[CNI News thanks Brian Zeiler and Rebecca Schatte for forwarding this story, which appeared in USA Today on December 14, 1995.]
By Tim Friend
The long-running scientific debate over Santa Claus has erupted again. A team of scientists has come up with answers to the skeptics' major questions about how Santa can actually do all the wonderful things believers say he does.
These scientists say Santa's ability to know who's been bad or good, to make millions of toys and to deliver them to the world's children in one night actually comes from the use of highly advanced technology.
They say Santa has a sleigh that makes the Stealth bomber look like a biplane, a surveillance system capable of reading children's minds that would make the Pentagon weep, machines that build toys atom-by-atom under your tree and advanced knowledge of Einstein's theory of relativity that permits time travel.
"We've come up with a viable explanation for Santa Claus and his activities that doesn't violate the laws of physics," says Larry Silverberg, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and member of NASA's Mars Mission Research Center, North Carolina State University.
Silverberg expects many scientists will still be skeptical. But he's confident children will remain open-minded.
"Children shouldn't believe others who say Santa isn't real just because there's no way he could deliver toys all over the world in one night," he says.
Silverberg theorizes that if Santa were to time travel, he could easily deliver all of those presents. Consider: The North Pole is at the center of the Earth's rotation. The Earth's electromagnetic fields converge there every Dec. 24 and form a vortex with gravitational forces. The effect bends time at the North Pole the way the sun bends light. And that allows Santa to
take advantage of certain laws of Einstein's theory of relativity.
"A narrow corridor opens up in the vortex through which Santa slips on Christmas Eve," Silverberg says. "While he's moving around, the rest of us are frozen in time. That way he can take as much time as he wants and cover as much space as he wants."
Also, it should be obvious that the North Pole affords the privacy needed for a large-scale, high-tech communications operation hidden beneath the ice. There, scientists believe Santa has installed an extremely large and sensitive antenna capable of receiving signals from children's minds. Organic supercomputers process the signals for the sleigh's onboard computer.
The sleigh's computer then relays the signals to a box that holds millions of microscopic toy-making machines, called toy spores. The toy spores, which have devices that home in on decorated evergreen trees, are dispatched from the sleigh to the appropriate child's home.
But while toy spores are delivered automatically, Santa still visits every home for milk and cookies, using morphing technology to slip down a narrow chimney or under a door.
"We are, of course, scientifically primitive compared to Santa," Silverberg says.
Experts also suggest the sleigh has advanced Stealth technology that jams military tracking devices to prevent it from being mistaken as a UFO and blown up by a missile.
The North American Aerospace Defense Command at Colorado Springs, however, does not agree that the sleigh is invisible to radar or that it would be mistaken for a UFO. NORAD has been tracking Santa on Christmas Eve for 40 years. It will have space satellites and ground-based radar trained on the North Pole again Dec. 24.
"When the sleigh is detected, data will be passed to the combined NORAD/U.S. Space Command Operations Center in Cheyenne Mountain near Colorado Springs," says Major Donald Planalp.
Children and media can receive reports on Santa's progress beginning at 4 p.m. in their applicable time zone by calling 719-474-1110.
The Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Fla., will have the shuttle runway available in case Santa needs to make an emergency landing.
"Nobody's ever spotted him, but we've seen skid marks on the runway consistent with a sleigh-like aircraft, and there was some hay found on the side of the runway," says NASA's Bruce Buckingham.
If shuttle personnel have seen Santa from space, they're keeping mum. "The astronauts won't tell us anything," Buckingham says. "They would be hesitant to say whether they've sighted anything like a Santa Claus or tiny reindeer."
Not everyone will buy this high-tech Santa theory. Many experts say more study is needed. And there is another possibility that must be disproved: Maybe, Santa does it by magic after all.
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