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Physiology, Physics, and the Force

By Chris Knight

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


The boy nodded his understanding. "Can I ask you something?" The Jedi Master nodded. "What are midi-chlorians?"
Wind whipped at Qui-Gon's long hair, blowing strands of it across his strong face. "Midi-chlorians are microscopic life-forms that reside within the cells of all living things and communicate with the Force."
"They live inside of me?" the boy asked.
"In your cells." Qui-Gon paused. "We are symbionts with the midi-chlorians."
"Symbionts. Life-forms living together for mutual advantage. Without the midi-chlorians, life could not exist, and we would have no knowledge of the Force. Our midi-chlorians continually speak to us, Annie, telling us the will of the Force."
"They do?"
Qui-Gon cocked one eyebrow. "When you learn to quiet your mind, you will hear them speaking to you."
Anakin thought about it for a moment, then frowned. "I don't understand."
Qui-Gon smiled, and his eyes were warm and secretive. "With time and training, Annie, you will."

--from "Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace" novelization by Terry Brooks

When George Lucas released The Phantom Menace in the spring of 1999, he took the Star Wars saga to its beginning: to a time when Obi-Wan Kenobi was a brash young Jedi about to encounter a little boy, strong in the Force. His name was Anakin Skywalker, and his life would change the Force forever. And then, in TPM Lucas introduced midi-chlorians into the fray. Qui-Gon Jinn told Anakin that they were microbes, inhabiting all living cells, that acted as the "receptors" to the Force. It was further alluded that Anakin's mysterious conception was caused by the midi-chlorians, hence his having the highest amount of the microbes known to the Jedi.

What was a new aspect of the Force instantly became, perhaps, the most hotly-debated issue among Star Wars fans since the question of Luke's father all the way back in 1980. "The Force should be all-mystical," some argued. Introducing a physical component "cheapened" the mystique, they said. Others countered that having a physical connection to the spiritual hearkened back to real religions throughout our own history, that the Force had not been robbed of its mythic power at all but instead had been enhanced. Similar arguments broke out over Anakin's parentage.

That is not the subject of this inquiry. Nor is this meant to nail-down the Force in anything remotely like scientific terminology. Star Wars is, after all, a fantasy/fairy tale, not science-fiction. It borrows from all the great traditions of mythology and classical storytelling, with many elements of our real-life faiths and philosophies that add to the rich tapestry. To seek out the Force in order to define it would cheapen its meaning, and far more than anything the midi-chlorians might have done.

However, we will examine some characteristics of the Force, because without that we could not consider and conjecture about our primary focus: the midi-chlorians. What are they? Why are they part of all living cells? Would life really be nonexistant without them? What is their connection with the Force? Why does having them in abundance allow for greater ability with the Force? Can you get more of them?

In the pages that follow, we will examine these questions, and many more...

NOTE: Rather than add several more permutations to the mix, I have limited this discussion strictly to the Star Wars films and novelizations. This wasn't done to "diss" the Expanded Universe, the ysalamiri or Yuuzhan Vong, etc. In fact, I like a lot of the EU! And this isn't meant to be a "canon vs. non-canon" thing either. But midi-chlorians "are" a part of the canon, and that's the focus now, not whether the Emperor was really resurrected or not*

*well, actually, this is addressed, but don't bug me about it :-)

Let's begin!

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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