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How Santa Does It: Clones, Wormholes and Memory-Elimination Devices

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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The truth about SantaPerhaps you—like me—are disappointed by the amateur calculations done every December that purport to show how Santa couldn’t possibly deliver presents to all the good boys and girls in the world. Okay, fine: if Santa were just a dude in a sleigh (even one powered by some very fast reindeer), his task would be very hard, perhaps even impossible. And yet! These are the holidays; I do not want to be burdened with what is impossible. I want to know how it can be done. I want to know how—without resort to magic, that lazy storytelling crutch—the good Saint Nick runs his global one-night present-delivery operation.

Fortunately, in The Truth about Santa: Wormholes, Robots, and What Really Happens on Christmas Eve, the veteran science writer Gregory Mone has for the first time uncovered the advanced technological tricks that Santa must rely on to make real what was once mere fantasy. Mone, a contributing editor for Popular Science magazine, is intimately familiar with the not-quite-science-fiction world of wormholes, organ printing and sleep-deprivation techniques that makes Santa’s escapade possible. (Unsurprisingly, many of the technological tricks that Santa uses to see everything and appear to be everywhere at once are being developed by the military.) In delightfully wry prose, Mone reports how Santa—formerly one Jebediah Meserole of Greenpoint, Brooklyn—employs a small army of not-quite-clones to the world’s homes, how they use time-travel devices to ensure they get to every home in one night (while only themselves aging six months), and the advanced rejuvenation, hibernation, and memory-annihilation process that follows (after all, you can’t have a helper Claus writing a tell-all book once the deed is done, can you). The brisk read—it comes in at just 144 pages—is not just a how-to for would-be Santas. It is a romp through the nearby future of advanced technology, a world where magic is made real.

Book cover: Bloomsbury USA


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  1. 1. candide 2:07 pm 12/18/2009

    What’s next, a Sci Am story on the tooth fairy?

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  2. 2. DanGelinas 2:43 pm 12/18/2009

    In response to Candide: Hey Scrooge, it looks like a kind of fun way to look at some science-fictiony real science that feels like science-fiction. Sounds like it could be kind of fun and educational at the same time. What’s wrong with that?

    This is where you grumble "Bah! Humbug!" and return to your dry toast and hot lemon-water.

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  3. 3. Michael F 7:16 pm 12/18/2009

    I think this is great!

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  4. 4. sandyj 9:09 am 12/19/2009

    I told my daughters Santa is in superposition and can therefore be in multiple places at the same time. He doesn’t like being seen, because when he is observed his quantum state collapses and he can only be in one place at one time.

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  5. 5. fb36 2:49 pm 12/20/2009

    All Santa needs is hypertime to do all the work in one night.
    To him we would look like frozen, and to us he would be moving so fast to see. :-)

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  6. 6. jack.123 1:38 pm 12/21/2009

    He needs milk and cookies to power his sled,and has a transporter device in his nose.He’s not really fat,its just that he’s near the speed of light,and has gained mass.

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