Sunday, May 17, 2009

Moebius History


Ever since the screen flashed to white, there have been countless discussions at to what exactly happened, or what is really happening on the show! Most notable of them all is "has the H-bomb really gone off?" and for those who believe it has, then "what has happened to everyone who was stuck in 1977?"

From the last podcast, dated May 18th, 2009. Michael Emerson was interviewed and mentioned that, as he read the script, it clearly stated that the H-bomb had gone off. Now this may be a deception to the actors themselves. But if it's true I do not necessarily consider it a spoiler as there clearly was an explosion sound and, if it's in the script, that's cle arly what the writers want us to believe. So assuming the bomb did go off, WHAT HAPPENS NOW?


There are many theories floating around. One is that the bomb was the incident and now Juliet is dead and everyone is stuck in 1977 until some time traveling event occurs again. Another is that Juliet is dead and the bomb was the incident but it created the time traveling event and everyone is back in 2007. There are many variations: time has been altered and everyone (or a group of people) start back in 2004, before/after the plane crash. They have different/same memories... blah, blah, bleh! In short, we have probably been left with more questions about the end of the show than actual answers as t what is happening!


This is where I come in. I try to suggest a theory as to what is happening. This is by no means what I think will definitely happen and will not cover everything that is the Grand Unified Theory of Lost. The key component in all of this is the mighty and powerful, compass. It's been posited that the compass could be in a self-consistent loop, where it has no creator and no death. But the issue I always had with this is the actual decay of the object itself. If the compass was in a perpetual, self-consistent loop, then the decay it presents (by Richard's own admission) would be an inconsistency and would probably result in the universe collapsing once the object reached inexistence.


But lo and behold, the writers have planned for the compass and what exactly it represents. Although one cannot consider the podcasts to be certified canon, they provide certain clues, one of which was that the writers mentioned the compass was in a Moebius Loop (google for references.)

Now this theory may not quite accurately describe how a Moebius loop may be in time, but it certainly is inspired and takes from its characteristics, most notably that it is a non-orientable surface. So before keep on reading, you may want to brush up on the subject.


Back? Then I assume you are ready for the following mind bender! Note that the following may not exactly take care of what Moebius Loop the compass is in! Funny how the inspiration did not get included. I'll speculate on it later on.

So you are probably aware that a Moebius strip is a surface with only one side and one boundary component. What this means is that, by following its edge from a given starting point (colour/year), one would eventually return to the same general surface (colour) but on the other edge, as can be seen from the red edge:

To understand how this may apply in a time-travel/history context, consider how one can build a Moebius loop. You take a long strip of paper, give one of its ends a half twist and then tie them together:From a temporal problem, let's assume the strip is a temporal strip of time looped unto itself. To ease the visual representation, let's say the strip goes from 1977 to 2007. One would see that a simple strip folded unto itself would create s single looped edge/surface. But in a Moebius loop concept, the repercussions can be quite intriguing. Consider the following as reference:
As stated, in a standard loop strip, history would form an AB band from 1977 to 2007. But in a Moebius loop, we go from an AB band to a BA band. The idea is that by starting at the point 1977-A and letting time flow, one would reach 2007-A, which converges to 1977-B and flows to 2007-B, and seemingly converges to 1977-A again. What this means is that, in a full loop that starts and ends in one single, indentical point (1977-A), one has to go through twice the length of the loop: 30 years (A) + 30 years (B) = 60 years. History repeats itself.

Or maybe it actually doesn't! And that is where the actual theory kicks in. Obviously, I have not selected the previous years arbitrarily. But instead of having a single year connection (1977/2007), it is possible to consider that the convergenceoccurs over a 3-year period (1974-1977 / 2004-2007). In a sense, the two periods allow for traveling to the other side. Although what we've seen on the show was a unidirectional movement, there are no reasons why this movement couldn't be bi-directional. Implying that individuals from the 1974-1977 period could travel to the 2004-2007 period.

This representation indicates that there are two different occurrences of the period 1974-2007. One would represent the events as we've heard about them in seasons 2 through 4. The other would be the one affected by the events we've observed in the current season. Where does that put everyone? well consider the first loop (the red edge discussed earlier) to be what we've all seen before. Comes 2004 when Ben and Locke turn the wheel and LaFleur's crew gets stuck in 1974. This would be the first occurrence of 2004 and the second of 1974. The same is true during the Ajira flight. In the first version of 2007, Jack's group flashes to the second version of 1977. This is why Jack could actually change the history as we have come to know it, he is in fact affecting the second historical loop.

So, if we are to believe Mr. Emerson's claim that the H-bomb indeed go off near a super charge of electromagnetism, then one could easily believe that this closed the temporal band (74-77/04-07) and will return Jack's group back to the second occurence of 2007, meeting Sun, Frank, Ilana and Ben. THAT'S RIGHT, everyone who was on the Ajira flight and did not travel back in time landed not in the first occurrence of 2007 but in the second, which has already been affected by Jack and Sawyer.

Remember that on a Moebius strip, every single point at the loop is exactly in synch. In the construction shown earlier 1977-A was converging from 2007-B and both were joined by the band to the 1977-B/2007-A point. This shows that in the proper conditions, someone within the 2004-2007 period could either: 1) remain in that first occurrence; 2) travel to the second occurrence of the past period; or 3) travel to the second occurence of their current period. There are different implications for each of the possibilities: A) one would incur a change in memories and either remember or forget all of the past once the end point of the convergence ban arrives; B) affect the second historical loop; or C) have all memories intact but live in an alternate historical reality. Memories of the first historical loop but living with events of the second loop.

What happens to those who do not change points on the band? Well, we have an example of such an individual in Richard. Since he is special to the island, this may not be the best representation but bear with me. When we first meet Richard in season 3, one would assume he has no recollection of the lostaways dying in the past because that is the first occurrence. When Sun meets him in 2007 (post Ajira), he remembers his friends dying, because he has the memories of the second history loop. Since he hasn't traveled in time, when he hit the convergence (which likely only exists on the island), he gained the memories of tat second loop. Whether or not he remembers the earlier events, one would believe so since he remembers Locke disappeared when Ben turned the wheel, but it is hard to know exactly how memories are affected in the convergence band, I'd like to speculate but I haven't seen enough to do so.

What does that make anyone think of? If you said simple case of changing history, then you're wroight (is that a word? If not I'm submitting it to Merriam-Webster). So far, this theory has only a loop that goes twice form 1974 to 2007 and starts over again! Well there needs to be entry and exit points, and these are just the past before 1974, or an edge leading to 1974-A and a future post 1977, or and edge leading from 2007-B. With that in mind, you can just consider that time flows as is and someone travels back and changes the past and then returns to his original time. This almost makes this entire theory just a method of suggesting time travel allows for changing time. But the difference is that it allows for the seemingly creation of paradoxes.

The main paradox being that the incident happens, the hatch is built, the plane crashes, Jack experiences difficult times, goes back to the island/in time, detonates the bomb that prevents everything, including the possibility of Jack going back in time to prevent the paradox. But since the concept of Moebius loop/strip was put into place, this allows for the creation of contradicting events.


Another possibility of the loop is that time travel was always a component, but on one side (A) Jack could not affect the past while on the other (B) Jack was able to. If you look at some of the characteristics of a non-orientable surface, you get that an object being slid across the surface can come back to its starting point as a mirror image of itself. This is what this version is, one version where the bomb does not go off and another version where it does.

I realize I have not touched on the compass, and I claimed I would not do so. But let me just mention a few things. The compass could be part of a greater loop than what I've elaborated, or it could be that the creation of the loop (by turning the wheel) affected several points in time in that it created some smaller Moebius loops between periods, such as 1954 and 2004. This would present the possibility that two John Locke talked to the various Richards we've seen. But given the revelations from the finale, this possibility may require a whole other post on the what our new found nemesis has had to go through to find his loophole.

In the meantime, consider what I've said and, hopefully, this will lead to several more theories!

21 comments:

achinghope said...

Oh my goodness, that made my head hurt, but someone I think I understand what you're talking about. It definitely makes me think. Thanks for sharing! :)

SonshineMusic said...

I actually followed that! It definitely is food for thought and I will be contemplating it as I finally get a chance to rewatch the episode tomorrow...today...later. Whatever. Late nights/early mornings mess with my head :)

Batcabbage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Batcabbage said...

Sorry, I deleted a question that you answered in your reply to my post on Nik's site. I didn't take in that Sun went from A to B when going through the anomaly. Got it now.

So you think this might feed into the way that New Otherton looked, how it was very, very run down, as opposed to just abandoned for three years?

Batcabbage said...

Another thought: This theory plays right into the 'parallel universe' theory that I think Blam first brought up on Nik@Nite (or it was you, Benny. MAN, there's a hell of a lot of comments over there!). Do you think, along the 'bleeding' theory line, that some of the Losties could not just travel to the future/past, but to the alternate, concurrent space/time? Like shifting from '77 A to '77B?

Blam said...


I see the compass as being in a loop -- pending further information. The scratches aren't really possible if that's the case, though, unless they get magically removed at some point so that they can occur anew. I'm thus "rationalizing" their existence (i.e., the compass' aging) by figuring that at some point, likely during a flash, the compass gets reset to it's youngest or newest or freshest form.

However, I'm afraid I don't get using the Möbius strip to explain the divergent timelines. After rereading your obviously thoughtful and methodical post, I think my issues are (1) that, as you acknowledge, there need to be on- and off-ramps to the strip, because the show doesn't just exist in a vacuum (single or double occurrences of) of the years in question, and (2) I never really thought of the width of a Möbius strip as signifying anything, whereas you're sort-of postulating racetrack lanes as existing so that characters can travel between and/or be segregated from the A and B versions of reality creating by altering history. I own this as my problem and not yours. Even if I don't grok the mechanism of your explanation, the idea behind it is very sound, although I just came up with a wrinkle (yes, in time, you can say it), which I'll post on shortly.

Benny said...

@Batcabbage: The way New Otherton looked is odd, since there obviously are ripped out trees and the Risk game (I can't account for everything). And yes, there could be shifting from 77A to 77B.

@Blam: I claimed at the beginning that this theory may not exactly represent a Moebius loop but that it is the main inspiration. The width represents possibilities of travel from one edge to the other (for the same surface/band). I'm working on trying to represent it with a 3D Moebius model.

The compass... that's a pickle! I think it enters the loop and decays within it (as Richard mentions it does) and eventually kicks out 'older'. The flash being a sort of rejuvination would certainly take care of what seems like inconsistencies!

Looking forward to reading you wrinkle!

Blam said...

Okay:

The variant timeline you're positing is created as soon as Jack, Miles, Desmond, and Juliet end up in 1974, immediately diverging 1974-B from 1974-A.

So the characters who approach the Island on Ajira 316 in 2007-A either flash to 1977-B (the third year of that tributary off the river of the main timeline) or crash in 2007-B, the present-day in which people have memories and mementos of 1974-1977-B.

This means that anyone arriving on the Island in 2007-A wouldn't see any evidence of the Ajira crash, but that's not the wrinkle. What I'm wondering is where and how to assign the adventures of the left-behind group, including Charlotte and Locke, before Charlotte died, Locke turned the Wheel, and the rest ended up in 1974-B. The skipping through time was an anomalous thing, with the Wheel off its axis, so maybe the visits to 1954 and long ago when the statue was whole and such don't count or exist in all timelines, but the canoe firefight has to belong to 2007-B.

You could make a case for the visit to 1954 having happened in 1954-A, it being the only timeline at that point (that we know about or that's relevant to this divergence), or to put it another way as happening in the past of both 2007-A and 2007-B. This would at least have to be true if the only reason Richard ever visited young Locke was because of his conversation with Locke during the group's flash to 1954. We can also assume that during their brief stay in the days of the whole statue Jack, Desmond, Miles, and Juliet didn't step on any important crickets and all that.

What's confusing is the canoe adventure of that quartet and even moreso the exploits of Locke during the flashes, specifically him getting shot by Ethan and particularly the scene with Richard bandaging him up that was just revisited from Richard's perspective with Fake Locke. Either different circumstances led to Richard approaching Locke in the 2007-A timeline -- which I'm not sure you're even positing exists contemporaneously with 2007-B or doesn't/won't exist as of the moment of the Ajira crash until something "reinstates" it, if that's even going to happen -- or that scene only happens in 2007-B, meaning that the alternate timeline existed before Locke turned the Wheel; another, iffier possibility is that only this scrap of 2007-B existed for the relevant characters to experience, bleeding over into the weird period that existed while the skipping was occurring, because one day it would had to have existed. I'm not trying to poke holes in your theory, believe me, just hop on the train, kick the tires, and temper its metal, to mix lots of metaphors.

Blam said...


Do you want me to raise these points on Nikki's blog, by the way, in whole or part with pointers back here?

Blam said...


PS: I don't know why, but I used Jack's name instead of Sawyer's when citing the Fantastic Time-Tripping Four. Secret subconscious 'shipping?

Benny said...

I think the comments belong here more than anywhere else, but if you want to raise comments on Nikki's blog, readers should be made aware of what we're discussing. I think Nik's next post that links to everyone would take care of that.

And yes, you did use Jack's name for Sawyer AND Desmond's name for Daniel!

TEZ said...

This is a great theory but it was complicated for me to read and I have a degree in math! I don't think the casual viewer would be able to wrap their minds around something like this and we need to remember that most of the people who watch the show are not totally obsessed over it like we are.

Batcabbage said...

@Benny: LOL! Don't worry, I didn't expect you to account for everything. :) I just thought that along the moebius thinking line, with '77 B introducing the bomb as the 'Incident', that there may have been no activity on the island since then, and New Otherton may have been all messed up from the blast.

@TEZ: Yeah, it is a little hardcore, but I love this theory. Maybe it does say a little something about how obsessive we're getting as fans of the show, but there's nothing wrong with that! :)

Blam said...


And yes, you did use Jack's name for Sawyer AND Desmond's name for Daniel!

Grife... I'm much better late at night than first thing in the morning, which is usually when have time for this stuff.

SonshineMusic said...

@Blam: the exploits of Locke during the flashes, specifically him getting shot by Ethan and particularly the scene with Richard bandaging him up that was just revisited from Richard's perspective with Fake Locke.

What if the time flashes also went in between the a and b time lines? For example, what if the incident with Ethan was in the A time line and the incident with Richard (which we see them recreate/instigate) takes place in the B time line.

I don't know if this has any kind of impact on your question or if I'm just confusing myself more.

I guess my basic thought is, during the flashes they could be switching, not only through time, but also through both time lines.

Batcabbage said...

@Sonshine: That's an excellent point, and something along the lines of what I was asking Benny earlier (but a whole lot more interesting. Your point, I mean). Being as the flashes seemed to be chaotic, I think your point makes a whole lot of sense.

Blam said...


I don't know if this has any kind of impact on your question or if I'm just confusing myself more.Well, I can't help you there. 8^) But while it's an interesting idea, and entirely possible if there is indeed a splintered timeline as Benny posits, it doesn't change the problem: The time-flashes almost certainly have to include at least some action in the B timeline as well as the A, which doesn't make sense if the B timeline wasn't created until Locke turned the wheel and Sawyer & Co. ended up in 1974. You could say that since the B timeline was going to exist then it would already have to have existed to be flashed into when Locke meets Richard and so forth, but then you're back to whatever happened, happened, it just happened both ways, so instead of their arrival creating the branching timeline they simply ended up in a parallel universe that was waiting for them, like some folks rationalize the Star Trek movie as having done. Benny still hasn't weighed in on my issues with his hypothesis, which means he's either working furiously on an explanation or doesn't think they're significant or he figures that since I called Sawyer Jack and Daniel Desmond I was just off my rocker.

humanebean said...

Nicely done, Benny! I'm just catching up with this most recent line of thinking and I find it fascinating. As Blam has pointed out, this theory is not without inconsistencies/questions but is certainly intriguing and worthy of further exploration. Between Nikki's blog and now yours and Blam's and Sonshine's .... I'm falling way behind! Looking forward to the rewatch party with y'all and filling the hiatus void with rewarding commentary.

Benny said...

Thanks for the comments! I know there are a few kinks and I have known from the start.

I just needed more time/discussions to work on the details. I've been busy so have not been able to post anything significant, but hopefully I'll have something over the weekend!

Blam said...


I have so many friends and acquaintances with blogs, HB, it's insane. Some are just for fun, more are professional or at least semi-professional, since I run with a lot of writers and artists, and quite a few -- the acquaintances moreso than the friends -- have told me that they certainly can't be bothered to read, let alone comment on, my blog if I won't comment on theirs, because the comments are apparently as much a barometer as page hits or visits if you're trying to look good in the eyes of potential investors or people who will give you freebies to review and all that. I say let's all remember not to consider this work unless it actually is.

Benny said...

I've written a new post discussing some of the issues. Enjoy it, it will be the last on the topic. I certainly did not intend on developing it further.

http://theoreticalisland.blogspot.com/2009/05/moebius-history-revisited.html