First off, thanks to Andreas for giving me a platform to share some of these ideas. It began shortly after I found some interesting connections while researching the source of the Dharma Initiative symbol, found within the hatch & other places in the show in slightly varied configurations:
A little background, in case not everyone has heard the origins of this symbol yet. I came across it myself while noting the similarities to the modern day South Korean flag (right)â€” the same yin yang design in the middle & the markings at the perimeter. I then found an ancient Korean flag (left) that bore an even closer resemblance.
It eventually led me to the Ba-Gua shown below. I learned that the idea is actually old news to people who had come to the same conclusions as me and itâ€™s been circulating around online since.
Basically, what the Ba-Gua is is a wheel determining â€œalignmentsâ€ in Feng-Shui, with its origins in the I Ching & Taoist thought. Though it was and is used primarily for geomancy, it has deep roots in mathematics & the true sciences, much as astronomy is a pseudoscience for the superstitious, but has its roots in astronomy. Note that the center contains the well-known yin-yang symbol, which in our DI symbol is divided by the swan neck. At the roots of Taoism, Buddhism & other East Asian faiths is the idea of mutually opposing things existing in balanceâ€”dualism. The relation of these faiths to LOST is nothing newâ€”the number 108 is a sacred number to Buddhists.
I did a little further digging on the subject, because it was really the symbols on the outside that interested me most. I found that these are basically trigrams of kwae, composed of an undivided dash (yang) or a divided one (yin). Meanings are as follows:
yin-yin-yin (K’un) – earth – mother/receptive (lower fly of S. Korean flag)
yin-yin-yang (KÃªn) – mountain – third son/keeping still
yin-yang-yin (K’an) – water – second son/abysmal (upper fly)
yin-yang-yang (Sun) – wind – first daughter/gentle
yang-yin-yin (ChÃªn) – thunder – first son/the arousing
yang-yin-yang (Li) – fire – second daughter/clinging (lower hoist)
yang-yang-yin (Tui) – lake – third daughter/joyful
yang-yang-yang (Ch’ien) – heaven – father/creative (upper hoist)
Basically, itâ€™s a type of binary code! Found in a series where early computers figure in prominently.
The idea of binary code is often credited to German mathematician (& philosopher!) Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz in the late 1600s; he also invented differential & integral calculus. However, he only popularized the ideaâ€™s applications (which would in modern times evolve to be the foundation of all computer programming & revolutionize the Digital Age). The idea of binary code itself has been around far longer than him, with some of the earliest recognized writings by Indian mathematicians in the third century. Where did Leibniz get his ideas? Note the uncanny similarities between Leibnizâ€™s original chart of 64 codes (above), and the chart of 64 kwae determinants from the I Chingâ€™s Book of Changes (below)â€”64 here being no accident, since it is simply 2 to the 6th power:
So what does all this mean for our show LOST? Where does binary code figure in? What I wrote above is all pretty verifiable & I donâ€™t think, too â€œout thereâ€ for most people to note the striking connections. Now Iâ€™m going to get a little more abstract and theoretical, you can choose to swallow it or not. ïŠ Some of it takes off from Andrew Smithâ€™s Ultimate Theory and requires some knowledge of itâ€¦ in a nutshell, this is a theory which involves electromagnetic fields (EMFsâ€”alluded to on multiple occasions within the showâ€™s plot so far) and Alvar Hansoâ€™s desire to harness this power as a weapon for the good of all Mankind (as he has been quoted by both the orientation film and the official Hanso site).
He makes an address to the U.N. in 1967, and disappears shortly thereafter, presumably to develop this concept through the Dharma Initiative project, enveloped in secrecy. He has lofty ideals. Letâ€™s look at this time period in the late 60â€™s. It was an explosive era of social change and instability, civil rights activism in the US and abroad, Israel beginning to occupy the Gaza Strip during the 6 days war; and what some would say is the start of the Cold War, with a US/USSR nuclear nonproliferation treaty signed. Utopian ideas were fast crumbling, but it was still a period ripe for some scientists to regard the “salvation of Man” as lying with technological innovation.
He was not the first scientist to find inspiration with Eastern philosophies. Einstein (shown on the left above) before him had credited this idea as influential when he came up with the Theory of Relativityâ€”matter and energy existing in duality. Oppenheimer (shown on the right above), the â€œFather of the Atomic Bombâ€ because he is best known for his work with the Manhattan Project (but also a significant contributor to the relativity theory & one on cosmic rays), also had a real fascination with many of the same ideas. In his case, he had invented the most powerful weapon man had ever known with all good intentions, because he believed in his heart that the threat of it would save Mankind from annihilation by conventional warfare (sound familiar?). Incidentally, Oppenheimer changed these views after Hiroshima & Nagasaki, and involvement with the project became his greatest regretâ€”he was later in life a great social activist in the scientific & political arena.
But our Dr. Hanso was still convinced he did have the answer, the ultimate weapon that would rescue us from war and all other causes of human strife. If you could make a code out of 0â€™s and 1â€™s, why not out of other things; biological things? This is not so crazy a concept, because DNA is really a quaternary code (and similar ideas have been explored in real life with research into creating artificial intelligence).
How about abstract things like thought? Again, may sound like pure science fiction. But the brain produces quantifiable energy in the form of electromagnetic fieldsâ€¦ EMFs! Thatâ€™s what EEGâ€™s measure, after all (something Iâ€™m rather familiar with, in my field, psychiatry).
The idea of brain waves being seen like binary code isn’t even an original idea of mine. I got the idea only on reading an old article in the Scientific American years ago. In the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI) development, it’s been mentioned several times. I think it was Alan Turing (a major contributor to the field of computer science) who even suggested it as early as the 40s a similar idea.
The idea is that the brain itself, though complex, can be broken down into its simplest form–a single neuron. It’s basically a simple circuit. This can have two responses to a stimulus: to fire (when its threshold potential is reached, or 1) or not fire (0). It’s only the complex interconnectiveness of a neural network (and its location in this network) that creates different actions, such as running away, or crying. And the energy with which it does so? Electromagnetic waves. In 2 dimensions, for instance, you can measure if the electrical impulse travels away or towards a dipole, and this determines if the EEG records negatively or positively. In other words, in a plane, there’s a way to record this binary code of thought.
What has LOST been about so far? I see the major themes as being interconnections, and human choicesâ€”choices to do good and evil, right and wrong. An age-old subject explored by ancient philosophies & faiths, and philosophers such as John Locke & Jean-Jacques Rousseau (the two we know are referenced by name in the show). In the complexity of the human condition, good and bad exist as a duality within the same person, and the choices we make are determined by this balance, with consequences in our environmentsâ€”lately very evident with characters such as Sayiid and Charlie (but throughout the show, every one of them has had this internal struggle and done good and bad). So our thoughts are in fact various combinations of good and evil, and other elements that exist in mutual opposition. Binary code!
Could this energy be harnessedâ€”converted to kinetic or chemical energy for example? Or converted to matter, as per our good ole Theory of Relativity? Weâ€™ve already seen examples of telekinesis & ESP from the show, mostly from Walt, but it appears he is just the most keen & adept so far. Thatâ€™s the part that I think dovetails nicely into Andrewâ€™s Ultimate Theory, of the Collective Conscience.
Just a few of my thoughtsâ€¦ please send me your feedback!
-Cecilia C., M.D.