Mystery of how Santa delivers presents 'solved'

Mystery of how Santa delivers presents 'solved'
Dr Katy Sheen has theorised that Santa Claus and his reindeer zoom around the world at such high speeds that they would shrink, enabling Father Christmas and a huge sack of presents to fit down chimneys.
PHOTO: Reuters

The mystery of how Father Christmas can deliver presents to 700 million children in one night, fit into a chimney and arrive without being seen or heard has been "solved" by a physicist at the University of Exeter.

Dr Katy Sheen, from the geography department at the British college, has theorised that Santa Claus and his reindeer zoom around the world at such high speeds that - according to relativity theory - they would shrink, enabling Father Christmas and a huge sack of presents to fit down chimneys.

She added that the Doppler effect - a change in frequency of sound, light or other waves often illustrated through the marked change in pitch of a fast approaching and departing siren - also explains why children cannot hear him arrive.

Dr Sheen explained her theory, which was prepared with the festive spirit in mind and not for submission to a scientific journal, to children at the University of Exeter last week to interest children in science and physics.

What Christmas is like around the world

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    A tourist sits on an inflatable seat while wearing a Christmas hat and celebrating Christmas Day at Sydney's Bondi Beach in Australia, December 25, 2016.

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    German tourists Mimi Wiebeling and Pauline Lapetite carry surfboards as they walk into the surf wearing Christmas hats at Sydney's Bondi Beach on Christmas Day in Australia, December 25, 2016.

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    German and British troops participate in a football match to commemorate the Christmas Truce of 1914 at the ISAF Headquarters, in Kabul, Afghanistan December 25, 2016.

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    Student volunteers, wearing the uniform of the World War II-era Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Corp, walk on a zebra crossing as they raise public awareness of the Battle of Hong Kong in the territory's Wanchai district on Christmas day, December 25, 2016. This Christmas marks the 75th anniversary of the colonial British surrender of Hong Kong to Japan following the 18-day Battle of Hong Kong in 1941 during World War II, where local volunteers and Commonwealth troops fought in vain to defend the territory.

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    Indian Christians gather around a figurine of the baby Jesus as they celebrate Christmas in Bhubaneswar on December 25, 2016.

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    Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attends the Christmas Midnight Mass in Saint Catherine's Church at the Church of the Nativity, where Christians believe the Virgin Mary gave birth to Jesus Christ, December 25, 2016 in Bethlehem, West Bank.

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    People light candles during a mass on Christmas at Alexander Nevski cathedral in Sofia, Bulgaria, December 25, 2016.

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    A group of choir sings the holy songs during a Christmas mass in Colombo on December 25, 2016.

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    People gather by a Christmas tree near damaged buildings during Christmas eve in al-Hamidiyah neighbourhood in the old city of Homs, Syria December 24, 2016.

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    An Iranian woman lights a candle during Christmas Eve mass at the St Joseph Armenian Catholic church in Tehran on December 24, 2016.

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    Iraqi Christians dressed as Joseph and Mary attend a Christmas eve mass at the Chaldean Catholic Church in the northern city of Kirkuk on late December 24, 2016.

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    Indonesian Christians attend a Christmas Eve service at a church in Surabaya, East Java province, on December 24, 2016.

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    Sudanese Christians sing during a Christmas eve mass at the St. Matthew Catholic church in the capital Khartoum in the late hours of December 24, 2016.

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    Pope Francis carries the statue of baby Jesus during a mass on Christmas eve marking the birth of Jesus Christ on December 24, 2016 at St Peter's basilica in Vatican.

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    French adventurer Capitaine Remi Le Calvez dressed as a Santa Claus, starts a trip as a hitchhicker in Paris, France, December 6, 2016, to travel to Rovaniemi in central Lapland, northern Finland.

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    The Eiffel Tower is shrouded in fog behind a fountain illuminated for the Christmas holiday season at the Concorde Place in Paris, France.

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    A giant Ferris wheel lights up the night sky for the Christmas holiday season behind a fountain and in front of the Louxor's Obelisque on the Place de la Concorde square in Paris, France.

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    Christmas holiday lights hang from trees to illuminate Champs Elysees avenue in Paris as rush hour traffic fills the avenue leading down to the Giant Ferris Wheel at place de la Concorde in Paris, France

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    Christmas holiday lights hang from trees to illuminate the Champs Elysees avenue in Paris as rush hour traffic fills the avenue leading up to the Arc de Triomphe, France.

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    The Printemps department store is illuminated on the occasion of Christmas ahead of the holiday season in the French capital Paris, France.

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    The Credit Lyonnais bank headquarters is illuminated on the occasion of Christmas ahead of the holiday season in the French capital Paris, France.

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    The Credit Lyonnais bank headquarters is illuminated on the occasion of Christmas ahead of the holiday season in the French capital Paris, France.

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    People stand near Christmas trees in front of the Vendome Column as part of Christmas holiday season illuminations at Place Vendome in Paris, France.

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    The Vendome Place is illuminated on the occasion of Christmas ahead of the holiday season in the French capital Paris, France.

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    A view shows the shop window of Printemps department store in Paris during the launching of Christmas lights ahead of the holiday season in the French capital, France.

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    A child looks at a Christmas holiday window display outside the Galeries Lafayette department store in Paris, France.

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    A man takes a photograph of a Christmas holiday window display outside the Galeries Lafayette department store in Paris, France.

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    Children look at a Christmas holiday window display outside the Printemps department store in Paris, France.

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    People look at a Christmas holiday window display outside the Printemps department store in Paris, France.

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    A view shows the shop window of Printemps department store in Paris during the launching of Christmas lights ahead of the holiday season in the French capital, France.

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    Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo (centre) and France's Olympic and World judo champion Teddy Riner (centre top) attend the ceremony to inaugurate the Christmas holiday lights on the Champs Elysees in Paris.

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    Actress Uma Thurman launches the Christmas lights of Printemps department store in Paris ahead of the holiday season in the French capital, France.

Christmas gifts for health nuts

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    If you have a Christmas party coming up, why not take along organic sparkling wine? These are better than the conventional varieties because they do not contain artificial colouring and preservatives, and are not loaded with added sugar.

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    Alternatively, you could get them some plant-based munchies such as roasted chickpeas, popped edamame, kale chips or quinoa chips. She said they are great appetisers for a potluck, or as a standby for when you get hungry at work.

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    You can get artisan blends, loose leaf tea or tea packaged in woven tea bags. Organic teas are free of pesticides, while the fair-trade label indicates that tea is grown in a sustainable way and farmers are not exploited.

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    For aspiring chefs, buy a steamer ($50 to $150) or an air fryer ($100 to $300), which help you cook food more healthily.

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    For someone who works from home, an ergonomic chair ($200 upwards) might be an ideal gift.

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    The simplest thing you can get someone who wants to get started on fitness is an exercise mat ($10 to $30) or a simple skipping rope ($15 to $20)

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    Baby clothes or blankets made of organic cotton ($15 to $40) are also not a bad idea as a gift as they are unlikely to contain chemical contaminants that are harmful.

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    For people who seem to need nothing more, give them the gift of your time. "t can be a simple gesture like taking your loved one out for a meal - and it doesn't have to be fancy - where you can talk and connect.

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    Spending time in nature is also a good idea. Venturing into the natural world and embracing new experiences is a tonic for stress and can do wonders for a person's immune system and cognitive functioning.

She calculated that Santa Claus and his reindeer would have to travel at about 10 million kmh - more than 200,000 times faster than Usain Bolt, the world's fastest man - to deliver presents to every child expected to celebrate Christmas in a span of 31 hours (taking into account world time zones).

Such speeds would make him change from red to green and, at greater speeds, he would disappear.

Children would not be able to recognise him as he would appear as a rainbow-coloured blur, eventually disappearing to the human eye, she said in a statement from the university.

At such speeds, Father Christmas would also shrink - or get thinner - in the direction in which he was travelling, allowing him to fit down a chimney.

Also, as Santa Claus and his sleigh approach, the sound of bells and his deep "ho, ho, ho" would get higher and higher (like when an ambulance siren whizzes by) and then become completely silent, because he would move beyond human hearing range.

"How does Santa Claus manage to reach these phenomenal speeds? Well, that's magic! However, he would certainly need a lot of fuel - so don't forget his glass of sherry, a mince pie or two, and some carrots for the reindeer!" Dr Sheen said.

Read also: The best Christmas log cake promotions in Singapore this 2016

How to avoid getting ripped off on Christmas dinner in Singapore


This article was first published on Dec 23, 2016.
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