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Up to date as of February 07, 2010

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Main Article Theories about
The Economist
Main Discussion
 Theories may be removed if ... 
  1. Stated as questions or possibilities (avoid question marks, "Maybe", "I think", etc).
  2. More appropriate for another article.
  3. Illogical or previously disproven.
  4. Proven by canon source, and moved to main article.
  5. Speculative and lacking any evidence to support arguments.
  6. Responding to another theory (use discussion page instead).
  • This does not include responses that can stand alone as its own theory.
  • Usage of an indented bullet does not imply the statement is a response.

See the Lostpedia theory policy for more details.


Jacob's Cabin

  • When Ben took Locke to see 'Jacob', there was a definite tension within Ben. However, after the Jacob character appeared to Locke in the cabin, Ben was seen shaking the chair that Jacob was in telling Jacob that that was have had enough fun. For a man who fears Jacob so much, Ben's actions here shows less of a man before a god and more of a god before a God, almost as if in Ben's own words...he had done what he always does...exploit the situation. Jacob is trapped within the ash circle probably via Ben and through that Ben has gained certain information about the Island and those beings existing on the Island before DHARMA. These are only suggestions and time and episodes will tell.
  • Jacob's cabins is merely an apparition, like Mr. Eko's brother, the horse, Christian Shepard, etc.
  • It only appears at night.
    • Support: Ben was not at all surprised or disturbed that it was not there.
    • Support: Also supported by the fact that Jacob doesn't like light.
      • Maybe the cabin exists in a different timeline, and jacob and the cabin both only appear when the cabin in that timeline's earth approximates the location of where the cabin should be in our timeline, so it only appears at night. or something.
  • "Jacob" moves the cabin at will. Ben had managed to nail it down to that spot, enclosing the perimeter with ash, but Locke's interaction somehow freed it to move around.
    • This is why Hurley saw the cabin elsewhere.
    • Hurley easily saw the cabin. Could he be the one the Others were waiting for? Wouldn't that be ironic if he left the Island?
  • The only people who have seen the cabin are Hurley (who is certifiably insane) Locke (who has so much faith in a higher power, he will believe and do anything) and Ben (who could be compared to a cult leader). Ben has made up Jacob as a god, to keep his sheep from straying.
  • Ashes are used in some hoodoo rituals to keep evil spirits imprisoned, so if Hurley did disturb the ash then Jacob is free to move about the Island.
  • Support: Jacob said "help me" to Locke.
    • Support: And I recall reading that if you watch "The Man Behind the Curtain" with commentary on, they specifically state that Ben used the ash to contain Jacob.
    • Support: There is a possible "Circle of Protection" around the cabin, as well. Neither confirms with certainty that he is being held captive, but there is evidence to suggest it is a possibility.
  • The ring of ash may simply be a somewhat discreet marker for the usual location of the cabin when Jacob summons Ben, but Jacob may be able to make the cabin appear anywhere.
    • Support: The ring was made by Ben so that he would remember where the cabin was. The cabin phases between dimensions or time periods within the same dimension, and Ben needed a way to mark the location in order to relocate the spot when he needed to.
  • The ash circle may have been placed by the black smoke. The black smoke might be controlled by Jacob to move the cabin wherever he wants.
  • Jacob or the Island wasn't ready to give Locke the next set of orders, he/it wants Locke to stand on his on two feet and take over, not be a child that needs constant coddling. This is something Ben expected since Locke is "the one" the Others were waiting for.

The "Joop Effect"

  • Joop could confirm this. If Joop was born in 1900 (presumably on the Island) and lived on the Island after that, he would have aged 3-5 years before the Swan station became active in the 1970's. If time passed "normally" after the Swan activation (or Joop was taken from the Island during DHARMA's presence), Joop would have aged another 30-35 years until his "105th" birthday in 2004. Therefore, Joop is technically 105 years old, but has only experienced ~35 years, so his biological age is consistent with the life expectancy of an orangutan.
    • Support: This also could tie in with the identity of the Hostiles, who were on the Island before the DHARMA Initiative. They were the original crew of the Black Rock; their aging was slowed by the "Joop Effect."
      • Support: This explain Richard Alpert's lack of aging between his first meeting with Ben and the current time. Young Ben, at their first meeting, was new to the Island and the "Joop Effect" had not yet taken hold of him; that's why he continued to grow to maturity.
        • Support: This could also explain the problem with getting pregnant on the Island; the "Joop effect" causes the woman to, in effect, carry the baby for much longer than a human body was ever designed for. Perhaps the woman's body shields the fetus from the "Joop effect," and therefore the fetus and the mother are effectively experiencing different timestreams. For the mother, the pregnancy seems like nine months, while for the fetus, the gestational period could be several years (!!!) When the baby emerges, it is far too large for the exit canal, resulting in the mother's death.
          • Support: This could also explain the x-ray of the "old womb" that Juliette was shown in Oregon.


  • Because the Island is "lost in time" the actual physical location of the Island is not a straight path from point A to point B but rather a curved or changing path. (This also explains Daniels warning for piloting the helicopter.) This is why the Island is nearly impossible to find. This would also explain the directions Ben gave Michael in "Live Together, Die Alone" of a bearing of 325.
  • The time dilation is a result of some sort of Relativist Effect (Einstein's Special Relativity). The time difference (approx. 165 minutes compared to 196 minutes) would be the result of one frame traveling approximately 362,204,004 miles/hour, which is a little more than half the speed of light.
  • The argument about the timing discrepancy in the "radio" versus the "payload" could be argued that the sat phones, if the conversations are based on satellite and not wave broadcasts, send their signals UP, whereas the payload was delivered on a lateral trajectory.
    • Also, Penny's arctic watch station could be relying on satellite obtained information.
  • Daniel's experiment proves that the speed of light leaves and enters the Island at the same velocity (no latency for radio communication) however physical matter entering the Island (proven by the experiment) is delayed. This makes absolutely no sense in the physical world as there should be no discrimination in maximum velocity between light and matter per Special Relativity. The writers cannot completely disregard the laws of the observable universe, there must be another trickery for what we've been shown regarding time and space or they just don't care.
  • Daniel's experiment is nonsense. If there was a time difference between the outside world and the Island (or a difference in the rate time passes), it would have affected Daniel's watch as much as the rocket's clock. So why not just call Regina and ask her what the time is on the freighter, and compare that with his own watch? It can't be explained by the time dilation in Special Relativity, because that states moving clocks run slow - so less time should have elapsed on the rocket's clock (it should have been behind Daniel's clock). It could be explained by General Relativity (time passes slower within an intense gravitational field). But does the Island have intense gravity? And again, why not just phone Regina and compare her time with yours? My suggestion is that Daniel wanted precise measurements of what happens to objects entering/leaving the Island, to make sure the helicopter doesn't get back to the freighter before it left.
    • I don't know, could the electromagnetic anomaly on the island appear to be intense gravity? It could be that the only way for time to pass as it should is to approach the island on the proper bearing. If the rocket did not follow that bearing it may have experienced a time shift. That would explain why Daniel couldn't just pick up the phone and compare watches with Regina.

Spacial distortion

Daniel's experiment may show that the "distortion" around the Island is one of space, rather than time. In other words, there is a lot more ocean around the Island than there would appear. Instead of the freighter being 40 km offshore, it may in fact be much further. If we estimate the speed of the test missile at 2.5 km/hr (Regina was counting off 5 km every other second), than it may be that the missile traveled not 40 km, but 4690 km. (2.5 * 60 * 31 + 40). This would make it almost impossible for a boat or plane to get to the Island. Of course, there may be one spot that is not distorted as such -- the bearing that Daniel tells Frank to take no matter what. This may also be the bearing that Michael and Walt take as well, assuming Ben was telling the truth (which he probably wasn't.)

  • Daniel is worried that the time-space distortion around the Island is not UNIFORM. That is why he warns Frank to take the exact same bearing back. He is worried that the effect is highly sensitive to initial conditions -- a slight variation could lead to a large difference in space and/or time. This is why the rocket clock does not correspond to his watch, even though both came from the freighter -- they did not follow the exact same path.
  • The Island exists in a "snowglobe". There is one point in the "snow globe" which will deliver objects back to the rest of the world, and through which objects can travel to the Island. Let's say that portal is big enough for the black rock to pass through, but not much bigger, thus in the course of history only a few planes, ships, balloons, ect, from the real world have passed through it by chance, or fate, if your into that. You can look at this as a spacial relation, because a huge island and its surrounding water are squeezed into a much smaller area. However, this is not the cause for the 31 min difference. They surely would have realized that when they flew the 40 km on a helicopter.
  • The timers indicate that the journey to the Island from the boat which should take less than a minute actually takes between 31 and 196 minutes from the point of view of the traveler. If human beings perceived this amount of time passing, surely one of them would have commented on it. Therefore it is likely that the perceived amount of time taken to make the journey is less than the actual amount.
  • There is wormhole between the Island and the rest of the world which bridges a vast distance in three dimensional space. Time is somehow distorted inside the wormhole so although the stopwatch records a traveling duration of 2 hours and 45 minutes, to an observer traveling through the wormhole it appears to take less than a minute. Due to the effect of time dilation, an observer on the Island will see the same journey taking 3 hours and 16 minutes. The wormhole connects the same point in two parallel universes.

Time Distortion and "Superpowers"

  • Time distortion seems to be essential to understanding Miles and Desmond's special powers. When Miles talks to the dead he is actually distorting time and talking to them when they were still alive. Similarly, when Desmond sees the future he, like the Island, is distorting time.
  • If the helicopter burned up more fuel due to some sort of time distortion on the Island, this why Rose hasn't died from her Cancer. Also if the helicopter took longer to get to the Island, as did the beacon, then how does Penny speak to Charlie while in the looking glass, at the same time (without any time distortion), how does the plane crash at the same time as the pearls records state the time of the system failure? Also this time distortion might explain why it took so long for people to start looking for the Losties. Also the hostiles don't age so maybe the time distortion affects them more.

Changing Fate

  • The ability of the Island, and some people, to distort time is related to what seems to be the overall theme of Lost -- the attempt (probably futile) to change fate. The DHARMA Initiative was trying to change fate by altering The Valenzetti Equation using the powers of the Island, but they failed. All of the Oceanic 6 return to their fate when they leave the Island. Hurley returns to the insane asylum. Jack returns to his trajectory of becoming an alcoholic doctor, like his father. Kate returns to being a prisoner, so to speak, of some man to whom she must return. And Sayid returns to being a killer and torturer for others.

Time and/or Space Vortex

  • The Island is in the middle of a time and/or space vortex. The rocket took so long to get there because it couldn't go "straight" to the beacon, but was forced to take a round about curve, either in time, in space, or in both. This explains why you need to follow a certain vector to leave the Island. Like any vortex, attack the line too sharply and you lose all "forward" momentum. Attack the line too thinly, and you remain in the vortex. Follow the precise line and you will get there, though it will take more time/space to travel out of the vortex.
    • This explains why Desmond couldn't leave the Island, why Ben instructed Michael to follow a certain course, and why Richard (Ethan?) told Juliet that the last part of the trip on the sub could be bumpy. It also explains why the helicopters had a hard time approaching the Island.
    • I agree and I think that the specific 'structure' of the EM field around the island is akin to a giant magnet (google "magnetic fantasy" image). If you check out this image -which represents any magnetic field or even "aura." It is easy to see that there is only one bearing off the island, straight through the 'repelling' pole of the field and following one of the lines of force. If one is not perfectly centered on the bearing (305/325) they will follow around the island and end up entering through the opposite pole (attracting end).
  • This doesn't explain why the person on the freighter thought the rocket had reached it's target point. If the rocket had to detour, she would have read that and not indicated to Daniel that the rocket had arrived at the beacon.
  • Often in rocketry a missile is not "tracked" when it is launched, but is plotted. If you know the velocity and you know the trajectory, you can predict exactly where the rocket will be at any given moment. This is actually a more accurate way of tracking since it does not rely on radar or other things that could be distorted. Therefore, Regina calls out the reading based on the computer's plotting of the rocket, not based on an actual "visual" of the rocket. But because physics obviously work differently here (for whatever reason) then the laws of rocketry are also affected.
  • The time/space distortion has events on the Island occur long after they occur on the outside world. This is how Desmond's not pushing the button first caused Oceanic 815's instruments to lead them off course, and then when the plane was physically over the Island, the same event simultaneously caused the plane to break apart.
  • A non-linear spacetime, which seems odd, is causing a 31 minute difference between an observer seeing the rocket hit the Island and the rocket actually hitting the Island.. doesn't effect radio signals. After all radio (like light) have to travel through space-time and would effected just as much as rockets. Regardless of whether the clocks were clocks or stopwatches... Daniel received a radio message saying the rocket had arrived sometime before it actually did. To my mind both the radio message and the rocket should have arrived at the same time. I think the writers may be taking some liberties with science to avoid giving too much away. Maybe the only thing we can say is there is some kind of temporal/spacial anomaly in the best traditions of Star Trek. Perhaps an inverse tachyon pulse would work? or maybe the Island emits Chronoton Particles.
  • Radio waves travel much faster than rockets, so even if the radio waves were "slowed down" by a ratio of 1/30 (or had to travel 30x as far), they would still be traveling at 9,993,081 m/s, which is fast enough to not cause any discernible delay in radio communication.
  • The single route on and off the Island (possibly the same as the heading Ben gave Michael, possibly intentionally different) can be expected to deliver travelers safely within the same relative time frame, whereas a deviation from that route will cause measurable distortion. The satphones react in real time because they are not interacting, as would normally be the case, with an orbital satellite. Rather, the freighter is transmitting the signal along the proper heading, reflecting said signal off another theorized feature of the Island, an ionized atmospheric barrier that is responsible for Daniel's observation that light scatters differently on the Island. The satphones respond in the same way, bouncing a signal off the barrier, along the heading, and back to the freighter. In the flashforward, Elsa expects the call to be relayed in a similar manner: from Island to sea vessel then via satellite to the outside world. Unbeknownst to her, something has happened to the relay vessel. Her boss discovers its absence quickly and makes a call directly via satellite, but because it is not transmitted through the proper heading, the thirty-minute time distortion occurs.

The Island Jupiter

  • This would be a reason for the need of someone to push the button every 108 minutes to keep island time aligned with rest of the world time.

Which would lead to think that the incident that was referred to in the Swan Orientation Film could be the reason for the time being altered on the Island.

  • Realizing that changing the results of the Valenzetti equation was impossible, DHARMA scientists simply tried to postpone the end of the world by altering the flow of time.
  • This would also explain why Desmond is apparently able to see the future: when turning the failsafe key he might have been at the same moment in two distinct time flows, the Island one, and the outside world's one.
  • This would also be consistent with theories seeing losties able to go back in time and "fix" their lives (including Desmond possibly traveling back in time and trying to fix his own past in Flashes before your eyes and getting warned by Ms. Hawking that this was impossible) since the final goal of the main Character in Rahxephon is to "tune the world", that is "create a new one where events of the story never took place" (either by traveling back in time or destroying and recreating the world; the exact meaning is never revealed)

World Line Theory in Minkowski Spacetime

We live in a four-dimensional world, with each individual occupying a specific time and space. For example, right now you are sitting right here reading your computer screen. In an hour you might be out in the yard. In two hours from now, you might be out grocery shopping. You can plot these points in a timeline from A to B to C. You’ll note that your own timeline remains constant and is measured in hours.

Conveniently on Earth, time runs at approximately the same speed so that all of our timelines are fixed. Right now you are at your computer while your friend Steve is watching the game at his house. An hour from now you are in the yard while Steve is washing his car. And two hours from now you bump into Steve at the grocery store. You can chat about your days and say how funny it is that Steve was watching the game while you were at the computer. This would be called “simultaneity” and would be fairly accurate since both timelines are fixed, even if your places in space are not.

But what if your places in time were not fixed either? For example, what if Steve went out to wash his car 45 minutes from now instead of an hour from now, but you still meet up two hours from now. However – and this is the crucial part – it still seems like an hour from now to Steve that he washes his car. His timeline of ABC is still measured in hours, just like yours, but when you compare the two timelines side-by-side, the points do not necessarily match up. This is called relativity of simultaneity.

Now imagine a longer time line with points A,B,C,D,E,F,G,H. You can get some pretty funky things happening, as shown in the graph below.


From Steve’s perspective, point B on your timeline takes longer than an hour to reach, point C less than an hour from that point, and so on.

In this example, we see that both Point A and Point H align. It is not too difficult now to envision that you might actually meet up with Steve at Point G in your timeline, but somewhere between Point G and Point H in his.

One way that you would be able to measure this time difference is through the use of clocks. If you checked the time when you met at the grocery store at Point G in your timeline, your watch would say 7:00pm, whereas Steve’s watch may say 7:31pm.

Another assumption that we are working under is that distance between two points in space is constant. That is, your house is the same distance from Steve’s house at all points along the timeline, and both houses are the same distance from the grocery store at all times. However if relative distance is constantly changing as well, we move into some very mind-blowing territory – especially if you take into consideration that it still seems like the exact same distance to each person traveling it.

All of this would seem quite odd, unless you were familiar with world lines within a Minkowski spacetime. Both your timeline and that of Steve’s in this example can be considered a world line, a fairly linear line through an ever-moving time and space. This very phenomenon may be happening to us right now, but again because we are all on Earth, our world lines are the same. Time and space remain relatively (which in this case means exactly) constant.

Under this theory, I propose that in the LOST universe, the Island is somehow on a different world line. Therefore, time and space are moving along a very different trajectory.

This would explain what is happening during Daniel Faraday’s experiment. Daniel talks to Regina, setting up Point A in both their timelines. Both assume that they are still physically separated by 40 km, and that their timelines are moving at the same rate.

However since time and space are constantly moving relative to each other, this is not the case. In Regina’s timeline, the payload reaches the beacon in about 10 seconds. We know that this is not the case along Daniel’s timeline (though we don’t know exactly how much time has passed).

The explanation is that the rocket must travel between these two world lines from Point A in world line 1 to Point B in world line 2 through both time and space. During the rocket’s trip, both time and distance diverge between the freighter and the beacon. The timelines are also moving at different relative speeds. So not only does the rocket arrive at a different relative time, but also at a different point along the timeline. That explains why it takes the rocket longer to reach the beacon than it should, and why the two clocks are different.

It is important to note here too that the distance from the perspective of the rocket is still 40km, which is why it couldn’t run out of fuel (and why Daniel is not worried about the helicopter running out of fuel when he realizes what is happening). Again, distance is relative between two world lines, but needs to be constant in terms of an object traveling between two points.

A good visual representation of this phenomenon is found under the description of the Lorentz transformations in Wikipedia here: (scroll down to the moving image on the right side).

Now although the two world lines are acting independently of each other, they may be moving roughly parallel. It is even possible that they are not acting independently at all, but that there is an algorithm that can exactly predict the coordinates of time, space and distance in one world line based on coordinates of the other world line. That is why Daniel tells Frank it is important to keep the same bearing, since following a different bearing might put him in a different time or place. As we see from the rocket, this would likely only be a matter of minutes or hours since the two world lines are so close to each other. But the possibility exists that following a different bearing could place him in a wildly different spacetime.

So where’s the literary proof in this theory? If we assume that the producers are trying to tell us something based on names, then the name Minkowski automatically points to Minkowski spacetime, a theory in physics used to explain Einstein’s theory of special relativity. This uses Lorentz transformations to predict that time is relative (called time dilation). From this we get the concept of world lines, which plots time and space along a linear line in Minkowski spacetime. But, due to special relativity, two world lines may have much different paths. Therefore, we can never assume that a point on one world line is the same as a point on another world line the (Relativity_of_simultaneity).

A similar idea describing the different passages of time (and obviously place) is also put forward in C.S. Lewis’s Narnia series – and now we have a character named Charlotte Staples Lewis.

Interestingly, Lorentz transformations are also used in electromagnetic theory, which is described using Maxwell’s equations (note the introduction of the Maxwell Group in the most recent ARG). In turn, this is connected to the work of Michael Faraday.

Finally, the producers have basically stated that time does not work the same way on the Island, so obviously there is something going on. This theory explains Daniel’s experiment and holds true to everything we know so far.

Clocks or Stopwatches?

  • There has been a lot of confusion in this page about Daniel's clocks. in order for them to be stop watches, Daniel Faraday would have to set his at the same time Regina does, which means he will have to tell her when he does. And since we heard the whole conversation and there was no mention of that, they must be clocks.

The Economist

  • The Economist is Ben Linus; he is "playing both sides" so that Sayid takes out all the loose ends that Ben has to deal with before they can get back to the island. Elsa calls Ben, she doesn't really know him though.
  • The Economist is Jacob; Elsa said he is 'old fashioned' if it comes down to technology. And she doesn't really know what her boss does. Neither is he very often in town.

This article uses material from the "The Economist/Theories" article on the Lostpedia wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.


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