Santa uses theoretical physics to deliver toys this Christmas?
Santa has a big job ahead of him next week. According to Larry Silverberg, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at North Carolina State University, Santa must deliver presents to approximately 200 million children within 24 hours.
Luckily for him, some of these 200 million children were possibly naughty and not nice, which would only slightly reduce his workload. As there are roughly 2.67 children per household, Santa would need to make 75 million household visits in one night. As these houses are approximately 1.63 miles apart, Santa would need to travel a total of 122 million miles. Let’s say Santa traveled these 122 million miles in a 24 hour window of time, he would have to travel at a speed of 5,083,000 miles per hour to complete his deliveries before Christmas day. This speed would still clock him under the speed of light, so he wouldn’t even have to take the form of a neutrino to accomplish this amazing feat.
Keep in mind, however, that Santa isn’t as young as he used to be, and not at his most fit. Therefore, Silverberg proposes another explanation — that Santa is well-versed in the theory of relativity. Taking advantage of the fact that “time … can be stretched like rubber bands, space itself can be squeezed like an orange, and that light itself can be bent,” it is plausible that Santa travels in relativity clouds, controllable domains within which space-time is controlled.
Silverberg explains that, “inside the relativity cloud, Santa has months to deliver presents. Santa sees the world frozen and only hears silence. Upon returning to the North Pole, and leaving the domain of the relativity cloud, only a few minutes go by.”
Further, if Santa spread his work-load among his many elves, he could drastically reduce the amount of time it would take to deliver his presents.
Doctoral candidate Danny Maruyama of the University of Michigan remarks, "While I don’t know much about relativity clouds myself, I think it’s very possible that a man who flies in a sleigh, lives with elves, and has flying pet reindeer could have the technology needed to utilize relativity clouds."
Nevertheless, perhaps we should think about leaving Santa a more nutritionally satisfying snack than milk and cookies.