A compass points back to the future

Since there won’t be a new episode this week and since there has been a lot of discussion around space time theories on the forum lately, I’ve decided to post this in the “Theories” section of the site even though it’s more of an observation rather than a theory in the classical sense.

I’ve been looking for a true classic example of a paradox on Lost and believe I have found one. The paradox is not about a person, but about an object. The object in question is the infamous compass that was in Locke’s possession. The story goes – Some time between 1955 and 2004 during a flash Richard gives Locke a compass and tells him to give the compass back to him when they next meet (in the past). Locke flashes to the 50’s meets Richard and gives the compass to Richard. So if Richard gave John the compass in the future and John gives the compass to Richard in the past, what is the origin of the compass? This scenario presents itself as an example of an ontological paradox.

As defined in Wiki, this not only creates a loop, but a situation where these items have no discernible origin. Physical items are even more problematic than pieces of information, since they should ordinarily age and increase in entropy according to the Second law of thermodynamics. But if they age by any nonzero amount at each cycle, they cannot be the same item to be sent back in time, creating a contradiction unless it is a reproduced item such as a seed, spore, etc.

Anyway, it’s a small theory, but a prime and maybe only example of a provable paradox on the show so far. Thoughts????

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12 thoughts on “A compass points back to the future

  1. these paradoxes really hurt my head, but… remember when Faraday goes back and tells Desmond to find his mother and then Desmond wakes up in the future and remembers it for the first time. Similar to this, is it not possible that Richard obtains the compass sometime between 1955 and 2004 and then gives it to Locke to give to himself back in 1954 for whatever reason.

    What i find weird is how did richard know when and where exactly Locke was going to flash to give him the compass in the first place. How did he know??? he mustve talked to Locke sometime in the future who wouldve told him where and when he flashed…im confusing myself!!

  2. Sorry. Just messing around. But it’s Angelo Comet google ‘A Lost Place’ check it out.

    I have a far fetched theory on this. It is that Ben Manipulated Smokey to form Alpert when he met him after Ethan shot him and he gave him the compass. To me that scene didn’t seem like the real Alpert. Honestly the first time watched that live it seemed to me he was acting exactly like Ben even the way he wore his glasses and his mannerisms. Anyway maybe a manipulation by Ben to mess with the Alpert in 54′ and info he could use later.

  3. Future Richard knew because past Richard received the compass from time traveling John who told past Richard about the fact that future Richard will ask him to give him the compass in the past.

  4. So are you saying basically how can Locke time travel with something just handed to him. Because I’m confused.

    If I’m standing here and I have a time machine next to me and lets say my Grandpa hands me his watch and says get in that time machine and give me this watch back when you see me again 20 years in the past. I get in the time machine go back I hand him his watch. Now I get back in the time machine go forward 20 years and he has the watch to give to me. Its physically possible to have a compass so what does it matter where it came from.

    Sorry if I’m missing the point.

  5. Hi username, I recall in the Podcast following this episode, the writers saying that anything you had in your possession, in ‘the flashes’ on ‘the island’, travelled with you.

    This would also apply to Jin’s wedding ring, which he gave Locke in one of ‘the flashes’.

    So, I ma not sure if they are a clear cut case of a paradox. Just my take.

  6. interesting dabs,
    but if locke gave richard the compass in the past and richard gave locke the same compass in the future what is the origin of the compass?

  7. It would be a paradox if we knew that the only reason Richard had the compass was because Locke gave it to him and the only reason Locke had the compass was because Richard gave it to him. We don’t know how Richard got the compass.

    What if it went like this… Richard gives Locke the compass and tells him to give it to him in 1954. Locke goes back to 1954, talks to Richard and gives him the compass. Richard looks at it and realizes (since Locke told him that Richard had given him the compass) that this object, which Richard already has or will encounter later in his life, is important and he should hold onto it to give to Locke in the future. It doesn’t have to be the same compass. Richard could have thrown it out after Locke gave it to him.

    So no paradox. Well, not necessarily a paradox… we won’t really know until we see a compass-centric episode so we know what happened to it from the time it was manufactured to the time it gets tossed.

    I don’t think we’ll see an episode about the compass.

  8. highbrow,
    i still don’t see an existence for the compass outside of Locke giving it to Richard in the past and Richard giving Locke the compass in the future (a loop). I know what your saying, but if what we have seen on Lost is what happened, the compass has no discernible origin. Unless you are talking about 2 time lines in play.

  9. No, not two timelines.

    Some company manufactures the compass and shoves it into a box of Sugar Bombs. Young Richard finds it while eating his breakfast and decides to keep it. At some point later John Locke shows up and gives Richard this compass and Richard knows this is important because the compass is important to him and he wouldn’t give it to just anyone…

    Richard now has two of them. Later, he gives one to John Locke.

    The compass clearly has an origin. It just loops back once before moving with time.

  10. OK try this . One day before 1954 lets say 1953. Richard goes to see Jacob. Jacobn says hey listen I want to give you something that is very important to both of us.

    Richard “Whats that”

    Jacob “This compass it is very important”

    Richard “Why Dude”

    Jacob “Because it goes Koo-Koo every time it points North, No just kidding. Someday someone special who will eventually save us all, will show up and have the exact same one. Now when he shows up and gives his back to you, I want you to bring it to me”.

    So John shows up Richard freaks runs back and gives it to Jacob tells him all about it. Jacob then gives him further instruction.

    You see Jacob occupation is Compass maker and he loves it

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