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Five Undeniable Scientific Proofs That Santa Is Definitely Real

author

Dr. Katie Spalding

Freelance Writer

clockDec 13 2021, 11:55 UTC
cool santa

Despite all these cast-iron proofs, some scientifically uninformed individuals still find reasons to doubt the existence of Santa. Image: My Ocean Production/Shutterstock.com

With Christmas comes a most welcome visitor: Santa Claus, Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas, call him what you will, he only works one night a year but boy does he deliver. And how do we thank him? We deny his existence! Call him things like “a holiday folk myth” or “literally impossible given the laws of physics”!

Well, we at IFLScience have had enough of this disrespect. Santa is real, and we have the receipts. Here are five arguments, from all branches of science and philosophy, that prove that Santa Claus really is Coming To Town.

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Logic

Not only is it easy to prove that Santa exists, it’s also quick – in fact, we’re going to do it in two sentences. Ready?

1. Everything in this list is false;

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2. Santa exists.

From those two statements, it follows that Santa is real.

Let us explain: either statement 1 is true, or it’s false. If it’s true, then everything in the list is false, which means statement 1 is false. But this is a contradiction – we started by assuming that statement 1 is true. Clearly, this is nonsense: a statement can’t be true and false. The only option is that statement 1 isn’t true at all.

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But if statement 1 is false, that means that at least something in the list is true. We know that statement 1 is false, so the only remaining option is for statement 2 to be true: Santa exists, QED.

(While this proof is obviously water-tight, the more persnickety among you might want to look up the “Liar Paradox” to understand why other arguments similar to this one aren’t as convincing as they initially seem – basically, the first statement is self-referential.

“Mathematically speaking, all this is a bit naughty,” wrote mathematician Hannah Fry in her 2017 book The Undeniable Existence of Santa Claus. “Self-referential statements like these don’t actually have to be true or false, which resolves the paradox.”

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The liar paradox isn’t just a handy way to prove the haters wrong on Santa – it has some pretty astonishing philosophical repercussions too. Using some incredibly abstract mathematics, in the 1930s the logician Alfred Tarski tried to find a definition of “truth” that would be, as he put it, “adequate” – typically understated mathematician-speak for “irrefutable.” Instead, thanks to the liar paradox, he accidentally proved what is now called “Tarski’s theorem on the undefinability of truth,” which is, you imagine, the one thing he didn’t want to happen.)

Quantum Physics

Of course, despite all these cast-iron proofs, some scientifically uninformed individuals still find reasons to doubt the existence of Santa. One of the most common reasons given for this apostasy is, on the face of it, fairly convincing: how, people ask, could anybody deliver all those presents in one night without being seen or heard?

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Little do these doubters realize, however, that science has long known the answer to Santa’s apparently super-human courier skills – it’s simple quantum physics.

Let us explain: we already know a lot about how Santa would need to travel on Christmas Eve to get the presents to every child who expects them.

Assuming he has the good sense to travel East to West, we know not just his direction but his speed: eight hours of nighttime spread over 24 time zones gives 31 hours to complete the job. From census data, we can estimate the number of children he has to get to: around 850 million.

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That gives Santa a minimum speed of around 300,000 kilometers per second, according to science author Roger Highfield, which is pretty fast. Actually, it’s incredibly fast: at more than 6,000 times the speed of sound, Santa would be slammed back in his sleigh by forces more than 17,500 times stronger than gravity, and as for Rudolph – well, according to one calculation, at those speeds, the friction from the atmosphere would vaporize Santa’s faithful friends in less than one two-hundredth of a second, taking out more than 214,000 reindeer before the night’s work was complete.

We know, that sounds pretty grim, and hardly festive. Luckily, though, those figures contradict the facts on record – so clearly, classical mechanics doesn’t hold the answer.

But with quantum mechanics, everything falls into place.

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“In quantum mechanics, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle tells us that if we know one variable well, we cannot know the other one exactly,” explained high-energy physicist Daniel Tapia Takaki to the BBC. “We know what speed Santa will be travelling, but not his position.”

Thanks to quantum physics’ inherent unavoidable weirdness, visiting every home in one night “may be possible,” Tapia Takaki explained – it just requires that Santa be “a superposition of quantum states, in other words a collection of Santas diffused all across the planet.”

Once we know Santa obeys quantum rules rather than physical ones, it makes a lot more sense why we’ve never seen him in person. If a child happened to spot him on his mission, Tapia Takaki said, the uncertainty principle would no longer apply.

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“You would know his exact position,” he explained, “which would cause the quantum state to collapse and no more presents could be distributed.”

Cosmology

Fine, so you haven’t been convinced so far – well this proof is cast-iron. We know Santa exists for one simple reason: we can see him.

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Granted, he’s not exactly how the festive ads show him: for one thing, he’s a couple hundred trillion square kilometers big. Also, he’s something like two million degrees in temperature, which at least explains why he spends so much time hanging out at the North Pole – the man just needs to cool down.

On that note: those cottages at the North Pole and Lapland must be vacation homes, because it turns out Santa’s natural habitat is actually in the southwest corner of the Orion Nebula.

Santa, contrary to popular imagination, apparently wears blue. Image Credit: ESA

See him there? With his little hat on?

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What you’re looking at is a massive cloud of incredibly hot gas that was formed after the wind from a star forty times the mass of our own sun smashed violently into the dense gas that surrounded it. It was discovered in 2007, less than a month before Christmas – an “early present for astronomers,” as the press release from the European Space Agency said at the time.

The Orion Nebula isn’t the only festive part of the night sky. Santa’s shadow can be seen in the Tarantula Nebula – creepy crawlies need presents too, we suppose:

Santa is m a s s i v e btw. Image Credit: Hubble Telescope, NASA

This is clearly the great man’s face here in the nebula IC 2118 – yes, we know it’s technically known as the Witch Head Nebula… but look at that gigantic space face and tell us that’s not a wispy beard on the chin.

He sees you when you're sleeping... Image: NASA

Archaeology

You know, Santa wasn’t always Santa. He used to be just a regular Joe Schmo from a town which is called Demre now but used to be called Myra, in what is now Turkey.

He may have been born around 1,700 years ago, but we have more than just centuries-old stories to support his existence. Thanks to the morbid traditions of the Orthodox and Catholic churches, there are quite a few bits of bodies around the world that people claim to have come from the real-life Saint Nick, but one of them – a piece of pelvis found in a Catholic church in Illinois – may be the real deal.

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“Many relics that we study turn out to date to a period somewhat later than the historic attestation would suggest,” said archaeological scientist Tom Higham back in 2017. “This bone fragment, in contrast, suggests that we could possibly be looking at remains from St Nicholas himself.”

A bit of Saint Nick. Image Credit: T. Higham & G. Kazan

Now, you might point out that having his skeleton living in a church on the outskirts of Chicago is more an argument against Santa’s existence, but consider this: nearly half a million hip replacements are performed every year in the United States alone, and most are on people aged 60 plus. Saint Nick, according to tradition, is over 1,750 years old – so it’s not surprising in the least that the old fella might have had a bit of pelvis removed at some point.

Philosophy

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Okay, so you still don’t believe us. That’s fine. Let’s consider the alternative.

If Santa doesn’t exist, that means there’s a huge conspiracy that’s being willfully upheld by billions of people across the globe. Parents lying to their children; hundreds of movies being made about the same “imaginary” man; heck, even NORAD is engaged in this gigantic lie surrounding a jolly fat man who gives presents on Christmas. Which, when you put it like that, isn’t even that unbelievable a premise.

And to what end? All good conspiracies have an end goal – the CIA didn’t pretend vampires were real just for fun, after all, they did it to stop the commies. What would be the point of postal workers across the world accepting mail to a mythical person (and sometimes even delivering replies); what gain would researchers and news organizations get for controverting their scientific and journalistic ethics every year?

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This is where the philosophical principle known as Ockham’s Razor comes into play. In simple terms, this is the idea that we shouldn’t make things more complicated than they need to be to explain something. For instance: you flip the light switch, and the light turns on. What’s more likely to be true: that you flipping the switch turned it on, or that you flipping the switch set off a small alarm inside the wall, waking up a dormouse who runs up to the ceiling and opens a tiny chemistry lab, dons a tiny white coat, and starts mixing luminol with various substances which he then funnels down into the bulb in the light, thus illuminating the room?

So with that in mind, we ask you: what’s more likely? That the whole world is engaged in a deception?

Or that Santa is, as we promised, real?


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