In the Lost Season Finale 2, some people detect a magnetic anomaly and call Penny.

I have seen the whole series, but I cannot say how Penny is aware of huge magnetic forces and the search of Desmond.

How did Penny know to search for magnetic anomalies?

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    I'm not sure this was ever explained. Might very well be one of those loose ends they did not tie up. – magnattic Dec 12 '14 at 11:02
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    I don't this was explained. I think there are a few Lost wiki sites with theories sections where this remains one of the biggest unanswered questions. I'll keep my fingers crossed that you get some sort of acceptable answer. – Andrew Martin Dec 12 '14 at 11:07

This will not be what you want to hear, but there does not seem to be a definite answer, only theories.

From Lostpedia (emphasis mine):

Soon after Desmond crashed on the island, Penny began searching for him. At some point, she managed to learn about the island, but the extent of her knowledge, and where it came from, is unknown. ("The Constant")

Then the incident you refer to:

Day 67 (Season 2)
2X24 Penelope
Penelope realizes Mathias and Henrik "found it". ("Live Together, Die Alone, Part 2") Three years after Desmond's disappearance, there was a discharge and detection of an electromagnetic anomaly which caught the attention of two Portuguese-speaking men at the listening station. Penny was notified by telephone at 3:05 a.m., her local time, that they "found it." The callers referred to her as "Miss Widmore", indicating she was not married. On her nightstand was a similar photograph of her and Desmond as the one that Desmond carried. ("Live Together, Die Alone, Part 1")

Without any further information, the most logical explanation would be that she learned about the island through her father Charles Widmore and his company. (Most likely by snooping around, I doubt he did tell her.) Widmore was exiled from the island, but had extensive knowledge of the island and was searching for it as well. He probably knew about the magnetic anomaly.

As to how Penny knew that Desmond was on the island: I read a theory that Charles Widmore wanted Desmond to end up on the island (most likely to get rid of him). That's why he persuaded him to take part in the boat race around the world:

Widmore attempted to bribe Desmond to cease the relationship and never see Penelope again. He sponsored the sailing race around the world that Desmond, in an attempt to regain his honor, was participating in when he crashed onto the Island.

So for me the most likely explanation is:

  • Desmond disappears.
  • After some time, Penny starts searching for him.
  • She suspects her father's involvement, who tried to keep them apart before.
  • Snooping around her father's files, she finds out about the island and that it can be tracked through the magnetic anomaly.
  • That way she also finds out that Desmond is on the island, either because her father planned it that way or because he learned about it after the fact.

As I said, this is just a theory and I haven't seen the relevant episodes in some time, but this is how I always thought it had happened.

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    The strange thing is that the information went both ways, as (Charles) Widmore also knew about Penny's search for Desmond, it is used by Naomi as the cover story for why she and the freighter are there by the island. The real mystery is how Charles or Penny knew that Desmond would be on the island. I'd say the most likely link here is Ms. Hawking, who seemed to have precognition that Desmond would go to the island, and she knew (and mothered the child of) Charles. – Justin Young Aug 3 '15 at 15:54
  • Take into account Widmore's return to the Island in S6 and what he knows about Desmond. Seems like Jacob may still have been in contact with him somehow? For how long? Penny may have overheard the two talking, maybe? Definitely theorizing, but that gives a little more connectivity between Des and Widmore. – Jesse C. Slicer Sep 10 '15 at 20:00
  • @JesseC.Slicer Widmore told Ben that he met Jacob not long after his Freighter was destroyed. – Keshav Srinivasan Jul 4 '20 at 14:34

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