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Welcome To the Closed Time-like Curve

By docarzt,

  Filed under: Lost
  Comments: 50

The alt is dead – long live the, er, alt.  I’m a little proud of the fact that I’ve been using the term “Closed Time-like Curve” to describe the shenanigans of LOST since, September of 2007. </gloat>  So I’d love it if some one much brainier than myself would verify that Faraday’s spontaneous physics doodle is in fact describing a Closed Time-like Curve.  The implications for LOST would be this:  if one of the universes we are seeing is within a “Closed Time-Like Curve,” then in fact one is not only NOT an ‘Alternate’ to the other, both are valid and one could be extraordinarily unstable.

This could explain why the M.I.B leaving the island is viewed as such a catastrophe.  We know that Desmond’s years in the Swan Hatch gave him some sort of ‘specialness,’ but what about Smokey?  He’s been soaking up the island’s weird magnetism for years.  What if leaving the island meant passing through a membrane separating universes, and Smokey’s specialness would cause a collapse?  This would be inviting additional mass into a Universe, probably igniting a massive release of energy and perhaps providing the fuel for a big crunch – meaning is Smokey escapes, there are more things to worry about than him bringing his brand of social awkwardness to the streets.  He could literally destroy the universe. Bad smokey.

To celebrate this theory I pieced together about a dozen frames from Happily Ever After to come up with a more complete look at Faraday’s doodles.  Anybody have a math-geek friend at CalTech?

From TVFrenzy:

  • Flavio

    Should we ask Walter about the problems of passing to another universe before Widmore’s machine causes the FlashForward? 😀

    • “There’s only room for one god in this lab, and it’s not yours.”

    • docarzt

      Seriously. Lol. At least we LOST fans can gloat that we were first. lol.

  • Charlotte K

    Which is: time-line, time-life or time-like??? Your first paragraph has all three.

    • docarzt

      hah! you don’t speak typo? don’t worry, with time you’ll be able to understand anything. 😉 But to be clear, it does not contain “time-line” – you made that up. 😉

  • Kevonski

    I think he meant “Time-Life”, as in, this is the universe where you escape those dreaded compilations.

  • dksrox

    Sort of like an “island” or bubble of space-time within ST…

  • I’ve thought for awhile that the Island has a unique relationship to time – and we were told such in Season 5. I posit that everything that happens on the Island not only effects the present and future, but also the past. Detonating Jughead didn’t sink the Island or destroy it, but instead sent a ripple through space time, causing the timelines to diverge at a specific point in the past.

    Although I’m more than likely wrong.

    • It does seem like Linus killing Jacob seemed to erase him from the past as much as it removed him from the present, because so many of the sideways passengers of flight 815 have led widely different lives, lives seemingly devoid of Jacob’s manipulations. Unless you think of the island as a pocket universe, existing at a single point in time. But when three years passed in season 5 off the island for the Oceanic Six, three years also passed for the gang on the island in 1977.

      At the beginning of this season we saw the sideways island submerged, significantly lowering the chances that the island is a nexus of realities. BUT if you think of the nexus as multiple islands existing within the same space, the nexus space, then the hydrogen bomb simply knocked one of the islands back into “real space,” or in this case, what we’re calling the sideways reality. The nexus still exists, plenty of crazy island energies left to hold the MIB, and enough island for our LOST gang to have a few more adventures.

      • DavidB

        I think that “devoid of Jacob’s manipulations” is key. Our Losties are ALL living very different lives in the “alt” reality, which tells ME at least that our whole concept of what was “The Incident” is wrong. We were lead down the path of believing that drilling into the pocket was “The Incident” back in season 5, but now with what we are seeing develop off island in season 6 makes me think “The Incident” was really something entirely different, or at the least since drilling into the pocket occurred in 1977 (right?) it had a far greater impact on space and time than we they’ve shown us so far.

  • MBPedia

    That is not a graph of a Closed Time-like curve. That is an Einstein Minkowski Space-Time Diagram. “In this setting the three ordinary dimensions of space are combined with a single dimension of time to form a four-dimensional manifold for representing a spacetime.”

    • DocArzt

      What does the curve represent?

      • Artistic License?

      • spacebender

        I too have been wondering about that. Since the label says, “space-time invariance” my guess is that it is depicting some property that remains constant regardless of which space-time trajectory one is traveling; it is a stable in all frames of reference, like for example the speed of light regardless how fast one is traveling. In other words, there is an underlying structure that connects all the realities together (e.g. a metric like x^2+y^2+… from relativity), and the circle is an artistic depiction of that “constancy” of the underlying fabric that holds it all together and/or represents its geodesic and/or outer (i.e. “event”) horizon as history unfolds.

        The “quantum mechanics” aspect I cannot wrap my mind around, especially not when it comes to general relativity. An artistically fanciful guess would be that they are depicting the “real” and “imaginary” components of time as if they were some eigenvectors, or “essential” (irreducible component) states in terms of which all combinations of components are expressed. All this is very imprecise and impressionistic, just a qualitative description of the feeling of such things, and is perhaps what the writers are hoping to give us a flavor of.

      • spacebender
    • The Smoke Monster

      Good, I’m glad you clarified this because Daniel said his math wiz friend told him it was quantum mechanics which it certainly is not. It would’ve been closer to fact to label it as relativistic mechanics but the writers are obviously over their head in trying to lay this stuff down.

      [RANT ON] And just a note about plausibility which we always seem to give a pass to LOST for … but a musician – even Daniel Widmore (not Faraday!) – is not going to draw this so perfectly from some dream he had ! There would be far more errors and scratch outs and meaningless doodles. This diagram looks so clean as if it were a textbook diagram. Just ridiculous, but no one likes to call them out on such stuff.

      While I’m on the subject I noticed a BIG continuity error in the episode. In the scene where they were trying to fix the generator to power the solenoids, the tech said a breaker was thrown so he immediately pulled the lever down to engage it. Then when everyone screamed to cut it off, he went back to the lever and pulled it DOWN again! It was to have been pushed UP from the already down position. Just goes to show more sloppiness on their part. [RANT OFF] 🙂

      • Benjamin

        My god, just enjoy the show.

        • Mack

          This is how he enjoys the show.

      • elginmiller

        I like how you know the PLAUSIBLE way that someone would draw a diagram that bled through from a sideways-universe consciousness during a dream.

        I actually find your plausible way much more implausible. If it appeared to him in a dream, then he just draws it. No need for errors and scratch-outs. Daniel had a perfect memory before he started in with the radiation experiments, which never happened in the sideways-universe.

        I also question your definition of “BIG continuity error.”

      • sparafucile

        Actually, if you assume that there is an interconnection between the two timelines, like in some spin-connected subatomic particles, then, indeed, it *IS* quantum mechanics.

      • The Smoke Monster

        Sheesh, what is this, a Keamy hit squad ?! I am The Smoke Monster after all (heh heh), chill out dudes, I’m just demanding a higher caliber of writing and plausibility, how do you argue against that ?!

        • jimmyzer00

          Because you’re being goofy.

        • zilli

          Errr, really Smokey? You are “demanding”? This is the best television show of all time and demanding a highter caliber of writing and plausibility is just silly. While I’m not arguing against it, clearly only The Smoke Monster would demand! TeeHee!

      • adam118

        Yeah I noticed some of that stuff with the switches, then remembered I know nothing of electromagnetic machine switches and went “oooh look at the pretty lights”

  • I have a feeling this wasn’t exactly drawn by a physicist 🙂 It’s a basic flat space (i.e. non-curved) light cone, but I’ve never seen anything like that curving thing which is drawn (and it looks like nonsense to me). It’s not a closed timelike curve – notice that it’s not closed, for example. Essentially an observer who starts at the top of that triangle has to stay within the triangle (the vertical axis measures spatial position and the horizontal measures time). So if that curve represents the path of an object or person in motion, any parts of the curve which leave the triangle are physically impossible, but it ends up at a place which is within the triangle, so frankly I haven’t got a clue what the point is.

    Seeing our Losties as being on a sort of closed timelike curve in Season 5 is a perfectly sensible thing – “whatever happened, happened” goes right along with that, because you can technically travel back in time on a closed timelike curve, but you can’t change what happens in the future. All this stuff with the bomb blowing up and causing an alt is completely outside the scope of general relativity. Quantum effects could do something like that; if you believe in a many-worlds theory, as several respected physicists do, what that says is that every time there is a random quantum measurement, the universe “branches out” into multiple universes where each possible outcome happens.

    The alt might well be based on that – with us looking at each possible outcome of Juliet’s hitting the bomb (it detonating or not) – but there’s some important differences between physics as we know it and LOST. For one thing, in a many-worlds theory, this alt universe is just one of an uncountable many, with nothing particularly special about it or its relation to the “main” universe. Also, it’s completely impossible for the universes to connect or communicate.

    This relationship between the LOST universe and the alt universe really is not entirely sound physically… like the chart Faraday drew, it takes its inspiration from modern physics but some liberties are taken for the sake of telling a good story!

    • DocArzt

      Exactly. With my crude understanding of it, what I am assuming is that they are creating a fictional method to allow for additional mass to be introduced resulting in a big crunch like effect. Where modern concepts of multiverses and what not would suggest that this universe would exist as a result of being a possible outcome anyway, and therefore not be a threat to the stability of any universe.

      I guess I’m just pining away for a cosmogonic ending.

      • or MIB wants to changes events that started the whole ball rolling in the first place. see my post below.

    • sparafucile

      Sorry, but, nope. It *IS* a diagram of multiple timelines, with a clear path to circle back to both earlier parts of the same timeline, or to points on alternate timelines.

      • Can you explain? I see one light cone, with some funny path drawn in. I mean, this is a plot in special relativity, a branch of physics which doesn’t even have a conception of “multiple timelines.”

        To clarify, the vertical line represents spatial position (along one particular dimension), the horizontal line represents time (going forward from left to right), and the diagonal line represents the path that a light ray would take if it started from the top of the triangle (spatial position=0, t=0). Since nothing can travel faster than light, any object starting from the same place has to travel within the triangle (and always going to the right). Faraday even drew examples of some of these – they’re the paths labeled as “timelike” which go from the top of the triangle down. The ones labeled “spacelike” start in a different position but go outside the cone which starts from there, meaning you’d have to travel faster than light along those paths, so they’re impossible to travel.

  • Adrian

    Donnie Darko.

    • cap10tripps

      Greatest movie ever. I feel like there is an element of “Darko” in LOST…

    • Rams

      Spot on!

  • cap10tripps

    DOC, YOU ARE THE MAN! Thanks for posting this. To me this represents the greatest reveal we’ve had. Dan’s sketch combined with his speech regarding already setting off a bomb solidified the thought that we are watching a “Dark Tower” which is the island that has spawned an additional universe.

    I’ve always thought the island was a nexus from which you can travel all time in our current earthly universe from start to finish. It’s possible that by spawning this new universe that the end has been either extended or hastened. The universe in which the end is nearer would need to be destroyed or else both universes are destroyed…

  • Dan Berry

    Dude just before Happily Ever After started I came to the conclusion that if smokey were to leave, the space time continuum would be torn, which is why everyone they loved would “simply cease to exist”.. this is the most epic show imaginable. Because they have already exhibited the closed time scenario, in which time can not be changed, Kate always made Ben an other, Jack always detonated a small nuke, causing the need for concrete under the Swan.

    Yet LOST is always dabbling in opposing forces/concepts. So they are approaching an idea of the space/time we inhabit being broken, and it’s like tempered glass, if one part of this membrane our universe consists of, then each successive part is affected equally, each moment that created the personalities we witness would shatter, causing the paths of the future to crumble before us. This will be what is at stake in the finale. This will be EPIC.

  • MIB said that he wants to go home. My impression is that if he gets a chance to go home, home being his own time-all the events orchestrated by Jacob, or the island, will never have come to pass. Since Lost has made so many references to particular family lines; I wouldn’t be to surprised if Jacob had a hand in creating those lines. Who knows what would happen to MIB if he crossed the island barrier. Jack and his crew were sent back to the 70’s so where you start doesn’t necessarily determine where you end up.

    Also, it would be unwise to assume that when MIB says home he is referring only to the world off the island. After being isolated on the island for hundreds, maybe thousands of years; the unfamiliar world off the island would be far from what he would consider home. I could be wrong. MIB might consider any life off the island to be a better alternative to staying on the island.

    • adam118

      Perhaps his “home” no longer exists, which prompts him to destroy everything else in nihlistic rage.

      • That is possible. But as they say; “home is where the heart is.”

    • DavidB

      BUT, MIB already HAS “crossed the island barrier”, right? He was on Hydra island, talking to Widmore and crew. Unless you consider Hydra island being a contiguous part of “our” island, I think MIB getting to “leave” is a far bigger concept than just physically getting “off the island”.

      • Mack

        No, the Hydra station is within the bubble. When the main island moved, it moved as well. When I say bubble I mean the time distortion field that surrounds the island and makes it so difficult to find.

  • OtherJacob

    What’s the deal with the “Imaginary Time” label? Does that mean that one of these worlds exists at all times in a single moment or something??

    • No, it’s a physics thing. Physics conceives of time as the fourth dimension, call it x4, which is related to clock time by x4=ict. c, the speed of light, is there for units, to turn the whole thing into something with units of energy, while i is the imaginary number (the square root of -1). That i is the reason we see time as time and not as space.

  • dolce

    MIB= The Crimson King Trapped in the Tower.
    The Island= The Tower.
    Mib’s people= The Breakers.
    Original reality= path along 1 beam.
    Other reality= path along another beam.
    Maybe? Just a little paralleling.

    • adam118

      I really should read those books some time, right?
      BTW, check out the comic book? It’s cool, but I know I’d like it more if I read the books.

      • dolce

        I’ve got them all.

  • Jackisjack

    It kind of looks like an acute triangle with lots of dotted lines to me. It’s odd the way Daniel woke up and just drew this is, kind of like how Hugo paints egypt perhaps. Desmond might be able to travel between universes but it’s Hugo that seems to be a beacon who can bridge the gap. Perhaps purgatory isn’t out of picture, imagine one existence ending while your same existance in another universe is still alive. Wouldn’t the ended existance have to wait for the other to truly end. While they’re waiting they talk to Hurley. Isabella could still be alive in another time or universe, but in Richard’s universe she died and thats why she knows that they are still together. Still wondering how a polar bear from Dharma ended up as a fossil? I think it’s being answered soon.

  • spacebender

    Responding to Adam’s and Doc’s thoughts above (April 8, 2010 at 2:30 pm), I understand the circle not as depicting the “closed” quality (or “shape”) of the space-time manifold, but rather an invariant quality of the dimensions that define (via a geodesic such as sum of squares) the “distance” in that manifold, as described in the random musings I put out in response to the excellent “Einstein Minkowski Space-Time Diagram” link given to us by MBPedia (April 8, 2010 at 2:22 pm).

    Doc, thank you for taking the time to composite these notebook pages into an image we can ponder and enjoy!

  • Jimmy D

    Maybe all the talk of white/black, good/evil, etc. should be more focused on matter/anti-matter.