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See the Lostpedia theory policy for more details.
A Total Theory of Lost
These thoughts are compiled from both the canon of the series Lost itself, and theories of how that canon ties together. It is not written with the intention of covering every little detail of the who, what, where, when and how’s of the series, but to offer an overview of the major plot arcs. This theory will be updated or revised as the need arises.
- When the earth colided with Theia to form the moon, Theia hit earth at the island location in the south pacific, as a result of this the smaller iron core from theia was lodged miles under the pacific, leeching magnetism from the magma dynamo that causes earth's magnetic field. This iron core has enough magnetism to repel the ocean up several miles creating a bubble. The island therefore is not an island but merely a dry patch of the pacific sea bed. When judhead was denoted it destroyed the magnetism of the miniture iron core, therefore the bubble protecting the island no longer existed, with nothing to hold the ocean up the so called 'island' was flooded, as evidenced by LAX part 1. The Dharma initiative was trying to see if the earths magnetic field could be harnessed into usable electricity providing enough energy for fossil feuls to become obsolete, and thus changing the climate change element of the valenzetti equation. When desmond let the magnetism get out of control, the bubble got so large that it created a hole in the ocean surface allowing objects from the outside world in, such as flight 815. This also gives reason as to why submarines are the only deasable way in. The layer of water in the sky between them and the sun explains the unusal light scattering that farday mentions.
Fate of Man
- Every snapshot in time leads to an infinity of parallel realities, "timelines," reflecting the different decisions we can make from day to day. Living things contribute to this natural fracturing of reality into parallel possibilities.
- Jacob and perhaps others, perhaps to varying degrees, has the ability to see into and traverse these possibilities.
- The Valenzetti Equation accurately predicts the extinction of man and the Dharma Initiative was trying to change that.
- Living things have the power of choice, and are thus the cause of parallel realities. If you remove choice from reality, there are no parallel timelines: only one guided by consistent laws of physics.
- Following that, the extinction of life on Earth would converge parallel realities into one.
- Jacob was trying to stop the Valenzetti Equation, as well. He is able to visit alternate realities and interact with people there. He doesn't "bring" people from one reality into another, he guides them by giving them advice on what choices to make.
- The inevitable fate of man is to destroy itself, and Jacob's Nemesis would let it happen to see it over with. Jacob continues to prolong the event by guiding various realities together.
- Possibly, only one chain of events could have led to all of the Losties landing on the island the way they did. Perhaps the show we're watching, the reality we're following, is a one-in-infinity event of profound importance.
- Perhaps Jacob can only exist in one reality. Perhaps he is an exception to this pattern of parallel realities.
My support for this theory:
- The Valenzetti Equation's significance in the story thus far.
- The importance of choice in the story.
- Jacob visits each of the Losties, which could be his effort to bring various timelines artificially together in a certain way.
- It's also possible, since this theory suggests that all possibilities are played out in some timeline, that Jacob does not have full control over traversing timelines. Rather, he can see alternate timelines for a single person upon physical contact. When we saw him visit the Losties, we saw him touching them to find out if this was was the reality he was looking for, where they all end up on the Island together. From Jacob's perspective, he visited thousands (millions? etc...) of parallel realities and touched the Losties in each one to find the right one, but we as viewers only saw the right reality for each interaction he had with the Losties.
- Jacob reads Everything That Rises Must Converge. By title only, a possible reference to the inevitable converging of timelines. According to the page on this book, the title was based on the following quote: "Remain true to yourself, but move ever upward toward greater consciousness and greater love! At the summit you will find yourselves united with all those who, from every direction, have made the same ascent. For everything that rises must converge."
- Jacob mentions that his tapestry took him a long time, but "[I] suppose that's the point when you weave the thread yourself". This could have been a reference to his weaving together of parallel realities to weave a tapestry in time.
- The vast number of things that have happened on the island that one could call extremely unlikely or coincidental. If Jacob's goal was, indeed, to find a one-in-infinity reality, it's likely that this reality would also be laden with events that are extremely unlikely, but possible.
- This would add more profundity to the statement made by Jacob's Nemesis regarding how difficult it was for him to get where he was.
- If you draw a horizontal timeline that fractures many levels deep, and then merges together again at the same pace, it has the shape of an eye.
- Jacob's comment "It only ends once. Everything else is just progress." could be more literal: perhaps he's saying that it's progress as long as things don't end. This could reflect his ongoing endeavor to prolong the fracturing of timelines, ie. choice.
The Island's Location
The Island is located some where in the North Pole/Arctic area. The Island exists in some sort of mysterious warm and tropical area that exists in the arctic icecap. See the novels The Smokey God and/or the manuscript "Admiral Byrd's Secret Diary" (his trips were to the South Pole, but some theorists say he was also secretly sent on a mission to the North Pole) and/or "the Hollow Earth Theory, and/or Paradise Found: The Cradle of the Human Race at the North Pole (1885), written by the founder of Boston University, Dr. William Fairfield Warren. These pseudo-science books make reference to a tropical land (or in the least, a warmer climate) hidden in the Arctic. The writers of Lost have used these ideas to create the location of the Island.
The writers have also incorporated another pseudo-scientific concept called The Vile Vortices. The Vile Vortices have been described as "portals." The Bermuda Triangle is considered as one of these portals. From the Island, different bearings would take you off of the Island from "zero" north to different Vile Vortices openings. That's how the Black Rock, Danielle's team, Flight 815, Eko's brother's plane, Desmond and his boat, Henry Gale and his balloon and others have ended up on the Island, through these vortices. That is also how the polar bear was transported from the Island to the location where it was found in North Africa. Also the hypothetical concept of Ley Lines may figure into the mythology of the Island's location. The only direct way to access the Island is going under the Arctic ice cap in a submarine, guided by a beacon from the Looking Glass, if you know the correct route. When you emerge from under the ice cap, you have entered this "lost" area, which is tropical in nature and somehow protected from the frozen environment around it.
How the Island is invisible to the "outside" world is not readily explained in these books nor have the writers of Lost given us their "take" on this point (as of this posting). But numerous clues have been given to us by the writers of the series. Polar bears, references to "ho ho ho," Hurley drawing a picture of an igloo, the comic book with Arctic scenes that Walt was reading. Sam seeing the Aurora Borealis (even though he was in the Pacific) in Find 815, Penny's listening station was located in a snowy waste land, Desmond's fictitious basic training camp named "Camp Millar" in Scotland matches an actual base on an archipelago in the Arctic Ocean which is owned by Norway, named Camp Millar, and has been used as the stepping-off point of many Arctic expeditions, The Swan password is the joke about what one snowman says to the other and Desmond's reference to a snow globe . The Big Dipper could be seen in the episode "The Long Con" when Sayid and Hurley are on the beach using the radio to pick up a WXO radio station. On the “letyourcompassguideyou.com” website there is a postcard of an island beach with a snowman. In the Constant episode, we can see snowflakes hitting the window of the helicopter as it passes through the storm front. In the season four finale, Ben blasts through a wall in the Orchid Station revealing a frozen room.
See the sub-head The Island's Environment below for a further explanation on this point.
The Island’s Identity?
The Island is the nexus of all our creation stories and lost civilization tales. For us with a Judeo-Christian mindset, it is the Garden of Eden (see the reference to the book “Paradise Found” above). The writers have dropped hints of this nature. The two unidentified decaying bodies that were found were dubbed “Adam and Eve.” The Island seems to have to power to extend life and cure certain injuries and illnesses. The café that Sayid visited in his flashback was named “Le Jardin Croissant Fertile,” French for “the fertile crescent garden.” The “Smoke Monster” is reminiscent of the angel that was put in place to guard the garden.
In the case of Greek mythology, it is the birth place of Apollo, the floating island called Delos. Delos was surrounded by swans. Zeus secured the island to the bottom of the ocean, giving it a permanent location. Of course, we have had many Greek references found on throughout the series. Some examples would include Apollo candy bars, The Hydra, The Swan and the four-toed statue (Greek gods were sometime depicted with 4 toes).
And many other cultures have myths of islands that try to explain the origins of humans and gods.
This fits in well with two of the main plot arcs in Lost. If you are a man of science, then you can accept (with in the mythology of the show) that this island is part of the natural cosmology of our planet. This island may display certain properties that have been unknown in the scientific record, none the less, we can explain most everything using the typical fiction story writing device of “hard science-possible.”
A man of faith can explain the Lost mysteries with his firm belief in the powers of an ever present God. Even if this man can accept some of the science, it is much like a believer in creation science. The Island is God's creation, and it’s purpose lays with in the mind of God.
Whether one sides with faith or science matters not to the Island. The shows characters have been tasked with discovering their strengths and weaknesses, reexamining their loyalties to themselves and others, and use these “revelations” in an epic battle.
The Island’s Environment
The Island has a manufactured environment. Faraday mentioned that light appeared to “scatter” strangely, compasses do not work correctly, rain seems to start up very suddenly with no indication of an approaching storm, there seems to be some sort of a perpetual weather front surrounding the Island, the unusual rising tide (Sayid says... "This can't be normal. The tide shifting so suddenly. Rising in so short a time.") and with a little research, I probably could find a lot more examples. Considering all of the other strange events on the Island, it is possible that we could consider the Island to be a totally controlled laboratory in itself. And I think the Tempest DHARMA station is what controls the weather. We were lead to believe that this station was only a power station. But if you look at the station’s logo, you will see a stylized wave and a stylized raindrop.
At the end of season 4, we see Ben enter the icy room where the "wheel" was housed. Below the surface of the Island, we see the true nature of the Island. The tropical surface, the surrounding sea, all of what appears to be a warm Pacific location is simply an illusion.
A Timeline of the Island
The following points are major events that pertain to the overall story of Lost.
From the hints that writers of Lost have given us as of the writing of this essay, we can only assume that the Island has been inhibited by “someone or something” before 1867. We see classic looking antiquities (the four-toed statue, ruins) which indicates some sort of long-lived civilization existed on the Island in the past.
The Black Rock appeared on the Island, with at least some of the crew members. The ship had a log, which was in the procession of the Hanso family in the 1900’s and purchased by Charles Widmore in 1996. The ships log either was taken off the Island sometime after the Black Rock grounded or right before it arrived on the Island.
The only survivor of the Black Rock crew is Richard Alpert, who has retained his current age due to the a gift from Jacob and the mysterious powers present on the Island.
The log came into the possession of Alvar Hanso some time in the 1950's after he purchased the New World Sea Traders company from the East Ocean Trade Group, renaming it to the Allied Copenhagen Marine Merchants. The New World Sea Traders was the company owned by Alvar's great-grandfather Magnus Hanso. This log was in the records of the New World Sea Traders and described the Island and its powers.
Sometime after Valenzetti’s Equation was made public to the United Nations, Alvar Hanso and his company The Hanso Corporation, became interested in the equation’s possible impact on the world. Using the information in the Black Rock’s log, he located the Island and set up the Dharma project in order to use the Islands unique properties to aid him in research that was designed to save the world. He may have had additional help and financing from Charles Widmore and the Widmore Corporation.
In 1985, something happened to the project (see the blast door map), probably due to problems with the Island magnetic properties and the Swan Station, other wayward Dharma science projects and some sort of corporate intrigue. At that point Thomas Mittelwerk took over the project (see The Lost Experience). His intentions were not so altruistic, and his interest in the Island was for power, money and possible world domination. Mittelwerk involved Widmore Industries and a number of other companies (IE: Paik Heavy Industries) to put his plan in effect. Sometime around 1988, Danielle and her “science” team discovered the Island, probably through one of the Vortices.
Ben, having knowledge of the direction the Dharma project had taken, instigated The Purge (around 1992), killing off most of the Dharma personal on the Island and shutting down what remained of the Dharma Project. The electronic beacon in the Looking Glass station was shut down, which prevented submarine access to the Island thus Mittelwerk and his cronies were prevented from returning to the Island.
It appears that Mittelwerk continued the Dharma Project’s research off island (even as late as 2006), setting up many research facilities around the planet. It seems that in most cases his research methods were dangerous and illegal. A full understanding of what Mittelwerk was doing was discovered by Rachael in The Lost Experience. In Chapter 39 of the book Bad Twin, board members of the Widmore Corporation describe fellow board-member Mittelwerk as "dangerous...ambitious and brilliantly two-faced, a man acting out an agenda all his own."
During this time Ben and the Others continued some research on the Island (i.e. fertility problems), and they still had to keep the Swan Station manned, in order to regulate the magnetic anomaly. Since they were the only ones who had the knowledge of how to enter and leave the Island (they could turn the electronic beacon on when needed and they also knew about the Vile Vortices openings), they used this time to recruit new members of their secret society. Having full understanding of the history of the Dharma project and these subsequent events, they are the good guys, trying to prevent anyone from using the Island for evil purposes.
But Charles Widmore was not going to give up in trying to relocate the Island. He purchased the Black Rock log at an auction in 1996 in an effort to regain information needed to find the Island once more. Widmore may have even tried to divest his relationship with Mittelwerk, since in The Lost Experience, there is indications that Mittelwerk had become a liability to Widmore and his interests.
Over the years, other people have “accidentally” ended up stranded on the Island such as Henry Gale, Desmond Hume and the drug smugglers from Nigeria.
On September 22nd, 2004 Oceanic Flight 815 crashed on the Island. The plane “slipped” through one of the Vortices when another magnetic “incident” occurred in the Swan Station.
Oddly (and without their knowledge), many of the survivors of the crash have had “connections” with each other and/or other major players in the Lost story. As of this writing, we don’t know if these connections are coincidence or have somehow been under the control of a “puppet master” all along.
But we do know that Charles Widmore has relocated the Island and is prepared to try to reclaim the Island for his purposes. We are now set up for a major battle between Widmore and the Others, with our Flight 815 survivors very much the pawns in someone’s life and death game.
Didn't know where else to put this
Seeing the anagrams and acronyms as being a theme of the show, and Michael Emerson's "joke" on Jimmy Kimmel, perhaps the title LOST is an acronym itself, possibly Living Outside of Space and Time