How Does Santa Manage To Deliver All Those Presents In A Night?!

The mystery of how Father Christmas can deliver presents to 700 million children in one night, fit down the chimney and arrive without being seen or heard has been ‘solved’ by a physicist – report The Telegraph.

Santa and his reindeer travel around the world at such speed that – according to Einstein’s special theory of relativity – they shrink, enabling Father Christmas and a huge sack of presents to squeeze through even the tightest of chimneys.

Dr Katy Sheen, a physicist at Exeter University, has also found a scientific explanation for why Santa is so rarely seen by children, even though millions stay awake on Christmas Eve hoping for a glimpse of his red suit.

The physicist has calculated that Santa would need to travel at about 6.2 million miles per hour to deliver presents to every child expected to celebrate Christmas in 31 hours – taking into account world time zones.

Albert Einstein 
Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, which was initially published in 1905 CREDIT: AP PHOTO

Such speed would make him change from red to green and, at greater speeds, and eventually disappear entirely. In this case, it is the Doppler effect which makes Santa change colour because the light waves bouncing off him get squashed at such a high speed.

The Doppler effect also explains why children cannot hear Father Christmas arrive. As Santa and his sleigh approach, the sound of bells and his deep “ho, ho, ho” would get higher and higher in pitch and then become completely silent, as his voice moves move beyond human hearing range.

And if children hear a bang on Christmas night it could be Santa’s reindeer breaking the speed of sound, resulting in a ‘sonic boom’.

“Visiting around 700 million children in 31 hours would mean he would have to travel at six million miles per hour if he is to deliver presents to every child,” Dr Sheen said.

“Some strange things happen when you start to travel that fast. Firstly, time slows down. Second, Santa gets squished which means that he can fit down a chimney more easily.

“Finally for Santa to fly this fast it takes lots and lots of energy.  How does Santa manage to reach these phenomenal speeds? Well that’s magic. However, he would certainly need a lot of fuel.”

Children waiting for Santa would not see him because of the Doppler effect and time dilation 
Children waiting for Santa would not see him because of the Doppler effect and time dilation 

Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, which was initially published in 1905, said that space and time were interwoven in a single continuum known as space time, but that events could occur at different times depending on the position of the observer.

Dr Sheen will tell children at the University of Exeter Christmas and Science Festival that relativity also explains why Father Christmas appears not to grow older, because relativity can slow down clocks.

When Dr Sheen was seven years old she wrote a letter to Santa asking why he never aged. She received a response telling her it was “all magic”.

Not convinced she decided to become a scientist to one day find a rational explanation, and 26 years later has come up with a solution.

She found that the time dilation – which is part of Einstein’s theory of relativity – occurs as time speeds up relative to the observer. So if Santa was travelling at such high speeds, he would age more slowly than somebody moving at a normal speed.

Elsewhere, scientists warned that holly and mistletoe may not looks so festive in future years because of a decline in bees.

Both holly and mistletoe are completely dependent on insect pollination due to a quirk of their biology which sees both species grow as separate male and female plants.

It is only the female plants which tend to have berries, and scientists have noticed that in years of poor pollination there are fewer female plants.

Dr Tom Breeze from the University of Reading, who specialises in pollinator research, said: “While bees might be the last thing on our minds as we put up our Christmas decorations in December, in reality here’s be a lot less colour in our festive cheer without them.

“We know that a decline in pollinators would be costly to agriculture, but this study shows it could also damage two of our great British seasonal icons.”

There you have it, Science has saved Christmas! Rejoice! Science has the potential to save a lot more things, in ways yet untold. Best crack on and enrol on one of our courses today, then! Click here for more…


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