John Pecoraro, Assistant Director
How does Santa Claus visit all the children of the world in a single night? Is there some special significance in Santa’s red suit? How do reindeer fly? Inquiring minds, young and old, have many questions about the magic of Christmas.
Authoritative websites differ on how Santa Claus pulls off his supernatural feat each December. “The Physics of Christmas,” for example, calculated that Santa would have to visit 768 homes every second, and that’s assuming he had 31 hours to work with. The few extra hours are thanks to different time zones and the rotation of the earth, with Santa travelling east to west. (http://newyorkscienceteacher.com/sci/subjects/phy/holidays.php)
“The Physics of Santa” reminds us that strange things happen as objects move faster, approaching the speed of light. Travel faster than the speed of light (“Star Trek” demonstrated that this is possible), and time runs backwards. Once Santa accelerates his sleigh faster than light speed, he could easily visit every child on the planet and arrive safely home at the North Pole, before he even left. (http://www.daclarke.org/Humour/santa.html)
At only 99.999999 percent of light speed, Santa would need a mere 500 seconds (a little over 8 minutes) to deliver all the presents to all the children in the world. The “FermiNews” site warns of the consequences of Santa travelling at such a speed. Santa, for example, could burn up in the intense heat caused by the friction of his headlong rush through the atmosphere. This same website answers the question as to why Santa never seems to age. Remember that in approaching the speed of light, time slows down, thus Santa remains his jolly self with cherub face, round belly, and long white beard from generation to generation. (http://www.fnal.gov/pub/ferminews/santa Continue reading