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The Valenzetti Equation is a vital cog in the mythology of Lost but how does it connect to the show"s central story and the famous number sequence? One of Lost"s defining features was a set of fascinating mysteries, some of which played out over all six seasons. Alongside the pilot episode"s polar bear and the recurring smoke monster, Lost"s most memorable enigma is perhaps the "4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42" number sequence that appeared time and time again in seemingly unrelated places. The sequence was broadcast from a radio tower on the island, etched onto the side of the Hatch, used by Desmond as a code to save the world and used by Hurley to win the lottery, later bringing him bad fortune.
Like many of Lost"s mysteries, the true meaning of the numbers is open to debate, but the final season implies they originate from the God-like Jacob. In selecting candidates to take over his role as protector of the island, Jacob used a special lighthouse to watch the outside world. Once the candidates were brought to the island, they were assigned a number that correlated to the degree the lighthouse was set at when spying on them. The numbers represent the final six candidates: Locke, Hurley, Sawyer, Sayid, Jack and either Sun or Jin.
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However, a wider purpose for the numbers was revealed by The Lost Experience, a canon alternate reality experience written by Lost"s writers and producers with the intention of answering questions that the main series didn"t have time to address. According to the game, a mathematician by the name of Enzo Valenzetti began working on a method to predict the end of the world in the 1960s. The resulting equation used the core values 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42.
The DHARMA Initiative was established with the intention of changing these values, thus avoiding the apocalypse, and each area of their research on the island was geared towards this aim, with time travel, genetic manipulation and psychology all considered potential ways of altering the Valenzetti Equation. DHARMA broadcast the numbers as a way of announcing that the formula had not yet changed, and the end of the world was still nigh.
At face value, the Valenzetti Equation feels like a significant component of Lost"s story, as it not only accounts for the existence of the DHARMA Initiative, but arguably provides a more definitive origin of the numbers that predates Jacob"s final candidates. Strangely then, the issue was never actually raised on the main Lost series.
Despite remaining on the fringes of Lost"s story, the Valenzetti Equation actually fits neatly alongside the series finale. Enzo Valenzetti doesn"t reveal exactly how he predicts the world will end but, in Lost"s final season, Jacob ominously suggests that the Man in Black"s escape from the island will have catastrophic consequences for the entire world, although he too is vague about the nature of this threat.
It would make sense that the apocalypse Valenzetti predicted was actually the Man in Black"s potential future escape from the island. This would explain why the equation"s core values and Jacob"s candidates share the same numbers - because each of those six individuals were a core value in stopping the Man in Black. DHARMA, on the other hand, wrongly believed that the numbers were scientific in nature and required a scientific solution. This theory is supported by the fact that each of the six remaining candidates play a key role in the Man in Black"s eventual downfall.
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If true, this theory would plug a fair few of Lost"s lingering unanswered questions, and its odd that the Valenzetti Equation wasn"t a bigger part of the main series, especially since the concept came from the same creative team. With that said, Lost"s ambiguity is perhaps the main reason fans still discuss the show nearly a decade on from its conclusion.