Sunday, February 12, 2006

The Physics of Christmas By Roger Highfield

From the Aerodynamics of Reindeer to the Thermodynamics of Turkey

In "The Physics of Christmas - From the Aerodynamics of Reindeer to the Thermodynamics of Turkey," Roger Highfield collects together his annual essays that investigate the science behind many aspects of the holiday season. Rather than using science to disprove the existence of Santa Claus, Highfield discusses the scientific implications of and tricks necessary for Santa's existence (for example, he discusses the anti-noise device needed to prevent the sonic boom Santa's sleigh would create as it sped from house to house in terms of the rock solid science of wave interference).

Highfield's essays don't just cover physics - he investigates many other areas of science - for example, his anthropological essay on the origins of Santa links the Jolly Old Fellow to an hallucinogenic mushroom that resembles his cap! Other essays cover biology, botany, psychology, alcohol, parasitology. He puts forth the postulate that the last field is the source of the Red Nosed Reindeer, but perhaps it is the one before that?

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