Fun_People Archive
25 Dec
Relativistic Sleigh Ride

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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Fri, 25 Dec 98 11:29:57 -0800
To: Fun_People
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Subject: Relativistic Sleigh Ride

X-Lib-of-Cong-ISSN: 1098-7649
[Finally someone's taking a serious look at this problem... -psl]

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Excerpted-from: update.408

The American Institute of Physics Bulletin of Physics News
Number 408 December 23, 1998   by Phillip F. Schewe and Ben Stein

RELATIVISTIC SLEIGH RIDE.  The  December 11 issue of Fermi News seeks to
answer the perennial question of how Santa Claus can, in the course of a
single night, deliver gifts to each of the world's 2 billion children.  Even
if a fullscale quantum computer were to work out the optimum course plan
St. Nick must still cover a flight path of some 160 million km and stop at
800 million homes along the way.  How does he do it?  By traveling at close
to the speed of light, of course, which, incidentally, also explains why
(thanks to time dilation) Santa never seems to age.  The Fermi News article
helpfully addresses such questions as to how it is that the fat fellow can
fit into Lorentz-contracted chimneys in the first place and how one can
determine the color of the Doppler- shifted light emitted by
Rudolph-the-rednosed-reindeer at sleigh velocities approching the speed of

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