Math question: 4 8 15 16 23 42

[UPDATE from October: Some of what is below is obsolete, now that we know that the numbers are the 'reset' code for the mysterious countdown that threatens to "destroy the world," as Desmond put it in last week's episode. We still don't know what the connection might be between these numbers and Hurley's rotten lottery luck, as well as a number of other things relating to the individual characters in the show. And there are all these new mysteries, with the 1960s social research project, the magnetic disturbances on the film clip, and so on. We also don't know exactly what it is that would happen if the clock ever went to "0." Anyway, I think all the math below is still legitimate and interesting.]

This one is for the mathematicians in the house.
Do the following numbers constitute a series?

4 8 15 16 23 42

They are the mystery numbers in the American TV show Lost. The numbers are marked on the hatch of a mysterious, partially buried ship that crashed on the island (pictured above; see Episode 1:18), which also explains the fate of the "French chick" and her crew -- who came to the island after a distress call -- and also Hurley's rotten lottery luck, also linked to a distress call derived from the island. Clearly, the fact that the numbers are marked on the ship suggests they are not supposed to be coordinates. (Someone at one website actually interpreted them as long/lat coordinates, and found they corresponded to a site in south central Africa, which makes no sense given the location of the mystery island.)

The numbers might form some kind of series. On my own, I noticed that if you serialize the difference between the numbers, you get something sort of interesting:

4 8 15 16 23 42
-->4 7 1 7 19

The sum of the difference between numbers 1-4 is the same as the difference between 5-6. Ok, so not that exciting.

I googled the numbers, and the best speculation on how to crack the numbers is at Dodoskido. One of the commentors at that site noticed something a bit more interesting -- that it might be some kind of countdown. The commentor is, like me, using the differentials between each number and repeating the operation. But he's also canceling out the negative between positions 3 (8->15: 7) and 4 (15->15: 1), and beginning the series with 0, as "all mathematicians do."

0 4 8 15 16 23 42
4 4 7 1 7 19
0 3 6 6 12
3 3 0 6
0 3 6
3 3

Anyone have ideas about how (0) 4 8 15 16 23 42 might be related in terms of operations other than addition? And: is there software out there that can recognize formulae for series based on strings of numbers? I realize the ways numbers can be patterned are essentially endless, so somehow I doubt it.

My current theory is that the numbers are completely arbitrary -- no series whatsoever. That won't stop people from a) speculating madly, b) selling T-shirts, or even a website called 4815162342.com, though the latter seems like an ABC plant.

Small plug for the desi actor on the show: go Naveen Andrews!


Kerim Friedman said...

There is a lot of discussion in these forums as well as some interesting discussion about literary allusions in the series.

Kerim Friedman said...

If you put the first 5 numbers into Google Sets it does not predict the 6th one. Instead of 42, it says:


Not that this helps ...

Suresh Venkatasubramanian said...

Hi Amardeep,
A good place to look is Neil Sloane's Encyclopedia of Integer Sequences:

So I tried looking there, and this is what I found !

Looks like I wasn't the first to try it :)

Anonymous said...

hello, i also have been trying to find the mysterious link betweeen the numbers and came up with a quite simple way so finding an answer to it all.

if you look at the numbers in sets of 3's the first 3
4, 8, 15
and the second 3
16, 23,42
now if you add these sets up you will find that they are all divisable by 3, reverse the order and you will also find that they all subtract to the number 3.

now the important bit what dose the number 3 have to do with anything well my thinking is the guy from calgouluie their was 2 of them when they came across the number, hurly came across it by his self or if you want with his mum. the flight number 815 is not divisable by 3 hence from these sets of 3s not addding up we could see that 3 = safty from the numbers. if these numbers mysterious powers are what they are ment to be, why is it that no one on the island has had any REALLY bad luck, the answer is 42, its divisable by 3. my theory is that 3 is safety.

tell me what you think to this theory

Anonymous said...

If the numbers represent a coordinate somewhere in south central Africa...could that tie into the final episode where Saiyad reminded us that the heroin plane and smugglers where from Africa? The plane must have been returning to Africa because they where in Priest desguises. You wouldn't wear a desguise until you had picked up your illegal cargo. Why would they choose Catholic priests as their desguise? Isn't the Black Rock slave ship possibly from Africa? I see some strong possible referrences to Africa here. I am also detecting some slave undertones throughout the series as well. Any thoughts?

Anonymous said...


4 5 6 7 8...:D

don't think that has any sense...

Anonymous said...

me again...

lati: 48,15
long: 16,23

place:Wien, Austria.

lati: 48,151
long: 62,342

place:somewhere in Khazakstan

but with numbers in disorder everybody can find everything...:D

Anonymous said...

To start, my english might not be very good, becouse I'm from uruguay, but I'll give it a try!
Well, I don't have anything to add to you're theorys, but I just can't understand why is evryone making such a big deal about these numbers? Maybe they're just random numbers...any way, if someone could please explain me what's the big deal aobout it...please, send me an email to: ines@jmp2773.com

Anonymous said...

My turn...
Although i don't consider using a number sequence something too original
(it only shows that LOST scriptwriters saw "CUBE" movie too...), i never deny a numbers game...

4 8 15 16 23 49

First i gave the numbers a turn...

49 23 16 15 8 4

and tried the difference between contiguous too...

49 - 23 = 19
23 - 16 = 7
16 - 15 = 1
15 - 8 = 7
8 - 4 = 4

So i've got (just like someone here too...) those (apparently) not connected numbers as results...

19 7 1 7 4

but when i tried the in line difference...

19 - 7 - 7 - 4 = 0 (!?!?!?!?)

Well, i can't see this result fitting in the series... but i still think they are all dead and "lost" on a kind of LIMBO or such alike... it's the only way to explain the island (and people) supernatural "facts"...

And, about the numbers... probably even the scriptwriters don't have any idea on how to go away.. i almost can see them... desperately reading those blogs and collecting our opinions and ideas about that... to save their jobs!!! ;-)

Anyway... as it is... Greetings you all...

Anonymous said...

OOOOPS...!!! Me again...

I forgot to type a number in my previous post...

I typed "19 - 7 - 7 - 4 = 0" when i wanted to type "19 - 7 - 1 - 7 - 4 = 0"... with the "1"!!!

sorry... and bye...


Anonymous said...

Sorry Marcelo, but the producers have said that the crash survivors are not dead, trapped in time, nor dreaming: It's all very real. Wonder what they'll come up with!

Anonymous said...

Convert each number to binary format. It's a telephone number in L.A...

Anonymous said...

Greetings from Mexico, now lets do some maths

4+8+1+5+1+6+2+3+4+2=36 3+6=9
4+8+15+16+23+42=108 1+0+8=9
4*8*15*16*23*42=7418880 then
7+4+1+8+8+8+0=36 3+6=9

So, 9 survivors at the end of the series?

9 seasons of LOST?

Waiting for your comments . . .

gavdiggity said...

Marcelo, the last number in the series is 42, NOT 49...

Anonymous said...

Alright I think I found something interesting.


666/108= 6.1666666666...

If the show is leaning towards more of a religious explination then I believe that this calculation is failry interesting.

Anonymous said...


somewhere between Hawaii and Australia

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

That is it!! off the coast of Australia.


Anonymous said...

How can everybody be forgetting that the number 42 is the answer to life, the universe and everything???? :-)

lunarmonkey said...

The most relevant way I have found of making these numbers relevant to Lost is to add them together to produce 108 (which the timer reverts to once the numbers have been typed in on Desmond's computer). The number 108 has a deep significance for many eastern religions and cultures - see
for a rundown. I believe they are also linked with the logo inside the hatch, which features the word 'Dharma', the search for happiness from within one's own mind, a recurring theme in the show. Below is one of my favourite religios connotations for 108....

Followers use 108 beads in their malas. They implement the following formula:
6 x 3 x 2 x3 = 108
6 senses [sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, thought]
3 aspects of time [past, present, future]
2 condition of heart [pure or impure]
3 possibilties of sentiment [like, dislike, indifference]

...any connection? we shall see....

Desmond said...

The question is not what the numbers mean or where they come from. The question is what is to come because of the numbers' meanings to the people who are LOST.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

The numbers add up to 108... which is the same as the count down timer... the doc is right... they probably don't mean anything

Anonymous said...

Anyone Ever Hear/Read about the Dutch Tulip Frenzy?

The numbers had a somewhat small significance initially. Nothing of biblical proportions... initially. Now that the creators of the show have seen websites like this, and how people worldwide have gone nuts over "4 8 15 16 23 42", they have re-written the role of these numbers.

I think that many people will be sorely dissapointed when the creators reveal the new and improved "true meaning" of the numbers.

The true mean can never live up to the hype and mania that we the public have added.

The "true" mean will either be so far fetched that we will all throw our scientific calculators into the oceans as a sign of disgust, or so lame that we will finally gain some much needed insight into our frail human character.

The lost number is nothing more than a tulip.

Anonymous said...

5 x 108 = 540, the number of days that Desmond was in the hatch.

SwingCorey said...

On one site (http://thelostnumbers.blogspot.com/), I saw that the numbers had a connection to the DHARMA corporation.

However, I believe that there is a connection to Africa (the Black Rock and the smuggler's plane both came from Africa), and this is a possiblity for the numbers.

The coordinates are 4 degrees, 8 minutes, 15 seconds latitude by 16 degrees, 23 minutes, 42 seconds longitude. Here is a link to the location: http://www.mapquest.com/maps/map.adp?searchtype=address&formtype=address&latlongtype=decimal&latitude=4.1375&longitude=16.395

This is a location in the SW part of the Central African Republic (near Camaroon and the Republic of the Congo).

Just another thought.

Anonymous said...

Someone mentioned 3, if you add together the differences of each number (4 8 15 16 23 42), you get 36. 108/36=3.

useless and pointless maybe, but it kept a fool busy.

Anonymous said...

things i have been finding out, not much to it, and there are a lot more explanations for the numbers.
4: insane man that Hurley visits is playing connect 4.

Put 8 and 15 together and you get the airline #.

Havent got sixteen or 42, but the producers said thatfor 25, if you add 2 and 3 to get 5, then you will see that 5 is tattood on Jack's arm.

Thats all i said its not much..

Anonymous said...

If you add all the numbers, you get 108, which is the interval of when they have to enter the code in, of all the numbers.

Anonymous said...

I came across this somewhere at athensohio.net and it made me think of this...

108 = 36 + 36 + 36

it turns out 6 * 6 = 36

so 108 = 6*6 + 6*6 + 6*6

thus 108 = 3 * 6 * 6

even further 2*108 = 2 * 3 * 6 * 6
thus 216 = 6 * 6 * 6

I distinctly remember seeing two times where the code was being entered into the computer. The first time was by Locke and the second time was by Hurley. Two times, the clock reset back to 108, so the clock was reset for 216 minutes.

In my mind, 216 is a symbol for being stuck in a crappy situation, and all the events on the island point to something crappy and maybe even demonic.

666 indeed!

Anonymous said...

Another quirky comment...

I just caught the episode where they watched the old film. Apparently, the Dharma Corporation promised to replace the two button pushers in 540 days.

This is interesting, because 108*5=540 and the dome that contained the entire computer setup contained triangular shapes that made perfect geometrical pentagons. The pentagons measures out to 540 degrees, and the five equal angles each measure out to 108 degrees.

It's amazing what can appear to you if you don't look for it.

Anonymous said...

ok on the theme that 3 is imortant

sequence of numbers 4 8 15 16 23 42

8+4 = 12 +3 = 15
15+4 = 19 -3 = 16
16+4 = 20 +3 = 23

now for 42 which seems to be diferent (Mega ball in the lottery draw)

42 - 12 -19 - 20 = -9

-9 divded by 3 = -3

Putin Gay said...

Greetings from Lithuania:) I will say this:

4+8+15+16+23+49=108 and now we will look to the sky. I think you everybody already know, that this bunker have name "swan" from the orientation movie. And do you know, that “swan” also is N.O.A.A. satellite, that orbit earth every 108 minutes and that satellite is within transmitter range for about 10 minutes? Cool:) So we can say, that they send some kind of signal to satellite every 108 minutes. And numbers – don’t mean nothing special… or maybe…?

Anonymous said...

what about the numbers as compared to the alphabet? if you asign each number a letter (42 must be counted through twice) you get the correlation:


could these letters stand for something? just an idea...

Anonymous said...

(4) 8 15 16 23 42
4 8 15 16 23 42
4 8 15 16 23 42
4 (8) 15 16 23 42
4 8 (15) (16) 23 42
4 8 15 16 (23) 42
4 8 15 16 23 (42)

count up from the bottom and last 42 (row 7) you get to 4 the alpha,
starting in the same place count up 23 you get 8 repeat this for each number count up from the last 42 16 places you get 15 and so on. the numbers are random by themselves but when repeated the are the pattern, the patern is not in the numbers the numbers are the pattern.

You can also get to 4 from the bottom 42 then start at the top left number 4 and count 8 to get to 8 and from 4 count 15 and you will get 15 and so on..

Once Again the numbers are the pattern the pattern is not in the numbers

look below

(connect 4 remember 6 down 7 across) notice the patern on the way up the sides. There is your answer 7 rows of 6 numbers is 42 and the sum of these numbers is 108 per row.

42 4 8 15 16 23 42
23 42 4 8 15 16 23
16 23 42 4 8 15 16
15 16 23 42 4 8 15
8 4 42 23 16 15 8
4 42 23 16 15 8 4

And Yes there is more, but I dont want to ruin all of your fun. Plenty of clues. As for the french womans equations. well study up on some Trig. Clue Trig applied to mechanical engineering.

To sign this so that I can at least prove to those that know me that this is not where I got the answer but that I am the one who posted it I will say (The Sweet Trade 5816)

Yes there is more but guess what I just wanted to get others to start looking the writers are excellent and pay close attention to detail.
They did not lie when they said the numbers are random they just didn't tell you the rest. =0)

Anonymous said...

Ok this is weirder than the a.f.i. mystery!Anyway I don't think we've seen the end of those numbers.
Anyway might I beg someone to do me a slight favor?
See my family have this theory that they are infact on mysterious Island.
See there are lots of little things that just say "Nemo" to me, the song that is in french, that was at the end of that "movie about the fish" was beyond the sea, and the film was finding nemo, 42 walaby way sydny is in the film two, 42 being one of the numbers and sydney being in Australia, the hatch, I haven't seen them open it yet but it looks like a submerine hatch to me(the nautalus?), and lost itself, the Nightwish song "Nemo", fetures the line "This is me for forever one of the Lost ones", and there were various weird animals on mysterious island.
Anyway, my mother asked me if piano keys are numbered,I said you can number them but most people letter them, anyway my dad then said that guitar frets are numbered, so could someone try the numbers on a guitar and tell me if they get anything?

Anonymous said...

ok so
Marcelo Queiroz said...
My turn...
Although i don't consider using a number sequence something too original
(it only shows that LOST scriptwriters saw "CUBE" movie too...), i never deny a numbers game...

4 8 15 16 23 49

First i gave the numbers a turn...

49 23 16 15 8 4

and tried the difference between contiguous too...

49 - 23 = 19
23 - 16 = 7
16 - 15 = 1
15 - 8 = 7
8 - 4 = 4

So i've got (just like someone here too...) those (apparently) not connected numbers as results...

19 7 1 7 4

but when i tried the in line difference...

19 - 7 - 7 - 4 = 0 (!?!?!?!?)

what happened in the year 1971 the 7 month day 4???????

Anonymous said...

4+8+15+16+23+42=108 1+0+8=9 Nine is a significant number. Virgil called Beatrice a "Nine." And I believe, if you want to unravel this mystery: seek out references to the number nine. And remember --- numerology is a sign of decline.

Anonymous said...

Someone wrote this :Anonymous said...
Someone mentioned 3, if you add together the differences of each number (4 8 15 16 23 42), you get 36. 108/36=3.

Also on the movie they watch the man says they are located in section "3"
something to think about anyway

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Greetings from Mexico, now lets do some maths

4+8+1+5+1+6+2+3+4+2=36 3+6= 9
4+8+15+16+23+42=108 1+0+8=9
4*8*15*16*23*42=7418880 then
7+4+1+8+8+8+0=36 3+6=9

So, 9 survivors at the end of the series?

9 seasons of LOST?

Waiting for your comments . . .

This comment was posted earlier on this site, me and my sister found some familiar things. Here they are:


that was the first thing we found out, here's the second one:
(same as ^)

Have fun searcing! ;)

Anonymous said...

if you type 4 8 1 5 1 6 2 3 4 2 in a mobile on messages it says Gt.J.Madga

75,500 results for madga in google. most it is used as a name or in a different language...

I know it is a name.. well from google e.g. "Madga's and Paulina's" but is it also a word in another language, if so what does it mean..

Gt: The {country code} for Guatemala.
Internet country code top-level domain
one billion (1,000,000,000) tons or two trillion (2,000,000,000,000) pounds.

well i guess Gt.J.Madga is just a name but if so who is he/she

if you know what Gt.J.Madga could mean plz say

Anonymous said...

I have the gt magda thing saved in my phone, my dad and I are still serching for someone with that name!

Anonymous said...

ok... i know nothing abt the show... but something with the math

4 8 15 16 23 42
4 7 1 7 19 1st difference
+3 -6 +6 +12 2nd difference

thts like

x -2x +2x +4x -4x +8x -8x -16x

just a thought... could be a sign + coefficient type of series

Anonymous said...

use the dictionary on your phone and type 4 8 15 16 23 42

it comes out as "It'l.mafia"
which could be short for italian mafia

its a coincidence !!

Anonymous said...

4*8*15*16*23*42 = 7418880

At the end of the season finale, when the scientist look up at their device that has detected the “electromagnetic anomaly” the number 7418880 is displayed on that device's screen.

Anonymous said...

i personnaly watch lost and i also watch this other show called veronica mars. in the tenth episode of season 2 you see the leading charecter put away a piece off paper from a chinese charm cookie. you know the one's with a little paper with a luck wish on it. it said: true love stories never have endings. en beneath that it says: 4 8 15 16 23, 42.
at first my eye was atrected to that comma after 23. i didn't get anything out of dat perticular thing so here is what i found on that phrase:

Richard Bach said: "True love stories never have endings" and:
“A soulmate is someone who has locks that fit our keys, and keys to fit our locks. When we feel safe enough to open the locks, our truest selves step out and we can be completely and honestly who we are; we can be loved for who we are and not for who we’re pretending to be. Each unveils the best part of the other. No matter what else goes wrong around us, with that one person we’re safe in our own paradise. Our soulmate is someone who shares our deepest longings, our sense of direction. When we’re two balloons, and together our direction is up, chances are we’ve found the right person. Our soulmate is the one who makes life come to life.”
About courtship with Leslie Parrish

it's a quote of a mister Richard Bach. i hope someone takes this lead and try to search on to this.
thank you
greatings: lorraine

Anonymous said...

I think I figured something out. The numbers reference letters. For example, the fourth letter of the alphabet is D. The eighth letter of the alphabet is H. The third number, when added to the sum of the first two numbers = 27, which... coincidentally,... takes us back to A. The last 3 numbers, 16, 23 and 42 are a little more confusing, as they do not follow the same pattern... but are close. 27 + 16 = 43. 43 = Q,.. not R. This is where it breaks down a bit. Continuing with the summation.... 43+23 = 66, which references N.... but should be M. Lastly, 66+42 = 108, with is the letter D,... but should be A. I might need some help here.

So.. to summarize:

4 = D
8 = H
15 = A
16 = R
23 = M
42 = A

or..... D H A R M A.

Anonymous said...

42 degrees C is 108 degrees F, the temperature that kills most microbial life for pasteurization

Anonymous said...

4 8 15 16 23 42

48151 62342
sum up the digits
10 8

Roy Janho is the master!

Anonymous said...

4 8 15 16 23 42

d h o p w p

Dharma has power over will power

Anonymous said...

yes they can be used as co-ordinates so ur search was incorrect they don't lie in africa they land inbetween australia and los angeles!!!
48.151 162.342

have a look for yourself!!

also D H O P W P is the place in which u will find all the answers to your questions you need on lost but as you may have realised already you will have to work out wat D H O P W P is and how you crack this code!! im sorry but this is for me to know and you to find out!! sorry !!

good luck!!

Anonymous said...

Word from having hung around in the Hollywood circle is that Damon Lindelof,one of the creators, has a family member that won 100 thousand dollars, 10 years ago, and had framed the winning ticket. It came to him during a family BBQ and during the first draft of the script when he happen to see the framed ticket in the hosts living room. The winning nimbers were 4 8 15 16 23 42.

And thats all folks... your theories are good but this was a simple answer.


Anonymous said...

How about something simple...If the numbers meant a place on the map it would come to a place close to Sudan, Africa. Can it simply be the lost Garden of Eden?

Unknown said...

and as we all know 108 is the number of minutes the clock in the Swan Hatch counted down till the world supposedly was gonna end! I can't believe no one has even pointed this out before!

Anonymous said...

The Taman Shud Case

The victim was found dead at 6:30 am, December 1, 1948, under a street lamp at Somerton Beach in Australia. And with that, we have exhausted everything we know about the man. It's the things we don't know that have been baffling authorities ever since. Including the meaning of the apparently uncrackable secret code he left behind. 4 8 15 16 23 42

But more on that in a moment. Things first started to lurch towards the creepy when police noticed that all his clothes' identification marks had been removed. They were eventually and painstakingly able to place a jacket to America, which was strange because his dental records and fingerprints didn't match anyone who'd ever lived there... or anywhere else in the world. It was like the guy had never existed.

Would have saved them a ton of time, and been exactly as helpful.

So the cops must have been half expecting it when the coroner returned with the cause of death: "Sudden, acute onset of damned if I know." The autopsy revealed exceptional health, a half-digested pasty in his stomach, and congestion in his brain and stomach that would have been consistent with poisoning if, you know, they'd found even a trace of poison anywhere in his body. For good measure, his spleen was three times too big.

Every breakthrough seemed to increase the mystery. They discovered a brown suitcase that had apparently belonged to the man, but that only revealed more clothes with the tags removed, and the aforementioned jacket.

The cops also discovered a secret pocket in the man's pants, which contained a scrap of paper with the words "Tamam Shud" printed on it (the words meaning "ended" or "finished").

The secret pockets in our pants are filled with Cheez-its.

The text looked like it was a scrap torn from a book. And it turned out it was; from a collection of poems called The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. And not just any Rubaiyat, but a specific translation, and an extremely rare one at that.

This was pointed out after police did an Australia-wide search as if the book was the ark of the goddamn covenant, presumably braving Indiana Jones-esque temples and solving ancient aboriginal riddles before some dude mentioned he found a copy of that exact book in the back seat of his car right around the time and location of death.

Sure enough, "Tamam Shud" was missing from the books pages. Instead of a library card with the dead man's name printed on it or something even a little bit helpful, the book contained the clue that would take the mystery from "spooky" to "officially starting to piss us off."

It Gets Weirder:

In the back of the book, the cops found this code:

Five sets of seemingly random letters, the second of which is crossed out. So, what does this code tell us? Nothing. Nothing at all. To this day it remains unsolved.

Or is it just waiting for Nicolas Cage to solve it?

Was the code the result of a disturbed mind, or chronic boredom, perhaps? Turns out, no. The most recent attempt to solve the case found the letters aren't random, just some mysterious cipher nobody was familiar with. Can you solve it? If so, you're about to be famous, considering people have been trying for more than 60 years.

credits to: http://www.cracked.com/article_18459_the-5-creepiest-unsolved-crimes-nobody-can-explain.html

Anonymous said...

Listen im no scientiffic genious. but from what u guys have said. 2+3=5. ok.. jack has 5 tatood on his arm.. ok.. 5/108 =540 which is the number of days dezmond was in the vault.. ok.. and if u read some other things there is a lot more on these numbers.. THIS IS NOT A COINCIDENCE