From Our 2011 Archives
Scientists Ponder Santa's High-Tech Secrets
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FRIDAY, Dec. 23 (HealthDay News) -- You'd better watch out: Santa Claus has a good grasp on quantum theory, genetic engineering and the space-time continuum.
That's the verdict of scientists who are pondering how one jolly, bearded guy manages to get gifts to nice-but-not-naughty kids around the world in one magic night.
And never mind what you may have heard about his old-fashioned transportation system. "It could be that the sled and reindeer are something that the marketing department came up with" to distract people from the reality, said Jim Kakalios, a professor at the University of Minnesota's School of Physics and Astronomy.
Kakalios, who can look forward to a lump of coal in his stocking for spilling the beans, thinks that the man in red independently controls his "quantum mechanical wavefunction." That means he can appear in multiple places at once and pass through solid barriers, Kakalios explained.
After all, he said, "we're talking about somewhere over 2 billion households that he has to visit."
Gregory Mone, a science journalist and author of the book "The Truth about Santa: Wormholes, Robots and What Really Happens on Christmas Eve," thinks there are other explanations -- a hypersonic sleigh, warp drive, teleportation and, yes, wormholes. "It's obvious that he has to time travel. Every time he moves from one home to the next, he also goes back in time by about thirty seconds."
Could Santa solve his problems by moving at the speed of light? Kakalios is doubtful. "You acquire mass as you're going that fast getting in out and out of chimneys," he said. And everyone knows about Santa's mass problems.
Speaking of his mass, how does he manage to take a nibble out of the cookies and milk -- or other culture-appropriate foodstuffs -- that are left for him on Christmas Eve? We know he's, um, vertically gifted, possibly because of the lack of exercise facilities at the North Pole. But he'd have a whole lot more excess poundage if he was gobbling down millions upon millions of sweets.
So what gives other than his pants? "He clearly has some kind of genetic engineering or advanced drugs working in his favor, allowing him to digest all that sugar. Otherwise he'd be dead," speculated Mone.
Then there's the matter of Santa's surveillance system -- all that inside knowledge into whether we've been bad or good. For goodness sake, how does he do it?
Larry Silverberg, associate head of mechanical and aerospace engineering at North Carolina State University, suspects he uses a 4-square-mile underground antenna in the North Pole to monitor the very-real brain waves of kids.
"You'd have to isolate the signals from each child, so you could identify which ones are naughty or nice, and what presents they want," Silverberg said. "It's a good thing it's Santa Claus," he added, and not someone nefarious.
Copyright © 2011 HealthDay. All rights reserved.
SOURCES: Jim Kakalios, Ph.D., professor, School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis; Larry Silverberg, Ph.D., professor and associate department head, mechanical and aerospace engineering, North Carolina State University, Raleigh; Gregory Mone, journalist, Boston
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