Frozen wheel/Theories

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Frozen wheel
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 Theories may be removed if ... 
  1. Stated as questions or possibilities (avoid question marks, "Maybe", "I think", etc).
  2. More appropriate for another article.
  3. Illogical or previously disproven.
  4. Proven by canon source, and moved to main article.
  5. Speculative and lacking any evidence to support arguments.
  6. Responding to another theory (use discussion page instead).
  • This does not include responses that can stand alone as its own theory.
  • Usage of an indented bullet does not imply the statement is a response.

See the Lostpedia theory policy for more details.


  • It is unlikely the wheel had been used after the Orchid was built since the wall inside the Vault - which has to be breached in order to reach the wheel - did not seem damaged or even restored in any way.
  • There may have been or may still be another way in. While John was on the ground talking with Christian, it looked like there were carved steps and a door frame behind him.
  • The wheel moves The Island, not in an up/down, or left/right direction, but by rotating it on its own axis. This rotation causes it to revert to a previous state & point in time. The rotation would also change the bearing used to gain entry to the space occupied by The Island.

The Frozen Donkey Wheel

  • When one uses the wheel the Island is not moved through time AND space as was originally thought, Only space. If it did in fact move through time the Island would not be able to exist in two times/places at once and the Island would not continue to exist through 2007 anymore, it would only exist in the time of Dharma where the original "Losties" are now. But we know it does continue to exist in 2007 because the crash of flight 316 and it's people exist in 2007 on the Island. We know this because all the damage done to Dharmaville is still there when Sun and Frank went there, and the runway is also still built. In actuality the Island itself moves in space while the foreigners of the island (any but the hostiles/others) who are on the island at the time of the wheel movement are moved through time. This also explains how while the losties were shifting through time the people they visited for example Rousseau, who were already on the island didn't go with them, it was only them who were moving.
  • Basically, turning the wheel does nothing more than "mix light and water", in the same way that replugging the source with the cork did. After the "mixing", the person who initiated the mix was transported elsewhere in space and (depending on certain circumstances) also in time. Examples would be Locke and Ben ending up at one of the "exits" in Tunesia, or the original Man in Black and Jack at the exit outside of the source. There are several exit points all over the world, the one near the source where Jack and MiB ended up being the closest.
    • Also, these exits are what you might call "black holes". For additional info look up "Kerr metric" and Pierre Chang.
    • Turning the wheel creates a space/time portal at the exit that can not only transport people off the Island but also transport people/things onto the Island. This is how the Beechcraft ended up on the Island: it happened to be flying directly over the Exit just as someone (probably Ben since he's been to Tunisia before, but perhaps Richard or another one of the Others) turned the wheel. We know from the map inside it that the Beechcraft was headed north towards the Mediterranean and would have passed over the general location of the exit.



Four toed statue

  • The ancient appearance of the wheel and the room it is located in suggest it may have been constructed by the islands ancient inhabitants, who also built the four toed statue.
    • It is unlikely that the ancient inhabitants would have been constructed it because this would require a deep knowledge of space-time. Maybe the wheel was already on the island as the egyptians entered the island. Who was the creator then? Because it is located near negative charged matter (which could be the source for making space-time traveling possible) it could be possibly a technology from aliens?!
    • The Wheel was built by the MIB as a possible way for him to escape the island directly (unsuccessful) and/or indirectly as a device necessary to exploit the "Loophole."
  • The wheel may actually be the Dharmacakra, a symbol representing Dharma (law) in Hinduism and the Buddha's teaching of the path to enlightenment. It is also sometimes translated as wheel of doctrine or wheel of law.
    • This would mean the wheel needs to be turned a third time.
  • The frozen chamber has a rickety ladder and a gas lamp in it. These are not the sorts of things that DHARMA would have put there. Was this chamber used by the Others, or maybe by the crew of the Black Rock in the past?
  • The chamber being "not that dark" is probably just a little production fudge so that viewers can see what the chamber looks like. In real life, such an underground chamber would be pitch black.
        • The light from the energy from behind the frozen wheel could be the reason the room is so Illuminated.
  • The wheel itself was not always there. Some crewmen of the Black Rock took the steering wheel from the ship and placed it in the chamber
    • This seems most logical. The wheel seems to be made of wood, and looks like the steering wheel of a ship from the era of the Black Rock, rather than an ancient civilization.
      • Maybe I'm wrong, but if you imagine the wheel upright as it would be on a ship - it'd be huge! Surely too big for a ship, bigger than Ben even.
        • The wheel resembles part of a capstan (an appliance used on ships to operate various parts of rigging).
          • The MiB killed all the crewmen on the Black Rock, so if it was from a ship, it would have been from a different one.

Dharma Van

  • The frozen wheel is related to the mythical kingdom of Shambhala (song playing in Dharma van in Season 3, as well as overarching theory as to the nature of the island), its history of rulers, and the chariot wheel/Sun chariot. As the 14th Dalai Lama noted..., Shambhala is not an ordinary country:

Although those with special affiliation may actually be able to go there through their karmic connection, nevertheless it is not a physical place that we can actually find. We can only say that it is a pure land, a pure land in the human realm. And unless one has the merit and the actual karmic association, one cannot actually arrive there. [1]

Shambhala has a lineage of rulers, some of whom have special titles: 3) Tejasvin/Taji (Tib. Ziji Chän) (776-676 BC) Bearer of the Dharma Wheel and the Auspicious Conch. (Italics added for emphasis.) [2]

The Dharma Wheel,or dharmacakra, is mentioned on on the main article of the frozen wheel page as having special significance in Buddhism. However, it does not go far enough. The Dharmacakra symbol is represented as a chariot wheel (Sanskrit cakram) with eight or more spokes. (Italics added for emphasis.) [3]

Controllers of the chariot wheel, or sun chariot, are mentioned in various Sun worshiping mythologies spanning from Asia, where Buddhism and Shambhala originated, to the Mediterranean Sea, including ancient Egypt. For example, in ancient Greece, Apollo carried the sun across the sky in a chariot, turning the day into night and back again. So, control the sun chariot, control day and night. As applies to the island and Lost, turn the chariot wheel, change time. [4]

    • The wheel is similar to the Antikythera Mechanism.

Leaving the Island

4x13 TurnThatWheel

Ben turns the wheel

  • When one turns the wheel, there is no literal or spiritual reason that they are forbidden from returning, they simply cannot, since they are sent to an unknown destination somewhere else on the planet, while the island is moved to another unknown point. The impact of this is that the person who turns the wheel can never know where the island is, since they move it but do not know where it moves in relation to them. There is nothing stopping Ben from getting to the island if he can manage to find it—the catch is that he cannot find it.
    • However, Ben will be helped by Richard Alpert or anyone else, who travel from the Island and helps Ben find it.
    • Ben knows that Fate will bring the Oceanic 6 back to the island, since they were never meant to leave. If Ben tags along, he can also return.

The Orchid Wheel

4x13-wheel-metal bands


  • The wheel is designed to be operated by one or more human beings, as Ben demonstrates. Only three-eighths of the wheel is exposed at any one time. Tethering a donkey or any other draft animal to the wheel, assuming that there were sufficient room to do this, would require more time than the task of turning the wheel. The animal would then be able to push the wheel through a rotation of one-quarter of its circumference. The animal would then have to untethered, led back to the starting position, and re-tethered before beginning again.
  • The Orchid Wheel is not mystical in or of itself. It is a tool used to release the energy necessary to move the Island. That energy charges the device that actually moves the Island. Whether that energy is used for any other purpose is unknown at this time.


  • There are hieroglyph-like carvings on the pillar when Ben enters the icy room. Two of them are pretty clear: a bird-like one that looks like the duck in "Sa-Rê", one of the religious names given to Pharaohs to mark their god-like status (possibly related to resurrection or immortality) and a square one depicting a "water piece" (possibly the ocean surrounding the island, or maybe an underground spring next to the Orchid). The latter has some "horns" on top of it though, so maybe it has a different meaning. There are finally three vertical slashes, possibly referring to three people, or three of something else. They could link this room to the Swan station and countdown clock, and possibly to former (and possibly Egyptian?) Island inhabitants.
    • The vertical slashes, or tally marks, could be keeping track of the number of times the island has been moved in that fashion.
      • The triangular top carvings could portray the mountains (i.e. the Island; that would be map indications). They may also represent a tidal wave created after the Island is moved, proving that whoever did these carvings knows how it all works.
      • Why would one need to keep track of how many times the island has been moved? Perhaps that is why moving it is dangerous. Perhaps you only get so many moves, and then something happens.
    • There is only one pillar featuring these carvings; the rest of the room isn't covered with them, and neither is the wheel. This seems to indicate that they are map indications.
    • There is a lantern hanging on the rock column above the carvings. The type is also know as a "hurricane lantern" (sometimes as a "barn lamp"). This type has been around since the early 1910-1920's, but unsure about this specific model. These are still being made today. Being fueled by kerosene is an advantage, as it stays liquid in frigid conditions.
      • It is the same style of lantern seen on the table in Jacob's Cabin.

The Black Rock

  • The island has already been moved several times before. That is how the Black Rock got its position in the middle of the island: it just appeared in the open sea and lifted the ship up.
    • The island appear to "sink" into the ocean when it was moved. Thus, it could "rise" up to wherever it reappears. This could also add water to the theory as to why the Black Rock is so far inland. Rather than "popping" into existence, the island lifted it up when it reappeared there.
    • The island did look like it was sinking; there was a ripple effect in the water afterwards. Perhaps this will be the explanation (in the LOST world) for the December 2004 tsunami. The timing of the events on the island and time line to coincide with that major disaster.
      • That was just the ocean water filling in the space that used to be occupied by the island.
        • The same effect would occur if the island sank, but nevertheless I believe you are correct. In either case, however, the "implosion" would in turn create a massive suction around and under "ground zero" -- this is what drowns most folks on ships that sink. If the view we see of the island going >gloop< is meant to be the POV from the copter (at it seems to be) they appear close enough so that the air rushing in to fill the vacuum would've sucked in Lapidus and his intrepid passengers -- at the very least, this natural reaction would've convincingly caused the chopper to crash without requiring the writers' 'out of gas' bit.

Polar Bear remains in Tunisia

  • The polar bear in Tunisia (possibly the same spot Ben ended up) could be an indication that DHARMA moved the island in the past, or experimented in the frozen chamber anyway. They could have used the polar bear as a guinea pig to test the properties of the frozen chamber.
    • This explains the remains of the Polar Bear found in Tunisia by Charlotte. Tunisia serves as a dumping location whenever the wheel is turned.
      • From the orientation video, we have seen that the chamber didn't send the Dharma bunny to far, into the past, in a room on the island. So far, only the FDW seems linked to Tunisia - where the bear was found. Either Dharma knows about the wheel and sent one of their bears wearing a Dharma collar, or the Others bothered to put a Dharma collar on a polar bear before using the bear to move the island.

Ben was involved in a previous move of the Island.

  • At that time, he was the leader elect and Charles Widmore was the current leader in whom Jacob no longer had any confidence.
    • Because of Ben's knowledge of DHARMA (having grown up with them), he knew that metal in the chamber would blow it up. Someone (possibly Richard Alpert or Widmore) told him that the wheel was behind the Orchid Station.
      • The fact that he grabs the parka before going down indicates that he is very familiar with the wheel.
      • After arriving in Tunisia after turning the wheel, Ben tells the hotel clerk that he has been there before but it has been awhile, and also introduces himself as a preferred guest.

Counter evidence

  • Unless DHARMA rebuilt the Orchid station, the door would have already been blown by Widmore, if he had "seen" it.
    • There may be an alternate way into where the frozen wheel is besides The Orchid. There seems to be something on the other side--to have put the wheel there, they would have either had to have access to it from the other side, or keep turning the wheel as it was assembled.
      • If Widmore had moved the Island before, he wouldn't bother looking for it since he wouldn't be able to go back anyway.
      • Unless it IS possible to go back, or there is something there that he wants. But it seems that all he wants is Ben, at least that is all it appears Keamy et al. came for. Maybe Charlotte, Faraday and Miles were sent there for another purpose, but got side tracked into being the rescue crew.
  • Ben's statement about the person who moves the Island having an inability to return is not necessarily true; if it is, he may not have meant it literally. It simply could have meant it's next to impossible as that person would be shifted somewhere in the world, and thus, wouldn't know where/when the Island had moved to.
    • Ben is simply lying to Locke as usual.
      • Ben told Locke that the person moving the Island can never return so that Locke would stay.
  • Besides the fact that "Jacob says so", why would the Island still need to be moved if the threats were taken care of?
    • Widmore would still know where the Island was if it wasn't moved.
    • And the O6, and all the Losties who had left the Island at the time the wheel was turned, would definitely come back for their friends, blowing the cover of the Others who don't want to be found.
      • The Six may be glad to be rid of their "friends" on the Island -- and vice versa.
    • The events in the freighter and things like Keamy killing Ben's daughter caused this particular time ripple to be unfixable, therefore the only way to fix the original Time paradox (Theory) is to create a new ripple/loop by causing another time/space shift (ergo, moving the Island) and try, from this new time line to fix things and merge everything, but apparently, it all went wrong.


Frozen donkey wheel composite
  • The Frozen Wheel refers to a cycle created by the DHARMA Initiative, maintained by pushing the button every 108 minutes in the Swan-station. The Island itself is, in fact, unstuck in time from the real world due to its mysterious electromagnetic properties. Time, and the Island, has slowed to almost a complete halt. This is how Richard Alpert, and possibly others, have not aged since they arrived there on the Black Rock sometime in the 1800s. When the DHARMA Initiative arrived later on, they built the Swan-station over the electromagnetic outlet to experiment with this phenomenon. They had now 'corked up' the energy that had always flowed out from the Island, and by releasing that build-up in small discharges every 108 minutes they could now accelerate, and keep, the Island in present time (think of it like letting the air out of a balloon in small doses). When the Swan-station was destroyed by turning the fail-safe key in the season two finale, the 'cork' was destroyed as well. Had they not done this, the world (maybe even the universe) could have exploded/imploded due to the build-up not being released. Time is now crawling to a halt again, losing sync with the real world at an alarming rate. Michael left the Island right after the Discharge, which explains why there was no time difference when he got back home. When Frank, Sayid and Desmond left, the difference was bigger. Their helicopter trip took 20 minutes, but was experienced on-Island as about 2 days. Things will get even worse as time progresses. There are some things yet to be explained, as how Doc Ray was found dead on the Island before he has been shown killed on the freighter, but it could be side-effects of the bigger-than-normal discharge that occurred. It could even have propelled the Island a bit ahead of the present before it slows down again. To summarize; the donkey-wheel-like chore of repeatedly pressing the button every 108 minutes is now over, freezing the Island in time once again.
  • It's only dangerous to breach the wheel chamber by electrical devices/technology. Not by manual means. When earlier peoples found it, they dug by shovels and not by drills or other electrical tools, so they didn't cause any catastrophe.
    • The Orchid builders nearly caused catastrophe when they were approaching from the side, because they were using electrical drills. They learned from this and initially gave up, but later found the tunnel that the ancient people had dug, leading into the chamber from above.
  • The wheel chamber, along with Christian and Jacob, are moving through time along the same path as Locke and the rest of those left behind.
  • There are FDW-like chambers all over the world. Whenever someone turns the wheel, they end up near the location of another wheel. There is one in Tunisia, (this would explain how Ben and the Polar Bear got there), one in Los Angeles near The Lamp Post, (this is how the Dharma Initiative found The Island),one in Egypt (this would explain the Hieroglyphics), one in the Arctic (The Listening Station), and possibly one at Uluru (this would be how Isaac got his powers). The Island's Frozen Wheel is the most powerful of these, for it is the only one that can cause Time Traveling and needs to be controlled (The Button). This is why Isaac said to Rose that she needed "a different type of energy"-The Island.

This Place is Death episode

  • The Island was skipping through time because the wheel has slipped off its axis.
    • theory on the wheel movement: 1) The island was moved in spacetime by turning wheel clockwise; 2) wheel starts skipping/time starts skipping. 3) Locke descends to fix wheel (no turn required/performed or at least no full turn) - island stops skipping (assumed). Island now "stuck" in PAST (not really stuck since time still passes but the period of time is wrong) - around start of Dharma Initiative. 4) Someone (E. Hawking?) must descend to push wheel COUNTERclockwise and send it BACK to 2008, *Unlike most inanimate objects on the island (not being touched by a time traveler), the wheel seems to shift through time. Or perhaps, the event of time shifting temporarily knocks the wheel off its axis until the wheel self-corrects (or is realigned by an outside force) which in turn causes another time shift.
    • It is not shifting through time - it is so old that is would always appear to be there.
  • The wheel exists independently of the time on the rest of the island. You could say it's been 'jumping' with the Lostbehinds if that makes it easier to understand, but essentially, the wheel is non-temporal, and more or less exists in its own timeline. it changes, it ages, frosts, defrosts, etc, but it does so within it's own timeline, so no matter when you are on the island, the wheel is always in its 'own' time.
    • The chamber is contained in a pocket dimension with immediate access at all times; the position of the wheel determines which time is accessed. The time in the pocket dimension moves perpendicular relative to time outside the pocket dimension, which explains why Locke entering the chamber in the past shows the result of what Ben had done in the future, as well as the possibility of the chamber existing prior to when it was created. The time travelers are somehow connected with the wheel, such as when the wheel locks onto a new time, the travelers are forced to travel with it.
    • The well doesn't disappear; it's just been filled in, or tumbled in on itself.
  • The wheel moves the island in space. because it was taking constant uncontrolled shifts back and forth, and because space and time are inexorably linked, this was causing it to bounce around temporally as well. Now that the wheel has been stabilized, the island will stop jumping in time and space. the reason everyone needs to go back to the island, is because they never should have left, especially Ben, who should still be the leader of the others. if he had sent Locke to turn the wheel, like he was supposed to, everything would've turned out differently, and the O6 would still be on the island. because Jacob's orders got messed up, now there's a massive course-correction taking place in bringing back the O6 to ensure the stability of the timeline; but this isn't the key to stopping the time-shifts, the Wheel was.
    • The wheel and the rest of the room are very obviously still frozen. Look at the picture - There are icicles and such.
FDW Green Flash

One of the green flashes, showing icicles on the walls of the chamber

  • When Christian is talking to Locke, he clearly tells him to go give the wheel a little push, and Locke proceeds to yank and pull on the wheel until it finally seems to rest properly in place, I think Locke pulling on the wheel causes something else to go wrong, possibly why he wasn't able to convince all the O6 to go back. (Locke really doesn't know how to listen)
  • The chamber is still there even though there's no way in after the well disappears, because the chamber wasn't dug out manually, but is the result of some kind of matter-exchange; the apparatus containing the Wheel and the empty space surrounding it was teleported there by some unknown force, and an equal amount of solid earth was exchanged to the wheel's former location.
  • The island got shifted to some other location but because Ben didn't turn the wheel properly or because the people who were not supposed to leave left, it got dislodged off its axis. Thus, people (like Juliet whose origins wasn't on the island and Charlotte who left the island and returned) and things that were brought onto the island from the outside world past a certain threshold in time began randomly shifting through time.
  • Locke setting the wheel back on its axis stopped the time skips, which were obviously eminating from within the chamber, in DHARMA time, which is how Daniel got into the orchid construction area and also how he told Charlotte to stay away. Jin and the rest of the survivors probably joined DHARMA to save themselves, though it is possible that there was a split in the party and some became hostiles and some DHARMA. Flight 316 flying through the window then experienced time travel not a skip which brought those that needed to be on the island to the island as they entered the wheels range.
    • If the wheel had been dislodged by Ben (in the future) requiring Locke to fix it (in the past) that would constitute a time paradox ignoring cause and effect in linear time. Since the producers claim there are no time paradoxes on LOST, it is more likely that the departure of Ben caused an imbalance initiating the time skips with the departure of Locke bringing this balance back and thus stopping the time skips. And if Locke supposedly fixed what Ben supposedly 'had' dislodged, where was Ben's crowbar he had dropped (it didn't travel with him to the "exit" in Tunisia so it's probably still there where he left it)?
  • There is a key event in the mid 90s before juliet comes to the island that determines which people skip time with the island and which people don't. Claire was at this event.

Why It's Frozen, and is it Getting More Frozen

4x13-wheel-metal bands

Frozen Donkey Wheel

  • Frozen because of some naturally occurring type of Magnetic Refrigeration.
    • Don't expect Season 6 to explain confirm/deny this, but it seems a plausible enough basis for why it's frozen.
  • The fact that the wheel works in tangent with water from the source that channels under the Island may also be a factor.

Cause of the wheel slipping off the axis

  • The wheel slipped off it's axis as a result of Ben turning it. It is severely frozen over, implying it had not been used in a long time, and it took Ben a lot of effort to move it. The time flashes only started after Ben moved the wheel, so it's safe to assume the manner of which he turned it caused it to slip off it's axis after he is sent to the exit, due to using too much force as a result of it being frozen over.

Who built it

  • After his "death", MIB returned in the well to finish the wheel so he could turn it and leave. After he finished the mechanism, he tried turning the wheel but realized Jacob was blocking him from going "home". He didn't destroy it because he knew he could use it to leave after killing Jacob.

Proximity to the wheel

Proximity to the wheel and the anomaly it controls removes the effects of being "unstuck in time". That's why Locke and the smoke monster were both in the same time frame (likely early 2005) when he reached the wheel and why the wheel was still off-balance from Ben's attempt to move it.

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