At this time of the year, our attention should turn to gifts, meat pies, turkey feasts, and eggnog—and occasionally to show kindness to all of mankind. But for some of us, Christmas is a period of torture and sleepless nights. The idea that bothers us-the introduction of images of dancing sugar plum fairies-is a science that allows one to give a gift to every child in the world.
Fortunately, ZME Science is here to help alleviate some of these disturbing thoughts, answer some lingering questions, and possibly eliminate Santa Claus may not be... well... true Stupid doubt.
Of course, Santa keeps his scientific secrets secret. Although these scientific techniques and cheating are clearly protected by Kringle, we at ZME are not the first to accept this Christmas mission. Every year, physicists gather to study Santa’s science and explain how Dad Noel did incredible feats without resorting to magic.
This is Santa’s science. The physics of Santa Claus. Chris Klingel's chemistry. Klaus's quantum?
OK. The last one is extension.
To assess why Santa needs cutting-edge science to execute his annual challenge, the first question we must ask is what scale of action Santa must undertake?
In order to evaluate this, first of all, we must admit that Santa Claus will not visit every child on Christmas Eve-just those families and children in the family celebrating the holiday. Although there is no hard and fast way to do this, we can make a rough estimate by calculating the proportion of Christians in the world.
Approximately 33% of the world's population identify as Christians, so let us assume that this also applies to the 2.2 billion children on earth. This means that approximately 726 million children will give gifts.
Don't worry about Santa Claus, we will reduce it a bit more. There are about 4 children in every family in the world. Therefore, Santa needs to visit approximately 182 million independent families.
Fortunately, Santa Claus has more than 24 hours to do this. Considering the time zone and the rotation of the earth, Santa can extend his time limit to 31 hours to choose the correct route to perform his huge gift delivery operations. Let's go to the blackboard and calculate how many times Santa Claus must stop per second.
That is quite a task. Santa has almost 1/2000 second to park his sleigh, get out of the car, slide down the chimney (or find another entrance), leave gifts, eat leftover biscuits or mince pies, and let him use milk Wash (or something stronger if he is lucky), then return to the sled and move on! This is quite impressive. No wonder he needs calories from at least 182 million desserts! All of this begs another question; how fast does Santa Claus have to complete this extraordinary task?
In order to reach the nearly 200 million families on Santa’s delivery route in just 31 hours, the happy fat man’s sleigh must be clocked in at a reasonable speed. In order to figure out how fast his sleigh must be, let us assume that all the households visited by Santa Claus are evenly distributed across the globe. This means that there is an average distance of 1.25 kilometers between each house, which means that Santa’s journey will cover a distance of approximately 228 million kilometers.
Although this is an incredible speed, almost incomprehensible, it does not violate the idea that nothing can be faster than the speed of light, because it is still far below the general speed limit of around 1.08 x 10⁹ kilometers per hour.
So it is possible, although it is still much faster than the fastest vehicle ever recorded on the surface of the earth-4x 10⁴ km/h. Of course, you made this record on Christmas Eve last year, when you realized at 3:55 pm that you forgot to eat... Or it could be an X-15 jet belonging to the US Air Force. The speed at which Santa Claus must travel is also the fastest speed we have recorded for the spacecraft to travel at a considerable range.
Of course, traveling at this speed in the atmosphere will cause various related problems for Santa Claus. Perhaps the most pressing is that it generates incredible heat.
So how does Santa deliver gifts that are not scorched and charred, while ensuring that the amazing speed of his flight does not scorch his reindeer?
Roasting chestnuts may be a Christmas tradition, but let's face it, none of us want to bake anything in the wreckage of Santa’s burning sleigh. Fortunately, astrophysicist Knut Jørgen Røed Ødegaard, professor of physics Gaute Einevoll, professor of mathematics Nils Lid Hjort, and self-proclaimed elf expert Ane Ohrvik all know how Santa Claus prevents his sleigh from catching fire while driving at an alarming speed.
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The researchers suggest that in order to reduce overheating, Santa Claus can use an ion shield composed of charged particles and held together by a magnetic field.
As early as 2008, non-Kringle-related scientists at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory were testing a prototype "mini-magnetosphere," which can provide protection against high-energy solar particles. Solar radiation may affect systems similar to those used by Santa Claus.
who knows? Maybe one of the people in the team was a very good boy or girl the previous year and received a gift from him himself?
Of course, Santa Claus may also use the latest heat-resistant materials. Perhaps some of them are similar to those used by NASA to protect spacecraft from the heat associated with entering the planet’s atmosphere.
The most heat-resistant materials currently developed by scientists are the ceramic compounds tantalum carbide (TaC) and hafnium carbide (HfC). In 2016, a team of researchers at Imperial College London used laser heating technology to find that the melting point of HfC is the highest point on record, and the compound can withstand temperatures as high as 4,000 ⁰C.
These refractory ceramics have been touted as the ideal coating for the thermal insulation of the next generation of hypersonic spacecraft. But who knows? Maybe Santa started using TaC and HfC before us?
Of course, air resistance is not the only obstacle to Santa’s journey. Approximately 33% of children in the world have toys on the sleigh they are dragging, and Santa’s reindeer needs all the scientific skills they can use.
Perhaps the scientific secret used by Santa Claus to reduce the weight of this load and find the space to pack it all into a few bags may exist in one of the most cutting-edge theories in physics.
String theory says that all the particles that make up the matter and energy content of our universe are manifestations of a one-dimensional vibrating string full of space and time. For string theory to work, the structure of the universe must be composed of more dimensions than the four we know-three spaces and one time. In fact, it requires at least 11 dimensions. Maybe 26. It depends on who you ask.
These "hidden dimensions" exist in the more familiar dimensions that we are aware of as a species. Perhaps they were also curled up in a Santa's bag, giving him almost unlimited play space.
A bag powered by string theory can also help reduce the weight of all these toys. One of the reasons why string theory was first proposed was because there is currently no theory of quantum gravity. Therefore, although quantum physics provides satisfactory explanations for the other three basic forces—electromagnetic force, strong nuclear force, and weak nuclear force—but it cannot yet be combined with general relativity to explain gravity.
A lingering question about gravity is why it is so weak at great distances. This has led some physicists to propose that some gravity-related effects "leak" into the extra dimension of string theory. This means that sacks using these extra dimensions may hold a huge mass while still weighing very little.
Who knows, maybe Santa has folded up his entire toy factory?
Of course, all these explanations still leave many unanswered questions about Santa Claus and the science he uses every year. For example; how did he make his reindeer resist gravity? How does he superimpose existing in every shopping mall in the United States, and his wave function does not collapse? Most importantly, why did he bring me Go-Bot instead of the Transformers I wanted on the most memorable Christmas day in 1986? Serious Santa. You lost the ball here. important moment.
As for how Santa is determined to be naughty and kind, and how he knows if you are sleeping-well, it all depends on quantum entanglement, but it is too complicated to explain his visit tonight in time.
Robert is a member of the British Association of Science Writers and the Institute of Physics, and has qualifications in physics, mathematics and contemporary science.
© 2007-2019 ZME Science-Not exactly rocket science. all rights reserved.
© 2007-2019 ZME Science-Not exactly rocket science. all rights reserved.