Juliette is Schrodinger’s cat: a unified theory of parallel timelines, course correcting and Locke/FLocke

The credit for this theory goes in big part to discussion we’ve had recently on the website. I can’t really quote everybody, but I think all the latest 20 posts inspired me in some way.

A lot of people have tried to introduce the concept of the Schrodinger’s cat experiment to Lost. Google it for more information, but the idea is that an event could occur at 50% chance in a box in which you can’t observe. This event leads, or not to the death of a cat. Once you open the box, you can assess whether the cat is dead or not, but before you open it, we can consider “cat living” and “cat dead” as 2 possibilities with equal probabilities. In a popular interpretation of the Schrodinger’s experiment, the universe before you opened the box is seen as a double timeline universe. In one timeline, the cat is dead, and in an other timeline, the cat is alive. Once you open the box, the timelines fuse, and the cat is either dead or alive. Now I’ve contested this view numerous times, because I think there is no such thing as an observer in Lost that, once he sees the events, would lead in a fusion of parallel universes. However I think that the basic idea of the Schrodinger’s experiment and the general idea of highly influencal events with equal probabilities to occur could be interesting.

Juliette is at the bottom of a profound hole drilled into earth in close proximity with a magnetic field. We’re in the 70’s. She’s alone, and there is a H bomb beside her. These are extreme conditions. That seems pretty close to the conditions in which the Schrodinger’s cat is put: hidden from all observers, alone with a mechanism that could lead to its own death, or not, thus creating 2 universes of possibilities, 2 timelines. Let’s assume that anything that happens from the 70’s to today is a pretty linear representation of 1 of those timelines. In fact from what we’ve been shown, there are many complex events happening between the 70’s to today, but all the major time shifts appeared either at the beginning or end of this period (in the 70’s or post-2004), or before. Basically, from the 70’s to 2004, we can consider this as a relatively linear timeline (with some exceptions however, for instance Daniel Faraday talking to Desmond). Seeing Lost in this manner, we could consider that what we’ve been shown in seasons 1 to 5, is one of the possibilities, from the perspective of inside the box itself. Let me explain the sequence of events in each of these timelines. One of these timelines start with Juliette making the bomb explode (cat dead) and the other starts with Juliette not making the bomb explode (cat alive). Thus the “uncertainity” with which the season 5 ends is actually the uncertainity in the Schrodinger’s experiment. And instead of being a “yes or no” case, Juliette making the bomb explodes is a Schrodinger’s paradox case, in one timeline she did, in another she did not. And the meeting at the statue at the end of Season 5 corresponds to the moment when we open the box.

Timeline 1 – Juliette does NOT make the bomb explode. The magnetic phenomenon absorbs lots of metal things. The Dharma people left on the island build a temporary solution which empties the magnetic field every 108 minutes; they eventually patch the whole caves with concrete where they drilled to avoid radiations that come from the non-exploded but exposed H bomb. They eventually set up the computer; Dharma people from the sub come back and set Dharmaville as we know it; Desmond eventually forgets to use the computer which leads in flight 815 to crash. John Locke ends up on the island, then leaves the island, fails in bringing back people, dies, and ends up in a coffin. John Locke is really dead, Ben killed him, he saw him dead for days. There is not doubt in John Locke’s death. This is the timeline that we’ve been shown for 5 seasons, pretty much. Note that in this timeline, Rousseau’s number message is stopped – it doesn’t play anymore because sayid uses the radio tower.

Timeline 2 – Juliette does make the bomb explode. That’s tricky because it’s a timeline that we’ve not been shown – but we’ve been shown bouts of it. When describing the machine that allows her to trace the position of the island, Eloise says that it was designed by very intelligent people; from the Dharma Initiative. Now what I think is that the people who built this thing are the Dharma Initiative people from the submarine. In a timeline where they left by submarine, the bomb exploded, and they had no other way of finding back the island. Another hint that this timeline exists is Rousseau’s numbers that we hear when the Ajira flight is landing; this shows us that in a certain timeline, Rousseau’s numbers were not removed; so flight 815 never crashed in this timeline. Now I don’t know why yet, and I think this is what Season 6 will tell us, but this timeline leads to a living John Locke to arrive to the island – by completely separated events that we’ve not yet been shown. This is what “he’s gone through, to be here”. Somehow, John Locke is brought to the island – not by the Ajira flight.

The “war” that people are referring to might very well be the war for the validation of any of these 2 timelines; in a fight for survival, some people might be interested in one or the other timeline to be true; and since the universe has a “funny way of course correcting”, it might very well happen that events in the future might modify which timeline occurs. For example, when the group leaded by Illanna comes to show the dead body of John Locke, in the future, this is Jacob’s side fighting for timeline 1. When John Locke/smokey fools Ben into killing Jacob, it’s MIB’s side fighting for timeline 2. Somehow the event of Juliette making/not making the bomb explode is tightly linked to the opening of the Schrodinger’s cat box (or John Locke’s coffin) in the present.

And what is the variable influencing whether timeline 1 or 2 occurs ? Essentially, the causal event is Daniel Faraday’s sudden idea that he can change the future; that people are variables and that they can induce timeline 2. All the details about why he suddenly changes his mind on universe remains to be determined, but his mother might have played a big role, like she’s been playing a big role for all important decisions he’s made. If in fact his mother has played a role, we could then align Eloise with timeline 2 – an enemy of Illanna’s group, who fought for timeline 1 by bringing back John Locke.

Altough it is not clear yet in my head, and I invite you guys to comment on that, I suspect that somehow, these timelines are going to be linked to the destiny of MIB and Jacob – somehow the fight for the two timelines will become the fight between these two men.

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13 thoughts on “Juliette is Schrodinger’s cat: a unified theory of parallel timelines, course correcting and Locke/FLocke

  1. Jj23, firstly thank you for presenting a theory which is articulated extremely well. It is concise and explains your position quite nicely.

    I think what stands out to me and makes very good logic is, the reason you have provided for the ‘warring’ factions.

    We have all been wondering what the reasons behind the war is, and what they are fighting over. To suggest that is because each side is wanting a different time line to prevail is indeed plausible and logical in terms of Lost.

    Nice job and very nicely presented!

    PS: What made you a recent ‘believer’ in the Schrodinger Cat theory?

  2. I really like how you presented this theory. I have just a couple of questions. Who or what is talking with Jacob on the beach? And when Ben, Richard, Sun etc. are on their walk with Locke/Flocke to go visit Jacob they stop at Flight 815s old shelter on the beach from when they originally crashed. Wouldn’t that not exist in the new timeline?

  3. I love this! This is another one I have to print out and devote some time to. I will get back to you with my thoughts. You may be interested in a post I wrote a few monthes ago entitled “Schrodinger’s Island.”

  4. @dabiatchishere

    Actually, in the original theory I wrote, I made a whole paragraph explaining why I was opposing to some aspects of the Schrodinger cat’s theory that other presented, but I deleted this paragraph because I wanted to concentrate on proving my own point instead of bashing against other people. However here’s my position, simply : I never had anything against the Schrodinger’s cat theory, it’s just that I think every time it was brought here, the focus on the observer has been too big, as if the observer would actually cause the events, which I think is not even the case in the original theory. So I have nothing against the idea of 2 parrallel universe, what I’m opposed to is to put too much focus on some kind of ‘observer’ that would cause the events by opening the box.


    In the context of my theory, MIB and Jacob would, the war between the 2, and the fact that MIB needs to find a loophole, all of this, will be caused by events occuring AFTER the end of Season 5 (after present day). Altough I do not have a precise idea on what these events could be, basically it will be the 2 timelines leading in 2 interest groups and eventually 2 persons : MIB and Jacob. Both with their own interests, both struggling to find a way to make their timeline “win”. At some point they will be sent to the past and that will result in the big 1800-2007 timeloop that Lost is. To me MIB is a pretty normal human being, no superpower.

    “And when Ben, Richard, Sun etc. are on their walk with Locke/Flocke to go visit Jacob they stop at Flight 815s old shelter on the beach from when they originally crashed. Wouldn’t that not exist in the new timeline?”

    My point is that what we have seen at the end of Season 5 is the collision between 2 timelines, kind of the “opening of the box”. Ben Richard Sun walking with Flocke to kill Jacob is MIB’s side fighting for timeline 2. Illanna coming with the dead body of John Locke is fighting for timeline 1.

    @All of you

    Also I would like to add something, this theory would explain basically every appearance of dead persons in Lost. The moments where dead people talk to living people would actually be small-scale collisions between the 2 timelines where the person is dead in 1 timeline but alive in the other one. The island would be a privileged location to make the link between the 2 timelines. Except for Hugo who sees dead people outside the island, but Jacob says he’s “gifted”.

  5. @Roland

    So yes I forgot to mention : we do expect the Flight 815 old shelter to be on the beach because the quantum uncertainity between the 2 timelines has not been resolved yet. It might very well be resolved when living John Locke meets his own body (“they’re coming”), he seemed gueninely afraid when Jacob said that. Or living John Locke might just escape in some way and the 2 timelines would not be resolved yet. It is my impression that the conflict between the 2 timelines will not be resolved because when asked about why they bring John Locke’s body to the statue, Illana’s group does not say : to eliminate the ennemy. They say : “so they know who they’re up against”.

  6. Jj23, Firstly, please call me dabs. Thanks for providing the insight on ‘the observer’ aspects. It is definitely worth considering as you have outlined.

    Once again, this was an excellent theory, and I can’t tell you how much I love that you have provided insight into the reason each side is warring over!

    Top Notch theory!
    5 Stars!

  7. Yo JJ!

    I see what you mean in your comments on my theory – they both kinda fit together, huh?

    Re the S.C. stuff – I think yes, it does apply to Juliet’s plight AT THE MOMENT as she is secluded and we don’t know the answer right now. But that’s where the metaphor ends. That theory and any broader events of Lost are mutually exclusive by definition.

    That aside;
    I think we’re VERY much on the same page both in terms of what you are thinking of as evidence of “unresolvedness” of the timelines, as well as that the “War” has been/will be temporal as much physical. I just can’t see them going all “Band of Brothers” with Lost. LOL. Not on any full scale that we picture a war anyway.

  8. I love this idea and that you were able to express it clearly. Really cool stuff.

    It’s really interesting when you combine it with the popular belief that Jacob’s touch means Jack, Kate, Hurley, Sayid, Sawyer, Sun, Jin, and John will retain their memories/consciousness from one timeline – while physically existing in another.

  9. Jj23, I really like how you adopted Schrodinger’s cat for your theory. Back in June I did a similar theory entitled “Schrodinger’s Island” and it dealt with using Quantum Suicide to get around the Grandfather Paradox that seems to be set up with the bomb going off. I think your theory compliments what I did earlier rather well.

    I do disagree with you about when the box is opened. And the root of the disagreement is simply because I view the whole Island as the box. IMO the box was opened much earlier when the Swan was destroyed and briefly revealed to the rest of the world. For me, this is the point in Lost when it all went south for everyone.

    I really like the way you figured Dharma into everything and your idea about the war being over which timeline being the correct one is simply great.

    Good job on a well thought out theory!

  10. i realy enjoyed this theory, however, the more i read about this schrodingers cat theory, i still dont even get it, it doesnt make any sense to me.

    but i will get it soon, then i can actualy have something of worth saying!


  11. losts-columbo : you don’t seem to be the only one to be lost, a lot of people have reported that, so here’s an attempt at making it more pedagogical.

    Imagine 3 magnets. 2 of them are fixated. The third magnet is attracted by the 2 others, and is left free to move right at the middle of the 2 magnets. Theoritically, if the magnet is placed exactly at the middle of the 2 other magnets, very very precisely at the middle, it would stay there forever. However in practice, it is impossible to reach that perfection : magnetism always tried to find the simplest solution. Only 1 micrometer of difference between the distance between one of the magnet and the freely moving magnet is enough to make it go to this magnet. So for the freely moving magnet, there are only 2 solutions : to be attracted by the one to the left, or by the one to the right. There is not other solution so there’s not 15 possibilities : there’s 2. and 1 micrometer, ‘one little push’ will be enough to make it go to the right or to the left. And that’s how things are done in Lost, little push after little push, people working to make the magnet go right or left.

    Now imagine universe is the freely moving magnet. It always tries to find the simplest solution. Now Juliet being in the hole with a H bomb, this very problem has 2 solutions, 2 fixated magnets : the magnet to the left is bomb explodes, the magnet to the right is bomb does not explode.

    I believe what we’ve been shown in 5 seasons is a subjective view of the magnet movements. We’ve been shown the ‘what if it sticks to the left magnet’. I believe season 6 will show ‘what if it sticks to the right magnet’. And during all this time, whether you look at the left or right magnet, the alternative realities 1 or 2, what you see in those realities is people trying to influence the freely moving magnet (course of universe) to come in their direction.

  12. And I would add, there’s no such thing as a ‘middle position’ for this magnet; it has to find a solution because the position in the middle is the less stable solution. It only ends once : once it has sticked to the left or right magnet, it will not ever switch to the other lane. So 1970-2004 is kind of the magnet oscillating between left and right before being definetly attracted by one or the other.

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