contains some 3,000 galaxies and encompasses a volume of space measuring 13 billion light-years.
Experimental results looking at the expansion of the universe, in comparison to that predicted by Einstein’s theory of general relativity in green. Comoving distance is one of the distance scales used in cosmology. It is derived from the time taken for the object’s light to reach the observer, including the change caused by the expansion of the universe so far. Illustration credit: Okumura et al
Experimental results looking at the expansion of the universe, in comparison to that predicted by Einstein’s theory of general relativity in green. Credit: Kavli IPMU/Okumura et al.
As part of their effort to ascertain the origins of cosmic acceleration, this project relies on data collected by the Subaru telescope to create a survey that monitors the redshift of galaxies. The expansion of the universe has been accelerating since the universe entered its dark energy era, at redshift z≈0.4 (roughly 5 billion years ago). Within the framework of  Einstein's general relativity,  an accelerating expansion can be accounted for by a positive value of the cosmological constant.

If gravity can warp space-time in a way to show that the universe is expanding at an accelerated pace, then this can be the sci-fi basis for the island's time and space shifts. It would also mean that the frozen donkey wheel tie in to the island's unique electromagnetic energy could be complex or wrong. The Hatch was the station that kept the EM energy levels in check. It was the FDW that was turned to created a different result: time teleportation of matter (abet, selective matter and people which is a real continuity problem). If the island EM was intersecting a universal stream of dark energy gravity, that could explain why the island acted beyond the normal boundaries of Earth's physics. This intersection of two different properties could lead to the creation of micro-universes within the present universe. This warping of space-time at a localized level would have been of great value to the scientific, military and industrial world.

Sunday, June 5, 2016


For the first time, physicists have observed a mysterious process called magnetic reconnection—wherein opposing magnetic field lines join up, releasing a tremendous burst of energy. The discovery, published last month in Science, may help us unlock the secrets of space weather and learn about some of the weirdest, most magnetic objects in the universe. And it could be the basis of solving a LOST mystery.

The magnetosphere, an invisible magnetic field surrounding our planet, is a critical shield for life on Earth. It protects us from all sorts of high energy particles emitted by the sun on a daily basis. When a particularly large burst of solar energy hits the edge of the magnetosphere (called the magnetopause), it can trigger space weather. This includes geomagnetic storms that light up the northern and southern skies with auroras, occasionally knocking out our satellites and power grids.

The Hatch was the underground bunker where the Numbers were put into an ancient computer every 108 minutes to avoid the destruction of the world. When the Numbers were not entered, there was a large electromagnetic explosion which may have caused time shifts via the purple sky event.

Perhaps, the explanation of the island's location corresponds with the alignment of opposing magnetic fields ("reconnecting every 108 minutes') which needs to have a controlled release of its energy or it would disrupt or destroy the magnetosphere, which would "destroy" Earth.

Likewise, one can see why the American Military-Industrial Complex from the 1950s on would want to study and harness a naturally forming magnetic energy source. It could be a source of unlimited free energy. Or it could be used as a planetary weapon (diverting the energy to orbiting satellite weapons). The person who controlled the island would control actual power.

Thursday, June 2, 2016


Just because you consider someone your friend doesn’t mean that they feel the same way. A new study, published in PLOS One,  indicates that people may have more one-sided friendships than they think they do, according to an article in Science of Us.

In the study, MIT researchers asked 84 undergraduates in a class to score how well they knew other people in the class. They “asked each participant to score every other participant on a 0–5 scale, where 0 means ‘I do not know this person’, 3 means ‘Friend’ and 5 means ‘One of my best friends,’" as the paper explains. Then, the participants were asked to predict how other people would score them.

Predictably, people thought that the people who they considered their friends would also rate them as friends. But this wasn’t the case. Almost half of all the friendships reported in the survey weren’t reciprocal—meaning that only one of the two people considered the other a friend. This, the researchers note, might be about social climbing: People might be more likely to claim friendship with a person of higher social standing, while people who are popular are more choosy about who they call a friend.

The study authors gave a survey to 84 college students in the same class, asking each one to rate every other person in the study on a scale of zero (“I do not know this person”) to five (“One of my best friends”), with three as the minimum score needed to qualify for friendship. The participants also wrote down their guesses for how each person would rate them.
Overall, the researchers documented 1,353 cases of friendship, meaning instances where one person rated another as a three or higher. And in 94 percent of them, the person doing the ranking guessed that the other person would feel the same way. 

Which makes sense — you probably wouldn’t call someone a friend, after all, unless you thought that definition was mutual. That’s why we have terms to capture more one-sided relationships, like friend crush or hey, I don’t really know her but I think she’s neat. Both of which, come to think of it, might have been better descriptors of a lot of the relationships in the study. In reality, only 53 percent of the friendships — a small, sad, oh honey number of them — were actually reciprocal.

Some caveats: The study was small, and all the subjects were undergraduates; friendships change over the course of a lifetime, and it’s certainly possible that, over time, many tenuous lopsided friendships can dwindle to a more solid few. But the study authors also looked at a handful of previous surveys on friendship, ranging in size from 82 people to 3,160, and found similar results: Among those, the highest proportion of reciprocal friendships was 53 percent, and the lowest was a bummer, at 34 percent.

“These findings suggest a profound inability of people to perceive friendship reciprocity, perhaps because the possibility of non-reciprocal friendship challenges one’s self-image,” the study authors wrote. Fair enough. No one likes to think of themselves as the unwanted hanger-on, chasing a relationship that doesn’t really exist and maybe never will; this blind spot, then, may be a form of emotional self-defense.

Recent research has tied friendship to major health benefits, including living longer, having better mental health, and lower risk of dementia.  While some studies have linked these benefits to specifically satisfying friendships, it’s harder to say whether people who have one-sided friendships actually find them unsatisfying, or if they derive just as much pleasure from interacting with people who only consider them acquaintances as with people who perceive their bond as closer. This might also add a layer of complexity to studies about social influence, which typically ask people about their perceived social networks.

One of the major takeaways from LOST's sideways church ending was that the main characters, a bunch of loners, found each other through friendship on the island. The theme that friendship will give one's life meaning and purpose was a powerful reflection to the show's conclusion. But this study shows that may also have been an illusion; if you look at the group of people sitting in the pews in the sideways church as friends - - - you would only be half right. Half of the people would not consider themselves friends with the other half.

Which then begs the question of the End: who was the "mutual" friend that brought all these people together? Most would think Jack - - -  but Jack was never Sawyer's true friend (a rival, perhaps). Locke and Sawyer never hung out. Sayid and Sawyer actually fought. Just about everyone had a gripe with Sawyer.  Rose and Bernard were friendly, but never good friends with anyone. They got fed up with the group to go live by themselves. The best guess of the mutual friend that everyone got along with would have been Hurley. The LOST group was then not really Jack's group, but Hurley's.