UiO scientists investigate if Donald Trump is Santa Claus
Every year, when December darkness falls across the land, people start pondering an old problem that has never been solved: How is Santa Claus able to visit all the children in the world and give them gifts during a short Christmas Eve? After all, there are a lot of children? He must be extremely busy?
The good news is that the days of pondering are coming to an end. Luckily, Norway’s most excellent Santa Claus scientists are getting ever closer to solving the Christmas mystery.
Research fellows Sunniva Rose and Anders Hafreager at the Department of Physics have already estimated that Santa Claus isn’t at all that busy on Christmas Eve:
“Santa doesn’t have to visit all the children in the world. In a scientific paper we wrote in 2015, we pointed out that only 29 percent of Earth's population belongs to Christianity, and this is where Santa Claus operates. In this part of the world, there are 550 million children under 15 years of age. We also used the Norwegian standard of 2.1 children per household as a base. Thus, our calculations showed that Santa needs to visit about 261 million homes, recapitulates Hafreager.
“We should also remember that Santa is working while people sleep at night, and that there are 24 time zones globally. The rest of the math is a bit complicated, but the conclusion is that Santa needs to travel at only 18 390 km / s. This is just below 10 percent of the speed of light and thus no impossibility. Many Norwegians are approaching the same speed on their annual excursions towards Strömstad or Årjäng in Sweden in order to buy cheap aquavit for their Christmas celebrations”, adds Sunniva Rose.
Santa and The Green Shift
When physics professor and brain scientist Gaute Einevoll read the two research fellows' paper in 2015, he became very enthusiastic. Einevoll is namely a veteran of Norwegian Santa Claus research and was a key source in the first Norwegian-language popular science article on the subject – as early as 2004.
“To make a long story short: I contacted Rose and Hafreager, and we agreed upon a partnership. We applied to the Norwegian Research Council for funding to establish a Centre of Excellence for Santa Claus Research (CoESCR), but we were too impatient to wait for an answer. So, our research started the day after we sent the application”, explains Einevoll.
“You see, there can be no doubt about the importance of this research. Santa Claus is the new oil!” Einevoll claims.
He is totally convinced that Santa Claus exploits an energy source which until now has been unknown to mankind, and which could be used to solve the global climate crisis and reverse the greenhouse effect in a snap when commercialized. It is this energy that makes it possible for Santa to travel around the globe – at a fraction of the speed of light – in order to visit every well behaved child in the world on Christmas Eve. He conducts this feat without emitting a single molecule of CO2.
The CoESCR was significantly strengthened during 2016 when also the other doyen of Norwegian Santa Claus research, professor and statistics expert Nils Lid Hjort, joined the team.
“We wrote in our application to the Research Council that Santa obviously utilizes a technology that can be used to implement what our climate scientists and politicians call “The Green Shift”, which is about creating a society in which growth and development take place within nature's tolerance limits. Everybody knows that this must be done as soon as possible, if we want to save the planet and the possibility to go cross country skiing in the forests around Oslo”, says Hjort.
“But we still don’t know if Santa is a keen recycler, or if he is reckless about getting rid of his garbage. We really hope that he has a good policy also in this field”, he adds.
The reindeer are mostly for decoration
But which technology are we talking about? Anders Hafreager points out that Rudolph and the other reindeer aren’t really pulling Santa's sleigh, they are mostly for decoration.
“We have instead come close to concluding that Santa Claus uses an electromagnetic propulsion system, called EM Drive. This is a kind of engine that works by sending microwaves with extremely high energy back and forth inside a conical chamber. The energy density inside the chamber becomes so high that the radiation generates virtual pairs of subatomic particles, and these are expelled from the narrow end of the chamber and give rise to propulsion before they are annihilated. This is the coolest scientific discovery that has been made in my life!” says an energetic Hafreager.
The only disappointment was that NASA beat the Norwegian Santa Claus scientists at the finish line and published a paper on the EM Drive on 19 November 2016. The article shows that EM Drive works, although it apparently violates Newton's third law of motion, stating that any force also has a counterforce.
“But we haven’t lost our high spirits. It is obvious that NASA won’t be able to commercialize this technology without the cooperation of Santa, and everybody knows that Santa is a Norwegian citizen. That is a fact, even if Santa lives at the North Pole. The Finns claim that Santa lives in Rovaniemi, but that's just a pretense. Nobody even in Finland believes such nonsense”, says Hjort.
Maybe a very large spaceship
Sunniva Rose moves uneasily on her chair and reveals a conflict among the Santa Claus researchers: She isn’t totally convinced that Santa is Norwegian. It is perfectly possible that Santa is interstellar and visits a lot of inhabited planets in other universes during what we earthlings perceive as a year.
“A theory that has gained much ground recently says that Santa Claus doesn’t really travel around the world to visit all the nice children. Instead, he might be the captain of a very large spaceship, even bigger than the one that appears in the movie Independence Day. In fact, the spaceship is so large that it covers much of the globe and obscures the sun. This is the reason for the suspicious darkness on Christmas Eve”, explains Rose.
This theory also explains why Santa Claus looks different almost every time he appears: It isn’t actually Santa himself who climbs down the chimneys and visits children across the globe – but instead an entire flock of individual subordinates.
But if that is the case, what is the relationship between Santa, his subordinates and the children he visits? Gaute Einevoll has been sitting silent for a while, but now is the time to speak out.
Donald Trump is Santa Claus??
“It is well known that Santa Claus quite often finds the time to enjoy some holiday punch in the homes he visits, and this leaves small traces of DNA on the goblets he drinks from. We have been able to obtain several samples of this genetic material and analyse it. It turns out that Santa is genetically related to suspiciously many of the kids he visits!” Einevoll reveals.
The other scientists suddenly fall silent, while the implications of Einevoll’s statement slowly dawn upon the astonished science writer. OK, I already knew that a lot of children are struggling with post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) after seeing Santa kissing their mother. But: Is it possible that Santa goes further than just kissing? Is he really a sexual predator? Is he grabbing attractive mothers around the world you-know-where, just because he can?
“Yes, I can see what you are thinking, and you are absolutely right. We can’t rule out the possibility that Donald Trump is Santa Claus. It seems like Santa is exploiting his status as a celebrity in order to commit sexual assaults on innocent women. This reminds us of things that became public under the recent US election campaign”, whispers Anders Hafreager.
On the other hand: It is not completely certain that Santa has exclusively malicious reasons for disguising himself as Donald Trump.
“Consider the famous Superman, who has perfected the art of having a secret identity as camouflage in order to perform his important work. Superman's solution is to dress up as the bespectabled and boring reporter Clark Kent. It is obvious that also Santa Claus needs an undercover identity. If not, he couldn’t find the time to produce all the gifts that he distributes during Christmas. I mean, Santa would be bogged down by countless requests for interviews all year long, but nobody really wants to talk to Donald Trump”, says Hjort.
“This is brilliant! Santa Claus couldn’t possibly choose a better undercover identity than an American reality television celebrity who often says mean things!”, Einevoll adds.
But if this is so, how can Einevoll’s analyses of Santa’s DNA show that the subordinate santas are genetically related to the children they visit? The four researchers confirm, whispering, that the explanation is mildly startling: The subordinates are probably Santa's children, while the children who receive gifts are mostly Santa’s grandchildren. (Please don’t tell this to anyone. The scientists are not prepared to go public with this new knowledge, for fear of provoking angry reactions from a lot of gullible fathers around the world.)
Setbacks in 2016
The Santa Claus scientists at the UiO have made great scientific progress in 2016, but they have also experienced a couple of setbacks. The biggest disappointment came when Santa didn’t come to a planned seminar in December. Instead, he copied Bob Dylan’s response to becoming a Nobel Prize laureate in literature and refrained from even responding to the invitation
The second big disappointment was that the Norwegian Research Council rejected the application to become a Centre of Excellent Santa Claus Research. “Instead, they referred us to the Council’s scheme for Centres for Research-based Innovation. We are at present working on a new application”, says Rose.
“The Research Council said that we must have an innovative industry partner, so we naturally contacted Donald Trump. He hasn’t responded yet”, informs Einevoll.
In this situation, facing a bunch of sceptical bureaucrats in the Norwegian Research Council, it is a good thing to have Nils Lid Hjort on the team. He is namely grandson of the famous Norwegian ethnologist Nils Lid, who already in 1933 documented Santa's existence in the groundbreaking work "Jolesveinar and grøderikdomsgudar" ("Yule Lads and Fertility Gods”). Moreover, he is a member of a European Research Council panel with the ability to overrule irresponsible decisions in the Norwegian Research Council.
“We have to admit that there is a lot of skepticism out there. The Norwegian Research Council has stated clearly that we must prove Santa's existence before we can get funding for our new research Centre. It's absolutely shocking to see what some people may believe or disbelieve”, Hjort sighs.
“However, we don’t really expect this to become a problem, because we can also prove Santa's existence by referring to several legendary stories in early editions of Donald Duck”, adds Hjort - and dives down into a bulging bag. He comes out again holding a small selection of valuable heirlooms, with the original edition of Walt Disney's Christmas Parade from 1949 as the first among equals. Each individual heirloom is neatly stored in a protective pocket of mylar. The other three scientists are visibly delighted: Storage in mylar is a clear proof of undoubtable credibility!
A critical mass of nice children
The four Santa Claus scientists are now writing a strategy for the further research in 2017, with the Research Council’s funding as a given prerequisite. This is not only about The Green Shift and the future of the global climate, but about something much bigger: The national and global kindness.
“I have for many years been concerned with the issue of nice children: Where is the limit that separates nice children from the naughty ones? Do we have enough nice children in Norway? I am not so sure, and it is plausible that we need a certain amount of nice children – a critical mass – if Santa Claus will bother about swinging by Norway at Christmas. The good news is that the famous American physicist and string theorist John Hagelin has calculated that we don’t need that many nice children”, says Hjort – and continues:
“Hagelin has a very interesting theory which says that the number of kind people in a community needs to be larger than the square root of 1 percent of the population, because this will lead to the spreading of kindness in the population. This is a result of Hagelin’s investigations at the Maharishi University of Management.”
The Norwegian population amounts to 5,1 million, and one percent of this is obviously only 51,000. The professors Hjort and Einevoll agree that the square root of 51,000 is quite small: Norway only needs 226 kind people, of all ages, in order for kindness to spread out and become a dominant force in the society.
“Obviously, the necessary quantity of nice children is even less than 226. I guess that 100 children should be enough”, Hjort says.
“We must therefore ensure that Norway – and every other country that wants to be a force for good – maintains a critical mass of kindness, among both children and adults. This will be a priority area for the activities of the Centre for Research-driven Santa Claus Innovation (CRESCI) in 2017: How can we design a method for developing kindness in a sustainable way? It is obviously not enough to be kind to your grandmother from time to time: You should instead be nice and kind constantly, in a conscious and concentrated effort”, summarizes Hjort.
Hafreager and Rose (in Norwegian): Is Rudolph made from carbon? A physics analysis of Santa Claus and his reindeer. Universitetet i Oslo 2015.
The Christmas Carol "Reno erat Rudolphus" – The red-nosed reindeer – in a recording from ca. 1244
Fiona McDonald: It's official: NASA's peer-reviewed EM Drive paper has finally been published. Science Alert, 19. november 2018
Harold White et al.: Measurement of Impulsive Thrust from a Closed Radio-Frequency Cavity in Vacuum. Aerospace Research Central, 19. november 2016
John Hagelin: The Power of The Collective. Transcendental Meditation, 2007
Mest lest siste syv dager
Elise Holter Thompson satt med en litt kjedelig oppgave, nemlig å studere videoer av rotter som hadde gjennomgått en hukommelsestest. Plutselig oppdaget hun noe veldig rart – og det førte til at forskergruppen CINPLA ble først i verden til å påvise at strukturer på utsiden av selve hjernecellene spiller en viktig rolle for bevaringen av langtidsminner.