While some may cite the jolly old elf as the realm of magic, many of the elements surrounding the legends actually have their root in science. NPR sat down with Neil deGrasse Tyson yesterday to discuss the science behind Santa Claus. Some of the topics touched upon include:
- Rudolph’s Nose
According to deGrasse Tyson, should Rudolph’s nose actually glow, its red color would indeed be ideal for flying through cloudy or foggy conditions. He points out how the ideal fog lights are low in blue-light, to allow better penetration through the fog. Anyone who has turned on their brights while driving through fog will know this, the light is reflected back at you instead of penetrating. Fog lights are designed around spectrums of light which do penetrate through fog-like conditions.
- The Chimney
Mr deGrasse Tyson makes an interesting point. Santa is more likely to be using a system similar to Monsters, Inc, using what is in effect specialized wormholes to enter and exit houses rapidly. He then cites the chimney as likely a distraction system, along with the sleigh ride itself. he further speculated that the sleigh ride was a photo shoot, ensuring popular belief in the myths and legends of the thousands of years old tradition. Who knew Santa was so clever?
While some may ridicule or mock traditions and mythologies, to witness a noted astrophysicist reinforcing these brings joy to the season. Some will always fight to try and dismiss anything they do not believe in or understand, the wisest among us understand the importance of the differences, of the role both traditions and reason play in our society. It is clear from his interviews over the years that Neil deGrasse Tyson understands the role both play in making a well-rounded and healthy community.
You can hear Neil’s interview on NPR below: