The Physics of Santa. With nearly 2 billion children in the world, how does Santa deliver all those presents on Christmas Eve?
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So it's that time of year again where we all start wondering, with nearly 2 billion children in the world, how does Santa deliver all those presents?
The speed and payload of Santa and his reindeer would create an enormous amount of air resistance, burning up those reindeer in the same way as a meteor entering the atmosphere. At that speed, Santa would be thrust back in his seat with centrifugal forces several thousand times that of gravity. But this can't be happening, otherwise, where are all the presents coming from?
Some think that Santa must use some kind of heat resistant shield for his reindeer and sleigh, kind of like the ones we use on space capsules to stop them burning up.
Now about the timing, one theory is that if Santa has the technology to create these super heat resistant shields, he should also have technology advanced enough to travel at nearly the speed of light. This actually solves a lot of problems.
1- With Santa travelling at nearly the speed of light he'd be able to deliver all the presents in just 500 seconds.
2- It would explain why Santa never gets any older. Einsteins theory of special relativity tells us that the faster you move, the more time slows down. This is called Time Dilation, and it happens because the speed of light is always constant in a vacuum.
3- It also explains how Santa and his big belly fir down your chimney every year. Special relativity also tells us that objects that travel close to the speed of light experience length contraction (they get skinnier), meaning that if Santa was travelling close to the speed of light he'd easily be skinny enough to fit down your chimney.
4- Finally it explains why no one has ever seen Santa flying across the night sky on Christmas Eve. When certain charged particles travel faster than the speed of light they emit a blue glow, know as Cerenkov (Cherenkov) radiation. So Santa would be seen as streaks of blue light flying across the night sky on Christmas Eve.