Think you understand the academic grounding of the TV show Lost? Can you explain in detail how Desmond Hume might actually be able to travel through time using worm theory? Can you see similarities between the rifle-toting jungle woman Rousseau and Jean-Jacques Rousseau? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you could be at the top of the class at the newly opened Lost University.
At Lost University — a multimedia Web site started by the creators of the ABC science-fiction drama — participants can watch video lectures and take mini-courses on topics alluded to in the show, the Los Angeles Times reports. Full participation includes handouts, exams, reading lists, and homework (but courses can usually be finished in just a few days).
Professors from institutions like the University of Southern California and the University of California at Los Angeles offer multimedia lessons on subjects like the philosophy of John Locke (who has an eponymous character on the show), the prospect of time travel and hieroglyphics. The site opened for business on Tuesday in conjunction with the release of Lost’s fifth season on Blu-ray (something all visitors to Lost University must own to participate).
Nicholas Warner, a professor in the department of physics and astronomy at USC, teaches one of the video courses about time travel. To him, Lost University represents a great jumping-off point, a place where an already engaged audience can see the real science behind a fictionalized show.
“There used to be huge disconnect between watching television shows and academic investigation,” he told The Chronicle of Higher Education. “Anything that provides channels to follow up questions is a wonderful thing.”