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 Schrödinger’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 Schrödinger’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 Schrödinger’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 Schrödinger’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.

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The views of space and time that I wish to lay before you have sprung from the soil of experimental physics, and therein lies their strength. They are radical. Henceforth space by itself and time by itself are doomed to fade away into mere shadows, and only a kind of union of the two will preserve an independent reality. Hermann Minkowski

11 thoughts on “Hawking’s Imaginary Voyage (a Copenhagen Interpretation)

  1. Wow! I think that was a good theory/post, I’m simply not as intelliegent as you! Lol seriously, well done with the research you’ve probably hit the nail on the head and explained a lot of why lost does it time travelling etc interesting you mentioned angles, remember the island can only be travelled to and from on a certain angle! Maybe the island exists between space time/reality?! Good job

  2. Thanks for the comments all!

    Mixen Dixon: great thoughts… i like the idea of the island as the box in Schrödinger’s cat… nice concept! I’m still trying to figure out what would cause the realties to collapse. My idea of Nemesis leaving as the cause doesn’t have a lot of substance behind it yet, and I like the ideas you raise as possibilities….

    Lost Addict: interesting point about the angles and the space/time reality, something to think more about.

  3. Amazing post PB…I really like the thought and research you put into this…and it paid off the whole way through.

    The thought of Hawking seeing imaginary time is quite a nice idea when trying to place her role…makes perfect sense given her name.

    I have to say, Im not a ‘many worlds’ fan…I like to believe that the island is what creates and reconnects this split/parallel/alternate/other timeline…and it will be where it converges back to one…but Im more than open to the infinity idea…just dont think its where they are headed.

    Achalli has done some good work with Schrödinger’s cat and I definitely recommend checking out his post.

    Good Dixon..good add in about MIB and the box…I really like the extra step…

    Good post again CPB…

  4. Thanks A.E.S. Great comments. I’ll read up on Achalli’s post.

    Regarding ‘many worlds’: I’m going to agree with you on that. I have a strange ‘middle’ view on it – rather than there being an infinite number of existing alternate realities as many worlds states, it almost seems as if (in Lost) there are an infinite number of ‘potential’ realities. They are not functioning per se, but can be ‘turned on’ like the alternate reality was in Lost. When that occurs, the new reality is not an independent entity but is rather linked to the ‘true/original’ reality; this link is similar to quantum superposition but with the other positions as ‘potential’ rather than ‘actual’.
    Hope that makes sense? In any case, I’m with you in that I’m not an advocate of the “many worlds”, but rather “many ‘potential’ worlds”.

  5. potential…THAT makes some snese now…

    I may even go as far to say that someone like Desmond may be the key to unlocking that potential…
    Hawking on the other hand, has the ability to unlock it, but chooses not to. Simply using the word ‘imaginary’ makes me smile on this one.

    I cant help but make a mental connection to ‘imagination’, and the possibility that maybe Hawking isnt actually trying to stop Desmond from changing the past…but rather stop him from correcting it.

    SHE knew the future through Dans book…and I cant help but feel that maybe she helped change the past due to her knowledge. She was still with Widmore when she found it, so they both learned the future most likely.

    Maybe Desmond was never trying to change the past, maybe he was trying to make what happened happened…

    I slightly confused myself now…let me know if that makes any sense…
    good comment PB

  6. A.E.S. – nice comment. Yes, I believe that does make sense and is possible. If she had Faraday’s book AND can travel through imaginary time like Desmond, perhaps she has been pushing a ‘new/alternate’ future that she has envisioned through her ability to see many potential outcomes (many different WORLD LINES)… and by doing so has chosen a new WORLD LINE (a new reality) and attempts to avert the present future (the present future? the current future?) that contains the reality where she kills her own son.
    I guess it comes down to her motive – is she working to utilize Desmond to help a higher cause (save humanuty?) or is she trying to change the course of events to a future where Daniel lives?

  7. Good point on the motive.
    She certainly seemed content with the reality that was her married to Charles and having Dan around. Which does make sense as a mother and a human being to make that choice.
    I cant help but feel there is more to it still.

    By her pushing Desmond to the island, it ultimately led to his off island shenanigans in the fsw…but it also led to something else.
    He crashed the plane, which in turn abled the losties to go through all that they did…and in my opinion create the fsw, or at least the connection between them by sinking the island.

    If she does have motive, and it is for her to have what she does in the FSW, then the island being destroyed is what I believe she would ultimately want…

    If she is going for the higher cause, than it seems that her being with Dan would fit.

    I think with a theme displayed commonly on Lost involves ‘sacrifice’, this almost pits her against the ‘save the world’ type of image, and presents more of a ‘save myself and my desires’ personification in my eyes.

    I never trusted her…not for a minute. Its obvious she knows more than she leads on, and her doing things for personal gain wouldnt surprise me one bit if that is the answer to her motive.

  8. Very nicely done Claire’s PB. “A Brief History of Time” is not a book I have read yet. The information and research you provided and how you connected it to Lost was very enlightening.

    As AES has pointed out I have done several posts using quantum physics. “Schrodinger’s Island” was the first one and it concerns a concept known as Quantum Suicide. Quantum Suicide is simply Schrodinger’s Cat from the pov of the cat. In this thought experiment a man is locked in a room and can not receive any information from the outside. There is a gun rigged to a detector that detects the spin of a particle. If it spins one way the gun goes of and kills the man. It spins the other way and the trigger is pulled but the gun doesn’t go off. HOWEVER, each time the trigger is pulled the universe splits and in one universe the man lives while in the other the man dies. The man that lives is unaware of the other universe where he is dead. By continually repeating this sequence he achieves a sort of”quantum immortality. ” Check out the post when you get a chance. “Surfing The Possibility Waves,” “The Universe Next Door,” and “Yet Another Twist: Einstein, The Swan, and The Eldridge.” Just click on my screen name to bring up my profile and a list of all my posts.

    Once again a very good job on your theory.

  9. That was fantastic. You should become a teacher!!
    If turning the hatch key made Desmond able to travel through imaginary time, I would think that it was the EM energy that made that possible, and so I also think that energy would have something to do with the “power” Eloise has. Just touching her dead son doesn’t seem important enough.

  10. DrMrWizard, thanks for the comment. I agree, Eloise just touching her dead son probably was not what triggered it, but something connected to EM energy.
    Achalli, I like that theory of quantum suicide. I’ll definitley take a look at your quantum posts.
    A.E.S., yes I don’t trust Eloise either… will be very interesting to finally find out what her motive is!

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