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Memento Mori
 Science File Information:
  • As this episode begins, Scully has an MRI taken, to see if she has cancer, as LEONARD BETTS predicted. MRI, or Magnetic Resonance Imaging is an interesting (and rather complicated) method of rendering a three-dimensional picture of internal anatomy using a magnet and a radio wave. If you want specifics, be forewarned that you'll quickly find yourself neck-deep in quantum mechanics and electrodynamics. If you want a simpler answer, however, check out the June 1995 Discover Magazine article in the links below.

    The simple explanation: a Discover Magazine article at http://coldfusion.discover.com/output.cfm?ID=514.
    The more detailed explanation: an MRI tutorial covering spin physics and Fourier transforms at http://www.cis.rit.edu/htbooks/mri/.

  • From the results of the MRI, Scully finds out that she has a nasopharyngeal tumor that lies between her sinuses and her brain. Brain tumors--the second greatest cause of cancer death in people between the ages of 15 and 34, according to the American Brain Tumor Association--are a serious affliction, but Scully's not ready to give up hope quite yet.

    For the sixth edition of the ABTA's in-depth primer on brain tumors, go to http://www.abta.org/primer.htm.

  • The two agents decide to seek out the lone survivor of a support group of women (that Scully met on an earlier investigation in NISEI/731), all of whom contracted brain cancer after being abducted by mysterious forces, much like Scully. The survivor, Penny Northern, is undergoing treatment for her cancer at a local hospital and convinces Scully to seek similar chemotherapy treatment while there still may be time to stop the cancer from spreading.

    For more information on chemotherapy, go to http://www.twhh.com/cancer/types/chemo.html. To investigate other ways of fighting cancer, read the American Cancer Society's page on alternative methods at http://www.cancer.org/altmeth.html.

  • While Scully stays in the hospital, receiving chemotherapy, radiation treatment, and experimental gene therapy under the care of a certain Dr. Scanlon, Mulder digs for clues on the details of his partner's abduction about a year ago. What he finds, with the help of the Lone Gunmen, is a fertility clinic that has a computer file of Scully's genetic makeup on its mainframe. Upon further investigation, Mulder discovers that Dr. Scanlon has given the women in the support group lethal doses of radiation--he's killing them. Mulder also finds the cause of the cancer: when Scully was abducted, she was exposed to a high-radiation procedure to enable her abductors to "harvest" great numbers of her ova (her eggs). So far as I know, radiation has been used to increase plant yields, but I haven't heard much about its use in improving human fertility. As for health concerns--yes, ionizing radiation, in large doses is potentially lethal, but scientists still scientists can't quite agree on just how much radiation is a dangerous dose. (Some scientists think that a little bit of radiation a day might even be healthy!)

    If you'd like to know how what the scientific community has to say about "ionizing radiation and you," you might want to check out the Why Files' report on radiation at http://whyfiles.news.wisc.edu/020radiation/.

  • Although Mulder does not find a cure for Scully's cancer, he puts together a little bit more of the great conspiracy puzzle. It turns out that the eggs collected from the abducted women (including Scully) were being used to create the alien hybrid clones we've seen on the show since the first season. Cloning, as evidenced by recent headlines, has the world abuzz nowadays, especially since Scottish researchers published their findings in cloning sheep (in late February of 1997). Their work also involves transgenic cloning, which means that when a clone is created, part of its genetic code comes from another species. This isn't really as ground-breaking as it sounds--scientists have been working with something similar for quite some time by producing human enzymes through recombinant DNA in bacteria.

    To read the Roslin Institute's archive of documentation on their cloning experiments with sheep, check out http://www2.ri.bbsrc.ac.uk/library/research/cloning/cloning.html.
    For a clear-cut introduction to recombinant DNA, read the Amgen corporation's page on the subject, at http://wwwext.amgen.com/cgi-bin/genobject/ biotechnologyRecombinantDNA/tigG9qOdT3w.

 File #:

Basic Plot:
Scully undergoes treatment for a brain tumor while Mulder desperately seeks an unorthodox cure.

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

Title means:
"Memento Mori" is the name for an kind of image used in the late Middle Ages to remind Europeans of their own ever-present mortality.

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