10 Comparisons Between Lost and Quantum Theory


1. Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood it. – Niels Bohr

I am approaching this with shockingly little understanding after reading many “for idiots” articles on quantum physics. Please feel free to add to or correct anything I’ve said, and please, post your own theories.

In the Lost universe this means that we are supposed to be confused. Even the scientists who study this stuff are trying to wrap their heads around it.

2. Energy is quantized in the form of small packets. If something is quantum it means, that instead of being continuous, it can only exist in multiples of certain values. Electromagnetic energy does not follow classical mathematical equation in which energy increases on a steady continuum but instead can only be emitted in discrete packets of energy proportional to the frequency. Additionally, quantum objects do not exist as independent entities because they are in an interactive relationship with each other. For example, electromagnetic forces can also be forces of repulsion.

In the Lost universe could this explain why everybody has to move on and off the island together?

3. Quarks cannot appear as a single quark but only as one of a pair or as one of a trio. Separating two quarks by force results in new quarks appearing between them which then combine into pairs and trios.

In the Lost universe this may explain the need to replace Jacob and could also correlate to the pairs of people who act as one another’s constants. The kid who keeps popping up to annoy Smokey might have something to do with this as well.

3. Schrödinger’s cat is a hypothetical experiment in which a cat is put inside a box with equipment that has a 50/50 chance of releasing a poisonous gas. The only way to know whether the gas was released and killed the cat is to open the box, but according to quantum theory the box contains a system in which the cat is both dead or alive until we check on it. The experiment is based on probability that only becomes fact when we open the box. The Copenhagen interpretation of this experiment is that a quantum particle doesn’t exist in one state or another but in all of its possible states at once.

In the Lost universe people on the island who move backward and forward in time may actually appear in all possible places at once.

4. In the Many Worlds or Branching Universe interpretation of Schrödinger’s cat instead of one cat, we now have two; one is dead, the other alive. In this theory, whenever a measurement takes place the entire universe divides as many times as there are possible outcomes of the measurement. All universes are identical except for the outcome of that measurement. In this theory it is impossible for these worlds to interact with each other.

In the Lost universe Oceanic flight 815 has both crashed on the island and landed in LA. It may also account for the sideways realities, but in Lost some of the characters are aware that more than one universe exists.

5. Moving objects don’t have a well defined position. We can just graphically represent the probability of the existence of that object with respect to time.

In the Lost universe the Island moves and those who want to get there have to try to predict where it will be.

6. Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle states that it is impossible to know the velocity of a quark unless we measure it, but if we measure it we are forced to affect it. Copenhagen Interpretation states that observation actually affects the features of quantum objects, so that establishing an object as a particle might destroy interference that might distinguish the object as a wave.

In the Lost universe, could Desmond be the observer who affects the outcome? Here’s a theory someone wrote last fall http://wantsomefish.blogspot.com/2009/09/quantum-mechanics-of-lost.html

7. It is impossible to know both the position and the momentum of a particle at the same time. If we know where something is we can’t know when it is.

In the Lost universe this might explain why time travel is impossible to control. It might also have something to do with dead people randomly popping up to visit Hurley.

8. The paradox in quantum mechanics is that the molecular makeup of items exists in complementary forms that only together can completely describe physical manifestations. Light cannot be explained if it is considered to be a wave or particle. It can be explained only when light is considered to be both.  Electrons and photons sometimes act like waves and sometimes like particles so this phenomenon is called wave-particle-dualism. Quantum physics replaces the fundamental unit of reality from a single, independent object to two-body-systems or two states like wave & particle or wave & measuring instrument, quark & anti-quark, matter & antimatter, and symmetry & anti-symmetry without being able to separate into independent parts. Yet they are not the same, not identical, not part of some holistic duality. Rather, this is a complex duality involving entanglements in which every quantum object is dependent on other quantum objects or on parts of itself.

In the Lost Universe pairs of people exist in duality such as Jacob & Smokey and Ben & Widmore. Dual ideas like free will and determinism, science and religion, and good and evil are also presented. This may also explain why Desmond, who seems to know a lot right now, identifies Smokey as Locke.

9. The advanced Theory of Relativity states that interactions between correlated objects allow information to transfer faster than the speed of light.

In the Lost Universe this might explain Jacob’s touching some of the candidates and why Miles knows the final thoughts of the dead. Could Libby, Daniel, and Charlie have greater sensitivity to the existence of another reality because they are dead on the island, thus experiencing greater inter-connectivity?

10. In Buddhist philosophy Dharma refers to a basic unit of existence. Buddhist philosopher Nagarjuna developed an idea called the Middle Way which is sort of like a philosophical quantum theory. His philosophy denied the existence of stable substances, linear and one-directional causation, individuality of persons, and strictly distinguished boundaries between dualities. Nagarjuna saw the Middle Way as demonstrating the inter-connectedness of all things.

In the Lost universe the Dharma initiative was studying both science and philosophy. Many of the characters are named after philosophers and theoretical scientists:












(C.S.) Lewis

Linus (Pauling)




Just to throw in a little duality, in Dante’s Inferno the first ring of hell is inhabited by pagan philosophers. Richard did say they were in hell and Michael said that the whispers were those who could not move on because of something they did. My first theory was Purgatory but the creators of Lost said that wasn’t it. They also said they were going to offer a scientific explanation. Perhaps they’ve discovered that truth is a little like quantum physics – as soon as you think you’ve measured and observed science there’s something else that’s not science that is also true. Maybe the story changed when the observers started looking at religion and philosophy, as well as science.

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