casimer effect

Above: Casimer effect illustration from Wikipedia.

Physicist and time-travel guru Michio Kaku told Popular Mechanics last year that some scientists believe time travel through holes in space and time, known as wormholes, might be possible, but there are problems that need to be conquered. First, there’s the matter of energy—massive amounts would be needed to create a black hole, which could function as a portal to another point in space and time. But it would be a one-way trip; black holes aren’t stable enough to stay open on their own. Creating a wormhole, a stable portal through space and time that would allow return trips, would require inconceivable amounts of energy—inconceivable, that is, unless you’re on an island that can make paraplegics walk, harbors a monster of smoke and can disappear off the face of the Earth. Physicists have created tiny amounts of energy in the laboratory using the Casimir Effect—quantum fluctuations that can create energy in a vacuum—but what has been generated in the lab isn’t enough to keep a wormhole open, Kaku says. (We first learned about the Casimir Effect in the Orchid Station orientation video in Season Four’s “No Place Like Home.”)Chang warns a Dharma worker who is drilling into the earth in an attempt to access a buried wheel (the same wheel that Ben uses to move the island some 30-odd years later) that under no circumstances should workers building the Orchid Station set off charges near the pocket of exotic matter during the construction process. When asked what would happen, Chang says only, “God help us all.”

Exotic matter is hypothetical, and physicists such as Kaku know “almost nothing” about what its properties could be. Such matter would have “formed when the Earth was young, and then floated into outer space,” Kaku says, “and therefore there’s none left on Earth.” However, it may have been possible for a pocket of the matter to become accidentally trapped underground. Physicists theorize that exotic matter could have antigravitational properties (so it would fall up) or it would have negative energy (absorbing energy around it, possibly making it implosive). And if it were to have antigravitational properties, it wouldn’t want to stay on Earth either; instead, it would rocket into space—violently. “It would be quite dangerous to people who encounter it,” says Kaku.

Full Story: Popular Mechanics

See also: Popular Mechanics on the science of LOST

What sort of “exotic material” would it take to punch through our reality into the television universe?