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Lost/The DHARMA Initiative

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The Department of Heuristics And Research on Material Applications Initiative, better known as The DHARMA Initiative, is a joint research venture of unlimited funds and access. Using these resources, the greatest minds in the world have been assembled to pursue research towards a penultimate goal — to save the world.

Information about the DHARMA Initiative was first uncovered in "Orientation" when Jack Shephard and John Locke watched an orientation film for the Swan. On the January 17th, 2006 Lost podcast, executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse confirmed that "DHARMA" is an acronym. The acronym was later revealed during the Lost Experience along with additional information about the Initiative.

Contents

History

The DHARMA Initiative was created in 1970 and is the brainchild of Gerald and Karen DeGroot, two doctoral candidates at the University of Michigan. Alvar Hanso, a Danish industrialist and munitions magnate, provided the backing for the DHARMA Initiative in the form of unlimited funds and access, and made the DeGroots' dream of a multipurpose social science research facility a reality.

Following in the footsteps of visionaries such as B.F. Skinner, the DeGroots imagined a large-scale communal research compound where scientists and free thinkers from around the world could pursue research in: Meteorology, Psychology, Parapsychology, Zoology, Electromagnetism, and Utopian Social Engineering. This research was intended to do nothing less than save humanity. After the Cuban Missile Crisis, and under the auspices of the United Nations Security Council, Enzo Valenzetti created the Valenzetti Equation — an equation that predicts the exact number of years and months until humanity extinguishes itself whether through nuclear fire, chemical and biological warfare, conventional warfare, pandemic disease or over-population. The United Nations Security Council buried Valenzetti's findings, but Alvar Hanso and the DeGroots created the DHARMA Initiative as a response to Valenzetti's conclusions. The goal of the Initiative's research was to change any of the core numerical values of the Valenzetti Equation and thus change the course of destiny.

The present status of the DHARMA Initiative and any off-island members is unknown. An Other masquerading as a DHARMA Initiative member, Mikhail Bakunin, claimed the DHARMA Initiative waged a war against the "hostiles" on the island — a so-called "Purge." These hostiles are the Others, a group present on the island long before the DHARMA Initiative arrived. However, it is unknown who started the skirmishes first: the Others or DHARMA. Mikhail claimed the DHARMA Initiative initiated a purge, but comments made by Benjamin Linus, leader of the Others, to John Locke suggest the Others initiated the purge. The group launched a gas attack on the barracks, killing over forty DHARMA personnel in cold blood. The bodies were taken to a mass grave, a pit left unburied and exposed to the elements. At least one skeleton in this grave shows that the Others shot him or her in the head. After this purge, the Others took control of numerous DHARMA Initiative facilities and matériel. The DHARMA stations present on the island have fallen into various states of disrepair, suggesting the venture has been long abandoned after the purge occurred, yet food and medicine drops continue to be carried out and The Swan was still manned. In 2006, two years after the crash of Oceanic flight 815, Thomas Mittelwerk claimed the DHARMA Initiative failed.

On the Island

The sign welcoming new recruits to the island.

The DHARMA Initiative has taken root at a top secret facility located on an island in the South Pacific. The precise location of the facility is known only to Alvar Hanso, the DeGroots, and a few high ranking members of The Hanso Foundation. Hanso claimed all the support DHARMA personnel needed, including regular medicine and food drops, would be made in perpetuity. Indeed, even though the Initiative appears to be inoperative, supply drops continue to be made.

The island was selected due to unique properties that existed on it and no where else on Earth. The DHARMA Initiative's mission was to study these properties for the betterment of mankind and advancement of world peace. To this end, a wide range of individuals were brought to the island via submarine. These individuals ranged from mathematicians to nurses and teachers to work men.

DHARMA Initiative Stations

Several stations have been constructed on the island; underground laboratories with the facilities needed for DHARMA personnel to carry out their research with optimal expediency. According to the orientation film shown in "Orientation," The Swan is station number 3 of 6 and, according to the orientation film in "?," The Pearl is station number 5 of 6. The orientation film for The Orchid identified it as station 6. In "Lockdown" the hidden map drawn on a blast door in The Swan has six stations listed with a seventh scratched out. This suggested that the DHARMA Initiative had constructed six, and only six, stations on the island. However, a seventh station was discovered underwater in "Greatest Hits", The Looking Glass, an eighth station was discovered in "The Other Woman", The Tempest, and two other stations have also been mentioned.

An underground network of data and electrical cabling run from The Flame to the other stations across the island, including the Barracks. This DHARMATEL Intranet provided a means of communication between stations, and between The Flame and the outside world.

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The Swan

First Visited: 2x01 - Man of Science, Man of Faith {First Found: 1x11 - All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues)
First Named: 2x03 - Orientation
Purpose: Electromagnetic Research

The Swan was originally constructed as a laboratory where DHARMA scientists could research the unique electromagnetic fluctuations emanating from the sector of the island where the station is located. Not long after experiments began, however, there was an "incident" and since then two individuals were sent to the station in 540 day rotations to press a button every 108 minutes. The mid-section survivors of Oceanic flight 815 discovered a man, Desmond Hume, inside The Swan. With the activation of the station's fail-safe device, The Swan was obliterated in an implosion.

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The Flame

First Visited: 3x11 - Enter 77
First Named: 2x17 - Lockdown
Purpose: Mainland Communication

The Flame's existence was revealed through notations on the map drawn on the blast door in The Swan, but it was not until "Enter 77" that it was discovered. Mikhail Bakunin, who attempted to pass himself off as the last member of the DHARMA Initiative, was found guarding the station. The Flame served as a communications point with the outside world. It also served as a hub for the DHARMATEL network between the other stations. The Flame was destroyed by the unintentional activation by John Locke of a self-destruct mechanism designed to combat an incursion on the station by "the hostiles" — the Others.

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The Pearl

First Visited: 2x21 - ?
First Named: 2x17 - Lockdown
Purpose: Monitoring Station/Psychological Experiment

The Pearl is a monitoring station located not far from The Swan. It was hidden under a clearing near where the Nigerian plane crashed — in fact, underneath the tail of the crashed plane after it fell from a cliff. Its location was marked by salting the earth in the shape of a circle, preventing vegetation from growing and masking the symbol. Two individuals are sent to the station for 21 day rotations in eight hour shifts to observe and record the activities of participants in DHARMA Initiative projects, but the true purpose of the Pearl appears to be a psychological experiment upon The Pearl's personnel.

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The Staff

First Visited: 2x15 - Maternity Leave
First Named: 2x17 - Lockdown
Purpose: Unknown

The Staff is a medical station once occupied by the Others in Claire Littleton's flashbacks in "Maternity Leave." When Claire returned to The Staff, however, she found the station abandoned. It is unknown whether the station was used to conduct medical experiments or as a field hospital for DHARMA personnel.

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The Arrow

First Visited: 2x05 - ...and Found
First Named: 2x17 - Lockdown
Purpose: Restocking and Staging Area

The Arrow was discovered by the tail-section survivors of Oceanic flight 815. The station was found completely abandoned save a few boxes and containers. The survivors used it as a shelter, but its purpose to the DHARMA Initiative is not precisely known. Goodwin, an Other, suggested the station was a storage facility. The Swan's blast door map contains a notation stating The Arrow's primary function is as a restocking and staging area.

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The Hydra

First Visited: 3x01 - A Tale of Two Cities
First Named: 3x01 - A Tale of Two Cities
Purpose: Zoological Research

The Hydra was used as a zoological research station and is situated on its own small island off-shore of the main island. The compound contains numerous open-air cages that are all empty. At least one of these cages once housed polar bears. Part of the station is possibly underwater, providing a habitat at one time for sharks and dolphins. In addition to its animal facilities, The Hydra has an operating room, showers, locker rooms, and other amenities for the personnel attached to the station. The station was controlled and inhabited by the Others, but abandoned after survivors of the Oceanic crash escaped from the station.

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The Looking Glass

First Visited: 3x21 - Greatest Hits
First Named: 3x21 - Greatest Hits
Purpose: Unknown

The purpose of The Looking Glass in The DHARMA Initiative is unknown. The station is located underwater and is capable of docking the Initiative's submarine. Equipment aboard the station allowed it emit a sonar ping to guide in the submarines and it is connected to land (and The Flame) via a cable. The station is also capable of jamming communications to and from the island. The station was controlled and inhabited by two Others sent there in secret by Ben, who claimed the station was flooded and inoperable. He intentionally jammed the communications of his people to protect the island. Charlie Pace and Desmond Hume descended into The Looking Glass to disable its jamming equipment and succeeded, but Charlie lost his life when he drowned after Mikhail detonated a grenade outside one of the windows looking into the ocean.

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The Tempest

First Visited: 4x06 - The Other Woman
First Named: 4x06 - The Other Woman
Purpose: Chemical Weapons Facility

The Tempest is a supposed electrical station constructed by the DHARMA Initiative to provide power for the island. However, the Tempest contained equipment to manufacture chemical weapons which could be deployed to cover the entire island. It is not known if the station is in fact a power station or not. Daniel Faraday and Charlotte Lewis traveled to the station to render the gas inert in order to prevent Ben from using it against them. The gas had previously been used the Others to purge the island of the DHARMA Initiative.

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The Temple

First Visited:
First Named: 3x22 - Through the Looking Glass
Purpose: Unknown

The Temple is a station on the island, but its purpose is currently unknown. the Others traveled to the station after the Oceanic survivors found the barracks. Benjamin Linus referred to the station as a place of sanctuary and one of the last safe places on the island.

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The Orchid

First Visited: 4x12 - There's No Place Like Home, Part 1
First Named: 4x12 - There's No Place Like Home, Part 1
Purpose: Unknown

The Orchid is a station on the island, but its purpose is currently unknown. An orientation film featuring Dr. Edgar Halliwax eluded to a volatile and potential dangerous field of research regarding a Casimir effect generated by the unique properties of the island. A greenhouse is located above ground, but it only serves as a cover for subterranean levels which are the true workings of the station.

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"The Door"

First Visited: 2x22 - Three Minutes
First Named: N/A
Purpose: N/A

This "station" is located at the Others' beach village on the north shore of the island and has been nicknamed "The Door." It was apparently guarded 24/7 by two Others armed with rifles. However, when Sayid Jarrah reconnoitered the abandoned village, he discovered that there was only a rock wall behind the doors. The "station" and the village itself are merely an elaborate illusion by the Others to fool the Oceanic survivors.

The Barracks

Lost-DHARMA.jpg
First Visited: 3x01 - A Tale of Two Cities
First Named: 2x21 - ?
Purpose: Living Quarters

The barracks were constructed by the DHARMA Initiative as living quarters for DHARMA personnel on the island. The facility consists of numerous houses with running water and electricity, and other modern amenities inside. The barracks have since then been taken over by the Others but, after a group of Oceanic 815 survivors found the barracks, the Others abandoned the facility. The facility is protected by a security system consisting of a series of pylons driven into the ground around the entire barracks. These pylons house sensors that, once they detect an object breaking the plane between pylons, emit a sonic weapon that induces cerebral hemorrhaging in humans and prevents the monster from crossing over

Panorama of the barracks' security system.


The radio transmitter.

Radio Transmitter

In addition to the stations and barracks, there is a radio transmitter on the island by the Black Rock. The radio transmitter was originally set to broadcast in a frequency and encryption known only to the DHARMA Initiative, and to broadcast the core numerical values of the Valenzetti Equation. However, Danielle Rousseau's science team and the staff of a United States Navy listening post, Leonard Simms and Sam Toomey, were able to receive and listen to the numbers broadcast. After Rousseau shipwrecked on the island and her team were killed, Rousseau went to the radio transmitter and replaced the broadcast of the core numerical values with a distress signal that has since then been running for 16 years. Rousseau claimed the transmitter is now under the control of the Others.

After Naomi Dorrit parachuted onto the island with a satellite phone, the survivors of Oceanic flight 815 headed to the radio transmitter with Rousseau to disable the distress signal in order for the phone to transmit. The transmitter was found in a clearing next to a concrete bunker housing its equipment. The transmitter was seemingly abandoned with no one around. As Rousseau no longer wished to leave the island and thus no longer needed the distress signal, she turned it off to allow the survivors to contact the outside world.

Sonar Beacon

A cable running into the ocean was discovered by Sayid Jarrah in "Solitary." This cable is connected to an underwater beacon which emits sonar pings to help guide in submarines. The DHARMA Initiative used one such submarine to transport personnel to the island, but this submarine was under the control of the Others and subsequently destroyed by Locke. The cable runs inland and was connected to The Flame. With the activation of the Swan's fail-safe device, the sonar beacon has stopped emitting its locater signal making it impossible to find the island again should an individual leave.

In "Greatest Hits", Juliet Burke revealed the existence of a seventh station named The Looking Glass. Located underwater, the cable Sayid discovered runs to this station. Presumably, the sonar beacon is part of the station's equipment.

The Lost Experience

  • Missing DHARMA: Orientation Testing Issue 1980. A new DHARMA Initiative orientation video on The Hanso Foundation website; Psychology test 1 of 1. A rapid succession of images is shown and then a copyright of 1980. After the film finishes, text appears:
    WHO WERE THEY?
    WHERE DID THEY GO?
    WHY DIDN'T THEY RETURN?
    WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE DHARMA INITIATIVE?