DocArzt and Friends Logo

Lost – Where and When? The 31 Minute Factor

By docarzt,

  Filed under: Lost Theories
  Comments: 22

If a fast moving rocket is delayed by 30 minutes in whatever time space warp surrounds the island, how does a slow moving sub get to the island with ‘losing time.’  Does this finally at least indicate what Darlton were saying when they said that the reasoning behind the Mittelos/Lost Time anagram would be shown to have purpose?

The natural assumption would be that time moves differently on the island.  This is something that has been posited by us Lost pundits for some time.  However, there is a wrinkle.

Desmond did not notice a disparity between the date that the newcomers lived by and his own time keeping.  If the time difference is proportional, roughly 1:31, there would have been a very noticeable discrepancy between the 815 people’s timeline and Desmonds.

On the other hand, as ErasedSlate suggested, the effect of time accelerating on the island may have begun when the hatch imploded.

Another possibility still is that the field that surrounds the island has effects only on objects that pass through it.  Therefore a fast moving rocket, which seemed to be traveling several KM a second, would be delayed at 1:31, a slower moving object may be delayed at an even longer rate.

Either way, as with Michael’s special ‘route’ and Daniel’s recommendation that Frank follow a specific heading back, it seems there are corridors that are nearly impervious to the effects.  Care to speculate?

  • xtremdelt8

    Although the major point here is the time difference, take a close look at the numbers themselves.


    Yeah, 16 and 23 are part of the ‘numbers.’ But 3:16 also has important meaning in Christianity. Specifically, John 3:16 is probably the most important verse in the entire New Testament.

    Just for the hell of it I went to the 3rd book in the Bible. Chapter 16, Verse 23:

    “And Aaron shall come into the tabernacle of the congregation, and shall put off the linen garments, which he put on when he went into the holy place, and shall leave them there.”

    I gotta stop staying up this late on work nights.

  • trey

    im not really sure where i heard it, but i remember reading this theory about vile vortices. What I took away from it was that there are passageways in certain parts of the globe where the electromagnetic forces or natural forces in general are off. It seems like the island is a dumping point for these passageways which would explain why a plane from africa, a slave ship, a flight off the coast of australia, desmond and his sailboat, locke’s father hitting a divider in his car and rousseau’s craft all got to the island. They are all around the same area but that area is off the coast of africa to the other coast of australia which is pretty large for all of them to end up at the same island. I recall desmond trying to sail away from the island but kept coming back despite his efforts saying that the island was like a snowglobe. but micheal could supposedly get off the island following a certain bearing just like frank. I think there are certain passageways that people can go through to get to the island and maybe those passageways have a travel time, maybe a delay. and maybe this delay has increased since the hatch blew because of changes in the electromagnetic forces around the island. which is evidenced by daniel’s claim that the delay is not good. maybe the hatch kept the forces in check and now they are getting to be dangerously out of control.

  • trey

    ok im dumb i heard about the vile vortices theory on this site. hahah but all that i said still applies

  • themachine

    i’m no mathematician, but i believe a 31 minute delay, is a 31 minute delay. meaning i dont think it matters at what speed something is traveling at, if you are traveling 100 kph, and you are 100 km from ur destination, you should reach your tot(time on target) in 1 hour. So that being said, the rocket was delayed of its tot by 31 minutes. The same should apply for a “slow moving” sub. If the sub is traveling at lets say 50 knots per hour, and it is 100 knots away, it should reach in an 2 hours right? so if there is a 31 minute delay, than it would reach its destination in 2 hrs 31 minutes, as opposed to the rocket in 1 hr 31 minutes. I may be wrong, but i dont know if there is some kind of formula or anything

  • ErasedSlate

    If the effect is island wide and started at the time the hatch imploded, then our Losties would have been there for about 3 1/2 years in off island time. They would have gotten of the island sometime in 2008 even though they were only there for 90 some odd days.

  • JustPeachy

    So, is this how they are going to explain the “taller ghost Walt?”

  • JustPeachy

    Oh, and am I the only person who noticed that Harold Perrineau (sp?) is still listed in the credits?

  • Deathstalker

    I’ve been thinking about it and there’s a problem with the whole thing themachine said, about how it’s effectively a barrier that changes the time by 31 minutes, regardless of speed. The problem is that if it effects anything that passes by, regardless of speed (which, in and of itself is a mathematical problem to conceive of), then the phone wouldn’t work, as waves are affected in a similar manner as everything else, so any speech over the phone would have a 31 minute lag each way, meaning you’d have to wait about an hour between saying something and the reply.

    The same goes for the whole 1:31 thing, since the phone call would be both inaudibly slow for those on the boat, and inaudibly fast for those on the island (imagine listening to audio sped up 31 times faster than normal)

    Now, I’ve been thinking about relativity (both special and general) and neither seem to do a very good job of explaining things, since both would only slow the passing of time for the rocket, and, if memory serves, the rocket’s clock was 31 minutes ahead of the normal one.

    This actually causes a fair number of problems, as to my knowledge, there is no known method of making time flow faster, no way of delaying the rocket’s arrival and causing it’s clock to read 31 minutes later than the clock “at rest”. So here comes the random ideas:

    1) The island itself is moving at relativistic speeds
    (no, that doesn’t work for the same reason as the 1:31 not working)
    2) The rocket traveled through a wormhole
    (very unlikely, and wouldn’t have it land where it was supposed to, also, wormholes wouldn’t affect the time)
    3) The rocket was somehow plucked out of normal space-time, sat around for 31 minutes, then popped back in.
    (very unlikely, doesn’t explain the actual delay in it’s arrival)
    4) There is some other, unexplained force at work
    (yeah, cheap answer, i know…)

    That’s my 2 cents at least, sorry for only busting ideas and contributing no useful ones myself…

  • trl203

    Isn’t it likely, that Michael is Ben’s spy on the ship?

  • Stilts

    JustPeachy said:

    Oh, and am I the only person who noticed that Harold Perrineau (sp?) is still listed in the credits?

    He is listed even though he didn’t appear because he is a regular now. Like Sun & Jin, even if they are not shown on an episode they are still listed in all the credits.

  • Rafael

    If the island is 31 minutes behind the real world why is Daniel’s watch set to “island” time? should it not also be 31 miunutes ahead (real world time) matching the rocket watch since he also came off island? Or do time keeping devices eventually catch up (or back) to conform with island time? Also what exacltly is Charlotte there to do as an anthropologist? There hasn’t been too much mention of the islands past besides the four toed statue. I do hope they delve into the island history this season.

  • All Hail Mikhail

    Ok, I’m going to go ahead and say that someone will need to correct my logic by the end of this post.

    Now, was I the only one or did anyone else nearly drop a deuce in their pants by the end of this episode. By far, my fave of the last three.

    Now, what really got me going was the time differential we’re speaking about here. I believe we were given an “answer”, in Lost terms of course, in season 2. There is more to do The Swan Station than we know. I know some of us have researched the supposed “Philadelphia Experiment”. I tend to lean some island mysteries upon that particular subject. The Oh-So-Lovable-Good-Guy once said “…not even God can see this island.” Electromagnetics can “bend” the light so that something can be rendered invisible. By bending light, you’re bending time itself. In essence, if, relatively speaking, you create a space where time is slower than the “normal” space-time, you’re time traveling. It’s only taken our Lostie’s 100 days in their time to pop out of there “bubble” of space time maybe, 2 years later. To get the big picture of the island I think we have to take this half hour into proportion and keep it relative to the time something has been on the island. The differential is larger for those that have been on the island longer.

    Did anyone else notice Ben was wearing a vest in the final scene as well as in the picture the new people have of him. Now is it possible that someone in the flashforward, to time it, so that Ben was still on the island AND in Germany at the same “time”?

    This would all make so much sense if the phones had a delay…Does any know if it matters that the receiver is a satellite?


    I give up on this one for now. I hate explaining time. It’s like trying to explain abstract art to a blind person…no offense if you’re blind…or into abstract art…

  • mgkoeln

    Actually, I feel we kind of miss something. There are only two watches – but there’s also what Reginga says on the phone. So, according to her, the rocket should have arrived after about a minute. Assuming both watches were set to zero when the rocket started, the island watch tells us, how long the rocket took to the island from an island perspective, i.e. 2hours 45 minutes. So THAT’S the time difference between the island and the ship! Then there’s the rocket watch, which tells us how long the rocket took to the island from the rocket’s perspective, i.e. 3hours 16minutes.

    So, we actually don’t have two but THREE time layers:
    – Layer 1: Freighter Time
    – Layer 2: Island Time -> Freighter plus 2 hours 44 minutes
    – Layer 3: Rocket Time -> Island plus 31 minutes

    Just wanted to clear that up! Don’t ask me what it means, though!

  • mgkoeln

    About the phone conversations: What if the time change depends on the direction the supposed time barrier is passed by something? If the radio waves lose some time, when getting onto the island, but get the time difference back when they are send off the island, wouldn’t a normal conversation be possible?

  • RedJewels

    If I were Jack, and I saw that the timers were different, my immediate question to the newcomers would be, “What is the date?!”

  • daver

    One interesting theory. What if that is not ben in the final scene? In reading IMDB this morning, it lists Michael Emerson as playing “Ben Linus / … “. This seems to imply he plays a second person on the show…

    Another thought I had was about GPS signal interference. What if the island has some kind of system that messes with GPS receivers and makes them think they are off by miles. In theory that could mess with any rescue operation or anyone just trying to find their way to the island using most modern equipment.

    Just my two cents.

  • lockefan3805

    Regarding the time differential not affecting a phone conversation…we only know that it does not affect a satellite phone conversation, as opposed to a traditional cell phone or terrestrial phone or other communication system.

    If the rocket was delayed by 31 minutes in its transport to the island, than yes it would stand to reason that traditional radio broadcasting might similarly be delayed as those radiowaves are trasnmitted through the air over land and sea.

    However, since the sat phone is going to transmit from phone to satellite back down to phone, it stands to reason that this signal can “escape” the time delay bubble of the island and allow for a “real time” phone conversation that we’ve seen so far on the show: Jack and the freighter, Naomi and the freighter, Dan and George, Dan and Regina and any others we’ve seen so far.

    Flashback to the episode where Hurley and Sayid are messing with a transeiver of some sort on the beach toward the closing of the episode and Sayid mentions how the signals can bounce of the atmosphere and travel for thousands of miles…the signal could be coming from anywhere. Then Hurley chimes in, “or from any time”….

    Perhaps there is something to the theory about the delay not being a flat 31 minutes, but rather it being a mathematical relationship between velocity and distance…so the slower moving things really are affected more significantly….

  • All Hail Mikhail

    After thinking about the Sat phones, I think there’d be no noticable difference in talking. If it’s moving at such a high speed the difference would be fractions of seconds, we’d never notice.

  • Balgus

    I think people are putting too much emphasis on the difference between the communications being realtime and physical objects being subject to this time shift. One thing about relativity is that it only applies to things that have mass. If you had no mass at all then theoretically you called surpass the speed of light with no problem and so you would not be subject to relativity. The reason why light can be manipulated by magnetic fields is because it acts as both a physical particle with mass(photon) and a nonphysical wave. The physical properties of light are what allow light to be bent using gravity or magnetic fields. If the communications they are using act solely as waves then they would not be affected by any relativistic effects the properties of this island may have.

  • DZ

    The time relation is 1,19 between the iland and the real world. That could explain why the conversations are posible (because the are only delayed some miliseconds), and why the plane crashed, because the diference of speed in the front part of the ship and the rear part.

    In my opinion, thats the best explanation.

  • MissLoner

    Hmm, I get the satelite phone thing, but then, how did Charlie talked to Penny? Could that be through satelite too? =S

  • Who offers satellite TV? There are two major satellite dish providers in the United States. The largest is DIRECTV, with about 16 million US subscribers. DIRECTV is partially owned by News Corporation, who bought their stake when it was sold by Hughes. The second company, Dish Network, is owned by Echostar Communications, and has over 12 million subscribers. For those with more land available to them, the original large dish (C-Band) service is available. This website focuses on comparing Dish Network to DIRECTV.