Breaking the Lost Numbers Code: A huge clue to 4 8 15 16 23 42

With tonight’s Lost episode merely hours away, it’s a good time to look at a HUGE clue last week’s “The Constant” gave us. We’re on the verge of finally understanding the mystery behind  4 8 15 16 23 42.

Did you catch the numbers in Faraday’s notebook? If not, here it is again.


The page says: “Set the machine to 2.342.” This was part of an explicit instruction on how Faraday could send his rat’s “mind” into the future. So, the last four numbers are coordinates for time travel (at least as far as Faraday’s machine works.) It seems logical that the earlier numbers in the set are also part of the coordinates.

Perhaps the numbers are spacetime coordinates, helping people get to the island without side effects. Or perhaps they are coordinates for creating a time travel/time loop that the island is caught in (I’ll broach this theory in a future post.)

If the numbers entail a type of spacetime coordinate for the island, this could be why they were once broadcast on a continual loop from the island’s radio station. Perhaps those that understood the meaning of the coordinates (i.e. DHARMA), could use the numbers to get to the island safe & sound.

Numbers Stations

On an interesting note, mysterious stations that broadcast numbers are not unique to the Lost universe. In fact, they’re a current mystery today. Check out this intriguing article on Wikipedia. Here’s a quick recap:

Numbers stations are shortwave radio stations of uncertain origin. They generally broadcast voices reading streams of numbers, words, letters (sometimes using a radio alphabet), tunes or morse code. The voices that can be heard on these stations are often mechanically generated. They are in a wide variety of languages, and the voices are usually women’s, though sometimes men’s or children’s voices are used. Evidence supports popular assumptions that the broadcasts are channels of communication used to send messages to spies.”

The description illustrates the island’s numbers station broadcasts perfectly. This is why I believe the broadcast was a set of coordinates or instructions designed only to be understood by people involved with DHARMA. Either the numbers are coordinates for reaching the island, or they are part of a mathematical equation for achieving a type of time travel directly related to the island itself.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this theory!


Note as of 10/15/2013: Please check out – It’s my new blog (although I’ll still update this one from time to time).

38 responses to “Breaking the Lost Numbers Code: A huge clue to 4 8 15 16 23 42

  1. Awesome theory! also, if you add 2+4+3+2, you get 11 (just some more number play). I think that is a good theory though. Maybe every time the numbers were entered, it opened up some kind of wormhole, and the plane got sucked into it.

    • Maybe not entering the numbers opens the “wormhole”. Remember when Desmond said to Locke that he may caused their plane to crash? The plane crashed on 22 september, the date when Desmond failed to push the button.

  2. Did you follow The Lost Experience last summer? It was an alternate reality game set within the world of Lost that culminated in some extra information.

    You can read about it here:

    The extra information, though, is a video that you can see here:

    While the entirety of the video won’t make a ton of sense if you haven’t read up about The Lost Experience, the first few minutes will give you some major insight into the numbers.

    Hope that’s interesting for you!

  3. So much of the smallest details about the show mean something. I bet if I search the internet for a week, I could come up with what those first numbers mean … too bad I don’t have time to do so. I agree with you on the last for numbers ….

    I will be sad when this show is finaly over – it’s been great trying to figure eveyrthing out.

  4. KnightOwl – thanks for the tip about the Lost Experience! I never followed it much, but I did see part of the video. For some reason, the explanation feels “unsatisfying” to me. I’m hoping there’s more!

    Reba – thanks! And ghetto, I’ll be sad when the show is over too. 😦

  5. I have a friend who gave me a GREAT theory today regarding the numbers, and I really think he’s on to something.
    I think it’s something simplistic enough but makes sense…and in the end I think it’ll be revealed that….

    4 8 15 16 23 42 are actually seats on Oceanic 815.
    We’ve been told the Oceanic Six are Kate, Jack, Jin, Sun, Hurley and Sayid. I think it’s safe to say, BTW, that Jin dies OFF the Island. I don’t think we’re actually to believe that Aaron is considered one of the six. He wasn’t born yet.

    So if the numbers are actually airline seat numbers on Oceanic 815, then it stands to reason (and this is per my buddy, and I think he’s got something here)…

    Seat #4 would be Kate. Why? She would have been sitting closest to the front because she was under arrest with the cop.

    Seat 8 would have probably been Sayid, and 15 & 16 are TOGETHER…making them Sun and Jin.
    23 would be Jack and 42 would be Hurley because he was late getting onto the plane. Notice there are no “talies” here.

    Also, he figured out that the symbol you see on HEROES (I know, unrelated) that kind of looks like a japanese character/symbol is actually half of a DNA strand.

    Anyway…if LOST is in a time loop, it stands to reason that more then likely, someone would have to assign those numbers to those survivors to make sure that they make it…that someone being Jack’s Dad? I think we all know that Jack’s Dad will turn out to be Jacob, and he’s in some temporal loop trapped in that cabin.

  6. Pingback: Top 10 *most annoying* Lost moments « Dube’s World

  7. @Rich:
    If you’d been on an airplane, you’d know that seats aren’t numbered sequentially. Even if that weren’t the case, and they did turn out to be seat numbers, it would not explain the numbers. That would just be another coincidence related to the numbers, which long predate this flight. I believe Jack has mentioned his seat number before, when he met the flight attendant at the Hydra station. Or maybe in a flashback.

  8. Passenger Seat Number Status
    Elliott Maslow 9C Alive
    Boone Carlyle 9E Dead
    Shannon Rutherford 9F Dead
    Hugo “Hurley” Reyes 20G 20H Alive
    Jack Shephard 23B Alive
    Rose Nadler 23D Alive
    Bernard Nadler 23E Alive
    John Locke 24D Alive
    Claire Littleton 27C Alive
    Edward Mars 27G Dead
    Kate Austen 27H Alive
    Charlie Pace 29C Dead
    Ana-Lucia Cortez 42F Dead

    from lostpedia.

  9. I can’t quite remember… Plane seats are numbered one of two ways: The first row of seats are all numbered one, and the second row of sears are all numbered two and so on. Each seat within the row is assigned a letter. The first seat in the first row is 1A and the fifth seat in the twenty-third row is 23C. This might not be true for all airliners (plane companies), but it is for the two on which I have flown.

  10. Rich- Kate was near the back, remember the falshback to the crash? Her seat was only a few rows in front of the place where the plane split in 2..

  11. @Rich Hurley was forced to buy two seats. Plus, even if all that matched up, it would just be a coincidence related to the numbers, which we see in every episode.

    I believe the same is true for this post, sure 23 and 42 are in the sequence, but I think it’s just another case of them popping up. Check out this blog:

    J Wood has the most coherent Lost theories, as he bases them all on the literature that is presented in the show.

    I also believe you aren’t far off when talking about a loop, I just think it was a time loop that the island was on. The way I see it, if the island has this electromagnetic bubble around it, then the swan station was executing a time loop within that bubble that reset every 108 minutes. Suspended time. Now that the hatch has blown up, time is on a slow spiral inwards towards that electromagnet that should still be sitting underground – and this was echoed in Faraday’s comments that time perception is not the same on the island.

  12. War – Thanks for the blog link! I’ll be looking at that often. It’s really good. And interesting theory about the timeloop and time being on a “slow spiral inward” toward the electromagnet. That would explain a lot!

    Terry – Good question about the numbers outside the hatch. All I can think is that perhaps they were there as a “hatch label” to show that this is the hatch where the numbers need to be inputted every 108 minutes?

  13. I agree with war player, I think the numbers have and will continually pop up randomly and frequently. I bet the writers have fun watching all of us put meaning into things they never intended….LOST 4 letters, 8 15 the flight number, 16 the number of characters that will be involved in flashbacks (or flash forwards) 23 The producers birthday, 42 the diretor’s age (just making stuff up, but you know what I mean)

  14. I think that the numbers are used to provide a mystery to the show, so people will watch it. They have no significance other than that.

  15. omg i have just been on this thing and ive realised the numbers…..4 8 the number of survivors 8 15 the plane number and 23 42 the number in that guys jurnal omg and if ive figured all this out and sumbodie has already said it im gunna be annoyed

  16. Natalie – I don’t know if anyone else has thought of that, but I haven’t heard that explanation! Wow! Pure genius, I would say. And it makes sense – pulls everything together. VERY interesting.

  17. I stumbled upon a trinary concept last night after watching lost and realizing they were playing up “3” in the writing, with the third of a year, and 3 years concepts.

    What I noticed in the groups of 3 of the lost numbers were the following recurrent patterns. ie : (4=a, 8=b, 15=c) & (16=a, 12=b, 42=c) :


    b = previous group of 3’s b+c

    C minus previous groups c & a equals b of current group (On occasion unstable, first time at 8th set of 3)

    Also add to the equation D = sum of group of 3 numbers, D x 3 = next series of 3’s sum

    Also worth noting that when the numbers of the groups of 3 are divided by 3 :
    A – will have decimals .333, B – will have decimals .666 and C – will be whole.

    In way of explaining the pattern :

    A B C = D

    1 2 6 = 9
    4 8 15 = 27
    16 23 42 = 81
    55 65 123 = 243
    175 188 366 = 729
    538 554 1095 = 2187
    1627 1649 3279 = 6561
    4912 4928 9843 = 19683 (formula c minus previous c & a = b fails here)
    14752 14771 29526 = 59049

    What other ways are they using some of the numbers in this pattern ?
    well 1095 = 3 * 365 or 3 years.

  18. The island is a time machine that is lost, and is transmitting it’s space-time coordinates so it can be recovered by it’s creators. The Others could be robots that help protect the island, and need a lifeform to lead them. But I’m probably wrong again. Love the show, and this site is good too.

  19. Did anyone else notice that 4+8+15+16+23+42=108? They pressed the button every 108 minutes. Im pretty sure the creators of Lost created the numbers for pure mystery for the show, but that is something nobody else seemed to see. Clearly its not a coincidence but it is something worth noticing.

  20. everything in the show is carefully planned and selcted like a hitchcock movie, so the relevance of the numbers will be revealed. enjoy!

  21. when i figured it out i almost dropped my laptop. it was is EXTREMELY disturbing, what i found. And that really means somthing, because i fought in the Gulf. I really hope i’m wrong.

  22. Hey! I know this is somewhat off topic but I was wondering
    if you knew where I could find a captcha plugin for my comment form?
    I’m using the same blog platform as yours and I’m having problems finding one?

    Thanks a lot!

    • Hi there – sorry it took me so long to see your post. I’m not sure about a captcha plugin – I’m pretty new to this theme. Were you able to figure it out? Feel free to post a link to the plugin on here if you could find it. 🙂

  23. have you really watch the show?
    watch the last season episode on caves.
    those numbers are the 6 candidates of replacing jacob

  24. This design is incredible! You obviously know how to keep a
    reader entertained. Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start
    my own blog (well, almost…HaHa!) Fantastic job. I really loved what
    you had to say, and more than that, how you presented it.
    Too cool!

  25. Hey Stephanie, just come across your website, forgive me for my mega late post but I tend to now wait a few years and watch tv series’s on boxset and I’m happy to say I’ve just completed Lost. You say on your biog ” research is my specialty ” then I was just wondering how on earth you missed the obvious. Lol

    Ok well here it is…

    On the official lost website it says:

    “The numbers 4, 8, 15, 16, 23 and 42 corresponded with what turned out to be the final six candidates” . Immediately the mention of the 6 made me think, 666.

    Let’s do the math

    The numbers 4, 8, 15, 16, 23 and 42

    4+8+15+16+23 = 66 and 4+2 = 6

    So there you have it, the lottery numbers represent the mark of the beast 666. It was obvious and the same obvious numbers that are in all your horror movies.

    The mysterious aspect of the Dharma group gave the impression of a secret society conducting experiments. The website says “The DHARMA Initiative had originally designed the station to be a laboratory to study and manipulate the “unique electromagnetic fluctuations emanating from this sector of the Island,” they refer to the “incident” in 1977.

    The producers designed the secret Dharma initiative to be much like the so-called illuminati elitist group who are supposedly The keepers knowledge and understanding supposedly above mankinds. The Dharma conducted experiments with electromagnetism were designed to be like the so called Haarp Experiments, that could manipulate the earth and create tornados, earthquakes and floods etc.

    The writers and producers did an excellent job unlike you lot did in decoding the numbers lol

    With all the attention around the oceanic 6 it made sense to me 666, evil demonic stuff as we saw throughout the series. I have decoded everything else with lost but I’ll spare you the rabbit hole of 7’s and 11’s and 27’s 33’s n so on…

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