Midichlorians are real!


I'm not sure what's more bizarre -- the fact that this scientist found a new type of bacteria living inside mitochondria (the cellular energy factories that themselves arose from bacteria), or the fact that he named them after George Lucas' second-worst-idea-ever.

Lo ... wrote to scientists across Europe, Russia, North Africa, and the Middle East, asking them to send ticks for him to screen. Sure enough, he found his bugs, nestled into the [mitochondria of the] ovaries of 100% of female ticks. 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.

The new species is called, of course, Midichloria mitochondrii, and Lucas is reportedly very pleased. Should be, since he based midichlorians on mitochondria in the first place...