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Observations

Observations

Opinion, arguments & analyses from the editors of Scientific American

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

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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

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

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