For precocious kids: Santa Claus and wormholes
Santa has a thriving holiday subgenre: As Web columnist Sonja Bolle wrote in last Sunday’s Word Play column, many new books are devoted not just to retelling old, familiar tales but also to telling about his “secret life” — where he lives, what his workshop is like, what happens when Mrs. Claus takes a vacation. (And don't forget that NORAD is tracking Santa now as he makes his way across the globe.)Bolle also mentions those youngsters who want to keep believing in spite of their suspicions about the whole thing — and the efforts some parents make to keep it all going for a few more years.
OK, but what do you do if your child is extremely precocious ... and has a strong scientific bent?
The answer is: physics.
As Gregory Mone writes in “The Truth About Santa,” if a kid starts pointing out the improbabilities of Santa attending to every child, everywhere, in a single night, tell him or her two things:
First, Santa can’t do it all himself: He has a phalanx of elf lieutenants who help him out. Second, these pointy-shoed little helpers are able to get around quickly because of wormholes. As Mone explains:
Got all that? Other sections of Mone’s book explain “why Santa can’t use FedEx,” “reindeer and public relations,” “how Santa knows what you want” and how the North Pole operation depends on eugenics — all those elves are clones! — to maintain efficiency.
There are some things we still don’t know, but it is fairly clear that the mode of transport/time-travel they use is based on astrophysical oddities called wormholes. ... If one of Santa’s lieutenants wants to exit a home, he simply jumps through the wormhole mouth in the fireplace or the frame. A moment later he pops out of a window at his next destination. ...
The true beauty of Santa’s wormhole-based travel technique, though, is that it enables his lieutenants to recover the time they lose dropping off gifts in a given house. Each wormhole deposits a lieutenant in the next living room on his schedule a few hundredths or tenths of a second after he arrived in the previous one. As a result, at any moment, a given lieutenant may actually be working in thousands of different homes at once. ...
Science hand in hand with holiday tradition? Incredible! Mone's book is a perfect stocking stuffer for either Stephen Hawking or those science-minded kids who believe in Santa.
-- Nick Owchar
Image: Wormhole diagram. Credit: Matthew Zimet
Photo: The big guy. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times