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December 08, 2009

‘Lost’ in the classroom

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Patrick Kevin Day gives us a lesson in “Lost” today…  

Lost university 

 “Lost” seems to breed obsessive types who are a study in devotion and intelligence. And now, they have another place to congregate: their own school.

As the famously perplexing and mysterious series heads into its final season, its creators have launched Lost University, a multimedia experience that delves into the fields of study touched on in the show’s five years. Real university professors will teach short video courses on a variety of “Lost”-related subjects — and it’s not exactly a light curriculum either, with philosophy, physics and hieroglyphics, among others.

“It’s a great medium, because you don’t want a TV show to become didactic,” says Caltech professor Sean Carroll, who is teaching Introductory Physics of Time Travel for the online university. “It’s the perfect marriage of entertainment and education.”

“Lost” students are provided reading lists, handouts, final exams and homework. Courses can be completed in a matter of days (Lost University forces you to wait 48 hours between classes), but no date has been set for the start of the second semester. And yes, there’s a diploma awaiting the studious.

The project was announced in July at San Diego’s Comic-Con International with a website and course catalog. But the first semester of classes weren’t set to begin until today — timed to the release of “Lost’s” fifth season on Blu-ray. Though anyone can sign up online and participate in forums at www.lostuniversity.org, fans must have the show’s Blu-ray discs to access the courses.

The first semester offers a class taught by a trio of USC professors on some of the philosophers referenced in “Lost,” including empiricist John Locke and utilitarian Jeremy Bentham. There’s also an introduction to ancient hieroglyphics taught by UCLA Egyptologist Kara Cooney.


— Patrick Kevin Day


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Robert Lloyd: “Lost” is now like a dinner guest who “talks nonsense” 

Photo: USC’s Nick Warner is one of the scientists teaching Web video courses centered on “Lost.” Credit: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

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