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Midi-Chlorians:
Physiology, Physics, and the Force

By Chris Knight


Introduction
What are Midi-Chlorians?
Midi-Chlorians and the Force
Force in the Family
Time, Space, and the Force
A Final, Force-ful Exit
Concluding Remarks


Force In The Family
(or, "Man, what cool-lookin' genes!")

"The Force runs strong in your family. Pass on what you have learned."
-- Yoda to Luke, "Star Wars Episode VI: Return Of The Jedi"

Although it was said at the outset that this discussion wouldn't touch on Anakin's parentage because of its mythic quality, one thing can be deduced: Anakin's overwhelming strength in the Force could not have come from the midi-chlorians. The proof is in his offspring.

Luke Skywalker, if not Anakin's equal in the Force, is pretty darn close. After all, Luke didn't have the luxury of years of training, but a few weeks' crash-course on Dagobah at the most (definitely a far cry from the facilities of the Jedi Temple). His introduction to the Force lasted perhaps two days from Tatooine to the first Death Star. And he still bested Vader in their final duel! If the mitochondria/midi-chlorian parallel meant that one's prowess with the Force was decided by midi-chlorian levels alone, then Luke couldn't have won. He would have been either sliced to ribbons or carbon-frozen on Bespin instead, because his Force-ability would have been half or less than his father's!

Two things indicate that strength in the Force is passed down genetically. First, mitochondria are bestowed from mother to child. Because of the sperm cell's structure and need for speed, transmitting of mitochondrial DNA is more nuisance than need. Unless Luke and Leia were conceived in some artificial way that allowed for Anakin to pass along his midi-chlorians, the twins' strength in the Force came from Anakin's chromosomes. Even if midi-chlorians are NOT like mitochondria in structure but are instead a smaller "organelle", that doesn't mean that Luke or Leia would have an abundance of them, either. Second, the Force ability seems to follow the rules of Mendelian genetics in that it appears to be a dominant trait. Anakin has a sense of the Force, as do Luke and Leia. Shmi Skywalker, being Anakin's mother, perhaps has it also (she had a "sense" for when Anakin was near). Apparently Amidala does not, but dominant trait that it is, it goes along to her offspring via Anakin. If the Skywalker clan is unlike anything else in real life, it at least follows the rules of sophomore-year biology.

As we discussed earlier, midi-chlorians are perhaps an organelle created within the cell by the Force, as a reaction to the cell's generation of the Force. If Anakin's cells are making more Force, the Force in turn is creating more midi-chlorians.


More Midis = More Force?


It's more accurate to say that Anakin has the greatest potential in the Force of any person, instead of being strongest by a cosmic twist of fate, unless we want to believe that someone like Arnold Schwarzenegger was born built like Conan the Barbarian. Of course not, but Arnold does have a predisposition towards increased musculature that he took advantage of, but it didn't come without his effort to get to that point and then to maintain it. If he had never been introduced to weight-training, he would still have that potential but it would never have been harnessed. Likewise, if Anakin had not been found by Qui-Gon Jinn, there would have been no nurturing of his potential in the Jedi discipline. Anakin would have spent the rest of his life as a slave, whistfully looking at the twin suns and wondering what might have been.

Of course, we know better...


Are you a puny Jedi girly-man? Well hear us now and believe us later because...

Qui-Hans and Obi-Frans
We're going to PUMP... YOU UP!!
(with regards to Hans and Frans of 'Saturday Nite Live' fame)

The Skywalker lineage is strong in the Force, adding weight to the argument that there's a genetic tendency to be a Force-user. The strength of the Force would allow for the presence of more midi-chlorians. But what if someone doesn't have naturally high numbers of midi-chlorians? Would that person still be able to grow strong in the Force?

Ever notice how, during the college basketball season, your favorite team might arrive at their tournament destination several days early if the place is at a higher altitude than average? Or it might be a football team not used to playing in Denver, or any sport requiring increased metabolic rate. At higher elevations there is less oxygen in the surrounding air to draw upon, so the body compensates by generating more red blood cells to deliver more oxygen to muscle and other tissues. This extra time before the big game acclimates the players so they'll be playing at their peak: more red corpuscles means more energy.

There hasn't been a reason given why this wouldn't work with the Force as well. Let's say that Anakin has a friend named, oh, Milhouse. And Milhouse is jealous of all the stuff that Anakin can do with the Force. Milhouse can either sit in his room and pout because Anakin is stronger and gets all the girls (like Amidala) or he can go out and hone his own strength in the Force. He dedicates himself to growing stronger and stronger in the Force, working to get it flowing through him that much more. If Milhouse is exposing himself to the Force in greater quantities, the Force, in symbiosis with his body, would probably generate more midi-chlorians to accommodate for the increased flow. He would never be as strong as Anakin if Anakin were to ever reach his upper limit, but Milhouse can certainly work towards his own limit and be stronger than he was before (who knows, maybe Milhouse will be Darth Sidious' new apprentice in Episode 2).

These are the natural routes to strength: either by genetic heritage or self-effort at reaching a goal. But what about a quick way to that strength? Would that be as effective? In the Star Wars saga, would simply adding more midi-chlorians to your body give you more strength in the Force?

With the red corpuscle analogy, there is a dangerous trick that some young athletes, too obsessed with winning, have done with this. They have removed their own blood and stored for a few days. The body replaces the lost red cells. Just before they compete in their event, the stored blood is injected back into the body, adding more capacity for oxygen. During the Eighties there were cases of athletes injuring themselves, sometimes fatally, from complications following this procedure. (WARNING: TheForce.net does not recommend trying this and in fact warns against it! This has been mentioned for illustration purposes only!)

Would adding midi-chlorian rich blood make you more Force-powerful? Let's suppose that Palpatine decides he wants to get STRONGER with the Force. You know how these egomaniacal dictators get: there's just never enough to satisfy these guys. He calls in Darth Vader and, ahem, "suggests" that Vader make a donation to the Imperial bloodbank. We already know from Obi-Wan's analysis in TPM that Anakin's blood has more midi-chlorians than has been ever recorded, "over twenty thousand". If the mitochondria angle holds, then that means that there are over 20,000 midi-chlorians per cell! Which might be possible, as mitochondria are among the smallest of the organelles: several thousands of mitochondria are packed into most heart and muscle cells. It follows, Palpy thinks, that adding more midi-chlorian rich blood to his own will "pump him up", so he takes Vader's donation, runs an IV into his scrawny little wrist and lets the juices flow.

But if midi-chlorians are an adaptation to a person's cellular generation of the Force, then those midi-chlorians are unique to that person, and ONLY that person! Palpatine might be getting a transfer of Anakin's midi-chlorians, but without Anakin's natural strength in the Force flowing through his midi-chlorians, there is no added power at all: it would be like harnessing the strength of a babbling brook with Hoover Dam. Palpatine gets Vader's blood, but not much else (apart from nausea, we would hope).

If Palpatine wouldn't get stronger with more midi-chlorians, would Anakin become weaker with fewer? At age nine, he's in robust health for a little boy. In about twelve years or so, we know that Anakin suffers trauma at the hands of his former mentor, Obi-Wan. Stuff like the mother of all lightsaber battles and molten pits tend to cause one to lose a limb or two, massive thoraic injury requiring a walking iron-lung for life, and if Return of the Jedi is any indication, incredible injury to the skull and spine. Since Anakin has lost so much of his original body, does it follow that he's lost some of his talent with the Force? By every indication, not at all! The cells that Anakin retains still have their abundance of midi-chlorians, giving him as much contact with the Force as ever. Again, the Force becomes a study of inter-relationships at the smallest level. If Anakin did not maintain his strength, he would not have fulfilled the prophecy of "bringing balance to the Force," since he is said by Lucas to have been the only one who could have destroyed the Emperor.

If transfusion of midi-chlorians wouldn't work, then how about replication? If a Jedi or a Sith were to be cloned, would the clone have the original's strength in the Force? Absolutely, because the precise Force-generating tissue would be re-created and with it would come the midi-chlorians. As we discussed earlier, it isn't Anakin's over-abundance of midi-chlorians that make him so strong, because they are only the conduits through which his strength flows. It has to be his own unique attunement to the Force, how closely his cells are "in sync" with the energy field, that make him so powerful. The midi-chlorians are an after-effect of his strength, the cellular adaptation to accommodate the Force being generated. If Anakin were to be cloned for some reason, the clone would have the same potential for the Force as Anakin himself. However, the clone would still have to be trained in the Jedi (or Sith) customs, just as Anakin would be, if it were to use that potential to its fullest. And even if there were some way of "fast-teaching" a clone (as Timothy Zahn introduced in his SW novels) about the Force, that might not be a guarantee of rapidly-developed strength. If the symbiosis/balance metaphor holds, the Force requires self-discipline no matter how its used, for Light or Dark. A person can be shown a drivers-ed manual, but would that person be able to drive a car for the first time just from reading it? The Force, like any skill, needs time to be studied and practiced: only then can a mastery be achieved, even enough mastery to make a three-point turn or to use the Jedi mind trick. A clone, without that time, could have more midi-chlorians and all the knowledge about the Jedi but without understanding the nuances of the Force it would probably be a pretty useless Force-wielder.

So how does a good Force-wielder use it then? Proceed further as we look at time, space... and the Force!


Concepts in these pages are derived from material created by Lucasfilm Ltd. and George Lucas. While these pages discuss Star Wars, they are NOT to be considered "canon". This is merely a theory. As for the true nature of midi-chlorians, as Mark Hamill once said, "only George knows." Most of the ideas presented here are my original thoughts about midi-chlorians to the best of my knowledge but some, such as theoretical physics and Kirlian photography, are in the province of those who discovered them. Otherwise, the layout, structure, and interpretation in these pages is Copyright 2000 Chris Knight and TheForce.net.


Got questions? Comments? Suggestions? Think Chris has WAY too much time on his hands? Let us know!

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