Tuesday, December 23, 2008

More rapid than eagles: through a wormhole

If you're reading this, say Thank You to Cindy Cullen for posting for me. I'm over the middle of the country by now, on my way to Boston. Flying around so close to Christmas makes me think of Santa and the incredible trip he makes every year.

There's a lot of talk going around about the physics of Christmas and how it's impossible for Santa to get his job done.

They point out that there are 2.2 billion children in the world and even at one toy each, we have something like 400,000 tons traveling at 650 miles per second to get around world in one night.

A simple calculation shows that Santa has 1/1000th of a second to pull up on a roof, park his sleigh, hop out, climb down the chimney, figure out who's naughty and nice, distribute the presents, eat a snack, and say Ho, Ho, Ho, all without waking the household. Then he goes back up the chimney, gets back into the sleigh, dusts off his suit, and moves on to the next house.

Not just exhausting, but physically impossible.

Even though there's not a lot of sleigh traffic up there, it's not a feasible trip.

But the naysayers are way behind the times. Have they never heard of worm holes? Wormholes are features of space-time that allow a shortcut through the universe.

Imagine you're standing in a long line at the post office. You're at one end of the room and the clerk is at the other. Now imagine a piece of paper with a stick figure representing you at one corner, and a figure at the diagonally opposite corner to represent the clerk. Fold the paper so that your stick figure is on top of the clerk's.

See? You've just taken a shortcut to the head of the line.

That's what Santa does. With a little math and a dash of relativity theory we can show that, in fact, with every stop, Santa can come out of the chimney before he gets in!

No problem making all those stops.

So, yes, Virginia, relatively speaking, Santa can do it!

Now if only my pilot could find the right wormhole to get me to Logan Airport in the next 1/1000th of a second.


Anonymous said...

Happily, I know you're here now! Educationally, I now know about wormholes! Thank you, thank you, a thousand times over. Oh, wait a minute, I'll be thanking you in person soon! Yeah...xoxoxoxoxox

Betty Hechtman said...

Great description of wormholes. I hope you are on the way to Boston and not stuck at the airport. It looks like you'll be getting lots of the winter weather you said that you missed.