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Lost Season Finale: Sci-Fi Fact vs. Fiction

Thanks to Germán for the link.

Lost's third season ender may have left you with more questions than answers. But as experienced in debunking as we are here at Popular Mechanics, the ABC drama's theories of time travel, alternate universes, smoke monsters and invisible men are pure science fiction. What we can offer is a reality check: Writer, filmmaker, military adventurer and former dynamite wrangler Robert Young Pelton weighs in on the good, the bad and the fake from Wednesday's mind-bending finale. (If you have not seen the two-hour episode, stop reading now!)

1. Is it possible to ignite dynamite with a gunshot?

The Others vs. the Castaways battle on the beach began with a bang-literally. The clever beach dwellers set up piles of dynamite and, when the Others launched their attack, used rifles to detonate the sticks. That much holds up to Pelton's expertise, but it might not be as impressive as the Lost creators would have us believe. "Dynamite in an open space is not that impressive," he says, "and the blast would probably scatter the pile before it detonates it all." And that's not the only falsity: Pelton doubts that product from the 1800s would even explode. "The outside wrapper would be paper and the powder would dissolve [in water]," he says. Maybe the island's mysterious powers of healing work on dynamite as well.

2. Would a grenade really work under water?

Never mind his nine lives: It was one-eyed Other Mikhail's grenade assault on the Looking Glass communications station-and rockstar Charlie's subsequent drowning because of it-that had us talking. But it's probably not plausible, says Pelton. "Grenades would have a much diminished effect in water compared to air," he says. The two products of a grenade detonation, shrapnel and blast, could both break a window. However, according to Pelton, most underwater windows are made of thick plexiglass that tends to be the strongest part of a sealed vessel. But, because Mikhail was so close to the blast - putting his lungs and internal organs at risk - maybe he's finally made his way to the big hatch in the sky.

3. Can you really break someone's neck with your legs?

It was hard to believe that Iraqi interrogator Sayid allowed himself to get captured, but he redeemed himself when he tripped an Other and, hands tied behind his back, broke the man's neck with his legs. Pelton says the move is definitely possible: "It's taught in combatives, but obviously difficult to do." Still, as we've seen in the show's first three seasons, there's not much Sayid can't do. Except maybe control his temper.

4. Would Rousseau's radio transmission really have blocked the sat phone's signal?

Once Charlie turned off the Looking Glass hatch's signal-jamming devices, the Losties still had one more obstacle to overcome before they could make the call that would get them rescued: Rousseau's distress message, broadcasting for 16 years from the island's radio tower. But that, says Pelton, is impossible. "Sat signals are only blocked by jamming devices or solid objects that block the line of sight to the satellite," he says. "Radio signals would have no effect."

Source: Popular Mechanics

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