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The Real Science (and Scientist) Behind The X-Files

Weekend Program

Evening Lecture/Seminar

Sunday, March 6, 2016 - 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. ET
Code: 1L0114
Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden
Marion & Gustave Ring Auditorium
7th St & Independence Ave SW
Metro: L'Enfant Plaza
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Gillian Anderson as FBI Special Agent Dana Scully in "The X-Files"

When The X-Files premiered on Fox in 1993, few could have imagined that a show about two FBI agents investigating cases of a paranormal nature would become one of the most popular TV series of all time. The program spanned nine seasons and inspired two films, as well as a six-episode mini-series that premieres this January.

What made this show distinctive was its roots in actual science. Chris Carter, the creator of The X-Files, relied on his longtime family friend, virologist Anne Simon, to provide solid scientific facts to underpin his paranormal themes. She provided guidance on topics such as viruses, cloning, “junk” DNA, nanotechnology, endosymbionts, and other strange phenomena that have challenged the intellect and threatened the lives and sanity of America's favorite agents.

Simon, author of The Real Science Behind The X-Files: Microbes, Meteorites, and Mutants, is currently a professor and head of the virology program at the University of Maryland. Her long association with Carter led to some of the most iconic X-Files episodes of the past, as well as a story credit in the final episode of the forthcoming mini-series. 

The X-Files is also significant for its focus on a female scientist as a lead character. Gillian Anderson’s portrayal of Dr. Dana Scully, who uses her knowledge of science and medicine to search for the truth behind bizarre mysteries, inspired the “Scully Effect,” encouraging young people throughout the world to consider science as a career.

Hear Simon share highlights of how science plays a role in The X-Files—and how one of her chance ideas ended up as the basis for what could be the most talked-about episode ever. For X-Files fans old and new, this is an evening you will not soon forget.