Hawking’s Imaginary Voyage (a Copenhagen Interpretation)
I believe what makes Eloise Hawking and Desmond special is that they can see in “imaginary time”.
Imaginary time is a concept created by Stephen Hawking. It is a measurement system, and is not imaginary in the sense that Alice in Wonderland is imaginary; it is imaginary in the sense of imaginary numbers, such as the square root of -4 is 2i.
In this way, it is actually a mathematical model used to represent the universe. From Stephen Hawking’s book “A Brief History in Time”:
“That is to say, for the purposes of the calculation one must measure time using imaginary numbers, rather than real ones. This has an interesting effect on space-time: the distinction between time and space disappears completely.”
Let’s take a look at the Big Bang in Imaginary Time:
According to Stephen Hawking’s theory, the Big Bang singularity – like all singularities – is only a singularity in ordinary time. In imaginary time, it is simply a point analogous to the north pole on the Earth. Although ordinary time begins with the Big Bang, it cannot be truly said that the north pole”begins” the Earth’s surface, so imaginary time has no beginning or end. Therefore, when rephrased in imaginary time, the beginning and end of ordinary time are no more special, unique, or problematic than any other point in time. The dual-time theory clears up the singularity of the Big Bang by restating it in higher dimensions, now of time instead of space. The top of the globe could be considered the “Big Bang” in imaginary time.
Minkowski Space Time also utilizes imaginary time (recall Minkowski was the limo driver for Desmond, and was also on Widmore’s boat that came to the island with the soldiers).
Note: I tried to create links to some Figures to help clarify some of what I have written below. I could not upload the diagrams.
See the link.
An “Event light cone” can be overlaid onto this diagram. I do not have permissions to upload a file, or I would show this. Imagine that a 45 degree line runs to the dot on the space-time interval. This is the right side of the future light cone. The left side would run at a -45 angle. The light cone originates from the origin (0,0), which is the event. See this link for a picture of a light cone.
The event at (0,0) is the specific moment in the present from the point of the observer.
A ‘Light Cone Past’ also exists, which is the mirror image of the light cone future. Are all of the subsequent events that had to occur for the present event to occur are in the ‘Light Cone Past’.
The ‘Light Cone Future’ are all of the possible events that could occur from the current event.
What WILL/DOES occur would look like a sort of wiggly line running up along the future time cone. This is called a WORLD LINE.
So what does this mean for Eloise Hawking and Desmond?
Unlike normal people, I believe they can travel in their minds through imaginary time. That means, , that they can move through time as if it were space. While normal people must follow the WORLD LINE, which is their reality, and can remember the past, Eloise and Desmond can move off of their WORLD LINE into time with their minds. In other words, they can travel to the past and into the potential futures in their minds.
Remember, imaginary time is analogous to space, so one with the ability to do so (Desmond) can move forward, backward, etc. through time just as we can through space.
I think this ability is how Eloise gets her information and seems to know so much. She can see the potential futures because of her ability (the futures in the future time cone), and tries to guide events in the direction that will lead to the WORLD LINE future (the actual future) that she hopes to accomplish.
I believe the same thing has happened recently with Desmond. He has “seen” the potential futures, and is trying to guide events to lead to the future he desires (saving humanity?).
Much like Desmond was woken up to this ability by turning the key in the hatch, Eloise must have been woken up to it as well. Perhaps it was when she touched a dying Daniel Faraday, who she had just shot, and who was a time traveler. Like we are seeing with the Losties in the alternate reality, coming in contact with individuals is waking them up to the their lives in the current reality. Perhaps for Ms. Hawking, when she shot Daniel, and then touched him, she had the ‘flashes’ in her mind that ‘turned on’ her power to travel in imaginary time.
But what about the alternate reality? How does this fit in?
According to Stephen Hawking’s “A Brief History in Time”, there are two possible resolutions to the paradox of time travel:
1. The consistent histories approach
2. The alternative histories hypothesis
What is interesting is that we have seen #1 and a variation of #2 occur in Lost! Let me explain as briefly as possible (for those of you that are still with me):
The consistent histories approach basically states that you could not go back in time unless history showed that you had already arrived in the past and not committed any acts that would conflict with your current situation in the present.
This is exactly what has occurred to the Losties in the current reality. They went back in time to the Dharma Initiative, they exploded the bomb, all of that happened — and there is evidence that it all happened when they first arrived on the island. For example, if Jack et al got onto the island and went (by chance) directly to the Others’ houses (which were once Dharma houses) and found the picture of Jack et al dressed up in Dharma ~1970 suits, that would have verified the consistent histories approach. They were going to go back in time, and the present they were in proved that. “What Happened, Happened.” The travel back in time was part of the current present.
Now, throw in the event of the H-bomb. Aside from the current reality “What Happened, Happened”, the alternate reality exists. This is in line with #2, “the alternative histories hypothesis”, but not in total agreement.
The alternative histories hypothesis states that when time travelers go back into the past, they enter alternative histories which differ from recorded history. This DOES NOT HAPPEN in Lost, because as we know, the history they entered was consistent with the present from which they came. They did not enter a alternative history.
However, when they set of the H-bomb, they “opened the door” to a new reality — a reality that contained both a different past light cone and different future light cone from the standpoint of the present. What I mean is that if you look at Jack’s life in the current reality, including his past and future light cones, it is different from his past, present and future life in the alternate reality. The two Jack’s share a similar past light cone, but they are not the same. Ben is another example of this. He leaves the island with his father in the alternate reality, which would be considered his “past” from our present point of view. So his past and future time cones are different from the “present” vantage point in the current reality, because he kills his father in his ‘past’ light cone.
This leads one to think about the “many worlds” theory, which is basically that there are countless alternate universe in existence, each based on all the possibilities that exist throughout time.
But this is not what is going in Lost, though. I think instead that there are “potential” realities, meaning that the “probability” of their existence exists, but when the rubber meets the road, in the eye of the observer only one existence truly exists.
Take quantum superposition and SchrÃ¶dinger’s cat for example, the latter of which is a thought experiment that tries to cast doubt on Copenhagen interpretation.
From Wikipedia: Broadly stated, a quantum superposition is the combination of all the possible states of a system (for example, the possible positions of a subatomic particle). The Copenhagen interpretation implies that the superposition undergoes collapse into a definite state only at the exact moment of quantum measurement.
In other words, a definite state will only exist once an observer is cognizant of it.
With SchrÃ¶dinger’s cat:
From Wikipedia: A cat, along with a flask containing a poison and a radioactive source, is placed in a sealed box shielded against environmentally induced quantum decoherence. If an internal Geiger counter detects radiation, the flask is shattered, releasing the poison that kills the cat. The Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics implies that after a while, the cat is simultaneously alive and dead. Yet, when we look in the box, we see the cat either alive or dead, not both alive and dead.
I wonder if the alternate reality is something to this affect — something that supports quantum superposition but also experimentally validates SchrÃ¶dinger’s cat?
What I mean is — what if both realities exist in a sort of flux, but will not last forever as this, and the trigger is this: as soon as an outside observation is made, only one reality will actually exist? Just like when you open the box, the cat is either dead or alive.
This may fit into Widmore’s concern that “we will cease to exist” if it is the current reality that disappears.
Obviously, based on the fact that the alternate reality people can see their lives in the current reality, the two realities are tied together and not independent. Therefore, they are not multiple universes, but one universe split (temporarily) into two which will have to revert back to one. So this again supports the fact that these are not two systems running on their own independently to the end of the time, but that they are taking from the same energy source, and cannot do that forever. Back to SchrÃ¶dinger’s cat: all that is holding up the decision is an observer.
If I was to try to tie religion into all of this, perhaps the “observer” in Schrodinger’s cat is, in the case of the two realities, God, or a higher being? Nemesis or Jacob? Someone whose actions cause one of the realities to cease to exist simply by observing or choosing one over the other?
I’m really not sure how that ties in. There is also wave collapse theory, which Achalli has spelled out very well. But in the end, I do believe only one reality can exist, and that both science and religion will somehow play into it.
On the science side, Eloise Hawking has been guiding people along in the background ever since her mind turned on to ‘imaginary time’, just as Desmond is doing now.
Thanks for reading.