Clausotechnolometry: the study of the technology of Santa

A couple of Christmases ago I wrote about aerotarandusdynamics: the study of flying reindeer. In passing, I mentioned their mysterious master, one “Santa Claus.”

Now scientists are studying him, too, trying to understand the advanced technology this “jolly old elf” (as one authority describes him) uses yearly in his Christmas crusade. These scientists are “clausotechnolometrists.”

New Age types claim Santa Claus uses magic, but of course there’s no such thing. However, as writer Arthur C. Clarke put it, “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

Consider Claus’s ability to maintain year-round surveillance on all the world’s children. As the seminal paper on the subject states, Santa “sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake, he knows when you are bad or good…” But how?

Satellites, of course. In the last few years we’ve developed satellites capable of reading a license plate from orbit. Santa Claus has had them for centuries. A powerful computer scans incoming data for those actions Claus deems “good” or “bad.” Infrared sensors, which pick up body heat, can give a pretty good idea of what’s going on even inside a house, and anyway, Claus has ample opportunity every Christmas Eve to plant listening devices and miniature cameras. When the time comes to plan deliveries, Claus simply asks the computer to print out a list of those boys and girls whose good deeds outweigh their bad.

Claus, clausotechnolometrists postulate, must be an extraordinary scientific genius who constructed computers and launched rockets while most of humanity still used abacuses and shot arrows into the air that fell to earth they knew not where. All available data support this notion. For example, Claus has been around for centuries, which means he must also be a medical genius who has discovered how to halt aging. (One prominent clausotechnolometrist contends that Claus’s extended life is an illusion, that, since the first, or “primary” Claus, there have been many “subordinate” Clauses of ordinary lifespan. This theory has gained little support except among grammarians.)

Another point: Santa Claus flies around the world in a single night, delivering presents to every home. At first this seems impossible, but a new theory based on a recent episode of Star Trek may explain it. Quantum physics allows for an infinite number of “alternate” worlds, co-existing with this one in different dimensions. In some of these alternate worlds, Christmas is undoubtedly celebrated on different days. The “Infinitive Claus” theory suggests that millions of Clauses from these alternate worlds help out here on our Christmas Eve, and our Claus helps out in their worlds on their Christmases. (This could also explain all those shopping-mall Santas…)

Then there are the flying reindeer. It seems likely their various mutations–the broad, flat antlers that provide lift, the internal methane gasbags, the padded feet designed for giving traction on icy roofs–are the result of genetic manipulation, further proof of Claus’s scientific ingenuity. (Some scientists speculate that Claus’s workforce of “elves” is also the result of genetic engineering…)

There’s also Claus’s ability to slide down chimneys or find his way through locked doors. The chimney-sliding feat, most scientists feel, is easily explained: Claus’s red suit is made of a slippery Teflon-like synthetic. Claus’s ability to open locked doors suggests to some cynics a criminal past, but more likely he has a powerful magnetic or sonic device, sort of a “sonic screwdriver,” as Doctor…Doctor…Who was that doctor?…well, some doctor or other…has suggested.

There are many clausotechnolometrical questions for which there are not even theories. How does Claus fit so many toys into one bag? How can he possibly eat all those milk and cookies? How does he power and heat his North Pole workshop, feed all those reindeer and elves, and hide everything from the prying eyes of aircraft, satellites and the occasional dogsled?

And finally, there’s the biggest question of all: where does Santa Claus come from? A recent theory, now gaining credibility, is that Santa Claus is an alien from an advanced civilization that has taken a benevolent interest in our Earth. Maybe he didn’t invent all that technology–maybe he just brought it with him.

Like aerotarandusdynamics, clausotechnolometry is in its infancy. But it has powerful government support, which means that, unlike aerotarandusdynamicists, clausotechnolometrists suffer no shortage of funds. The military, in particular, would love to get hold of Claus’s bag of tricks.

Those who worry about such things, however, have little to worry about in this case. The more we study clausotechnolometry, the more we realize that Santa Claus’s technological ability really is “indistinguishable from magic.”

I think the “jolly old elf” can take care of himself.

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