With regard to my previous blog on Santa Claus, someone on the Yahoo How Things Work (HTW) group has located a rather interesting rebuttal (“It’s all Quantum,” as Terry Pratchett would say)…
The HTW member's posting was as follows:
So... speaking of blogs... I was looking around the intertubes yesterday after sending this out and marveling at the memes that have sprouted from this particular piece of Internet fluff. I found the following rebuttal which is almost too pitch-perfect for words:
QUANTUM MECHANICS SAVES SANTA
The analysis about the death of Santa Claus, based on classical physics, is seriously flawed owing to its neglect of quantum phenomena that become significant in his particular case.
As it happens, the terminal velocity of a reindeer in dry December air over the Northern Hemisphere (for example) is known with tremendous precision. The mass of Santa and his sleigh (since the number of children and their gifts is also known precisely, ahead of time, and the reindeer must weigh in minutes before the flight) is also known with tremendous precision. His direction of flight is, as you say, essentially east to west.
All of that, when taken together, means that the momentum vector of Mr. Claus and his cargo is known with incredible precision. An elementary application of Heisenberg's uncertainty principle yields the result that Santa's location, at any given moment on Christmas Eve, is highly imprecise. In other words, he is "smeared out" over the surface of the earth, analogous to the manner in which an electron is "smeared out" within a certain distance from the nucleus in an atom. Thus he can, quite literally, be everywhere at any given moment.
In addition, the relativistic velocities which his reindeer can attain for brief moments make it possible for him, in certain cases, to arrive at some locations shortly before he left the North Pole. Santa, in other words, assumes for brief periods the characteristics of tachyons.
I will admit that tachyons remain hypothetical, but then so do black holes, and who really doubts their existence anymore?