Thursday, April 28, 2016

X is for . . .

Image Source: Creative Common

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:

Image Source: Amazon

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?


  1. I've never watched the X-Files, actually! I think I was just too young when it was first on the air and I just haven't taken the time to watch it now. I think I would really like it, though!

  2. Interesting scientific facts about the science advisor for the show. It's not what you know but who you know. However in this case Anne Simon had both.
    I've never watched the X-files. I thought I might like to get into it, so I started to watch the original series on Netflix. Couldn't make it through, though. But I'm still willing to give it a second chance.

  3. I enjoyed part of the series, but I think it went on too long, got too weird. But how cool to know someone who knows someone! :) Great story, and I think that's what happens with a lot of shows, the solutions come way too fast! :)

  4. Fans are notorious for spotting scientific inconsistencies :) I always have trouble when it comes to the heroes dealing with computers (at least I did when I knew something about them - bit behind these days). With my dad it's planes. The phrase of the day is always "it doesn't work like that" :) I can only imagine the instincts one has to sit on when being a scientific advisor to a show like the X-files ::g::
    Tasha's Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)

  5. That's the tricky part of TV, they have to do a lot of stuff that happens in the real world, but on fast forward. Like on crime shows. They can't find print matches that fast in real life, but on the show they have to otherwise the bad guy wouldn't be found for a few episodes and viewers would get bored.

    ~Ninja Minion Patricia Lynne aka Patricia Josephine~
    Story Dam
    Patricia Lynne, Indie Author

  6. I've only seen a few X-File episodes and enjoyed them. This book looks interesting to me. Someday I'll read it and watch the show-- and finally figure out what's out there.

  7. I am another one who has never watched The X Files. But I did work as an electro-mechanical Engineer in a research lab a very very long time ago. . . signed the official secrets act and the like in order to be there. These places are much less exciting that folk realise.

  8. Interesting. I only watched a few shows. It might be time to get it through netflix!

  9. Interesting. I only watched a few shows. It might be time to get it through netflix!

  10. I have not seen any episodes of the X-Files and I don't even know if they are offered on German Television but I will look into it. Now I am curious.
    Also, I have put Anne Simon's book on my TBR list at Goodreads. I figure with a name like Anne, which is also my middle name, :-) She's got to have a fantastic book.

    Visiting from the A to Z Blog Challenge.

    Patricia @ EverythingMustChange

  11. Guess we just have to return to what Samuel Coleridge advocated and suspend our disbelief. Fiction is fact bent to fit the form enough to entertain. Loved the X-Files and never noticed the scientific inaccuracies. However, I love learning about this today.

  12. As an ex-X-Files fan I found this particularly interesting. Thank you!

    A bit of A-Z nonsense!

  13. That is seriously fascinating. Thanks for sharing, Tam.

  14. I like it when they use some real science in science fiction. I have never watched the X-Files, but I have thought about watching the old seasons.

  15. I tried watching it, but I couldn't get into it. I don't know why--I made it to episode 2 and it just wasn't drawing me in.

  16. We must be able to suspend reality and bend facts a bit when it comes to a drama show. It's too funny when people get upset about the realism. It's not a documentary!
    I do LOVE that show.


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