Nanotechnology, the black swarm, and the Others

If you haven’t read my posting A Theory about LOST, you should probably go read that before you continue reading this page.

In the “23rd Psalm”, we got a really good look at the monster that the crash survivors have been hearing (and seeing) on the island. So far, the only two people that have really stared down the “black swarm” are Locke and Eko.

So, what the heck is that “black swarm”? The nanotechnology theory I posted about previously explains this. The monster appears to be smoke, but is actually made of many tiny machines that communicate with each other.

The idea of many tiny machines communicating with each other isn’t all that far-fetched. Research Smart Dust at Berkeley, and at companies like Dust Networks and Crossbow is being done right now. A few years ago, I worked with some of the Smart Dust “motes”. (I just worked with them, not on the actual project itself…just wanted to make that clear). They’re about the size of a quarter and have a tiny radio built into them. Each “mote” communicates with the other motes within it’s radio range to communicate the data it’s tracking. In the case of the devices I used, they communicated the temperature. The motes nearest to the base station communicate all the data from the rest of the “swarm” to that base station. The base station can then do whatever it wants with the data.

Now, extrapolate the idea of smart dust out in every direction. Make the motes as small as real dust (the size of machine in nanotechnology), increase the processing power, really soup up the software the things run, and it’s not all that far fetched to think that the smoke monster we saw would be possible. All they would need is some sort of propulsion.

I think that’s really what the monster is. A swarm of nanotech machines. “Nanites”, if you want to use a “Star Trek: The Next Generation” term. They’re moving around the island, and they’re smart. Or at least they appear that way. They could just be following their programming and have no real intelligence of their own. Right now, that’s my bet.

Eko stared the swarm down. While the swarm was in front of Eko, we saw a number of images from Eko’s past flash through the swarm itself. It appeared to read Eko’s mind. That could be just the “sci-fi” part of LOST that doesn’t need to be explained, it could be that it read Eko’s electrical brain impulses….however it did it doesn’t matter really. The main point is, it flashed scenese from Eko’s life and then moved on. Presumably, this is the same thing that happened to Locke. What was the swarm doing?

I think it was assessing whether or not Eko was an “enemy”. A enemy of what? ….Well, that’s the question. An enemy to the island? An enemy to something it’s trying to protect? Is it just deciding that anything that’s “hostile” is an enemy?

Well, that very well could be. The pilot was in a military-like uniform that the swarm could have taken as the identifying mark of someone that’s “hostile”.

Say for a moment that all that is true. There are people on the island that the swarm would kill (or worse… more on that in a minute) if it got a chance, and there are people on the island that the swarm would leave alone. If the swarm won’t touch anyone it doesn’t perceive as a threat, the vulnerable people on the island would surround themselves with people that are “safe”. I think that’s a reason they could be taking all the children. What could be safer than a child? Everyone assumes Walt was taken for his “psychic” abilities that everyone think he has; it could just be he was taken because he was a child.

So, what could be worse than being killed by that thing? I think it’s also likely that the swarm might have the ability to take people over, based on what Danielle said to Sayid (see my previous posting ).
In the comments someone asked why the word “quarantine” was inside the hatch, instead of the outside. If the swarm was able to infect people, that would be the reason. It also explains the reason Desmond has been taking the injections. If Desmond spent any time at all outside (gathering fruit, other food, wood, etc), he’d take injections to prevent the swarm from infecting him.

5 thoughts on “Nanotechnology, the black swarm, and the Others”

  1. Hey, ever read Dean Koontz’s “By The Light Of The Moon”? The whole plot hinges on nanotechnology (not to mention it’s a really good book)…interesting to think it applies to Lost, my newest obsession, too!

  2. You mentioned how both Locke and Eko stared down the monster and that the monster saw neither as a threat, so it left them alone. But in the episode where the group goes to The Black Rock, doesn’t the monster attempt to drag Locke into a hole? So why did the monster have a change in its agenda? And for that matter, why did it attack Locke and no one else?

  3. Just one pressing question with the nano-technology theory (as a sigh of relief, the two writers have said by the end of season 2 we will know why the plane crashed, and the reasoning for the events on the island)
    The level of technology that is being discussed is very high, to the point where “nano” devices that interact with each other are the size of a quarter in terms of today; with this in mind how are these devices controlled from a computer that has little more processing power than my TI-83 graphing calculator? As can be seen in the video of the hatch, the computer is of the 70’s era (as is the music and in general everything else in the hatch — “done for a purpose” according to the writers) and the computer is no exception, it is massive, taking up approx. two racks, and having magnetic reel to reel data storage. I don’t mean to disprove your theory, but this fact stands out in my mind. In terms of the genetic alteration that seems very Sci-fi, and has me very interested in upcoming episodes.

  4. If that is indeed nano-tech in the show, it’s independent of any larger computer. Each individual “mote” controls it’s actions, and interacts with the other “motes” around it, in a similar way to how the brain functions.

    If the computer in the hatch interacts in any way with those things, I think it’s more of a “containment” sort of thing. There’s something highly magnetic behind the cement wall in the hatch, and the computer might be used to force the nano-tech cloud into a certain area, or, more likely, *away* from certain areas of the island.

  5. With the magnetic field behind the wall, i have one odd question, if you watch the “Man of Science man of faith” episode, you can see that the wall was quickly put together, there are even still buckets of concrete left near the bottom. What was being sealed in? — very strange, hope to have an answer soon!

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