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How the DHARMA Initiative Works


Grand Unified Theories
Where did all of these supplies go when the Others abandoned the medical station? Were they even there to begin with, or was Claire hallucinating?
Where did all of these supplies go when the Others abandoned the medical station? Were they even there to begin with, or was Claire hallucinating?
Photo copyright © 2004 ABC, Inc. / Mario Perez

Plenty of armchair mad scientists have come up with theories about exactly what causes the strange happenings on the island and in the lives of the survivors before the crash. Whatever the mystery turns out to be, it's likely that the DHARMA Initiative will be involved in studying or causing the phenomena. Here are some of our favorite theories.

First Contact: A New Life Form

The black smoke monster seems to be sentient -- it could be a previously undiscovered form of intelligent life. It can read people's thoughts and display images from their pasts. It also behaves differently based on how people respond to it and whether they are a threat to the island. It seems to be intelligent or programmed to react in a specific way to certain stimuli. Maybe Television Without Pity recapper Dan Qua is right -- it's the Iron Giant, and he's decided that not being a gun is for saps.

Using the Force: Electromagnetic Radiation

Electromagnetic radiation (EM) powers everything from TVs to Magnetic Resonance Imaging machines. (It also powers Magnetic Resonance Imagining, according one survivor's flashbacks). Even visible light is part of the EM spectrum. The DHARMA Initiative supposedly built Station 3 to study strange electromagnetic fluctuations coming from part of the island. Electricity, static magnetic fields and various parts of the EM spectrum might explain:

  • The smoke monster: It could be a hallucination sparked by exposure to EM radiation, iron atoms suspended in a magnetic field or uniquely refracted visible light.
  • Locke's ability to walk: Some people have theorized that Locke has pins in his legs and that magnets are controlling them. According to some new-age theorists, all life vibrates on a certain frequency. Illness and injury come from that frequency being "out of tune." Medical science does not support this theory, but it is possible that EM radiation gave Locke (and possibly Jin) a tune-up.
  • The compass: The presence of a strong magnet would certainly cause an ordinary compass to point somewhere other than north.

Beaming Up: Worm Holes and Portals The island may be one of several "portals" that allow people to travel from place to place. Theories allude to the island's location in comparison to the Bermuda Triangle and other paranormal phenomena. This could explain:

  • The drug plane: A Beechcraft could not reasonably travel from Nigeria to the most logical location of the island. It could, however, accidentally travel through a portal off the coast of Nigeria and wind up in the Pacific Ocean.
  • The Others' comings and goings: Danielle Rousseau allegedly spent 16 years on the island without seeing the Others. Yet, the Others have caused a lot of trouble. They may be traveling from a different base of operations via a portal.

Scientist Death Match: The Others vs. the DHARMA Initiative The Others appear to use and possibly live in DHARMA Initiative facilities. Sometimes they look like doctors, and sometimes they look like mud-streaked hillbillies. Whether they're both or neither, they may be the subjects of DHARMA Initiative experiments rather than researchers. Or, they may have been experimental subjects who rebelled against the researchers.

Being the subjects of experiments could explain the Others' apparent cunning and stealth. Whether or not they are part of the DHARMA Initiative, they probably have a reason for abducting people from the island. It's possible that:

  • The vaccine has made them sterile
  • They hope to ransom their victims
  • They really believe that the people they kidnap are better off with them
  • They need specific genetic material for experiments
  • They're just mean

Read on for some of our other favorite theories.