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Some Theories Concerning "Course Correction"

  • The mechanism of course correction can be exploited if you know the events that are destined to happen. With some foresight of an event's outcome, one can direct the path to that outcome in a beneficial way.
    • For example: Say Ben knows Goodwin will die (or leave the Island or anything you want, im just picking an example), he can then put Goodwin in a situation which could facilitate his death while providing some alternate manipulations. Or of course he could just let it be...Goodwin's gonna die anyways. But I think thats how Ben (and others like Widmore, Locke, etc) manipulate without consequence.
  • Course correction is the mechanism by which the universe ensures that "whatever happened, happened." Rather than the universe correcting after a time traveler or precognitive individual changes an event, the universe uses "course-correction" to guarantee that events play out a specific way, the only way they ever did/will/could happen.
    • Desmond's precognitive abilities are an example of "course-correction." If Charlie had not lived long enough to disable the signal jammer at the Looking Glass, then the sequence of events leading to the plane crash (the arrival of the freighter, the moving of the Island, time travel, and the Incident) would have never occurred. Therefore, it wasn't that the universe was "course-correcting" by causing Charlie to be placed in mortal danger again and again. Instead, Desmond's visions were the universe's way of "course-correcting" so that Charlie could die at the necessary point in time to ensure that events which already occurred in the past would happen (via time travel).
      • Evidence of this can be seen in "Catch-22," where Des has a sequence of flashes in which he sees both Charlie die, but also Charlie aid in the rescue of the parachutist (an event which occurred later in time). For the vision to have been accurate, Charlie would have to have been dead by the time Naomi was cut from the tree. Therefore, the vision served a primarily motivational, rather than a primarily precognitive, purpose.
      • Des' "flashes" stop after Charlie dies.
  • The rules and course correction. I don't know if this is mentioned elsewhere, but I suspect there is a link between these. Killing certain people is against the rules because of CC. Suppose Alex were supposed to do something that was supposed to happen at some point in the future, having been shot she clearly can't. That event that is supposed to happen is going to be different.

Can Course Correction ever be used Predictively?

Course correction implies one of two things:

  1. Steering: That the universe has some sort of internal guidance mechanism steering it to a desired goal
  2. Necessary Causes: That some events which have already occurred in the past were 'caused' by events which are yet to happen, and that some events cannot be avoided.

In the case of (1), this implies that someone or something is doing the 'steering', and knows the direction that the universe is supposed to be heading. In this case we presume that the events on the path to 'course correction' are landmarks along the way. However, as with a path, the universe can achieve its end point without matching the course every single step of the way. One example here is that although Desmond buys the ring in one timeline, and did not buy it in another, that event was not the crucial one; the crucial event was that he decided not to be with Penny; that way he got to be on the island, pressing the button until one day he forgot to press it, crashing the plane. Somewhere in that chain of events was the crucial event which needed to happen, and that was what the universe was correcting to. The main question is how such a mechanism would operate. One mechanism might be 'historical inertia', in that events have their own momentum, and eventually just like rolling balls down a slope, they may take different paths but all arrive at the bottom. Another mechanism might be like that where events are all interconnected like a net. If you pull a net it might deform and change shape, but it will spring back again. It might not go exactly to the same locations, but the general overall shape is the same. However, in both cases, it is difficult to see how an inhabitant of a universe would be able to determine (a) whether a course correction had taken place let alone (b) be able to determine whether one was necessary, or (c) be able to predict that one was about to occur.

In the case of (2), this requires retrospective causality of events to occur. There are several mechanisms for this, including advanced physics such as superluminal tunneling, quantum entanglement, and Kerr metric Black Holes. To put it simply, all of these involve the notion of time-travelling to one degree or another. Suppose that a 20 year old time traveller from 2088 visits the year 1588 and warns Sir Francis Drake that the Spanish Armada is in the Channel. Without this, the history of both England (& therefore the US) would be very different. We would probably all be writing this in Spanish, not English. This now means that becuse this event already happened, then the time traveller MUST be born in 2068, and therefore his parents MUST meet, fall in love and he must be conceived. Any successful attempt to stop these things happening would cause the universe to follow a different course to achive the same goal. In quantum mechanics, there is no clearly defined path that a particle takes from an emitter to a target. It does not matter which one is taken; all paths are assigned a probability. The set of histories of the particle's movement is called the 'sum over histories', and is due to Feynmann. If we know that a particle was released and hit a target, then all that we can say is that one of a number of paths were taken. If someone says "well I placed a lead block right in front of the target", that does not alter the outcome which has already happened; what it means is that an alternative path, another history, was taken to reach tthe target. That one may have been less likely, but since we know that the target has been reached, that is what must have happened.

In this case, causality is retrospective and it is predictable. As long as we know that an event in the past was caused by an event yet to happen, then that means we can predict the universe will 'course correct' to ensure that event occurs. Provided that Hawking knows that Desmond was responsible for not pressing the button and bringing down 815, she can be pretty sure that he won't marry Penny, so he won't buy the ring. She may not know all the details, but she understands the principles. Desmond does not understand the principles, but sees a lot of possible near future events: possible histories. All of these seem to involve Charlie's death. Now, just suppose that Charlie had not died. He would have been the one who would have taken responsibility for Aaron, until such time that Claire returned or recovered. In other words, Charlie's death ensured that Aaron was left with Kate, Kate left the island with Aaron, and that Kate returned on the A316 to travel back in time to 1977. In other words, Charlie dying was an important step towards ensuring that Ajira 316 time travellers reached their destination and set into place all the events necessary for the button-pressing and the plane crash.

As soon as we reach 2007, there is no more time travelling. 'Course correction' may therefore not be necessary, or relevant. All events which happened, have already happened, all causality loops are complete and there is now no force to ensure events pan out in any pre-designated manner.

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