“LOST” fans: can you join me in a collective sigh of sadness for the amazingness that was “LOST”? Even though the show has been over for a few years now, it remains one of the most popular, critically acclaimed television shows in history! (If you haven’t seen at least the first three seasons, shame on you!) Now that that’s out of the way, do you remember in season 4, when Ben physically “moved” the Island to keep Charles Widmore (Penny’s father) from finding it and prevent himself from being captured? I’m just about to make your day that much cooler because according to Richard Muller, a professor of physics at the University of California at Berkeley, the science behind it is strange, but not entirely unsound. All of it has to do with the Casimir Effect, which is a consequence of the fact that the vacuum contains energy. Some speculate that you can draw an unlimited supply of energy from the vacuum (the purpose of the wheel was to harness the electromagnetic pockets of energy at the heart of the Island), that could warp “four dimensional space-time,” creating a wormhole. Einstein would approve… maybe.


First, let me start by saying the trick wouldn’t be physically moving the Island from one location to another. Rather, you could hypothetically change its space-time connection to the rest of the Earth. According to the properties of Einstein’s general theory of relativity, space-time is actually quite flexible. One of the manifestations of that is the gravity we experience on Earth that keeps objects from floating off into space. In fact, one of the most promising theories for the explanation of gravity came from Einstein. It says that objects that have mass and display energy have the property of warping space-time. We witness this effect when observing light traveling close to objects of mass like the sun. Instead of traveling from point A to point B in a straight line, the light would be deflected by a small angle from the bending of space-time caused by a body with significant mass (e.g. the sun). Therefore, what we perceive as gravity (gravity’s strength is directly related to an object’s mass, hence why the Moon has 1/6th the gravity of Earth) is simply the curvature of space-time.


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For an example of how you could change the distance between objects without physically moving them, Let’s assume light is traveling from our Sun to the closest star, Proxima Centauri. The distance between the two stars is around 4.2 light years, so light traveling from one point to the other should take 4.2 years to reach point B from point A. Now, let’s add a small black hole into the projected path of the light particles. The distance between the two objects hasn’t changed, they are still 4.2 light years apart, yet the time it would take for the light to travel from point A to point B becomes infinite because nothing; not even light can escape from a black hole since it has an infinitely deep space warp surrounding it. In this sense, we’ve changed the nature of the space between the two points. Now, to get to point B from point A, your path would have to change, you would have to go around the black hole.


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Okay, back to the Island. We’ve all read about wormholes; theoretical objects in space that are essentially tunnel-like short cuts in space-time from one distant point to another. Lorentizian wormholes come in two varieties. One of such is called an inter-universe wormhole that would hypothetically connect our universe with another universe in a larger multiverse. The second kind is an intra-universe wormhole, which would connect two distant regions of our universe with each other. To explain the “moving” island on “LOST”, we would use the latter kind. We would have to assume the Island is connected to the south Pacific by a wormhole-like warp in the space-time continuum. To move the Island, all that you would have to do is move the wormhole connection between the Island and the rest of the Earth.


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Still sound confusing? Imagine driving on the same stretch of road you’ve traveled hundreds of times. Only this time, you never reach your destination. It turns out, the location you were driving to hasn’t moved. Rather, the stretch of road now goes around it. That’s what Ben did — he changed the road. If Richard Muller’s theory is correct, not only does it explain Ben popping up in Tunisia after turning the wheel, but it also explains some of the weirdness “LOST” dealt us in season 2, with the button that had to be pushed every 108 minutes to “save the world”. To hypothetically open a wormhole, you would need massive amounts of energy. “In principle, if you could harness the energy of a star, you might be able to bend time into a pretzel, but we are talking about astronomical amounts of energy.” Maybe like a huge source of electromagnetic energy that needs to be discharged every 108 minutes to keep from ripping a giant, gaping hole in the time-space continuum? Which is oddly what occurred when Desmond didn’t push the button in the appropriate amount of time; the time-space continuum was disrupted, with Oceanic Flight 815 crash landing on a mysterious island that was hidden to the outside world?


And here you thought “LOST” was just a fantasy show 😉 Now that you know this information, does it change the way you feel about the direction the show took in the later seasons? Sound off in the comments.

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