Scully investigates a man who takes photographs of accident victims at the exact moment
Tithonus, in Greek mythology, was a mortal who fell in love with the goddess of dawn. She asked Zeus to grant
him immortal life (but not immortal youth); he grew older and older but could not die.
The same Tithonus is also the titular character of a Tennyson poem.
While this episode might be considered poetic in its own quiet way, it didn't have much
in the way of science (much like most of the episodes this season). You might have noticed, however,
that the prime suspect, Alfred Fellig, happens to be a photographer. If you're interested
in the science of photography, you may want to check out the science file on
To take a slightly different tangent on the same subject: Fellig's camera flash, with its
high-pitched whine (when charging) serves as a dramatic element in the episode, usually
signalling that someone's about to die. How does a camera flash work? It's essentially
a set of capacitors hooked up to a xenon bulb...but it's not quite as simple as that.
For a detailed scientific look at electronic camera flashes, visit
Dr. Toomas Taam's FAQ page at
Fellig tells Scully that he's cheated death ever since he miraculously survived a bout with
yellow fever when he was young. Yellow fever is a viral disease spread in humans by mosquito vectors.
(We looked at mosquitos before--way back in the PILOT episode.) Although
it has currently resurged only in central Africa and South America, it did emerge in violent urban epidemics
in America at several times during the 19th Century.
To learn more about the nature of yellow fever, check out the ASTDHPPHE's fact sheet on the virus
Poor Fellig: by Mulder's estimate, he's 149 years old, and he just keeps on aging. What is
aging, anyway, you ask? Why do people's bodies start to break down as they get older?
Scientists have theories, but frankly they're not quite sure. One of the predominant
theories involves free radicals, but that's a topic for another episode (DOD KALM).
If you'd like to learn a little more about the science of aging, perhaps you should look into
(the study of age-related diseases, such as Alzheimer's) or
(the wholistic science of aging that looks more at its social effects and demographics).
Geriatrics definition: http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/netdict?geriatrics
Gerontology definition: http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/netdict?gerontology
If you'd like to read more about aging research, check out Wayne State University's GeroWeb
(home of the Virtual Library on Aging) at
This page was last updated: 02/03/99
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