When we interviewed the creators of Lost, they hinted at big things to come—and in last night’s Locke-centric episode, “Cabin Fever,” we finally found out this season’s end game: If Locke wants to save the island, he’s going to have to move it.
So just how can Locke move the island—and where will he move it, for that matter? Michio Kaku, author of Physics of the Impossible, told us he thinks that Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse are using the island’s unique properties—namely its electromagnet and the Casimir Effect hinted at in the Orchid Station orientation video—to open a transversible wormhole to different points in time and space. (Über-baddie Keamy seemed to verify that when he pulled the Orchid-Station-emblazed “secondary protocol” from the ship’s safe. He said the document would tell him “where Linus is going. If Linus knows we’re going to torch the island, there’s only one place he could go.”)
The Casimir Effect and transversible wormholes are real, cutting-edge science, Kaku says. “The Casimir Effect has to do with the energy of the vacuum,” he says. “It’s negative energy that has bizarre properties.” Black holes, he says, could open up a portal to another universe, but it would be a one-way trip because they’re unstable and can’t stay open on their own. Casimir energy could, in theory, keep the gateway from closing and create a transversible wormhole. According to Kaku, if an energy source like Lost’s big electromagnet were present, a black hole could open up and the island’s Casimir Effect could keep it open, creating a portal.
We’ve already seen some time and space jumping on the show. First, Ben’s arrival in the Tunisian desert in Dr. Halliwax’s Orchid Station parka hinted at the island’s ability to shuttle people around to different locations. And just as strange, it seems that the time difference between the freighter and the island is changing: In the previous episode, it was nighttime when Faraday used the sat-phone-turned-telegraph to ask what happened to the doctor, but it was daylight when the freighter folk received the message; Keamy didn’t slit his throat until later. (Note: We’re assuming “Cabin Fever” chronologically follows “The Shape of Things to Come.”)
But how realistic is moving an entire island through time and space? According to Kaku, there are two ways it could be possible: Quantum teleportation, which would zap the island from one place to another; or through a wormhole, which could theoretically move the island to different points in either space or time. Quantum teleportation of photons and atoms already exists, says Kaku—the record is 600 meters over the Danube River—but “to move an island would require technology centuries more advanced than what we have now.” (Kaku also thinks this is unlikely since the show hasn’t yet mentioned quantum entanglement, which is necessary for this kind of teleportation to occur.)
While the wormhole theory might seem more likely given what we know about the Orchid Station, the amount of energy needed to move an island through a wormhole, Kaku says, is immense—you’d need the positive energy of a star and negative energy with a mass the size of Jupiter just to create a wormhole big enough for a person—and you’d need very advanced technology millions of years beyond our own to do it. “In principal, they are within the laws of physics,” Kaku says, “but it would be very advanced laws of physics, and it’s something we can’t exploit at the present time.” Plus, there could be consequences. “If you’re not careful, you could swallow up the earth in the process.” —Erin McCarthy