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X-Files! Today I'm doing a joint post with myself on the Parallels blog. Hey, parallel blogs! Isn't that neat? On that blog, I'm featuring background information on the popular show, so here I will stick with my science theme.
The show has a science advisor: Anne Simon, a professor at the University of Maryland's Department of Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics. How did she get this fabulous job? Chris Carter, the creator of The X-Files is a family friend. Here are some juicy tidbits from the article WTOP: U.Md. Professor Provides the Science Behind 'The X-Files' by Jamie Forzato.
Simon started with the first season's finale. The show needed an alien micro-organism for Scully to examine under her microscope. Simon chose something spiky with lots of craters: pollen. Next she had to come up with a way for Scully to discover that it was alien. Cells from Earth have DNA made from four nucleotides: adenine (A), guanine (G), cytosine (C), and thymine (T). To make the DNA alien, she had Scully find two additional nucleotides.
But being a science advisor is not always simple. On one hand, Simon wants to inject a healthy dose of realism. On the other, the shows are short. When Scully ran a Southern Blot to detect if her blood had been infected by alien DNA, the character did the 3-day test in 3 hours. Even though the steps were accurate, lecture attendees were forever asking Simon how Scully could possibly do that so fast.
If you'd like to read more, Simon published The Real Science Behind the X-Files:
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Are you an X-Files fan? Have you ever wished to follow a career path based on something you saw on TV or the movies?