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Inside Tech: Solving the final Lost mystery

18 · FEB ·2016

Lost was a hit TV show that offered as many questions as it did answers. However since it ended in 2010, there has been one question in particular that diehard fans have been simply unable to answer. Now, for the first time in history, we can use a little bit of science to finally put an end to one of the decade’s hottest internet debates. -- If you haven’t seen Lost then I’ll quickly catch you up. A passenger plane with onboard 3G crashes onto an unknown tropical island and the survivors become stranded (or lost) with the twist being that they are all metaphorically lost too, like emotionally. Yada yada yada The Island is magic, they press a button and everybody lives happily ever after, except for Vincent the dog, whose left alone to die after his owner (do you ever really own a dog?) perishes in the jungle after sticking a rock in a hole – the end. Basic stuff right? So where’s the mystery? Relax already, we’re getting there. Before we solve the mystery, I feel that some background information is in order. After all, Google’s search algorithm prefers longer articles; therefore, if we want to rank higher in search engines then we should keep the word count up. On a side note, Valentine’s Day (outdated reference), business broadband, buy one get one free and cheap business internet deals. Let’s continue. So, alongside the plane crash survivors, The Island is home to a bunch of other people. In the show, these other characters are cleverly referred to as The Others and are made up of a mixture of island natives and ex-Dharma initiative scientists. What’s the Dharma initiative you ask? For you to truly understand the mystery then I should explain. Dharma or the Department of Heuristics and Research on Material Applications is a research project that was primarily involved with fringe science and journeyed to The Island to study its magical properties. They arrived on the Island in the seventies and set up 9 research stations to conduct their experiments. The stations: The Hydra, Arrow, Swan, Pearl, Orchid, Staff, Looking Glass, Tempest and Lamppost usually took the form of hidden underground facilities or bunkers and were rumoured to be all interconnected by a single secret passage. The stations were also equipped with microcomputers that were somehow able to communicate with each other. How were these communicating with each other on a remote island? Well, it’s likely that being advanced scientists, they could have developed a system that used packets to transfer information between computers over a network, which in turn allowed the computers to speak to each other. Think ARPANET (Google it) but on an island. As technology moved on, it would have made sense for them to deploy a satellite internet service, which typically, through geostationary satellites, could offer high data speeds of up to 150Mb/s. As fibre optic infrastructure was simply not available and the Queen’s Award Winning Service Exchange Platform was thousands of miles away, satellite internet would have allowed them to deploy routers and scatter multiple wifi access points around The Island at an affordable cost. The access points would have provided service for wireless IP phones, island monitoring software and other IT services and would have allowed the Dharma Initiative to transfer experiment data between stations freely and quickly. So that’s how they communicated, but what’s the big mystery? Well, for you to truly, madly, deeply understand, I need to offer some further context. So alongside The Others, the Dharma Initiative and the survivors; there was also the Smoke Monster, the Valenzetti equation, the Freighter, electromagnets aaannnd honestly I’ve forgotten what the mystery is. Sorry about that. LOST. Tune in next week for more Inside Tech.

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Posted by Sanita Karra