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The Science of Santa 76

Santa Claus must use advanced technologies to pull off his annual feat. Thankfully, NewScientist has the exclusive about the what and the how. "He relies on some impressive gadgets: miniature flying robots, advanced satellites, highly sensitive surveillance devices, memory-erasing milk, self-assembling toys, and a warp-drive-powered sleigh that's capable of bending and twisting space-time to such an extent that it slips Santa and his reindeer out of the observable universe. In 1949, Kurt Gödel published one of the first mathematical descriptions of how it could work. In his version, the universe has paths called closed time-like curves that might allow you to jump in a ship, fly for a while, and end up right back where you started in space and time."
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The Science of Santa

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  • by pertelote ( 37736 ) * <pertelote.centurytel@net> on Friday December 25, 2009 @09:42AM (#30550802) Homepage Journal
    Always knew Santa had to have *all* the cool toys!
  • by sopssa ( 1498795 ) *

    He should really stop using such high-tech to fly around unless he wants to get shot down by anti-missile systems.

  • by tepples ( 727027 ) <tepples.gmail@com> on Friday December 25, 2009 @09:47AM (#30550830) Homepage Journal
    The mall Santas deliver the presents. It's the only explanation that meets Occam's razor without exposing parents as Santa.
    • without exposing parents as Santa.

      Wait, what?

    • The problem with all the Single Santa hypotheses is that the one unique Santa can't be in all places at once. So how about this? The mall Santas are all part of a Santa Claus hive mind! Suddenly, we can explain why "Santa" looks so different depending on where you meet him - it's not the same node of the hive. Yet they all dress the same, so they can show how they're part of the same mind: their identity demonstrated by their clothing and the way they act.

      Hold on... I am Locutus of Santa. Resistance is f
  • Geeks... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Friday December 25, 2009 @09:50AM (#30550840)

    Amazing. They believe in advanced quantum physics AND Santa. Most ordinary people would just say "he doesn't exist" around the age of 9 and move on. But not geeks!

    • by mxh83 ( 1607017 )
      they don't really "believe" in Santa- but geeks sure like sci fi.
    • Déjà vu. My 9 year old explained to me that Santa uses TARDIS technology just last week.
    • Actually, believe in "Santa" is fundamental to the very concept of Quantum physics.

      The idea that something is acting because we can see it's effects [presents}, but we can't catch it and measure it without changing it [nobody has seen Santa] is a very high level of logical thinking at a wee age.

  • Distasteful... (Score:3, Informative)

    by SaXisT4LiF ( 120908 ) on Friday December 25, 2009 @09:51AM (#30550846)
    I realize that they were trying to be funny and all, but calling Kurt Gödel an "idiot" seemed a little low.
    • Here is the original article by Gödel [aps.org] this is about.
    • Calling a genius, who almost single handedly destroyed some dogmas in science, "idiot" is not how "fun" can be defined . OTOH why a (semi-)scientific magazine is trying to be funny and Christmas aware? Their reader profile should not be that much "socially adept"...
      • Calling New Scientist a (semi)scientific magazine is like calling Playboy a (semi)womens magazine just because it has women in it.
    • by volpe ( 58112 )

      Yea, well, what do you expect? He got an "incomplete" on all his college courses.

  • by yanyan ( 302849 ) on Friday December 25, 2009 @09:55AM (#30550864)
  • by Scott Kevill ( 1080991 ) on Friday December 25, 2009 @10:02AM (#30550894) Homepage

    The milk is supposed to be left for Santa, not by Santa.

    So kids with a crush on Santa are definitively deciding the naughty or nice question by slipping him some rohypnol.

    • What if you asked Santa for some milk for Christmas? Does he bring fresh reindeer milk, or does he just swipe the stuff from the next house over?

      • by zsau ( 266209 )

        We always gave Santa brandy... I always wondered how many houses he'd have to visit before he'd get done in for drink-flying.

        • Approximately one. The alcohol limit for flying is much lower than for driving.

          • by lewko ( 195646 )

            Didn't you read the article? There's no way cops could ever catch up with him in order to pull him over...

  • Science? Really? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bertoelcon ( 1557907 )
    Shouldn't this be more Idle territory or Entertainment maybe.
  • ...are shaped like spiders. So every time you smash a spider or hit a cobweb on the ceiling with a broom, you lose a toy.

  • Off-topic warning, tread at your own risk!
    Shouldn't Santa be given Nobel peace prize? He deserves it more than some recipients.
    • He can't get a Nobel Prize since he is imaginary.
      As in... Doesn't really exist, it is just some random guy in a red suit wearing a fake beard.

      On the other hand - he is quite qualified to get some people a country based around the fact that they believe in him, along with various tax deductions because of his (imaginary) charitable work.

      Personally, I rather chose to believe in Superman. At least he doesn't need a god damn sled to move around.
      And while he is from time to time a corporate bitch - at least he d

  • Why does a fictional character have to use technology to pull this off?
    Have not heard any one trying to explain what kind of technology Sauron used for example, in that case everybody was content with magic...
  • All Santa has to do is go out and deliver presents to some number (M) of houses. Then he shifts over into the next dimension (like in the comics, not like in string theory) and delivers presents for another M houses. Santa does this until he has made deliveries in some number of different dimensions (N) and then he goes home.

    For an infinite number of dimensions and Santas in those dimensions if M and N are greater than some number (I suggest it is 2 and 2) then everyone gets presents without Santa even ha

  • Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Arthur C. Clarke, I think that says it all!
  • by geoskd ( 321194 ) on Friday December 25, 2009 @12:56PM (#30551734)
    I know this isn't really in the spirit of the article, but the 300,000 "men in brown", who rack up 10,000,000 miles a day delivering around the world deserve at least a little of the credit.

    I can remember a time, not long ago, when shipping something during the Christmas season meant hoping with your fingers crossed that it would arrive on time, but now thanks to the real technology behind the scenes, and the men and women involved, pretty much everything is delivered on time (assuming the retailers send it out on time).

    So the next time you stop to think about santa, remember that there is an army of people, both in the limelight, and behind the scenes who bring Christmas to every house every year.

    -=Geoskd
    • by lewko ( 195646 )

      Stop trying to take credit for Santa's hard work, troll.

    • by karnal ( 22275 )

      I have a serious issue with UPS lately. Notably just with the last person to handle my packages.

      My address - let's say it's 5224. I have a neighbor who is at 5244. We get incorrect packages - especially since most of my UPS stuff comes "signature not required." This Christmas, I ordered some stuff online for my wife, paid extra for 2 day shipping. Showed delivered Friday. Went round and round with the vendor and then with UPS - they couldn't do anything other than put a trace on the package which woul

  • WTF, Santa? (Score:3, Funny)

    by mqduck ( 232646 ) <mqduck.mqduck@net> on Friday December 25, 2009 @01:13PM (#30551808)

    He relies on some impressive gadgets: miniature flying robots, advanced satellites, highly sensitive surveillance devices

    So Santa's had this technology for hundreds of years and he didn't share it with anyone? WTF?

    • by plopez ( 54068 )

      Who says he hasn't? Every year toys get more and more tech oriented. He may be giving it to us in "small chunks" so we don't freak out or destroy ourselves. It used to be chemistry kits and erector sets. Now it's video game consoles and other computer gear.

  • I read one years ago that tried to figure the energy requirements, and concluded the hypothetical super-reindeer would cover the Earth in a layer of reindeer shit a couple feet deep. Something like that.
  • by plopez ( 54068 ) on Friday December 25, 2009 @01:38PM (#30551916) Journal

    But somehow I like it. Maybe I just want to believe in a dilithium crystal powered TARDIS like sleigh allowing one to open gateways between the stars and slide from universe to universe.

  • by The Archon V2.0 ( 782634 ) on Friday December 25, 2009 @01:39PM (#30551920)
    Advanced alien tech, memory-erasing milk? And Santa is centuries old.... The song "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus"....

    Oh my God, it all makes sense now. Santa Claus is Jack Harkness in a costume.

  • Any sufficiently advanced magic is indistinguishable from technology...

    [with apologies to Mr. Clarke]

  • All he has to do is approach the speed of light and time will slow sufficiently to allow him to make his routes. It may even account for his long life.
  • of Santa's Dawkinsian Mind Virus Generator. Once the virus was released into the wild the infected parents and relatives did all the rest of the heavy lifting involved. No need for any other additional gadgets.
    Of course the presence of the virus can be observed in the fleeting mutations with their signature side effects - wearing baseball caps back to front when your name is not Luke, thinking that SuBo is an international singing sensation (and not a funny woman from Fife) and believing that the word "fri
  • S.A.N.T.A. is really a giant super computer located at the North Pole that was built by the "League of Corporations for World Domination".

    S.A.N.T.A. broadcasts signals into parents minds and makes them do its bidding in order to perpetuate the legend of its existence.
  • There was a much better explanation in one of the short stories published in Nature: the reindeer generate a standing probability wave that encompasses the entire planet for 24 hours.

    This gets rid of all of the low-tech problems of propulsion, control, and atmospheric friction.

    • An even better explanation is that Santa doesn't actually deliver to the whole world on the night of the 24th/25th December. For example, he delivers in Germany on the night of the 5th/6th December. Russia's Christmas is in early January, and Grandfather Frost looks after deliveries there. In central Europe - Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, baby Jesus is responsible for deliveries of presents, and they are delivered after the evening meal on 24th December. The American Santa lives in Alaska. The Bri

  • "How does Santa Claus manage to traverse the entire globe in just a few hours, delivering presents to millions of well-behaved children?" No, no, you missunderstand. The problem is backwards. There are very, very few deliveries he has to make so he is easily able to do it without using any magic or advanced science. Silly people, use Occom's razor.
  • Hey, let the Santa away. He needs his animals not something like this.
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