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UMass virologist publishes book on "The Real Science Behind 'The X-Files'"

AMHERST, Mass. -- University of Massachusetts virologist Anne Simon has embarked on a seven-city tour to promote her new book, "The Real Science Behind 'The X-Files.'" Simon has served as an informal science advisor for both the hit television show, as well as the movie. The book is published by Simon & Schuster.

The show chronicles the work of two FBI agents who investigate unsolved cases relating to the paranormal and other unexplained phenomena. Simon talks with the show's creator, Chris Carter, about the scientific plausibility of what she calls his "wonderfully creative" ideas. "What he's interested in is whether there's a scientific basis for his ideas," says Simon. "He asks, 'Could this really work?' So I rack my brain, then tell him how something would be approached with the proper scientific techniques." In addition to their occasional phone calls, five or six scripts each season are express-mailed to Simon, who reads them, then discusses changes with Carter. "Just a word or two, just a sentence can make a big difference."

"I wrote this book for my parents; very intelligent people with no science background at all," says Simon, who initially turned down the idea that she do the project, which took 10 months to complete. "There's so much science in the headlines, and people are science-phobic. If they read this book, they'll understand what gene therapy is, what cloning is, and what genetic engineering is. They'll understand what chromosomes and nucleotides are. They can base their opinions and votes on real knowledge, rather than on fear."

But although the topics are serious, the book is a lively read which includes script inserts from the television series, as well as tales of how various storylines came about. The book will appeal to a range of people, from die-hard fans to people who've never seen the show, says Simon. And it appeals to a range of ages: "A colleague of mine is reading it, and so is his 13-year-old son," notes Simon. "Peo
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Contact: Elizabeth Luciano
luciano@journ.umass.edu
413-545-2989
University of Massachusetts at Amherst
4-Oct-1999


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