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
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
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...
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
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
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
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!