Ask a Star Wars Geek 02

Hello again! I'm back to shed a little more light on all your pressing concerns. I didn't get as many questions this past week as I would've liked[1. Some would have been nice], but I didn't really expect them to come flooding it all at once. So, here are some more questions my friends have thrown my way.

T.X. Watson asks:

"How do you feel about midichlorians?"

I will refrain from writing a novel here, because midichlorians have to be one of my most ambivalent points in the entire SW Cannon. When I first learned of their existence, I was thrilled. It was one of the missing pieces needed to make SW more SF and less F[2. Star Wars, Speculative Fiction (more commonly known as Science Fiction), and Fantasy respectively]. It gave a specific way in which we could understand a biological connection to the Force (especially where lineages are concerned).

Then my rose-tinted glasses fell off when I saw the effect on the fans, i.e. that people now would argue that this person was actually the stronger Force user, because according to some chart, they have x number of midichlorians per cell, as opposed to y, et cetera ad nauseam. It was a sort of blatant misuse of information that I didn't expect from Star Wars fans. A fight between two people is based on more factors than a slightly stronger or weaker innate connection to the force.

I say "innate" because having a higher midichlorian count doesn't instantly make you Vader or Yoda. There is still training and understanding that need to be achieved so that the potential can be realized[3. I will save strongest/best force users for when the question comes up].

Midichlorians were originally not meant to have as much import as the fandom gave them, which is really Lucas' failing, as even throw away lines in the Star Wars movies are read as all important. It was a kind of plot device to get Anakin noticed as special and taken off Tatooine which ultimately backfired in a lot of the EU[4. Expanded Universe], because there is so much more to be taken into account. In fact, many writers kind of avoid them all together.

I think that they are a cool device, and make for interesting tib-bits of information, particularly where living beings and their connections to the Force are concerned, in a scientific sense, but they can be used to great detriment by the fans, which leaves me a little sad sometimes.

Kristal T. asks:

"Why is it that in Star Wars Episode IV the Rebel ships have red lasers and Imperial ships have green ones? Isn't that backwards? Red equals bad, and green is good!"

I do not know of an official answer to this question. In universe[5. Meaning contextually in a story, movie, game, etc.], it never comes up. This leaves a fan like me to immediately jump to science. As you may know, the Empire isn't exactly huge on the whole, "people are valuable" front. In fact, TIE fighters don't have shields, or even any armor to speak of, because it would make them too expensive. This is why in the movies Luke and friends can one shot kill a TIE without batting an eyelash, while the TIE's hammer away against the shields of the good guys.

While it doesn't seem very fiscally responsible to wantonly allow the deaths of hundreds if not thousands of TIE pilots (who would have had to have received military training and flight training--collectively millions of hours of it), the idea is that if you throw enough crap at the enemy all at once, they will be overwhelmed and die of their own accord... or something like that.

The Rebels care a little more about their pilots, so they get to have shields, giving them a huge kill/death ratio.

What does this have to do with lasers?


You see, red (the color of the Rebel lasers) is lower on the spectrum than green, meaning that it has a lower energy cost associated with generating it. The lower energy cost would also mean lower damage. However, when you've got shields sucking up your energy, sustaining the higher output could quickly drain the battery life of the ship. The Imps on the other hand have no shields to worry about, so their defense becomes their offense: stronger lasers (which also help to hammer down those shields) and delivered in superior numbers.

Essentially, an Imperial engineer's dream would be a huge, powerful gun mounted on a really fast engine, with a pilot in underclothes riding atop it and steering by flapping his arms. Cheap and damaging, with the lowest cost possible. And as the Empire conscripts if it doesn't get enough voluntary recruits, they don't want for warm bodies.

Where this theory is the roughest I actually covered in my previous post, about how in SW "lasers" are ionized gas, so the color could theoretically be a reaction there and slightly incidental, though I believe the higher energy cost would still apply.


I hope that I have shed a little more light on a galaxy far, far away for you all this week. Drop me your questions at, and see if my knowledge can sate your curiosity.

May the Force be with you, -Michael DiTommaso, the Star Wars Geek