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    A Theoretical Physics Explanation For Santa Claus
    By Cash Simpson | December 25th 2007 12:00 AM | 5 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments

    Sometimes people think that, because I write this column for peanuts, I am somehow available for free science consulting services. Obviously this is not the case but I don't mind the occasional question, especially if it concerns real puzzles like how a car in China doesn't cause global warming but a car in America does.

    Lately I have been pestered with questions about this whole Christmas thing. It's a troublesome issue, I agree, but I am not in the free science business so most of the questions I just ignore - however, one of the many,many,many (not that many - Lady Scientist ) groupies that flitter about me on the Internet caught my attention recently with their query about Yule physics because they had the creativity to put it in seasonal rhyming form;

    "Cash, you are my final chance
    Of finding the Christmas happenstance
    For I have read of Old St. Nick
    So I have to know, what makes him tick.

    "Does he travel the world and make kids glad?
    'cause the science is shaky, the physics is bad
    And tell me, oh guru, before you are through
    How a sleigh can fly and those eight reindeer too?"

    I agree about the baffling nature of Christmas from a physics perspective. If you're a Newtonian guy it not only lacks common sense, it is the kind of logical leap-of-faith slag heap only politicians make. But a puzzle is a puzzle and I wouldn't be the Internet's preeminent anonymous scientist if I didn't tackle the tough problems once in a while. So I have decided to give it a try.

    The results surprised even me.Of course I am not just an outrageously sexy scientist, I also have a creative side. Thus, I decided to honor the spirit of the season by answering in similar rhyming verse:

    You came to Cash, guru of physics
    Who writes sexy equations and confounds all his critics
    (Pretty good? Never fear, this part of my verse
    May start out okay, but it gets a lot worse.)

    I consulted my sources, to make this is a cinch
    Like The Year Without Santa and that show with the Grinch
    Yukon Corneliusand the one with great Ak
    Soon let me know I was on the right track

    I learned of Snow Miser and Chuck-In-The-Box
    and found it's not just distance but logistics and clocks
    If we go east to west, we have 31 hours
    And that doesn't require any magical powers

    Weight is a problem, now and days past
    and heat builds up plenty when toys travel fast
    You see, millions of toys bring on all kinds of joules
    To get Santa to work you must throw out the rules

    So let's look at the atom and all that free space
    It will help us decide how to win the big race 
    Think of atoms like apples, but we just need the stem
    Maybe C squared's no problem when you're E without M

    So "Santa's" aren't people, they're energy terms
    They use quantum mechanics and holes made of worms
    With such arcane science and theories of strings
    It's easy for Christmas and lots of nice things


    Thanks to quantum mechanics, tons weigh only an ounce
    It explains flying reindeer and Bumbles that bounce
    But time's still a problem and Santa's must choose
    So forget about Muslims, Hindus and Jews

    Sure, they can't get presents, a wreath or a tree
    But they can go to a movie, like The Santa Clause III
    Meanwhile our Santa can be on his way
    With all of those stops there's no time to delay

    So using the magic of science fiction math
    He has a little more time and can choose the best path
    Hauling thousands of tons he sets on his course
    Generating 10,000 times my centripetal force

    And the joules are no problem,with the math we have reckoned
    Though you and I would keel over in just half a second
    Santa math is no problem, it should bug you no more
    No one else could have solved it – well, maybe Al Gore

    Kids will be happy, our homes full of cheer
    So look out for St. Nick and his flying reindeer
    Even coke-addled models have stuff for their tree
    Like a grape and some Prada and perhaps even me

    Christmas isn’t just physics or even great toys
    It’s a lesson in giving for all girls and boys
    The lesson is easy though less simple for some
    Be nice to each other and good things will sure come

    So whether you're Christian or Hindu, Muslim or Jew
    This girl got what she deserves And I hope you do too:

    Comments

    Torchwood
    lol Cash, I guess we should all be careful what we wish for. Funny how with 'real' maths we have fully shown that Santa cannot in 24 hours visit every home (and not just because most homes no longer have chimneys) Yet spammers via the net attempt to do what Santa cannot visit any home 'online', anywhere in the wide wide world and almost at the speed of light so children now for xmas need ask Santa for better and better firewalls, anti-virus and anti-spam
    Cash
    Thank you for recognizing this is the most important physics article in the history of the Interweb. I don't know what that anti-virus stuff means but it sounds like the modern day equivalent of getting socks for Christmas.
    I love everything related to Santa Claus. Since I was a child I have been loving this special event. Not to mention that the winter season is my favourite one because I was born on the 24 January (laughing). I really admire the one who came with this idea because it is very original. I can't wait for this Christmas because this time I am going to spend it with my boyfriend, or at least this is what I hope.
    Jen Palmares Meadows
    I have no words.
    Quanta Claus

    Classical physics, as Newton would say,
    irrevocably stands in Christmas's way.
    Flying's no reindeer's propensity,
    for one, they've got too high a density.

    And presents for all the good kids in the world?
    It's possible that Santa's list, once unfurled,
    might not be that long (I've seen goodness abate!),
    but still, they are bound to rack up quite some weight.

    Already the laws of thermodynamics
    should spell Santa's end. But he's got ceramics,
    like those NASA uses, glued to his sled,
    so friction and heat will not pose him a threat!

    And to go down a chimney, should he use a funnel?
    He never would fit! But if he could tunnel,
    like quanta can do, right down to the tree,
    there'd be presents for you, and presents for me!

    And what about space, and what about time?
    He could slice them up into factors of prime
    as easy as you can count up to three:
    for Santa, route-finding is not in NP.

    But careful, oh child, if you've got the nerve
    to stay up all night, of what you observe:
    you never should try to catch Santa in traps,
    a glimpse might induce wave-function collapse!

    So come all ye faithful, ye quantum-theorists
    a little belief is in our interests:
    why should, among all quantum physical weirdness
    there not be an eigenstate of: Merry Christmas?

    Yet never he violates effect and cause,
    as he brings you your presents, the great Quanta Claus.
    My wish travels massless at the speed of light:
    Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!