What is the Force in Star Wars? Is it based in magic and spirituality like the original trilogy seems to imply? Or is it based in science like the prequels state? Is the Force even real? Without the help of the Extended Universe, and only the movies as one's guide, the average viewer most likely left the theater after any given Star Wars movie wondering, "How does the Force work in Star Wars?" or, "Who discovered the Force in Star Wars?" or even, "What the heck is a Midi-chlorian?"
The Extended Universe goes to great lengths to answer these questions. Instead of a vague description of a magical energy field or bringing up Midi-chlorians without digging into what they are, the Extended Universe provides so much context and information that even the most dedicated fans don't have time to scope it all out on their own. That doesn't mean everything about the Force is fully explained, though; there is still plenty of room for fan theories about how it truly works. With that said, any questions about how it generally works, or what its connection to life and death is, or where it started, have been answered.
Midi-Chlorians Are Sentient And Make Their Hosts More Sensitive To The ForcePhoto: Star Wars: The Phantom Menace / 20th Century Fox
The prequel films greatly expand on the series' explanation of the Force, whether or not fans of the original trilogy wanted it. When Qui-Gon Jinn finds Anakin Skywalker on Tatooine, he doesn't test his Force prowess by making him lift rocks or some other barbaric exercise; he instead tests his blood for Midi-chlorians.
As Qui-Gon puts it, "Without the Midi-chlorians, life could not exist, and we would have no knowledge of the Force. They continually speak to us, telling us the will of the Force."
Midi-chlorians are sentient, microscopic organisms that live in the cells of all living things. People who are Force-sensitive happen to have more of them, and they are able to channel this connection to the Force to perform incredible acts. Likewise, the Midi-chlorians are able to tell their host the will of the Force, if the host is willing to listen.
The Midi-chlorians act as a bridge between the Living Force that life forms generate and the Cosmic Force that exists in the universe.
Different Galactic Societies Have Different Terms For The ForcePhoto: Star Wars: A New Hope / 20th Century Fox
While Star Wars fans can't imagine calling the Force anything other than its incredibly iconic name, apparently, other parts of the galaxy can. The Midi-chlorians are able to tell their users the will of the Force, but it seems like they can't communicate what its name is.
A Mustafarian calls the Force the "Life Current," while a Lew'elan calls it the "Tide." It is also known as the Ashla, It, Great Presence, Luminous Mist, and many more equally mystical names.
Force Ghosts Are The Result Of Someone Fully Immersing Into The Light SidePhoto: Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back / 20th Century Fox
The process of becoming a Force ghost is one of the most mysterious - and difficult - acts a Force user can achieve.
Qui-Gon Jinn is the first of the modern Jedi to discover the secret ways of the Force ghost. He then uses his ethereal form to communicate to Obi-Wan and Yoda how they too can master this ability.
Thanks to the Midi-chlorians, if a Force user sufficiently trains and gives themselves fully over to the light side, they are able to have their identity preserved as they enter the Cosmic Force after their passing.
The Force Behaves In A Similar Way To Electromagnetic Forces In The Real WorldPhoto: Star Wars: Attack of the Clones / 20th Century Fox
A physicist named Patrick Johnson makes an attempt to explain some of the reality behind the concepts in Star Wars in his book, The Physics of Star Wars. One of the topics the book covers is the very nature of the Force itself, and how it relates to the real world.
In his book, Johnson argues that everything humans interact with is a result of electromagnetic force. Basically, when you pick up a book, your electrons are interacting with it. When you walk across the ground, your electrons are acting upon it. He goes further to say that the Force in Star Wars is likely some sort of extension to one's electromagnetic field, creating an invisible hand that can interact with objects that would normally be out of reach to the user.