Binary Code & The Duality of Man Theory

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:

Dharma Logo

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)— 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 it’s been circulating around online since.

Basically, what the Ba-Gua is is a wheel determining “alignments” 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 balance—dualism. The relation of these faiths to LOST is nothing new—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 (K̻n) Рmountain Рthird 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 (Ch̻n) Рthunder Рfirst 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, it’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 idea’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 Leibniz’s original chart of 64 codes (above), and the chart of 64 kwae determinants from the I Ching’s Book of Changes (below)—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 don’t think, too “out there” for most people to note the striking connections. Now I’m going to get a little more abstract and theoretical, you can choose to swallow it or not.  Some of it takes off from Andrew Smith’s Ultimate Theory and requires some knowledge of it… in a nutshell, this is a theory which involves electromagnetic fields (EMFs—alluded to on multiple occasions within the show’s plot so far) and Alvar Hanso’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. Let’s look at this time period in the late 60’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.

Einstein and Oppenheimer 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 Relativity—matter and energy existing in duality. Oppenheimer (shown on the right above), the “Father of the Atomic Bomb” 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 regret—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 0’s and 1’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 fields… EMFs! That’s what EEG’s measure, after all (something I’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 choices—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 environments—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 harnessed—converted to kinetic or chemical energy for example? Or converted to matter, as per our good ole Theory of Relativity? We’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. That’s the part that I think dovetails nicely into Andrew’s Ultimate Theory, of the Collective Conscience.

Just a few of my thoughts… please send me your feedback!

-Cecilia C., M.D.

This entry was posted in Lost. Bookmark the permalink.

33 Responses to Binary Code & The Duality of Man Theory

  1. Mike says:

    WOW! That’s some deep stuff. There are some very good points in there, I’m just afraid you’re giving the writers too much credit. As an engineer, I can see your reasoning in analysing everything scientifically but I think the final answer may be a little simpler than some of the concepts you’ve pointed out. The point about duality and everyone having some good and some evil in them definitely has a strong connection with the show. As for some of the other ideas, we’ll have to wait and see.


  2. Cecilia says:

    Hi Mike… I agree, quite a bit of it just goes off on a tangent with my own speculation, which was fun. 🙂 I’m quite certain that I’m NOT 100% right, but I think I’ll be happy if a few of the major elements there appear to be in line with the plot. I’ve read some other good ideas and it’s really just fun to think and theorize about the possibilities. Half the time I am afraid that when the real finale comes, it will be so built up, it will have to fall on its face, much like the X-Files finale!

  3. Simon Kirtland says:

    I can see your point Cecilia. But Mike hit the nail on the head with giving the writers too much credit. Living in England were slightly behind the American showings, and are anxiously awaiting the second series. Im downloading them at the moment and noticed an episode called “The 23rd Psalm”. I was curious and viewed it online and it had some deep relevance to the show. I also checked out the numbers on the side of the hatch and and read each corrisponding psalm. All have links to certain characters on the island or individual plights. (Jack Sheppard and the lambs etc.) Not sure if you all know this but thought it was worth mentioning. Check it out !

    Simon Kirtland

    London, England

  4. Cecilia says:

    Simon–It’s alright, I don’t take any of my ideas too seriously 🙂 I’m sorry that you are overseas and can’t watch it broadcast in real time… I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but I will say that I think some of the last few episodes have been more eye opening in regards to recurrent themes. My theory is just that… no more than a theory about interconnections. There are many other good ones online, and I only like the fact that they get me and other people thinking about the possibilities. In the end, maybe the writers will make us realize we are all headed down a blind alley, and I’m ok with that personally.

    On the ideas of the 23rd psalm, I think I saw a similar idea posted somewhere else… but when I get a chance to look that up, I might. The only problem with that is that almost everything out of the Bible can be interconnected with the series, since there are so many overtly religious themes explored repeatedly on the show. You can also draw parallels from other famous works by Shakespeare, Jules Verne… and also, Paradise Lost, Lord of the Flies, Watership Down… the list goes on and on… as well as early creation mythology. But I think the Bible is a purposeful connection that the writers have repeatedly been underscoring, I’m just not sure how far we can literally take it in individual scenes.

  5. Pingback: Easy Does It University » Before I Study…

  6. Sando says:

    Does anybody have any clue on the length of the show?

  7. Cecilia says:

    Easy Does It– I agree wholeheartedly. Good resource for LOST-related information and references. They already have an entry for lost in their regular wikipedia, but now they have a very involved separate section called the LOST wiki as well. Link below.

  8. Kevin says:

    Interesting thought of an off shoot of one of your ideas, if we could build a trinary or even a quaterinary code based on electricty o (or light in the case of quantum computers) it would do phenominal things to the computer world. If instead of writing out 01000 to get eight you could write 00200 and eight, you would have to use some like a polarization reversal in place of a two but it would shorten the code immensely and thereby giving the ability to transfer more data quicker.

  9. Mark says:

    I think the LOST survivors should reverse the polarity and fire up the proton torpedos , it allways worked for Kirk.

  10. Davey Baby says:

    Sod all this lets all have a wank and forget about it, great show, needsa bit more T&A but i just wanna know, why did walt call Michael Daddy when he was a ghost when all the rest of the time he called him michael? hey hey any one spot that ? hey ?? hahahah?

  11. Red says:

    I think most biological books I have read have been mentioning the binary nature of action potentials of the neuron for decades. However, I don’t like how you jump from this electrical energy being converted into another form of energy and used for telekinetic or telepathic purposes. It makes the theory a little laughable (as a medical student), but hey this is LOST, anything goes.

  12. CG says:

    I personally haven’t watched a single episode of the show so I have really no idea how this relates back to it. However, this clicks with a few ideas that have run through my mind over the years. I’d like to think the brain could be broken down simply to binary. The one point where I think it stubs its toe is when the chemical portion is introduced. We might figure that when this group of neurons fire, this chemical(s) is released, causing this…but can we understand *why* it causes x reaction? Plus, while I’m at a loss to place an explanation on it, I always feel like there’s this extra…layer that extends beyond whatever neurons and chemicals are in our brains. There are those that disagree with that and those that agree, and I can’t blame either side for feeling as they do, but I just know there’s something more. I’m just not (and may never be) at a point where I can articulate it.

  13. Jim says:

    I thought that besides the binary choice of fire/not-fire, a neuron could also change the rate at which it fires?

  14. Calhoun says:

    108 might be a lucky number in Korea. And the time on the clock. But it also is the sum of all the hurley numbers when added together 😀

    I wonder if the people who made LOST really went in THIS deep before making the show. Especially if ya hear they had to rush it out in a hurry when ya look at the specials in the series 1 box.

  15. Cone of Silence says:

    Im shure the writers of LOST are making the story up as they go along. The story moves so slow that this has to be the case.

  16. Harvey says:

    Of course the show creators will have thought of all these ideas, it is naive to think otherwise. This is why it is unanimously considered a fantastic show, because of all of the dynamic ideas within. They aren’t making it up as they go along. How many films have you watched and felt that way until the final act comes?

  17. Cecilia says:

    Wow Andi. I think this story getting picked up by shoutwire really did widen it’s exposure quite a bit. 🙂

    Kevin-I’m no computer scientist (again, I’m a psychiatrist by trade), but I believe the idea behind not using tertiary+ in CS has to do with the fact that it makes it harder to program from a human perspective–increasing the permutations to a point where it is more difficult to have one “rosetta stone” for translation. Perhaps someone else in that field can comment. Some of the beauty of binary is that it takes something so simple and can build it up to a complexity almost beyond imagine.

    Red-As I said, it’s a jump to go from one to the other, but you have to consider, this is sci-fi, not something that will be published in Nature next month. 🙂 I too was once a med student, and believe true science should be well-grounded… but science FICTION is by definition something that requires some extrapolation from real principles, and also requires some suspension of disbelief from the viewer’s perspective. I’m sure that paleontologists would look poorly upon some of the DNA extraction techniques of Jurassic Park as well, but it doesn’t negate the idea that this is at heart just good, fun sci-fi (the book at any rate, the movie pretty much sucked :)).

    CG- The rate at which a neuron fires is dependant on the input (either from another neuron or from environmental stimuli, in the case of sensory neurons). From that perspective, it’s not really an independant “choice” of the neuron, and the single neuron is “stupid” without the interconnections; still fitting within the binary scheme. But you do bring up an interesting point about “whether or not there is another layer”, which I think most religious theologians & many philosophers would say a resounding YES. Part of the interest the show garners may lie in scenes such as Jack “performing a miracle” in surgery, which modern science cannot explain (and in the real world, this is true also, which is why people turn to their faiths when science fails us). Can we truly explain concepts of love as a biochemical reaction in the brain? Certainly not a very romantic way of looking at things, and I myself find it difficult to believe in this “reductionist view” entirely. Are we more than just the sum of our parts?

    At heart, this show is just a show, but it does bring together some really good ideas from both science and metaphysics/philosophy, and we’re just having fun with it. No one is going to lose sleep over whether or not this theory is the real intention at the heart of the producers and writers of the show. But true fans of the show know and appreciate that there is a lot more to it in terms of the “deeper” topics it tries to explore–in much the same way that Animal Farm is not just a book about talking pigs trying to take over a farm. And the producers have also gone on record in their podcast on more than one occasion to emphasize that they are in fact fascinated by exploring this concept of science vs. religion, and how the balance of moral decisions each of the character must make, both in the past and present.

  18. gail says:

    I think what they need is “Lassie”. Lassie would sort them out, take them through the tunnels, bark at the others then take them home to the farm! God bless Lassie!

  19. Lin says:

    Leibniz’s chart has a typo!

    000100 = 4

    000100 = 6? Shouldn’t
    000110 = 6? I’m just saying…

    Also, a problem with 28 and 31, and with 45 and 47. Why do they match? I thought the whole point was that each number was a little bit different than the last, each number needs to be unique in order to be read as binary code.
    Even if you aren’t using the columns to add up each number, you can just follow the pattern with your eyes. At 45 and 47 the pattern gets screwed up; it’s the same with the other pairs I cited. Strange, considering it looks like you photocopied it.
    Am I right about the mix up, or am I making a complete fool of myself?

  20. Cecelia C: Thoughtful. In Leibnitz’s first comments on calculus he refered to the I Ching. He said calculus is the same as the I Ching and “God showed this to the Chinese 6,000 years ago.” Leibnitz was reading a copy of the I Ching which had been sent to him by a Jesuit in China when he discovered calculus. MIT theoretical physicist Kerson Huang writes well about this. Also, the book “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain” by Betty Edwards gives a lucid and practical discussion of binary brain chemistry which won a Nobel Prize for her colleague Sperry (?) and how it determines opposite states of mind (“extrovert” and “introvert” in Jungian terminology). The two stones, black and white, also represent the realms of the I Ching (Rose and Locke also represent the dual fields – Rose is alchemy, Locke the Enlightenment, the Yin and Yang of the Western world). – Quigley in Exile

  21. Violet says:

    Cecilia, I know you’ve stated elsewhere that you don’t think the numbers 4 8 15 16 23 42 are as important as people make them out to be. However, since you’re explaining binary here, which deals in numbers, it would be fun to see what the corresponding symbols and meanings on the Ba-Gua for these numbers would be. Perhaps the hieroglyphics play into this realm as well?

    Btw, after reading this site, I trolled around a bunch of other Lost-related sites, and spent my entire evening doing nothing else. Thanks a lot. 😉

  22. Kurgan says:

    Just to remind everyone, the writers have already said that the numbers, in and of themselves, mean absolutely nothing. They just randomly made them up because they needed a number (listen to the official podcasts, –and no, I don’t recall which one–, to hear that). That’s not to say they don’t effectively “mean” something as regards the overall story, of course, just that they don’t have some cryptic meaning that can be deciphered.

    I think last week’s story pretty much gives away what the numbers represent, anyway (ep: “Maternity Leave”). Note the vaccine bottle. Seeing that, everything begins to fall into place, especially if you’ve read the hidden fax from the defunct Hanso website concerning the outbreak (in South America, wasn’t it?) and the WHO trying to muscle in. Interesting dots to connect. 🙂

  23. Cecilia says:

    Ah well…. haven’t commented here in a while, I apologize to those who commented late.

    Lin: It does look like a discrepency in the chart; but the real one doesn’t have that. I wonder if that’s a bad scan.

    Bernie: Thanks for adding all that extra history to Leibnitz came upon the idea. I definitely agree on the other B/W imagery, too.

    Violet: Hehe… you know I’m always here to help you waste time. No, I haven’t done more with the numbers and the bagua… as the poster below mentioned:

    Kurgan: I agree that the individual numbers may or may not have major significance that will be revealed to us by the end of the show. But THAT is more how the writers phrased it (I listen to the podcasts, too). Your interpretation that “they mean absolutely nothing” is your take on what they actually said: “We may never know what the numbers mean”. To me, that implies something slightly different. I think they are trying to be deliberately vague… more along the lines of, we may go the whole show and not know the ultimate source. BTW, the Coppenhagen Photo was a hoax (albeit a cleverly done one) – I know the guy who started it (he did it to make a point about fan gullibility).

  24. Base Two, or the binary choice, comes from, and creates, a very basic circle. This is the (new) idea, or scientific principle of Conservation of the Circle (the circle creates, is created by, and is, reality). See for more information (and proof).

  25. hhsman says:

    hey~ i’m korean

    that’s not the korea symbol

  26. Lostfan says:

    Very intuitive research. However, for a TV show, your theory is too boring for the home viewers. Who really gives a crap or know much about Binary code and the duality of man theory…except nerds/engineers! I think the story is somewhere else and of course only the writer knows it. I respect your intellectual approch but not an exciting theroy for a TV show. Too complicated for an average Joe.

    BTW, your blog is very nice and thanks for your interesting theory!

  27. Pingback: Lost Symbology - The Lost Blog

  28. Dovetails perfectly with The Circular Theory: Conservation of the Circle (

  29. Tony says:

    Hi some intresting points ive been working on duality and harmony for a while now and can see it everywhere its very simple to do just look for positives and negatives first find an extream like man then find the opposit woman then what most teachings dont tell you find the balance or harmony eg. sex this starts a chain reaction the sperm = + goes to the egg = – they harmonise and start another chain reaction…… birth and the chain reactions carry on ! this is one example of how it works from what i have found everything in existance has an opposit even tho its not apparent if you follow this simple formular it will lead you to some amazing things one pattern i found is when there is a harmony of two duals the product is not only better than the two duals because it takes their two good halfs and makes one good whole but the equation is always LIFE or life supporting life saving etc. as all barriers are a conflicting dual if im right then all physical barriers can be broken and we can then move around this system freely and not be imprisoned by physical rule !!! i could talk forever on this but i hope ive left you with something you can use !keep up the good work !!!

  30. the sun says:

    January 1st, 2010 = New Year



    01011000 = X
    000001 = 1

    00:01 AM = Beginning of New Year

    Duality of Man

    X ^ 1 = X

    Binary Code & The Duality of Man Theory

    01.01.10 00:01 (One Moment in Time)

    The Beginning of the Golden Age = The Beginning of The Duality of Man =

  31. lofti says:

    Hi from Norway! I have found your website on yahoo. Handy content! Dana J. White x

  32. Very helpful… I will come back soon!

Comments are closed.