Dharma Initiative’s Purpose/Valenzetti Equation

I was reading about the Valenzetti Equation on Lostpedia and I came up with this about a minute ago (and it’s really late!), so bear with me if it’s garbled…lol.

Alright, so for those of us who don’t really read Lostpedia and refer ONLY to the show for information..when I am talking about the Valenzetti Equation, I am simply referring to the numbers Hurley thinks are evil (and won the lotto with). To name a few places we have seen these numbers: on the hatch door, Hurley’s lottery, the cave where UnLocke took Sawyer..etc. As far as I know, the numbers have never been referred to as the “Valenzetti Equation” on the show itself. Correct me if I am wrong (and cite evidence please)! I got the name from Lostpedia…continuing on.. the numbers apparently denote the number of years and days until the end of the world. The Dharma Initiative (DI) tried to manipulate the “core factors” of the equation to prevent doomsday but failed because they kept arriving at the same six numbers.

On Lostpedia, it says that the DI tried to manipulate the numbers by manipulating the environment. Now, I do not know if the environment means the world in general, or only the island. Whatever I summarized above was basically ALL I read and understood from the short article on the Valenzetti Equation.

The following is my theory based on the above.

I have two ideas about the environment. One is that the DI needed a safe space to manipulate the general world’s environments, but they had no space to do this that was safe for populations. For example, if I want to test a bomb, I don’t want to explode it near a city when I don’t know the radius of the explosion, right? Similarly, perhaps the DI traveled to an undiscovered island and conducted experiments to manipulate the environment. Perhaps these experiments are what gave the island its powers – time travel, moving around to different locations, healing, etc.

My OTHER idea is that the island already had its special properties – time travel, moving around, healing, etc. – and this is why the DI traveled there to conduct the experiments. Perhaps the DI thought that the island’s unique properties were conducive to changing the “core factors” of the Valenzetti Equation. (I put “core factors” in quotes because I have zero knowledge of what that phrase means…ha ha!)

Regardless of which of my two ideas may be correct, let’s see what we know about the DI stations. (I mix up all the names – forgive me..)

Remember the Orchid? Ben took Locke there in an elevator headed way down into the ground.. Then, Ben proceeded to show Locke a video made by the DI on time travel. (Yes, that video with the time traveling bunny!!) Now, why the heck would the DI, who are “conducting psychology experiments” (psh, yeah right) need a time machine? Well, if they were trying to change an equation to save the world and ran out of time, it makes sense to have a fall back. That fall back could be… going BACK in time to give themselves a second (or third or fourth) chance at it. For example, if you knew your spouse was going to die in three days but had a button to keep starting the three days over and over, wouldn’t you keep pushing it? Similarly, I think because the DI kept failing, they kept repeating a certain period of time over and over again (hence so many time loop theories on the internet) to buy themselves more time to successfully manipulate the Valenzetti Equation. This would also explain why Jacob and MiB had that weird conversation on the beach…MiB says “It always ends the same..” (with time having to be reset/replayed) and Jacob says something like “It only ends once, everything else is just progress..” Every time the time loop plays, the equation gets closer and closer to being changed but then they run out of time and the loop has to start over….

Let’s see..then we have a DI station built for polar bears (I forget the name of the station – Hydra?). Polar bears…on an island which has a tropical climate? Well, if the DI were trying to manipulate the environment, maybe they were trying to do something involving the climate. The only things related to “cold” on the island are the polar bears and the donkey wheel, which is located in a freezing underground tunnel-like place. Perhaps the DI were trying to see if the polar bears could adjust? Or perhaps they were trying to change the environment so that the polar bears wouldn’t have to adjust…

The brainwashing station: I don’t know the name for this, but it’s where the Losties rescued Carl from..he was buckled in a seat watching this insane video with loud noise.. Perhaps when the DI couldn’t control the climate, they tried to control people…by unethical methods such as brainwashing…similarly, why would the DI need a station for nerve/toxic gas (I am referring to the place Faraday and Charlotte went to deactivate the gas)? Hmm, not clear on this point.

If my theory were to be plausible, Jacob and MiB have to have a big role, because they are cognizant of the time loops. Here is my big picture…. What if MiB resets time? What if that is his job? What if MiB’s sole purpose is to sit on his ass all day, wait until DI/Losties/Others/people/etc. fail at changing the equation and saving the world and then RESET the time loop?

And what if all Jacob does all day is find people to come to the island and manipulate them into successfully changing the equation so that one day MiB doesn’t reset the time loop and the world survives peacefully? If you think about it..their conversation on the beach makes sense now. MiB said “Still trying to prove me wrong?” Perhaps he said this because MiB, after resetting the loop several times, believes that people will always fail and Jacob is always trying to prove him wrong by bringing different groups to the island.

What if keeping MiB ON the island keeps him DOING his job…if MiB leaves..who the hell is going to RESET time?!?! And if the Losties don’t change the equation successfully and MiB isn’t there to reset time, then guess what happens to the world? POOF!!! The world ends.

I suspect MiB is sick of being on the island and witnessing the same failures over and over and wants to get off the island. But if he does, the world will end for sure – UNLESS, the Losties can change the “core factors” of the Valenzetti Equation before the end of the time loop comes this time!!

Well, I was going to end it there but here’s a little more speculation.

We know that Ben knew about the donkey wheel…who else did? Did all the Others know? Did the DI know? Did the DI harness the power of the donkey wheel to run the time machine? Or did the DI create the donkey wheel to harness the natural power of the island? Was it coincidence the time traveling station (Orchid) was located closest to the donkey wheel? Let’s say both the DI and the Others knew about it. We saw what misuse of the donkey wheel can do – cause the island to erratically move in both time and space. If the island ever ended up in ancient Egyptian times like it did in the 70s, then that gave it plenty of time for Egyptians to wash up there and set up temples, the Tawaret statue, etc. Maybe it’s been inhabited many times over – even more than we think. We know about the Black Rock, Rousseau’s team, Eko’s brother’s plane, Desmond, the DI and the Losties and Others…perhaps many more groups have come and gone… But from one play of the time loop to the next, we know a few things stay constant. And that is Jacob, MiB, and Richard.

What if MiB was indeed a man, but when “assigned” his job of resetting time, received powers (i.e. smoke/transformation) that turned him into something timeless? What if Jacob chose Richard to exist throughout all the replays of time (to help the different groups), hence why Richard’s life span is so long? Perhaps touching people allows them to remain somewhat aware/affected of a previous time loop? All the Losties in the FSW would then still be interconnected despite the island sinking then. They would still be affected by Jacob’s touch despite having no memory of what the previous time loop held. Thus, we see Jack’s certain expressions in the FSW as if he thought the plane was supposed to crash before it lands safely at LAX.

Maybe the FSW is showing what happens if the Losties succeed in changing the Valenzetti equation. MiB and Jacob will no longer be needed, and either will the island. So, maybe, just maybe….that’s why it’s at the bottom of the ocean.. =)

I would love to hear your thoughts!

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I started watching Lost just this year and caught up on all the previous 5 seasons in three's amazing, and I really love shows/movies involving time travel!

18 thoughts on “Dharma Initiative’s Purpose/Valenzetti Equation

  1. This is one of the better theories that I have heard in a long time. I believe the DI knew about the FDW…on an ‘ultrsound’ picture’ that the asian doctor was holding and referring to as they drilled, one can see what looks like the wheel in that ultrasound picture….they knew what they were doing and what they were drilling for…the question is how. Likely thru prior time loops as your theory suggests.

  2. “Well, if they were trying to change an equation to save the world and ran out of time, it makes sense to have a fall back. That fall back could be… going BACK in time to give themselves a second (or third or fourth) chance at it”

    Exactly, could not agree more, and I believe this is the basis for the theories I have argued along similiar lines before.

    ie an apocalyptic event and how humans try to avoid this using science, time travel and other research.

    You have expressed and written this very clearly and comprehensively.

    Maybe Widmore, Jacob, Richard Eloise are all on the same team?

  3. Thanks, nachochris. When I was writing it, I really felt like I was onto something that was simple enough, that if it were true, the writers could explain it easily enough to viewers considering the short amount of time we have left.

    I’ve read other time loop theories that haven’t really incorporated MiB and Jacob or the equation the way I have, but those seemed really complicated and I couldn’t understand how viewers were expected to understand the time loops.

    As for Widmore, Jacob, Richard and Eloise..I had written a separate theory proposing two possibilities about Widmore..(please do read it, if you like) of possibilities stated that Widmore knew of Locke’s death off-island and knew this meant Jacob would be defeated (remember, he said as much to Locke). Hence, he came to the island to help Jacob’s cause and fight MiB.

    My other idea was that Widmore knew Jacob’s defeat would mean MiB wanting to get off the he took his sub there to trade his sub for the right to take over the island (which we saw MiB offer Ben).

    I don’t think Eloise and Widmore have contact, because Widmore was looking for the island for MANY years, and if he has just gone to Eloise’s DI station off-island, he could have seen the island’s location-predictor gizmo and used it.

    Anyway, here is a link to that theory:

    It’s better written there, I just tried to give you a brief overview. =)

  4. i was actually reading your post when you commented on mine haha freaky! (it takes me a while to read posts, since im doing it at work and have to sneak in a paragraph or two between actual work lol) but yeah i totally love your explanation of DHARMA, this is probably the easiest way to explain the time loop theories. i love that you tie in the polar bears and stations, it all makes sense to me! the only thing i dont think i agree with is i feel like MIB and Jacob have bigger roles to play than just resetting the time, not sure what their roles are but i feel like they’re something more.
    as far as the equation for the numbers, is that just a lostpedia thing cuz i dont remember hearing that name at all in the show? i like how you tie it in with the dharma experiments thou.

    great post!!!!

  5. Bravo, monini! I’m definitely loving how you clearly express how DHARMA fits in with all of this… we’ve been kind of ignoring that big question mark looming over DHARMA because of everything else going on this season– but they can’t have it be so central to these characters’ lives and never give an explanation of what they were REALLY doing on the island… I really enjoyed how you explain the timeloop and characters trying to go back in time to fix things/prevent the apocalypse/save humanity somehow.

    obsessed– Valenzetti is an off-season/hiatus thing (game or show-related novel maybe), I believe. It was never expressly called that IN the show. No worries, because I also try not to pay attention to those hiatus game things, but people will use info from those games/novels when doing theories on this site so hence why I eventually learned what that was. Hehe.

  6. im guessing manipulating the environment meant the world but they did their experiments on the island because of its special qualities..

    I completely agree with this.. Youv pleased me 🙂

    But i dont think the DI created the donkey wheel because if you remember to the beginning of season 5, they stop drilling and take and xray photo thingy and they can see the outer part of the wheel and have no idea what it is.

    And ‘core factors’? .. I dunno.. the ‘Main things’? :s .. It sounded good anyway! 🙂

  7. @ obsessedwLost: Haha, that is freaky! Must be Jacob’s I do think that Jacob and MiB are very central, and I didn’t explain who or what institution gave them their “jobs”, but I do think they are the backbone to the whole time looping. I also like how the polar bears and Dharma got incorporated..if you would point out any other random things in the show, I’ll try to make it fit into my theory (in fact I just thought of something else..) Also, the Valenzetti Equation was never explicitly mentioned on the show..on the show, they are just referred to as “the numbers” or in relation to Hurley or the hatch door…but Hurley also hinted the numbers were evil/bad luck, so Lostpedia’s article about them predicting doomsday didn’t seem like such a far cry away…

    @ADayAfar: I was waiting for your feedback since you liked my other posts =) I, too, was struggling with why the heck the writers had the DI there in the first place, because after everything we have seen with them, nobody really has a concrete idea of what they are doing on the island in the first place, or when they first came and for what purpose. I’m glad you enjoyed my post and if you guys would try to poke holes in my theory, it will help me to flush it out further. =)

    @ SawyersGirl: Glad to have pleased you! Now that you mention the x-ray thing (would you mind telling me the episode?) and the donkey wheel, it seems to me that the DI made the Orchid station in a strategic position near the donkey wheel to harness the island’s time traveling properties. As for the “core factors”..I’m sure it’s some ambiguous term from Lostpedia that nobody really knows the meaning

  8. @ everyone!! I randomly remembered Rousseau’s recording that Sayid determined was playing on repeat for 16 years (refer to season 1). This made me think: The time loop itself has to be longer than 16 years. I know that’s a minor point, but it helps explain why people have been shown young and old on the island (i.e. Charles Widmore was in his 25ish or so then got banished by Ben around 40ish).

    Here is another random thought: Women can’t have babies right? Allow me to illustrate this problem with a theoretical example (these dates are arbitrary). Let’s say I am on the island in the year 2010 and I have a baby. Then ten years pass, and it’s 2020 and time has come for MiB to reset the loop because my friends and I have failed to change the numbers. Let’s say he resets time to 2000 (ten years before I had the baby). When MiB resets time, I will forget everything that happened to me and my consciousness from 2000 – 2020 will be wiped out and I will start back at 2000. Maybe MiB can reset people’s consciousness to a certain *reference* point in their lives..but the baby was never born yet in the year 2000, so MiB has no reference for this new person and therefore, resetting time would be like murdering that ten year old. Murder clearly isn’t the point of the time loop, so perhaps this is why the “rules” don’t allow for human births on the island.

    Claire could have had Aaron because he already existed off-island before Claire crash landed there on flight 815. Rousseau is just like Claire: her baby was conceived off-island and born on the island with no health problems. Sun, on the other hand and unlike Claire, conceived her baby ON the island. Ji-Yeon did not exist beforehand like Aaron or Alex. However, upon leaving the island, Sun had her baby and she was healthy.

    (You know, for all the complaining Juliet did about pregnant women dying, we have three healthy babies to show for

    Now, if Sun had stayed on the island, we can assume she would have died along with her unborn fetus as Juliet stated the immune system turns on the baby and attacks it. The fact that she had the baby safely once she got off-island implies that distancing herself from the island prevented her immune system from attacking the baby. This implies that proximity to the island changes how the time loop affects people.

    I think that the outside world is affected differently than the island itself and its inhabitants when MiB resets time.

  9. This is from my theory- “record Theory- Awesome”

    “The following was taken from The Lost Experience, an online alternate reality game designed by the writers and producers of Lost to engage fans and expand the storyline that is played in between the seasons: Enzo Valenzetti is the reclusive Princeton University mathematician who was commissioned by the UN in 1962 to investigate the threat of mankind extinguishing itself. The result of his research was the Valenzetti Equation. According to the 1975 orientation film in the Sri Lanka Video (part of The Lost Experience), the Valenzetti Equation “predicts the exact number of years and months until humanity extinguishes itself.” During the video, Alvar Hanso also states that the radio transmitter on the Island will “broadcast the core numerical values of the Valenzetti Equation.” The numbers, 4, 8, 15, 16, 23 and 42, are explained in the Sri Lanka Video, as the numerical values to the core environmental and human factors of the Valenzetti Equation. Alvar Hanso also states in the video that the purpose of the DHARMA Initiative is to change the numerical values of any one of the core factors in the equation in order to give humanity a chance to survive by, effectively, changing doomsday. This is a fact that the writers have put into this story.

    Looking at the bold above it leads one to believe that if any one of the remaining people(numbers) can be changed (Hurley,Sayid,Sawyer,Jack,Jin) it can give humanity a chance to survive by, effectively, changing doomsday. They ARE the variables.

    Every weird and bazaar thing we have seen on this show was either MIB or Jacobs’s influence on the players and the people surrounding the players.

    Picture a record spinning on a record player. Now imagine that the groove on the record is the timeline of existence, as we know it. The very first point of the record is what we know as “The Big Bang”, it is the start of the universe, the beginning of everything. The end of the record is just the opposite, doomsday, the end of existence with a “Big Bang”. The Record then repeats. The big bang is actually the beginning and the end, it’s the restart. “

  10. I don’t think they are gonna mess with the “Valenzetti Equation” this far in the story, since lots of people have never played the game you mentioned and/or never read about it in any site(Older people, busy people, etc…).
    Remember this is a tv show. Is produced by ABC and is meant to be “understood” by everyone (or at least by most poeple), not just a selected group of people.

    (Sorry for my not so good english.)

  11. Monini,

    Your Valenzetti Equation theory is probably as close to the answer as we’re gonna get until the bitter end.

    However, it does not explain who Jacob and MIB are. I believe the answer to this question is the final end. Once sentence, no further explanation will be required.

    Loving the mystery …

  12. wharfrat – as i started reading you comment, i started thinking, what if the numbers arent just numerical values, what if they are the people and the people need to be changed not the equation itself. and sure enough, you said the same thing!

    so what if DHARMA didn’t understand that and that’s why they came did all these experiments to change the numerical values themselves, by manipulating the environment and such. and that’s why they failed cuz they were trying to change the wrong thing.

    jacob on the other hand, knows that you are supposed to change the people, but probably didnt know what the mathemtical equations was, so he brought a bunch of people to the island, assigned them numbers, tested them, one by one the people changed, as in the accepted their faults, but their changing didnt affect anything, so jacob “killed” them off, so now the only people that remain are the people who were assigned the important numbers, and if these people change then the fate of humanity will change.

    what do you guys think?

  13. Glaw: “I don’t think they are gonna mess with the “Valenzetti Equation” this far in the story”– The reason why the Valenzetti Equation hasn’t been brought up by the producers on the show is because the doomday answer is the BIG answer we are all looking for: what does all of this mean? and why is it happening? answer:the prevention of or cause of doomsday. “[Lost] is meant to be “understood” by everyone (or at least by most poeple), not just a selected group of people.” – I can explain the Valenzetti Equation to the most casual viewer in 1 paragraph or in a 5 minute scene.

    We know that the D.I. was doing experiments to change one of the numeric values , we also know that these values are actually people “we are the variables”, and we know that if you change a numeric value you can prevent doomsday.. So if A=B and B=C then A=C. If you change the people you can prevent doomsday.
    We wont hear the name valentetti until one of the last episodes.

    AnnaCee: “it does not explain who Jacob and MIB are.” – Where do Jacob and MIB fit into this? It would seem to me and to obsessedwithlost that the DI had the question but didnt know the answer, and Jacob and MIB had the answer but didn’t know the question. I see Jacob and MIB as a very powerful yin/yang charecter. I wouldn’t say god and the devil but just opposites.
    At this point i’m not sure if its MIB or Jacob that want to bring on doomsday. I think we are supposed to believe its the MIB. The other is trying to prevent it.

    Flash sidways is what happens after they prevent doomsday from happening. We are watching the ending of the show in those flash sideways.

    WHY CAN I NOT STILL POST ON THE THEORY BOARD??!!! I’ve been signed up for weeks and it still takes 1 1/2 weeks to see my post.

  14. wharfrat77: Just wanted to say… I know the feeling! The admin is probably backed up on all the posts… since she’s overseas. Plus I think she bookmarks everything from Tuesday to Thursday since Lost airs later in the UK.

    I have a Sun/Jin theory I finally posted and am SO anxious to get feedback/other people’s opinions. But it hasn’t been approved and I’m afraid won’t be until the weekend! :[ I feel your pain!

  15. wharfrat, adayafar – i know it’s so annoying having to wait days to see your theories! at first i thought ok it’s my first one, she she has to approve it, then i was like ok i have under 10 maybe once i get more than 10 theories, now i have more than 10 and it still takes ages for my theories to show up!

  16. @ Glaw: They don’t necessary need to tie in the Valenzetti Equation using that name, or for that matter, even the numbers. As long as imminent doom is mentioned, the time loop theory can still hold. We know that the island does have some time issues, because the doctor from the freighter washed up on shore before he was actually killed. The writers should have some time explanations.

    @SawyersGirl: Thanks!!!!

    @AnnaCee: I hope I am right, so I can have the luxury of saying so after the fact =) but this show has been anything but predictable, so let’s see how it plays out. =)

    @ wharfrat: I was actually thinking MiB is not himself causing the doomsday. He has been cast as an evil entity, but my theory proposes that it is not him that is causing the end of the world, rather, only his absence and lack of duty (or should I say unwillingness to fulfill his dharma) will cause time NOT to reset, therefore resulting in the end of the world.

    Also, I understand your frustration guys..I had written this post like two days before it got uploaded to the site =(

  17. First off, I like this theory.

    I think Widmore started DHARMA and brought them to the Island and was working with them to create the stations (the gas station was created by Widmore to get rid of DHARMA once they achieved his goals). That is how he knew about the pylons. They are the same ones he had DHARMA set up. Widmore showed them the wheel and the swan pocket of energy.
    So, what does Widmore want? I believe he wants to harness time travel and eternal life to rule the world. I like the idea that they kept screwing up. So Widmore kills them all but his plans are messed up when Ben steals his power and banishes him…

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