The contents of this post were left in a comment by one of our readers. It was a pretty good read and figured I would turn it into a post so others could see it.
The island is largely black rock – a naturally occurring magnetic mineral. It has the uncanny property of storing electromagnetic currents – like a big magnetic tape.
Magnus Hanso – grandfather of Alvar Hanso and venture capitalist – captained his ship The Black Rock to the island in the nineteenth century. He intended to use slaves and dynamite to mine the fabled black rock and sell it. However, he was caught in a storm – as many have been near the island – and was shipwrecked.
He survived, but the slaves were lost. Whilst making a boat to leave the island, Magnus thought he could hear the screams of his cargo as the ship sank. He thought the melancholy would pass, but it did not; in fact, it was as though he could literally hear their thoughts in the last moments of their lives – even in their foreign tongue.
The whispers, the voices, the memories were stronger in those areas that were predominantly black rock. They were coming from the black rock itself. As lava cools it records the earth’s pattern of magnetic currents at the time; in a similar way, the black rock was storing all electromagnetic activity – light, sound, thought, memory.
Of greater significance to Magnus was that the black rock also held the pattern of the future. Magnus was able to faintly sense how things would be.
Magnus made a boat, returned home, kept his mouth shut about what he’d discovered, and bought the island. He came back many times and was able to navigate the safest approach. On the island, he would meditate on what the future held – what the rock was telling him – and then commit this to paper. He would then return to centres of commerce and use these predictions to speculate and invest in forthcoming wars, selling munitions. He amassed a great fortune. The secret of the island and the wealth was passed down through the Hanso family to Alvar Hanso in the 20th century.
. . .
A mathematician named Valenzetti calculated a mathematical formula for the end of the world, the ‘core numbers’ of which are 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42. These numbers occur everywhere, he said, and predict earth’s destruction. This finding was presented to the United Nations; they did not believe or care and so discarded it.
Alvar learnt of this formula and knew that it was correct as it correlated with what the island had revealed to him. He enlisted the help of Valenzetti and many others to form the DHARMA Initiative, the purpose of which was to change these numbers – and so avert the predicted destruction of earth.
DHARMA was based on the island. Although the organisation was highly secretive, Alvar felt he had to share the island for the greater good of mankind. The greatest scientists he could find were brought to the island – as were gifted children who had great mental ability bordering on psychic.
Various stations were set up on the island to perform these experiments: the objective of which was to change Fate itself. One experiment was the Swan; initially, it was just a Skinner Box – a psychological experiment to test two subjects’ willingness to repeatedly press a button because they were told it was important. The intention here was to see if their faith in their ‘duty’ was sufficient to budge Fate a millimetre. It didn’t work.
Another station – the Pearl – was set up. This experiment was based on another pair of subjects who were told to observe the actions of the occupants of the Swan. The objective here, based on Quantum Theory, was to see if – by observation alone – the outcome of the Swan could be affected. It was not and neither was Fate.
. . .
It was decided to try and dam the flow of Destiny from the island to the outside world – to stop the current.
Jacob was selected as the most gifted child. He was able to move small objects with his mind, which is shown in the Orientation film.
It was hoped that if the rock could store human memory electromagnetically then, perhaps, the reverse could happen and a human mind could absorb this electromagnetic memory from the rock. The intention was always to change Destiny.
Jacob was placed at the epicentre of the island’s power in an underground chamber. Powered up, wired up, and observed by a team of scientists including Dr Marvin Candle, Jacob attempted to absorb Destiny from the black rock. Unfortunately, he failed; there was an explosion, referred to later as the “incident”.
At that moment, Jacob lost all corporeal form and was merged with the black rock itself. But he survived. His consciousness was embedded in broken fragments of the rock. His consciousness was able to move objects – as he had in human form… but now it meant he could lift himself – in the form of rock fragments and move freely. The naturally-ocurring electromagnetic field around the area of the Swan assisted in his mobility and sustained his life.
Jacob was able to move as a black cloud of dust and re-form himself into different shapes. He soon learnt that he could also use electromagnetism to conjure up images and sound. And later still, that he could ‘read minds’ as we saw he did with Eko.
DHARMA had failed in changing Destiny for the better and had actually made things worse by creating a massive anomaly. Alvar was despondent. He and his wife returned to the island to die. They laid themselves down in two alcoves and allowed Jacob to peacefully end them. In Alvar’s pocket was a pouch containing two stones – one black and one white – one for him and one for his wife. They thought that if they could, after death, find these two stones and reside in them as separate consciousnesses then they would allow Jacob to absorb them into his form. As long as the black rock existed, they would be immortal. It worked; and Jacob became a ‘three-headed’ entity, referred to as ‘Cerberus’ on the blast door map created by Radzinsky. (Cerberus was the three-headed guard dog of Greek mythology).
. . .
The ‘incident’ (as described by Dr Marvin Candle – who lost an arm – in the Orientation film) now necessitated the periodic release of the electromagnetism. The periodic build-up of power sustained Jacob/Cerberus and allowed for continued analysis of Destiny by the remaining scientists; the periodic release prevented another disaster. The whole area of the ‘incident’ was concreted. And now the Swan had a genuine use: to release electromagnetism every 108 minutes to an orbiting satellite with a 5 minute pass-over. For this task they conscripted the help of two people they knew to be spies: Radzinsky and Inman for USSR and USA respectively.
They realised they could not – or should not – try to change Destiny. However, the long-term effect of the incident was to create an anomaly in Destiny that might itself be the cause of the predicted cataclysm on earth. This needed to be corrected now. The anomaly had pulled in a ship of scientists – including a pregnant Rousseau – and shipwrecked it. [What was left of] DHARMA realised that this ship was never ‘meant’ to be shipwrecked on the island and that their meddling with Destiny would create anomalies of wider and potentially more dangerous significance.
The scientists sought to correct their mistake before it snowballed. It was a difficult task to perform without screwing up Destiny further but they had the resources.
. . .
Bea Kulgh, a DHARMA initiate, sensed a shift from an idealistic community in ‘Otherville’ towards a totalitarian cult headed by a powerful triumvirate leader. She reached out for others who felt the same, but it was impossible – any disobedience meant being brainwashed in the re-programming room (where we saw Carl). During her tour of duty in the Pearl, which was still active at the time, she was able to secretly communicate with Radzinsky and Inman via the computer. She fed them information from which – with their own reconnaissance – they were able to produce a map of the island and the hatches, which John Locke saw on the blast door in Lockdown. They removed part of the Orientation film that forbade communication via the computer so that, if they were found out and replaced, their replacements would not be hindered by that rule. And they formulated a plan to escape.
Radzinsky had been seeing images of his past – as all of the Losties have. He saw people he had tortured whilst working for the KGB. These visions were actually produced by Jacob/Cerberus. The point of the visions was as intense, life-changing therapy. It is believed that a person can overcome their own past, nature and fears to transcend into something pure and fit for DHARMA. Radzinsky had been seeing visions of a person he had tortured; he had cut out the prisoner’s eye.
The culmination of the ‘therapy’ is a Test. We saw Eko fail his Test by refusing to repent for his past – this ended badly for him when he chased after Jacob/Cerberus. We also saw Hurley fail his test when he refused to take a leap of faith off a cliff – as urged by his imaginary-turned-real friend Dave.
Radzinsky’s Test was to cut out his own eye – “an eye for an eye”. He knew none of this was real, but they had a plan to escape for which he would do anything. Kneeling before his victim, as Eko would do, Radzinsky used Inman’s US Army knife to cut out his own eye, thereby passing the Test.
. . .
When Radzinsky awoke, he was greeted by Benjamin Linus and the other Others. He was given a tour of ‘Otherville’, told the rough outline of DHARMA and what it meant. He was given a glass eye and was put to work. He appeared to be receptive to DHARMA’s aims but, in reality, all he wanted was to escape. He proceeded with the plan.
At the right time, he blew up the Arrow hatch, killing several people. He radioed Inman, in the Swan, immediately and ran across the island towards him. It did not take long before Jacob/Cerberus tracked him down, but he timed it right so that his dash would coincide with the rain showers to give him the biggest headstart possible.
Radzinsky made it to the Swan where Inman had prepared the trap. It was dark by now, and a bright light shone from the hatch; Jacob/Cerberus followed it down. Inman could see Jacob/Cerberus through his array of mirrors from the safe vantage point of the Swan lounge area. He saw Jacob/Cerberus approach; Jacob/Cerberus moved toward the open door. Radzinsky fused the lockdown door bringing it crashing down and turned the water on. The area outside the door – where Jacob/Cerberus was – filled with water. An exposed fusebox near the ladder caused a massive electrical current to pass through Jacob/Cerberus. Unfortunately, a small part of Jacob/Cerberus got under the door before being completely disabled. This part reformed as someone from Inman’s past – a daughter perhaps, or a fallen comrade – whoever it was, Inman had not yet had the visions and was frozen with emotion. He could not act to destroy this loved one in front of him and would not heed Radzinksy’s frantic pleading that it was not real and that they needed to escape now while they could. Radzinsky left him behind.
[The fusebox and water pipe are seen by Jack the very first time he goes down the hatch ladder - season 2, episode 1.]
Radzinsky continued with the plan and left the Swan with the film cutting. He made his way to the Flame where he knew he would be able to communicate with the outside world and be rescued. When he got there, he was surprised to find it deserted and, what was more bizarre, prepared for him: there was a plentiful supply of Vodka, there was a computer that played chess, there was a cat, there was even a picture of Nadia Comaneci on the wall – the Olympic gymnast who shared his birthday. He sat in front of a bank of monitors and began trying to reach the outside world – it had been such a long time. Flicking through the channels, it became apparent that the Berlin Wall had fallen and so had the Soviet Union with it. Communication was pointless. He spent the next few days in a drunken stupor. At last, Benjamin and the Others came to him.
They agreed on a truce; he had killed some of them but he could not be held completely responsible as he had not passed the Test in truth and had not been truly ready to join DHARMA. They allowed him to live so long as he never came to their camp, never fraternised with any of them, and worked at the Flame as their communications man. He would be completely autonomous, with his own livestock. He asked about Inman; they told him that Inman had been ‘persuaded’ that Radzinsky had killed himself – they had placed a faceless corpse in the Swan for him to discover when he woke up, which he would assume to be Radzinsky’s and so bury him without questioning.
At this point, the cat changed shape becoming a swirling mass of black dust – it was Jacob/Cerberus albeit temporarily smaller. Jacob/Cerberus renamed Radzinsky as Bakunin – after the famous Russian anarchist – as he had rejected his leadership. He told him that his trap in the Swan had interfered with the release of electromagnetism and had created another anomaly: a light aircraft from Nigeria was brought down. The crashing of a small plane and the loss of a few lives in itself might not be such an anomaly – as Destiny can ‘course-correct’ to a certain extent – what was more problematic was that the plane was carrying drugs. The consequence of the plane crashing – when it had never been destined to crash – was that there would be a massive slump in supply of the drug, affecting many more lives (including Charlie’s) – and the knock-on effect was incalculable.
Bakunin was tasked with tracking down the effects of the anomaly as it spread through the world and to profile each person whose life would be significantly affected by it. These people were connected one way or another to this crash or to each other and the anomaly would ripple outwards creating greater and greater waves. Bakunin tracked them down using the Flame. These people were – one way or another – put on the same plane at the same time and brought to the island so that Destiny could be corrected…. Jack, Kate, Charlie, Sawyer, Rose and the rest of Flight 815. Destiny and DHARMA were course-correcting.
. . .
Bakunin returned to the burntout Arrow station. He was remorseful. He deposited his hollowed-out Bible containing the film cutting, his glass eye which had been a gift from DHARMA, and the radio he had used to communicate with his friend Inman.
. . .
When Desmond turned the failsafe key in the Swan and caused it to implode, he was rescued by Jacob/Cerberus, but not before he had absorbed much of the Swan’s power. Now, DESmond does not see the future but DEStiny – how things are planned to happen – not necessarily how they will happen.