The Lutece Device is a machine specifically designed to open portals, or Tears, to other dimensions. While it designed for use in studying quantum mechanics, it was also exploited for Comstock's "prophesies", Albert Fink's plagiarised melodies, his brother Jeremiah's obtaining anachronistic technologies and cross-dimensional travel.
In the early 1890s, quantum physicist Rosalind Lutece began studying the fall of quantum atoms and theorized she could keep them suspended indefinitely. Eventually, she achieved this feat and labeled it the Lutece Field, while other quantum physicists referred to it as quantum levitation, a term Rosalind did not believe befitting her achievement. Rosalind was soon met by Zachary Hale Comstock, a religious figure, who wished to create a city that would be suspended in the sky and built to uphold American and Christian ideals. Rosalind agreed with Comstock's plan and joined him to help create his city. She would give it the ability to fly in the clouds by using her Lutece Field. The city was named Columbia and Rosalind was hailed as its ultimate inventor.
Rosalind continued her research on quantum atoms and discovered that the same atom was being observed and manipulated from another dimension. The person observing it was no other than an alternate version of Rosalind Lutece, a man named Robert. By turning on and off the Lutece Fields, they managed to communicate via Morse Code. This finally led Rosalind Lutece in 1893 to create the device — The Lutece Device. It was able to properly open portals to any dimension of her choosing. This allowed Comstock's use of the device to look forward in possible time-space. By doing so, he expanded his title of "Prophet" in Columbia as its leader. Unfortunately, constant exposure to the device aged him and dissipated his traits and genetics, making him sterile.
After supposedly being told by the Archangel that Columbia would fall without his child heir, Comstock sought Rosalind's assistance in resolving the matter. Rosalind proposed that they simply find an alternate version of Comstock in another dimension to see if he has a child there. It so happened that Robert was living in a dimension where Comstock's alternate self had a child. Comstock's alternate self, in a pivotal event, never accepted a baptism after Wounded Knee and remained Booker DeWitt. In doing so, he had a daughter soon afterward named Anna DeWitt. Comstock sent Robert to take Anna, but Booker tracked them down to an alley where a Tear was opening for Robert, Comstock, and Anna to enter. They were entering the Tear back into Columbia, with Rosalind on the other side. When Booker attempted to retrieve Anna, the device turned off and the Tear closed between Booker and Anna, severing her right little finger in the process.
Anna was brought into Columbia and renamed Elizabeth. The device had closed on her pinky finger, separating her body between two different realities, spreading her presence across all dimensions, and giving her the same ability as the device. The Lutece twins used their Device for further study, and the effects on Robert's body from trans-dimensional traveling was a source for new research and theories. Comstock continued to use the device to see that now, Elizabeth would one day take 'the throne' and lay waste to the surface world. He also saw eventually Booker DeWitt would somehow return to retrieve her. This caused Comstock to warn the city of the "prophecy" that will ruin Columbia unless they capture the "False Shepherd."
Because of Elizabeth's ability and the constant use of the device by Comstock and the Luteces, random Tears began appearing all over Columbia. Citizens were able to see these Tears and the worlds on the other side of them. This allowed the Fink Brothers, Jeremiah, and Albert to plagiarize music, obtain technology, and create biological feats seen in other worlds, giving Columbia great technological advancements.
By 1909, the Luteces used the device to view what would eventually happen with Elizabeth, and what they saw proved Comstock's "prophecy." Elizabeth would indeed destroy the surface world. This led Robert to demand they take Elizabeth back to her former universe. However, Comstock discovered this plan and had Jeremiah Fink sabotage the Lutece Device. When the Luteces next used it, it malfunctioned and collapsed, releasing quantum energy and spreading the twins across time and space, giving them the same ability as their machine and Elizabeth. With that machine now destroyed, they worked on another of their own, seeking to end Comstock's travesty.
Tears started to appear in the underwater utopia of Rapture in 1958 when a certain woman arrived after the events of BioShock Infinite. The new phenomenon caught the attention of Dr. Yi Suchong, who started observing the flying city on the other side of the "window". He soon took over the place where they first emerged; Silver Fin Restaurant in Fontaine's Department Store and converted it into a laboratory for him. There he studied the Tears and observed the city and its scientific breakthroughs, to the point where he managed to build his own Lutece Device. After some time he got contact with Jeremiah Fink, whom he later collaborates with. This cross-dimensional contact helps explain the existence of Songbird (from Big Daddies) and Vigors (from Plasmids) in Columbia, as well as the Protection Bonding of some Little Sisters (from Elizabeth-Songbird). At some point, the Device was sabotaged by an unknown party and who presumably also wrote "Bad Juju" on the floor in front of it. The fall of Frank Fontaine caused the department store to be turned into a prison and Suchong was forced to abandon his lab before he was able to get the Device repaired.
Events of BioShock Infinite
- Main article: BioShock Infinite
Booker eventually entered Columbia and recovered Elizabeth from her tower. The only means of escape at the end of their journey was going into Comstock House, but the key to it was genetically locked to Comstock or his late wife, Lady Comstock. When attempting to retrieve her hand from her grave, Comstock used the Siphon to make Lady Comstock into the Siren, a vengeful, supernatural version of Lady Comstock who was now bent on avenging the lies Comstock had created. Booker and Elizabeth then attempted to uncover these lies and reveal the truth. One of them was located in the Lutece Labs where the device remained, but still collapsed and malfunctioned. However, there was still a Tear in the device that revealed the confrontation between Rosalind Lutece and Lady Comstock in 1895, with Lady Comstock accusing Rosalind of an affair with her husband and revealing that Elizabeth was not hers and not even of the same dimension.
Burial at Sea - Episode 1
- Main article: Burial at Sea - Episode 1
The device is briefly seen in the episode's ending, when the Booker DeWitt from Rapture remembers his real identity as one of the versions of Zachary Comstock and flashbacks to the night when he accidentally decapitated Anna DeWitt through a Tear while struggling to pull her away from her father. Riddled with guilt from his actions, Comstock had the Luteces use their device to open a Tear to the underwater city for him to start a new life, whereupon arriving he forged new memories and became a private investigator.
Burial at Sea - Episode 2
- Main article: Burial at Sea - Episode 2
In an attempt to save the girl Sally, Elizabeth is forced to help Atlas escape the department store prison where they both are trapped in. She convinces him that she is Suchong's lab assistant and that the professor knows a way back to Rapture. Elizabeth finds out that Suchong took over the Silver Fin Restaurant and heads there to find the man. Inside the restaurant, she learns about Suchong's observations of the city and finds the damaged Lutece Device. Despite the damage, the Lutece Device still maintains an active, but highly unstable, Tear back to Columbia. The events to come flash before Elizabeth's eyes, of her escaping the prison using a Lutece Particle to float the sunken Housewares department up. To get the Lutece Particle, she needed to enter Columbia once again and without her Tear powers, the broken Lutece Device seems to be the only way to do so. Uncertain of how to fix it, she finds a coded document left by Suchong on just how to do so. She needs a cold cathode tube, a carbon dioxide scrubber, and a heat sink. After getting the CO₂ Scrubber from a Bathysphere, Old Man Winter as a heat sink, and the cathode tube from a vending machine, Elizabeth can fix the device and travel to Columbia.