I'm sorry kids, but there comes a time in all of our lives when we are old enough to understand the truth about Santa Claus. You knew this day would come, you brought it on yourself really as you started to ask the questions that demonstrated you were growing up and beginning to think critically: "How can one man visit so many homes in just a single night?" you asked, "Even if he travels from east to west to take full advantage of time zones, it's just not possible!" And of course, we told you it was magic, but you only bought that for a little while, hesitant to expose the lies and possibly miss out on the next year's presents. But no more, it's time for you to know the truth, there is no magic, in fact, there is a very simple and logical explanation for how all those presents end up under all those Christmas trees... Santa uses science. That's right, apparently in the off season, the elves, much like workers at Google, are given time to work on whatever projects they want to. The result of this innovative management style has been that, for the past hundred years or so, North Pole Industries Inc., LLC. has developed technology so advanced that we are only now beginning to understand it. At least, that's the claim of author Gregory Mone in his new book, The Truth About Santa: Wormholes, Robots, and What Really Happens on Christmas Eve.
According to Mone, our view of Santa has long been distorted by Arthur C. Clarke's third "law" which states: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." For example, Santa is able to travel to so many homes in one night by using wormholes and other means of bending spacetime, allowing him to travel around freely, while, to us, it seems that time is standing still. Also, if you've ever wondered why you could never catch a glimpse of the jolly old elf no matter how late you stayed up, it's because Santa's suit possesses cloaking technology, making him all but invisible. And, no branch of science appears to be off limits. Wonder why lumps of coal stopped making appearances in "naughty" childrens' stockings? Well because clearly the elves have been reading up on their psychology research and come to the realization that punishments are much less effective than positive reinforcement. And the list goes on. For more of Santa's gadgetry, check out the book, or this brief review and excerpt over at NPR, or here at Discover Magazine.
I am currently a postdoctoral research fellow in Memphis, TN. Though the blog tends to cover a lot of popular psychology, my areas of research include, or have included:brain injury, auditory neurobiology, neuroendocrinology, and developmental neurobiology.