Today, Dr. Katy Sheen will explain to the children gathered for the University of Exeter’s Science of Christmas Festival how all of Santa’s magic is possible: through science, of course.
To begin with, the physicist determined that Santa must travel more than 6 million miles per hour to deliver presents to 700 million kids over a 31-hour period (Christmas Day, accounting for time zones around the world). That’s well over 200,000 times faster than Usain Bolt’s top speed of 27.8 miles per hour, and, may we remind you, the nine-time Olympic gold medalist doesn’t have to pause mid-sprint to lug your nephew’s 1600-piece LEGO Minecraft set down the chimney.
“Some strange things happen when you start to travel that fast,” Sheen told The Telegraph. For one thing, time slows down, solving the problem of Santa’s apparent agelessness. She also notes that objects that are moving very, very, very quickly will appear to shrink, per Einstein’s special theory of relativity — which could be why no one’s ever spotted Santa, because he travels so fast as to become effectively invisible. And why can’t sleepless kids hear Santa and his presumably noisy reindeer alight on their roof? There’s a simple explanation for that, too: the Doppler effect. As the sleigh rapidly draws closer, its trademark bells grow so high in pitch that human ears can no longer detect them. (Don’t believe us? Ask your dog.)
“How does Santa manage to reach these phenomenal speeds? Well, that’s magic,” Sheen said. “However, he would certainly need a lot of fuel.”
We only have one question. Given the unruly white mane, unmistakable facial hair, and a winning personality, has anyone ever conclusively proven that Santa isn’t Albert Einstein?