Lost official logoTonight debuts the penultimate season of the best show on network television, Lost. Its writers have promised many times throughout the show’s history that its myriad mysteries will be explained through entirely scientific explanations; after the events of last season, many have questioned whether this will remain so. Here are the reasons I have faith that their promises will be kept; it should go without saying that spoilers abound, but I said it anyways.

5) The smoke monster is clearly mechanical in nature. The most perplexing inhabitant of the island, the “smoke monster”, has been clearly telegraphed since the beginning as mechanical in nature. Behind its hoots and groans, there are clear sounds that indicate its mechanical nature, especially the sounds of cranking machinery and chains whenever it snatches someone. The one time we saw from the smoke monster’s point of view, it couldn’t have more clearly looked like it was searching a database of information on Mr. Eko when deciding what to do with him. If the most frightening and supernatural creature the show contains is mechanical in nature, it stands to reason that the many other things we’ve seen will also have plausible, non-supernatural explanations.

4) The ghosts are a red herring. New resident on the island, Miles, clearly has received information several times that there is nothing but a supernatural explanation for, Christian Shepard is a recurring character despite dying before the show started, Charlie is still talking to the off-island Hurley. It’s the only thing in the whole show that, with some research, can’t be put into the scientific realm. Which just makes it stand out as a red herring, something that the writers are using to make us doubt our assumptions.

3) The portrayal of time travel on the show. One character, Desmond, has (most likely) travelled in time on two occasions. The fact that his time travel, especially the second event, when he is in danger of becoming “unstuck” in time, is clearly modeled on Slaughterhouse Five, shows the writer’s strong sci-fi influences, and plausibly explained time travel is likely going to play a key part in the conclusion, putting it naturally into the sci-fi genre.

2) Hard sci-fi still leaves room for spirituality and philosophy. Obvious, but based on the conversations I’ve read and had, it needs to be said. Biblical names are rampant throughout the show, especially amongst The Others; philosopher’s names even more so, most especially Desmond Hume and John Locke. Philosophical sci-fi novels like Valis are commonly seen on the show. Just because these themes are present, doesn’t remove the show from the sci-fi genre any more than Battlestar Galactica‘s much more prominent religious side makes it fantasy instead of science fiction. This may be part of the explanation behind #4, but I’m still holding out that the “ghosts” of the island will be explained more rationally.

1) The invocation of the Cassimir effect and exotic matter. Many people abandoned the idea of scientific rationality when the entire island disappeared at the climax of last season. But invoking the Cassimir effect – which proves the existence of negative-mass molecules, aka exotic matter – and mentioning exotic matter itself has provided the biggest clue to the island’s nature and how it could move. (If you can’t remember this on the show, it was in the videotape Locke watched in the bunker just before Ben moved the island).

I’m no physicist, but as I understand it, some have proposed that if you had enough exotic matter, the negative mass could produce a bubble of space-time. If you use the common analogy of picturing space-time like a rubber sheet to demonstrate the effect of mass and gravity, this would be something so massive it would be like a full water balloon hanging down from the sheet, with a small neck at the top. If you were walking along the rubber sheet, you’d find a relatively small hole, and when passing through, would encounter a very large space inside.

This may sound familiar to Dr. Who fans – we’re talking about something that’s bigger on the inside. It’s a TARDIS. The space-time distortion this would produce explains why time on the island passes at a different rate than on the rest of the Earth, and the small entrance why the island is so hard to find, and why it can only be reached or left by following a very specific compass heading, as Desmond discovered when he sailed away from the island and reached it again a week later. So they haven’t really moved the island; they just moved the entrance to a different part of the rubber sheet.

So, there we have it – the main 5 reasons why I still have confidence that Lindeloff and Cuse will be able to face a panel at next year’s ComicCon with full confidence that their promises were not broken.

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