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Not every kid is worried about how Kris Kringle can go to so many houses in the world, all in one night.
Unlike you, Antonia, my curious young friend, those kids will probably not be reading this column.
But since you asked, I have looked into the question for the most current and credible peer-reviewed description and here’s what I found.
The best explanation of Santa’s technological powers came this year from Larry Silverberg, a real-life professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at North Carolina State University.
It’s not magic. It’s more like the ultimate in advanced science and technology.
“Santa is using technologies that we are not yet able to recreate in our own labs,” said Silverberg, who said he recently finished a six-month visiting scholar program at Santa’s Workshop-North Pole Labs.
“As the first scholar to participate in the SW-NPL program, I learned that we have a long way to go to catch up with Santa in fields ranging from aerodynamics and thermodynamics to materials science,” he said.
Silverberg did an extensive study, for example, of Santa’s sleigh, which is a deceptively retro-looking vehicle. But compared to a modern airliner, Santa’s sleigh is far more highly engineered.
“The truss of the sleigh, including the runners, is made of a honeycombed titanium alloy that is very lightweight and 10 to 20 times stronger than anything we can make today,” Silverberg said. The truss can also transform, according to local conditions and flight patterns, Silverberg added, altering its shape slightly to improve its aerodynamics and “allowing it to cut through the air more efficiently. The runners on the sleigh, for example, have some flexure. This allows them to tuck in to be more aerodynamic during flight, and then spread out to provide stability for landing on various surfaces - such as steeply pitched roofs.”
You may think GPS is way cool, Antonia, but you have probably never seen the dashboard of Santa’s sleigh. Believe me, he does not need an azimuth-laying theodolite to navigate, he has stuff that is even farther out there.
What Silverberg found was a sleigh with the very latest state-of-the-art electronics, including laser sensors that can detect upcoming thermals and wind vectors to find the optimal path. “This makes the flight smoother and more energy
efficient,” Silverberg said. “Efficiency is key, because a lot of the ongoing research at SW-NPL focuses on whether magic is a renewable resource.”
A key finding from Silverberg’s visit to the North Pole is that Santa uses a reversible thermodynamic processor – a sort of nano-toymaker known as the “magic sack” – that creates toys for good girls and boys on site, significantly cutting down on the overall weight of the sleigh. The magic sack decomposes and recomposes the elemental atoms in carbon-based soot from chimneys, together with other local materials, to make the toys. Silverberg believes that the magic sack works by applying high-precision electromagnetic fields to reverse thermodynamic processes previously thought to be irreversible.
The sleigh is driven by Santa’s well-known team of reindeer, which is equipped with side-mounted jetpacks. The reindeer and jetpacks, which are powered by a special North Pole cold fusion technology, “are arrayed in such a way as to create a stable reindeer-sleigh system,” Silverberg says. “The sleigh’s reins are used not only to direct the heads of the reindeer, but to direct the orientation of the jetpacks for precision flight.”
But that is not all.
In a recent press release after he got back to North Carolina State University, Silverberg explained that the sleigh is also equipped to make use of so-called “relativity clouds” to help ensure that Santa and his reindeer can travel approximately 200 million square miles, making stops in some 80 million homes, in one night.
“Based on his advanced knowledge of the theory of relativity, Santa recognizes that time can be stretched like a rubber band, space can be squeezed like an orange and light can be bent,” Silverberg stated. “Relativity clouds are controllable domains - rips in time - that allow him months to deliver presents while only a few minutes pass on Earth. The presents are truly delivered in a wink of an eye.”
Silverberg was quoted as saying that the experience was “an eye-opener. I appreciate the opportunity Santa has given me to visit his sleighport and work alongside the elves at SW-NPL.”
So, yes, Antonia, that’s what I found from somebody with personal experience. In short, I think we can safely say that Santa Claus is one of the most amazing technical wizards in the world, and there’s a lot more we can learn from him.