University of Michigan forever linked to "Lost" via DHARMA Initiative
photo courtesy ABC MediaNet
The University of Michigan may boast a $1 billion annual research budget, but even the university’s extensive resources are far from enough to generate sufficient answers to all the questions from the ABC hit show “Lost.”
Far more plausible is the suggestion that U-M could be the ultimate source of the DHARMA (Department of Heuristics And Research on Material Applications) Initiative, the pseudo-scientific experimental operation seeking to harness the electromagnetic energy radiating from the infamous island on “Lost.”
The global cachet of U-M’s scientific expertise got a charge when writers selected the university as the origin of the DHARMA Initiative during season 2 of “Lost,” which concludes its final season at 9 p.m. Sunday.
Yet the show’s creators wouldn’t have approved the reference if it were not wholly credible.
“Lost” references to Ann Arbor and U-M reflect the international stature of the university’s innovative research strategy.
DHARMA, according to an early “orientation” film discovered on the island during season 2, was “a large-scale communal research compound where scientists and free-thinkers from around the globe could pursue research in meteorology, psychology, parapsychology, zoology (and) electromagnetism.”
Here are a few eerie similarities between U-M and the DHARMA Initiative:
- Both boast rich benefactors. U-M’s endowment measures in the billions of dollars — a result of a long list of generous donors. DHARMA had its own benefactor, Alvar Hanso, who funded U-M doctoral candidates and DHARMA founders Gerald and Karen DeGroot.
- Both have expertise in electromagnetic research. U-M employs 11 faculty members in the applied electromagnetics program of the College of Engineering. DHARMA’s chief scientist and orientation film guru Pierre Chang, otherwise known as Marvin Candle, was a theoretical astrophysicist at U-M, according to fan website LostPedia.
- U-M research influenced “Lost” character Daniel Faraday, whose time-travel expertise explained the island’s metaphysical properties. According to LostPedia, physicist “Enrico Fermi's famous equation was on Daniel's chalkboard in ‘The Constant.’ In 1933 Enrico Fermi taught a course in quantum electrodymanics at the University of Michigan.”
- Both U-M and DHARMA have seemingly endless resources. In 2004, over a decade after DHARMA’s scientists had been wiped out, the operation was still receiving regular deliveries of food and water supplies.
"Lost" wraps up Sunday night on ABC with a series retrospective from 7-9 p.m., followed by the finale from 9-11:30 p.m.