Thursday, January 22, 2009

Time Travel, Wormholes and Exotic Matter - Popular Mechanics

Lost executive producer Damon Lindelof once told Popular Mechanics that he has "a long and storied history in every single time-travel story that's ever been written," and Season Five's two-part, two-hour premiere, called "Because You Left" and "The Lie," draws on that knowledge.

Sure enough, last season we saw Ben (the former leader of the Others) activate a wormhole and move the entire island through time and space to protect it from the nefarious Charles Widmore, who has been trying to find the island for 20 years. In the season premiere, we find out that the island is dislodged in time and is now skipping, like a record, through the past and future—at least according to physicist Daniel Faraday, whose personal history on the island appears to date back to the Dharma's glory days (unless, of course, that was just a trip back through time).
Much of the time-travel physics of the season opener rests on the presence of exotic matter (by definition, matter which violates classical conditions in physics) beneath the Orchid Station, and we get a glimpse of the hatch's construction in "Because You Left." In last year's season finale, Dr. Pierre Chang (as Edgar Halliwax, though he has also appeared as Marvin Candle), the face of the Dharma Initiative's orientation videos, explained that the exotic matter beneath this particular station—one of several on the island— makes use of the Casimir Effect, which allows scientists to manipulate time.

Physicist and time-travel guru Michio Kaku told Popular Mechanics last year that some scientists believe time travel through holes in space and time, known as wormholes, might be possible, but there are problems that need to be conquered. First, there's the matter of energy—massive amounts would be needed to create a black hole, which could function as a portal to another point in space and time. But it would be a one-way trip; black holes aren't stable enough to stay open on their own. Creating a wormhole, a stable portal through space and time that would allow return trips, would require inconceivable amounts of energy—inconceivable, that is, unless you're on an island that can make paraplegics walk, harbors a monster of smoke and can disappear off the face of the Earth. Physicists have created tiny amounts of energy in the laboratory using the Casimir Effect—quantum fluctuations that can create energy in a vacuum—but what has been generated in the lab isn't enough to keep a wormhole open, Kaku says. (We first learned about the Casimir Effect in the Orchid Station orientation video in Season Four's "No Place Like Home.")

Read Full Article:  Lost Season 5 Premiere - Sci-Fi Fact vs. Fiction - Time Travel, Wormholes and Exotic Matter - Popular Mechanics

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