Physicists Say Lost Features Realistic Time Travel

Last week, TV audiences boggled at one of the best Lost episodes in recent memory, where a character traveled through time guided somehow by his conscience. The twisty turns in the episode may have been surprising, but not nearly as shocking as what I'm about to tell you. The scientific basis for the time travel scenario in Lost is actually sound. An actual, practicing physicist told Popular Mechanics that the episode included several details that fit with what theoretical physicists think would be involved in timeskipping.


Says Popular Mechanics' Erin Scottberg:

Dr. Michio Kaku [wrote a] new book, "Physics of the Impossible," makes Lost's flip-flop between past and present look, well, not impossible.

Unlike deadly black holes, traversable wormholes could make a condition such as Desmond's feasible if the portals that skip time and space without an event horizon were ever discovered, Kaku says. When treating him remotely over Lost's super satellite phone, Faraday asks Desmond if he had been exposed to any extreme doses of radiation or electromagnetic energy that could make him "a little confused." And that's where the show's producers did their homework for the key plot twist when the helicopter sends Desmond's conscience to become unstuck in time.

"To open the wormhole, you need large amounts of energy," Kaku says. "In principle, if you could harness the energy of a star, you might be able to bend time into a pretzel, but we are talking about astronomical amounts of energy."


But that's exactly the kind of energy that Desmond may have been exposed to in a previous episode!

Are Lost's New Time-Travel Physics Junk Science? [Popular Mechanics]

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Annalee Newitz

@Gopherit: Hahaha! One day I hope to be called the "physics equivalent of a high-priced call girl." Everybody loves a slut who can talk about wormholes!