For the *real* Star Wars nerds...

An essential piece of trivia: what bacterium was named after a George Lucas invention?

An investigator discovers a new bacterium that lives in the mitochondria in tick ova. Can you guess what Star Wars organisms they're named after?

Soon, Lo and his colleagues began looking for a name for their new genus, which proved easier said than done. The morphology of the organism didn't present any immediate clues, and there weren't any eminent tick bacterium researchers in whose honor it could be named.

So Lo started surfing the Web, looking for ideas and finding nothing until one link took him to a page on the Wikipedia Web site describing midichlorians. He discovered that George Lucas had invented these creatures while dreaming up his Star Wars movies. The mysterious intracellular organisms apparently reside within the cells of almost all living things and communicate with the Force.

"I quite liked the earlier Star Wars movies, but I'd never heard of these midichlorians before," Lo explains. Although he's not what you'd call a Star Wars fanatic, Lo began thinking perhaps he should name his real-life organism after the imaginary ones. After all, he says, "Art is often imitating science, but it doesn't often go the other way."

In May of this year, Lo and his colleagues submitted a paper to the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology suggesting that their new species be called Midichloria mitochondrii. They crossed their fingers and waited for the publishing process to take its course.

No word on the authors' opinion regarding the controversy over the biological versus mystical nature of the Force, however.

More like this

So here's a thought experiment. Part of the challenge of scientific literacy is finding the audience, or maybe better to say, to create the audience. In particular, the attracting the audience that doesn't normally read things like ScienceBlogs, or subscribes to the New Scientist, etc, etc. So…
It was high times for the Rebel Alliance at the end of Return of the Jedi (1983). Across the galaxy, crowds rejoiced at the destruction of the second Death Star and the apparent defeat of Emperor Palpatine. Princess Leia Organa, who two films earlier had seen her home planet exploded for sport, was…
I had a strange worry as a kid. I was very scared of getting bit by a tick and developing Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF). I know, weird--even for nerdy kids like me, who knows about Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever? How many readers are even familiar with it? For those who aren't, RMSF is a…
It's rare that I have much in the way of reluctance to leap into writing about a topic. Any regular reader of this blog should know this to be true, given the topics I regularly take on and how often my writing draws flak my way from various proponents of quackery and pseudoscience, in particular…

As an old-school Star Wars fan, I despise the entire concept of midichlorians. This real-life use of the name is the best thing to come out of that whole mess.

This on the tails of a fish being named for Batman. Hooray Science!

Countdown to someone publishing a comment on a Star Wars nerd page claiming to have discovered where Lucas got the word "midichlorian". 10, 9, 8........

By mycotropic (not verified) on 26 Jan 2007 #permalink