The truth is not only out there but it’s also on this mesmerizing, interactive map that displays both The X-Files’ events and UFO sightings reported in the U.S. during the time the show originally aired — 1993 to 2002 — season by season. The company that created this gem, CartoDB, has also used maps to show bird flu migration and the growth in crazed Serial fans. This one, they say, pays tribute to FBI special agents Mulder and Scully. The sites of locations these two explored are marked rightfully with an “X.”
The show is on all of our minds again, since the cult classic was revived this month on Fox with a six-episode run.
We got in touch with the creator of this brilliant cartological creation, community technologist Erik Escoffier. He says that the actual sighting data was gathered by the National UFO Reporting Center, which maintains a “pretty impressive” database of sightings since 1974.
During the time the show was on TV, more than 60,000 events were recorded and, he explains, “each record contains metadata about the shape of the UFO, the time, and the duration of the event.” It also notes its geography and full description, which he calls somewhat “bone-chilling,” citing one: “Seen something that was not a helicopter or a plane, too low, too silent, no sound, the damn thing hovered. Planes don’t do that.” Apparently, if you check out the map, you’ll see 2001 was a hot year for aliens visiting Earth. A former geography student, Jane Roberts, did the geocoding of the X-Files episodes.
He is a fan of the show and followed it since he was a teenager. He calls it a “perfect symbol of the ‘90s,” adding that, “It feels like an era of innocence before new shows came with bigger budgets, perfectly made visual effects, and often a much more serious tone.” And certainly, The X-Files totally has that dry humor only agents dealing with verifying life in outer space can possess.
When asked if extraterrestrial life exists, he says he’d like to believe. His coworkers all do. He says they’re looking forward to mapping “extrasolar spaceships movements, to explore Jupiterian real estate or to visualize tweets of Kepler-436b inhabitants.”
So stay logged on for that. Until then, interact with this fascinating time-lapse image that mixes pop culture genius with the imaginative and/or supernatural experiences of believing Americans.