Dharma Stations Part 10: The Lamp Post

So far the only Dharma Station we know of that exists off-Island, it’s a fair bet that The Lamp Post was also the first Dharma Station built – at least of the ones we know of. This is hardly a major logical feat to proclaim: The Lamp Post exists to find the Island so it follows that it was built first, located the Island, and then all on-Island Dharma Stations subsequently appeared.

The Lamp Post resides beneath a church in Los Angeles. There’s no real way of knowing for sure, but I would imagine that the church was not built by Dharma. What was important was the location – it being the case that the church was reported to be situated over a pocket of electromagnetic energy. There’s been a precedent for this during the episode S.O.S., when Rose and Bernard traveled out to Australia to see Isaac of Uluru, the spiritual healer, who talked of there being particular energy points on Earth with more concentrated power.

Consider the healing properties of the Island as a more focused composition of such energy and it’s a perfect illustration of why the Island is such a desirable location. If there are these pockets of energy all over the world then could it be rationalised that the Island is an ultimate product of this energy? Maybe even a control source, or combined end result? Bear with me, as this does all tie back in to The Lamp Post.

Think of a magnifying glass prism, with a beam of light shone through it.

You set this prism down in a large empty room and shine a light through it. The intensified beam is shot out to some other point in the room. Now you take another prism, and set it down in a different place. You shine another light through the beam and angle the prism so that the intensified beam crosses with the beam emitted from the other prism. You repeat this process, all around the room, with various different prisms. You angle it all just right and, somewhere, at some point, there will be one focused point of all these light beams combined.

Take that idea and apply to electromagnetic pockets of energy, all over the world. Is the Island, like the focused point of light, the central element for all this energy and it is this very truth that makes the place so unique, and so incredible?

The difference with the Island is that it is not easily located, especially given it can move around in time and space. Yet here is where The Lamp Post enters the picture. Imagine you’re a Dharma scientist, studying these electromagnetic pockets of energy. You come to understand that they are dotted all over the world and then you wonder, like the prisms and beams of light, whether there might be some centralized source or end product for all this energy. You theorize about the existence of such a place, such a place of electromagnetic energy, based on the evidence you have already gathered.

It would be like an astrophysicist realizing a black hole existed. Black holes being these dense, all-powerful suction forces, the astrophysicist wouldn’t need to find the black hole, only observe the behaviour of gravity and light around the area where a black hole may be to figure one existed.

The light from a star bends in a certain direction towards an apparently empty piece of space, therefore the conclusion is the existence of a Black Hole in that empty space. Elementary, dear Watson, as some detective may have fictionally muttered. Again, apply the principle to the Island and the energy pockets all around the world and I think my point is made. And, again, this is where the Lamp Post enters the picture. A Station designed to find the theoretical place of ultimate electromagnetic energy.

Dharma may not necessarily have been as brilliant as all that scientific deduction may imply, mind. In the Lamp Post there was a photograph of the Island as apparently sourced from the military, who we know were there before Dharma were.

Not to mention the scraps of evidence from the story of the Black Rock, that Island-fanatic Widmore was intent on picking up. . .

We’ve been given pieces of evidence to suggest the Island is a myth that certain interested parties have been investigating for a long period of time. Dharma – via a “very clever” individual we don’t yet know – figured out how to actually pinpoint the place.

(On a sidenote, Charles Widmore almost certainly could not have known anything about The Lamp Post or else he would have surely used it to find the Island for himself. Penny Widmore, and her Listening Post (again, potentially located on one of these ‘energy pockets’ of the world) basically tracked down the Island using the principle of finding a larger source of electromagnetism, which is similar to how the Lamp Post functions, but without the aid of prediction.)

So. The Lamp Post. Dharma discovered a pocket of energy they were interested in. Probably they discovered there was also a church over it, but figured the church provided a decent cover so long as they could monopolise the underground area. The complicated banks of computers and co-ordinates. . .

. . . sell the idea of an elaborate mathematical process at work, but the fundamental notion is simplistic enough. Via these energy pockets, and the existence of a strong electromagnetic energy emanating from (or to) the Island, The Lamp Post can register where the Island is, and, as was important for the return of the Oceanic 6, when the Island will be. Simple stuff, really. There’s just a couple of other bits and pieces to address in the interests of completeness.

The name of The Lamp Post itself is derived from the C.S. Lewis book The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. In Narnia, one of the first curious sights seen upon entering the world through the wardrobe is a lamp post in the middle of the forest.

There’s an explanation for this in a prequel story of Narnia, about some guy finding a means of traveling to different realms – one of those realms being London. A piece of London – a bit of lamp post – got brought back to Narnia and it ‘grew’ like a tree into the lamp post standing in the forest. Symbolically the lamp post in the story stands as proof of an other world, and also a signal that the means by which to travel to this other world is close by. Dharma’s Lamp Post could be held by the precise same symbolic definition, but for the Island.

If this is perhaps the last Dharma Station we will ever learn of (I appreciate The Temple has been affixed with a Dharma logo, but there’s really no evidence thus far to support any research or purpose or even existence of a proper Station there), it’s perhaps fitting that it is with this post I consider the idea that The Lamp Post when we saw it, as run by Eloise Hawking, serves to prove that the Dharma Initiative is no more. Eloise herself remarked that it was “they” that built the place, distancing herself from association with Dharma. And, as we know, she was very much an Other which makes it even further unlikely she has anything to do with them.

There was that curious moment, in Desmond’s flashback with Brother Campbell, where Eloise appeared in the same (badly photoshopped) photograph.

I could make a wild reach and state that Brother Campbell learned of the Lamp Post beneath the church (because all members of the clergy know about all churches, right!?) and informed Eloise Hawking about it and she took it from there – but it’s utterly unsubstantiated guesswork on the basis of one photograph. Not that important either, really. Though I am intrigued with the one, lingering mystery around who this “very clever” individual was that designed the pendulum that could locate the Island. Insta-hunch-guess: Daniel Faraday.

Reared by Eloise to be scientifically brilliant enough to potentially circumvent the time-travelling narrative that resulted in her killing her own son, maybe there’s further time shifting, alternate timeline events that somehow make Dan become this “very clever” man! And hey, if such a thing as that is possible then who am I to write off the Dharma Initiative at all? Maybe somewhere, somewhen, there’s a hitherto unknown Dharma Station keeping the Initiative’s flag flying – but until such a revelation this is the end of the line as far as this series of posts is concerned.

There’s really nothing more to say but. . .

Dharma Stations Part 9: The Tempest

Let us try to put aside certain prejudices we may hold towards The Tempest. It being a Dharma Station that appeared out of nowhere to serve a shaky plot in one of the lesser episodes of Season 4 (The Other Woman) and was never seen or heard of again doesn’t encourage us to embrace the place with affection. Initial reactions of it being a little too convenient, of it being shoehorned in to the show and lazily justified – these are the kind of prejudices I mean, and shall try to avoid. Indeed, on closer inspection, The Tempest musters intrigue and pertinence within Lost that initial inspection may have overlooked and possibly signifies a damning indictment of Dharma’s Island-worthiness entirely.

The Tempest logo depicts a large wave, alluding to Biblical-style events, like the flood that Noah built an ark to survive. (Consider an ark sailing in endless water, then think of the Island – there’s a thought to run with, for those inclined.) If Biblical proportions seem too outlandish, consider it a Tsunami-sized wave. Point is The Tempest is a Dharma Station capable of wreaking disaster to human life. And perhaps the most shocking notion is that this is exactly what Dharma built it for.

The naming of The Tempest, aside from being a devastating storm, also stems from the Shakespeare play of the same name. In Shakespeare’s The Tempest a sorcerer and his daughter – Prospero and Miranda – are stranded on a mysterious Island. Prospero summons a tempest to shipwreck his enemies and then uses magic, spirits and a monster to manipulate and divide them for his own purposes. Sounds strangely familiar, doesn’t it? Can’t help but feel that Dharma certainly saw and appreciated the similarities with the Island and Shakespeare’s work (but I acknowledge this was probably more about the Lost creators also getting the reference in there).

The Tempest first gets mentioned into existence in the episode Namaste (on a bank of monitors in The Flame), which puts the earliest known time of it having been built as 1977. This is a good while before 1992, which is roughly around the time of ‘the purge’. This fact leads me to branch into two strains of thought. The first is that The Tempest was built purely to distribute poison gas as a result of the conflict with ‘the hostiles’, and Dharma retained the use of this Station for approximately fifteen years before it was eventually used against them.

I believe this is the truth. The alternative idea is that The Tempest was originally built for other purposes and it was only the increasing hostilities on the Island that prompted Dharma to up their defences and create the capacity for more deadly response. Very little is known about The Tempest but the ‘kindest’ remarks could argue it was used for all manner of chemical testing before the distribution of lethal gas became its pure reason for existence. As there is no evidence to substantiate this argument, however, I am forced to defer to the principle that The Tempest was built as we saw it: to produce and release a fatal gas with the intention of inflicting multiple casualties.

Let’s turn our attention to the gas and the distribution mechanism. The gas itself would appear to have been a nerve agent, VX or a variation thereof. A computer display of chemical names such as thionylchloride and O-ethyl 2-diisopropylaminoethyl methylphosphonite are components of this nerve gas. Wikipedia has this to say about VX:

‘VX has a high persistence in the environment. It is odourless and tasteless and can be distributed as liquid, or as an aerosol. It works as a nerve agent by blocking the function of the enzyme acetylcholinesterase, thus resulting in sustained contractions of all the muscles in the body. Sustained contraction of the diaphragm muscle causes death by asphyxiation.’

VX seems to fit the bill from what we’ve seen – if not the actual nerve agent certainly something within the ballpark. The next matter concerns distribution of this gas. Evidently the gas manufactured at The Tempest was ultimately used against Dharma in ‘the purge’. The temptation, then, is to figure that ‘the hostiles’ gained access to The Tempest and triggered the release mechanism when they were ready with gas masks to protect themselves.

I, however, sense that this was highly unlikely and that the Island-wide release of poisonous gas that The Tempest is capable of has never been activated. Goodwin, one of the few Others entrusted with working at The Tempest, remarked that, with the wrong flick of a switch, he could kill every man, woman and child on the Island. Furthermore, The Freighter landing crew’s first mission (through Charlotte and Daniel) was to disable The Tempest so that Keamy and his men could land on the Island and stage their attack without being wiped out.

The point seems clear that The Tempest was entirely capable of distributing a lethal gas over the entire Island.

Now considering ‘the purge’ during Dharma’s time, it doesn’t seem feasible that such an event actually happened. (Danielle Rousseau, for one, was on the Island at this time with no warning or gas mask protection. Did every single Other have a gas mask, also?) More likely is the notion that The Others used The Tempest to engineer a whole bunch of the poison gas canisters similar to the one Ben used on his father.

Alpert and The Others could have distributed the Tempest-made gas using these canisters all over The Barracks, or tossed one down The Pearl hatch, or scattered them all over the Hydra Island and taken out the Dharma Initiative with more localised assaults. (That Dharma members survived – in The Swan, for example – is made even more probable and, since we know Dharma members did survive, makes this theory of ‘the purge’ attack via gas canister more valid.)

The alternative is the idea that The Tempest can somehow score ‘direct hits’ of lethal gas distribution and this was how ‘the purge’ was effected but, again, there’s absolutely no evidence to support this idea so I am inclined to defer to my previous rationale. The Tempest served as a kind of failsafe, or ultimate last ditch measure – if Dharma found their battle against ‘the hostiles’ was turning against them they could always trigger the lethal gas and end it for all of them. Curiously, after ‘the purge’, The Others elected to retain this facility (although Goodwin’s secrecy suggests it wasn’t common knowledge amongst all of them) for the same reason as Dharma: should ‘hostile’ people invade their Island they’d rather kill everyone than have the Island taken from them.

The function of The Tempest serves as that of a deterrent, like how countries with nuclear bombs refrain from using them to avoid mutual destruction. If the battle for the Island became too intense then The Tempest gas could be released and no one would win. The similarities to a nuclear bomb, however, do portray Dharma in a less-than-flattering light and add to a growing theme on the show.

Consider that prior to Dharma the Island, and ‘the hostiles’, had to contend with a military force intruding on the place. Potentially they considered the Island a fine place for nuclear testing, but whatever their purpose what they left was. . .

A potentially devastating weapon was their legacy. Now move forward a couple of decades and Dharma are the new intruders to the Island that ‘the hostiles’ must contend with. One of their legacies?

Another potentially devastating weapon. Not very ‘Namaste’, is it? Suddenly The Others and their claim that they are “the good guys”, from their perspective, certainly shoulders a lot of credibility. And consider also the observations of Nameless. . .

Nameless: “They come. They fight. They destroy. They corrupt. It always ends the same.”

For all their earnest scientific pursuit, Dharma, via The Tempest, have presented themselves as no more worthy of a place on the Island than all those that have been before. Rather than retreat and leave the Island they were prepared to kill everyone, even themselves, so that no one could have it. As I stated near the beginning, this is a rather shocking realisation. By this one aspect of the Dharma Initiative The Tempest Station ultimately proves to signify their lack of worth, and justifies itself as more than just a poorly-considered plot convenience. That The Tempest served to bring about Dharma’s demise is a bitterly ironic punchline. You reap what you sow.

Dharma Stations Part 8: The Orchid (Redux)

As no doubt all are aware, The Orchid Station was introduced via a rough edit of an Orientation film (it doesn't have Dharma music, or a title card). The story goes that the film was discovered in a building in Norway. We are shown the familiar Dharma narrator (Pierre Chang, here working under the name Edgar Halowax - continuing the Candle/Wick collectivism for all things candle-related in his naming convention) holding a rabbit with a number ‘15’ on its back. He tells the intended audience of the video that The Orchid is Station 6 of the Dharma Initiative and that they had been misled into believing it was a biological station. Then another rabbit, with a number 15 on it, appears on a high shelf behind him. Small-scale chaos ensues with Halowax panicking about keeping the rabbits apart. And that's pretty much it.

So let me make an assumption. The two rabbits that featured are one and the same otherwise why bother having the two be number 15? So, taking that idea as a given – that a rabbit in a man’s arms could suddenly appear, duplicated, in close proximity – we then come to the pertinent question: How?

Edgar Halowax: "The unique properties of this Island created a kind of Casimir effect..."

Ah yes, the Casimir Effect. A familiar term to many Lost theorists but let me not take it for granted that you know about it (or have become misconstrued into thinking it's something it's not). In simple terms, the Casimir Effect is the force between one object and another object, and how that force acts on both. Seriously, that's it.

This force takes place at a particle level, so you're forgiven for not noticing! Understanding of this Casimir Effect is important in the real world as things get smaller. Smaller circuit boards, nanotechnology – these become concerned with the interaction of objects at a particle level and how they will influence the construction and function of sophisticated technologies. This doesn't quite explain why one rabbit turns up in the same room as itself, though, does it? Well, no, it doesn’t. But then no science on the show really can – because The Orchid is about engineering the manipulation of time and space: teleportation and time travel.

In Season 4, in The Orchid, Locke found a videotape containing the official version of the Orientation film for that Station. We can assume that, despite the near-disaster the duplicating rabbits created, Dharma went back and set themselves up to re-shoot the film the way they intended. The duplicating rabbit version of The Orchid Orientation is, therefore, to be considered an out-take, but the version Locke inserted into the video player was the official, finished product.

Pierre Chang: “In our first demonstration, we will attempt to shift the test subject 100 milliseconds ahead in four-dimensional space. For the briefest of moments the animal will seem to disappear, but in reality. . .”

Cue inexplicable tape reversal for which I cannot provide any sensible rationale. But what now seems clear, and what Pierre Chang was set to demonstrate, was the projection of the rabbit from one point in space-time to another point in space-time. The same way Sawyer and Juliet and Locke and the rest all appeared to ‘disappear’ when they were bouncing around through time on the Island, really they were ‘simply’ skipping periods of time, times they were not present to witness and experience, to arrive at other points. Same goes for the rabbit. This explains Chang’s urgency at keeping them apart – the same way it was paramount that, say, Sawyer didn’t walk into the moment where Claire was giving birth.

We saw this scene in Season One, and Sawyer never turned up there, so for him to go back in time and then emerge out of the jungle in front of Claire and Kate would disrupt the original timeline. Whatever happened, happened, right? Same goes for the rabbits – where a future rabbit could not possibly be allowed to tamper with its own previous self. (Not sure what the ramifications of that would be, particularly, but Doc Brown from Back To The Future would fret about a collapse in the space-time continuum. Dharma, and Chang, worried about the same thing or similar.) Yet it would seem the rabbit was purely for demonstration purposes – Dharma had bigger fish to fry. . .

Swap one small white furry animal for one large white furry animal. That, it seems, is what Dharma did when conducting their experiments at The Orchid. I am certainly not about to attempt to labour the pseudo-science posited to legitimise the phenomena (it’s a lot of jargon about negative shifts), all we need to do is accept what we’ve seen flash before our eyes.

Ben and Locke were both here. . .

. . . and wound up in the middle of the desert, like a polar bear did. . .

They went from one point in space (the Island) to another (the desert) and, furthermore, moved from one point in time to one in the future. Therefore it is validated: the strange energy located at that particular point in the Island facilitates space-time travel and Dharma, via The Orchid, were looking to harness and manipulate that power. And they used polar bears to do it, at least as a test.

There have been spurious theories concerning the idea that Dharma trained the polar bears to turn the frozen donkey wheel. Personally I find that rather absurd. It seems to me that the donkey wheel was there long before Dharma, used by whoever inhabited the Island in times long past. These same people dug a well directly down to the source.

Did this well once function properly? Did it provide water straight from this energy source that, perhaps, altered a person’s capacity to exist in space and time? Did someone we know potentially drink from that well. . .? Is that the cause of his apparent agelessness?

I’m getting a little sidetracked from Dharma here, but I thought it was an amusing and potentially worthwhile diversion. Dharma ignored the source and instead drilled down to near the source and there built The Orchid, blocking off the cavern of the frozen donkey wheel, apparently more interested in using ‘the vault’ as their method of testing.

Pierre Chang: “This is the vault, constructed adjacent to a pocket of what we believe to be negatively charged ‘exotic matter’. Great care must be taken to avoid leaving inorganic materials inside the chamber. The electromagnetic energy within the Island can be highly volatile and unpredictable.”

I’ll be honest, that Vault doesn’t look big enough to hold a polar bear. Perhaps the bear was already dead, which is possible but perhaps not very useful to determine if a living thing can survive the trip so more like it was heavily-sedated and had a hell of a wake-up call in the hot sand!) Possibly they just conducted tests on polar bears elsewhere, or it was something they did earlier before they refined the Orchid Station and its practices. Point is they definitely did do it because there's skeletal remains of a polar bear in the desert to prove it.

Really, then, The Orchid Station is a rather simple facility to grasp. Dharma discovered a peculiar and powerful source of energy at this particular point at the Island, and through investigation, apparently lead by Pierre Chang, they learned that it could be used to manipulate time. They no doubt moved to make this secret, and so created the greenhouse above it, a fake botanical station, as a cover – hence it’s name: The Orchid.

The only thing really left to ponder is what Dharma intended to use their research at The Orchid for. You would have to assume they expected to find something like this (The Lamp Post basically found the Island via this space-time warping electromagnetic energy) but it’s hard to affirm what their intention for it was. How far do you want to go with this idea?

You can go all out and tie it in with the Valenzetti Equation. That is, Dharma were aware of an equation that calculated the end of mankind and either realized that the Island and its properties were central to this doom, or were the very means of averting it. The capacity to manipulate space-time, to potentially buck the ‘whatever happened, happened’ mentality and change history to save the future, maybe that was the crusade Dharma were on.

There again, they may have just been a bunch of hippy, freeloving scientists that happened across the most amazing place on Earth for scientific discovery and revelation, tried to contain and control it, and things got out of hand.

The latter notion seems the more likely. Right at the very beginning, back when they were experimenting on white rabbits, they tampered and tested and flirted with disaster when one bunny almost arrived back in time to meet itself. Messing around with the properties of space-time is a tricky business and, for Dharma, I get the feeling it cost them dearly. The full repercussions of their work are set to reverberate into Season 6 where we may get to see the extent of the damage. . .

Dharma Stations Part 7: The Looking Glass (Redux)

Unique amongst all the Dharma Stations, The Looking Glass sits offshore on the ocean floor, elevated on a series of supports. This elevation creates capacity for a moon pool at its centre which appears to be the only access point. Curiously its logo is a white rabbit, which handily maintains a Lost motif and Alice In Wonderland vibe which is probably the most symbolic aspect of this Station to illuminate its use for Dharma.

I think we’re all agreed that the Island, for whatever reason, is a tricky place to get to. Yeah, sure, you might stumble upon it if you happen to be travelling from Sydney to L.A. on a plane that goes 1,000 miles off course and gets caught in the wrong air-space at the wrong time to coincide with an electromagnetic anomaly not being properly averted. If you manage to survive being on a plane that splits into three pieces and hurtles to the ground then, yeah, you’re there! More prudent travellers may wish to consider other means.

This is where The Looking Glass comes in. It emits a sonar ping that guides in submersible vehicles to the Island. Don't ask me how that works. The best metaphor I can conjure is of a person stumbling through a vast, dark space being guided by a single pinprick of light - without the light the person would stumble blindly interminably. Only instead of stumbling through darkness it’s more like space-time, and instead of a pinprick of light it’s more like a gateway wormhole access point. Or something. Whatever the explanation, the principle is the same: The Looking Glass’ chief function is to allow people to ‘find’ (or return to) the Island.

The big question concerns how much control Dharma exercise over this access point. Do they create the access point, or simply identify where the pre-existing access point is?

The issue of accessing the Island has perhaps been made to seem a tricky proposition due to the matter of the Oceanic 6’s return there. Compared with the relatively free comings and goings of Dharma and The Others on and off the Island, the O6 had to best replicate the conditions of Oceanic 815 on Ajira 316 after The Lamp Post identified the next location of where the Island would be. It was a lot of effort with a hit and miss result (4 passengers went back to the 70s, Sun remained in the present). But that was back when the Island was bouncing around through time. In such times The Looking Glass can be considered redundant, but generally the Island was ‘static’ and could be located via a particular bearing (like how The Freighter arrived there) or underwater by submarine.

The only reason I can see for the essential use of the submarine as opposed to a ship is to avoid the time-space discrepancy that provoked the sickness and Constant-less state that some of The Freighter crew experienced. For whatever dubious reason an underwater, unconscious approach apparently avoids this problem.

As previously mentioned, The Looking Glass logo is a white rabbit. This won't be news to the majority, I'm sure, but ‘looking glass’ and white rabbit are lifted from Lewis Carroll's Alice In Wonderland. In the book you could look through the looking glass (Victorian term for a mirror) without being seen from the other side. Maybe, just maybe, this is the fundamental raison d’etre of The Looking Glass – that a Dharma worker can ‘see’ a submarine approaching and bring it to the Island, whereas without the Dharma Station the submarine could never access the Island. This sounds like an inversion of logistical sense, but then this is 'the looking glass' that literarily leads to Wonderland where logistical sense doesn't matter a jot.

I should also mention that on the Looking Glass schematic Sayid took from The Flame the rabbit logo has a black spot with a clock face on it (pictured above). This ‘clock’ does not appear on the actual Station logo. The clock’s hands point to 8:15. Take that concept and apply as you wish but given this same schematic contained the name error of ‘Looking Glass hatch’ I’m not drawing much meaning from it.

Let’s anchor things down with more practical tidings. The Looking Glass on a day-to-day basis functioned as observation facility (probably for whatever experiments were being performed on sharks and dolphins). Desmond got his hands on a spear gun which was perhaps once a Dharma-owned spear gun that Dharma scuba divers used to capture sharks and dolphins with. There’s also an enormous cable connected to the Looking Glass on one end, and to the Island on the other (the cable that Sayid found). We don't know where or what on the Island this cable is connected to – it might be a power source controlling both sonar ping and the sonar fence, it might be a simple utility feed for power, oxygen, communications, etc, but it probably isn’t connected to The Flame since that station got blown up and The Looking Glass still seemed to function just fine. The other end of the cable remains a mystery. I can’t believe no one’s bothered to look.

The other major function of The Looking Glass besides the sonar ping is to jam (or, potentially, control) signals to and from the Island. There's a problem here in that radio waves don’t go well through water. And by “don’t go well” I mean really don’t go well. I researched it a bit and hit phrases like ‘low attenuation’ and ‘ionospheric radio wave propagation’ and figured there’s a level of information I don't need to know. Point is: radio waves and water don't mix but considering the crazy laws of science The Looking Glass already bends I’m not stressing about the matter.

Sticking with jamming outbound signals, though, raises an extremely important point. Think of the Radio Tower and the looped message playing. Before Rousseau recorded her distress call this message recited the 4 8 15 16 23 42 numbers. Dharma built the Radio Tower and set up this broadcast. So isn't it bizarre that they built a Looking Glass Station that can block signals off the Island? I mean, if you don’t want to transmit off-Island, don't build a Radio Tower! And if you do want to transmit off-Island, don't build a Looking Glass jammer! Unless, of course, one purpose of the Looking Glass is to confine the Radio Tower broadcast for the Island. . .

Why would Dharma want this equation broadcast constantly on the Island? (I am presuming here that, post-Purge, The Others took control of the Looking Glass and turned off the jammer thereby allowing the likes of Rousseau’s science team and Leonard Simms to pick up the transmission off-Island in the late 1980s.)

Let’s propose that at least one of the reasons The Dharma Initiative came to the Island was to study the Valenzetti equation. For those in the dark, the Valenzetti equation (4 8 15 16 23 42) apparently predicts the end of mankind. (This is not something really covered in the show alone, but Season 6 will apparently pick up on ‘the numbers’ so there’s foundation that this notion will come to fruition.) Dharma, in a bid to resolve the equation, begin studies. They use the Island. They isolate it from the world. They experiment. However, in order to know if their studies are effective they require some form of gauge or sign of progress. So they broadcast the numbers. The equation they hope to resolve is broadcast across the Island and, thanks to The Looking Glass, is restricted from going any further. Like how if you were studying a dangerous virus you wouldn’t want it escaping from the laboratory. On a loop, the numbers play. 4 8 15 16 23 42. Over and over.

It seems odd to think a looped message could change, but if there was some kind of fundamental breakthrough for Dharma that altered one of the values of the equation then maybe that would be reflected by the broadcast. Like litmus paper. You keep checking for alkali, but your litmus shows red for acid. You change chemicals, and keep getting red. Until, eventually, you change a chemical component that changes the litmus green and know you’ve succeeded. Maybe that same principle applies to 'the numbers' being broadcast?

Perhaps Dharma hoped for such a breakthrough. They resolve the equation. The numbers change. Or maybe they stop altogether. At that moment, The Looking Glass Station can be switched off. The Island results can be exported to the real world. The Dharma Initiative succeeded. Mankind is saved. . .

It never happened, of course (at least not in this iteration of the time loop, if there is one!) but we aren’t here to judge, merely to try and understand what Dharma were up to. They made a Looking Glass so their people could come to Wonderland but they, like us, perhaps didn’t quite appreciate how deep the rabbit hole goes.