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
The simple explanation: a Discover Magazine article at
The more detailed explanation: an MRI tutorial covering spin physics and Fourier
From the results of the MRI, Scully finds out that she has a
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
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
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
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
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
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