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Little Green Men
 Science File Information:
  • This episode begins with Agent Mulder's brief history of the Voyager project. Voyager I and II (Voyager II actually launched first) are a pair of NASA space probes launched in 1977 to study the solar system and the galaxy beyond. Having finished their study of the planets around our sun in 1989, the two probes have continued to travel beyond the reaches of our galaxy, sending back periodic data transmissions and carrying a universal message (referred to in the episode) intended for any alien life the probes might encounter.

    Everything you ever wanted to know about the Voyager probes awaits you at NASA's Voyager page: http://vraptor.jpl.nasa.gov/.

  • As the episode opens, the X-Files have been shut down. Scully's teaching autopsies to to queasy medical students, while Mulder's job is to listen to FBI wiretaps of two-bit thugs discussing the finer points of lap dancing.

    The Electronic Privacy Information Center has a page chock full of wiretapping info, including the results of recent Congressional votes, at http://www.epic.org/privacy/wiretap/.
    A Massachusetts security firm's "Wiretapping 101" page points out the myriad and easy ways someone can listen in on your phone conversations: http://www.tscm.com/outsideplant.html.

  • Mulder and Scully meet clandestinely in the parking lot of the Watergate Hotel to discuss the closing of the X-Files. Mulder mentions the famed Palomar observatory in San Diego, California, and how its founder George Ellery Hale claimed an elf climbed in his window and gave him the idea for the telescope.

    The 200-inch Hale Telescope, in service since 1948, remains one of the largest on Earth. Learn more about the telescope's convoluted history and the observatory itself at http://astro.caltech.edu/observatories/palomar/public/.
    No mention of helpful elves, but this German page (in English) has links to all sorts of George Ellery Hale information throughout the Web: http://www.astro.uni-bonn.de/~pbrosche/persons/pers_hale_ge.html.

  • Senator Richard Matheson calls upon Mulder to visit the Arecibo Observatory near San Juan, Puerto Rico. Although the episode says it's been closed down by Nevada Senator Richard Bryan, the radio telescope at Arecibo -- also seen in the movie Contact-- still scans the skies for signs of intelligent life as part of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) project.

    Learn more about the Arecibo Observatory, now run by Cornell University, at its official site: http://www.naic.edu/.
    Radio astronomy works by gathering radio waves from outer space rather than visible light. For more info, check out the National Radio Astronomy Observatory's page of basic facts at http://www.nrao.edu/intro/.
    SETI lost its government funding after the Republicans won Congress in 1994, but it survives as a private institute, funded by some of the biggest names in the computer industry. See for yourself, and download the SETI-At-Home screen saver, at http://www.seti.org.
    Matheson mentions the "high-resolution microwave survey," which scans the microwave end of the electromagnetic specturum for signals from life-bearing planets. For more info, see http://www.seti-inst.edu/searches/hrms-desc.html.

  • Mulder heads off to Puerto Rico, leaving a very puzzled Scully wondering about his whereabouts. She goes to search his apartment,where she recovers a printout of the data from Arecibo given him by Senator Matheson. When a fellow FBI agent analyzes the results, he says it's similar to a "Wow signal" discovered by his colleague Jerry Ehman at Ohio State in 1977. The "Wow signal" was supposedly 30 times stronger than the cosmic background radiation, the radiation "noise" floating around in space as remnants of the Big Bang.

    You'll find more about this "interstellar static" at http://map.gsfc.nasa.gov/html/cbr.html.
    Read an article about the "Wow signal" and its discoverer Jerry Ehman at http://www.bigear.org/wow.htm.

  • Down in Puerto Rico, Mulder has a close encounter with a freaked-out local, some mysterious out-of-this-world intruders, and a gun-toting commando squad. He and Scully narrowly escape, with only a single reel of data tape from the Arecibo computers as evidence. In the end, though, that single reel turns out to be blank. Scully suggests that the previous night's lightning storm may have created a magnetic field that degaussed the tapes. Degaussing erases magnetically encoded data by subjecting it to magnetic fields of alternating polarity until the original magnetic data is completely obliterated.

    A British company that specializes in degaussing has a FAQ at http://www.weircliffe.co.uk/degaussi.htm.
    The Mad Scientists' Network has a post on the effects of lightning strikes on nearby electronics at http://madsci.wustl.edu/posts/archives/dec97/ 879367603.Es.r.html.

 File #:

Basic Plot:
Officially off the X-Files, Mulder travels to the Arecibo Radio Telescope, seeking substantive proof of extraterrestrial intelligence.

Synopsis URLs:
Synopsis @ Official X-Files Site
Synopsis @ Deep Background

Title means:
Disheartened that he's never been able to explain the disappearance of his sister, Mulder admits to Scully that perhaps he's spent his life chasing after "little green men."

Special Guest Writer:
Nathan Alderman

End of science file.
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