The cool tech behind Kris Kringle's sleigh

It won’t be too long now before Santa makes his annual trek around the world, dropping off iPhones, Chromebooks, and all manner of gadgets for those of us who made the “good” list this year. But have you ever stopped to consider the tech behind this effort? Let’s set aside for a moment the sheer magnitude of the supply-side logistics. We know, for example, that iPhones are designed in California but made in Asia. So how do they get to the North Pole in time for Santa’s trip?

Digging through the North Carolina State University site archives, we learn a bit more about the technology powering Kris Kringle. Bottom line: he’s way ahead of us.

“Santa is using technologies that we are not yet able to recreate in our own labs,” explains Dr. Larry Silverberg, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering who just completed a six month visiting-scholar program at Santa’s Workshop-North Pole Labs (SW-NPL). “As the first scholar to participate in the SW-NPL program, I learned that we have a long way to go to catch up with Santa in fields ranging from aerodynamics and thermodynamics to materials science.”

So now we get down to the cutting-edge nuts and bolts of the sleigh. It’s thought that Santa’s current next-gen ride had an assist from people like the Air Force, the DOD, NSA, and three-letter-named groups we don’t even know about. Rumors were that Bill Gates and the late Steve Jobs were locked in a fierce off-the-books battle to provide the OS, and what Santa went with is unknown to this day, although pundits think it’s a Linux setup.

It goes without saying that Santa has some serious horsepower under the hood — the reindeer are mainly just for show and those of us old enough to remember the 1960s Rudolph special, though it’s believed that their antlers are coated with some type of radar-reflective material. Santa must have some stealth capability, otherwise those pesky air force planes from around the world would be dogging him from Thailand to Tennessee.

And while Santa is a jolly old elf, his ride has to come with some type of defensive weaponry in the event of trouble. Counter measures to throw off the scent of surface fired missiles in some hostile countries, for example. And GPS is a given.

As always, the numbers determine whether this is realistic or not. Let’s take a peek at some data as seen in The Telegraph. If Santa has to fly 510,000,000 km on Christmas Eve and has, say, 32 hours to get ‘er done, that means he’s traveling at 10,703,437.5 kph — or 1,800 miles per second, all night long. This is assuming he never stops. So add in some type of deployment system. A heatshield is necessary, since when you are moving that fast, friction gets a bit tricky. And then you have to factor in the sheer tonnage of the toys. Rumors are that a secret MIT skunkworks took 10 years to crunch the numbers (“Operation Golden Flight”) to get the proper thrust-to-weight ratio. And while warp drive has traditionally been something only Scotty can deliver on board the Enterprise, a Stardust Antimatter Propulsion Unit has real potential.

Realistically, we’re thinking that Mr. Kringle must have some Amazon Prime side deal to take care of these orders. The Telegraph also noted that Santa will need to wrap 3.7 billion packages (and then haul ‘em all) so the Amazon thing makes sense. Or maybe there are a fleet of sleighs, and he contracts out some body doubles?


Apple opens up about its self-driving car program in letter to NHTSA

Apple has traditionally kept details about its self-driving car technology under wraps, but it has revealed details about the program in a rare instance of openness. The company takes safety seriously.
Home Theater

Get the most boom for your buck with the best headphones under $100

Everybody wants a bargain, and this list has a bunch. For those looking for a solid set of headphones without spending a big stack of cash, this list is is your starting point. Check out our picks for the best headphones under $100.

2020 GMC Acadia toughens up on the outside, gets smarter on the inside

The 2020 GMC Acadia crossover gets styling updates and a more rugged AT4 trim level. Under the skin, the Acadia sports a new turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a wider array of tech features.

Keep your MacBook safe and dry with an Under Armour backpack for under $50

Under Armour is having a huge sale this weekend to help you on your quest for a better backpack. The UA Outlet Exclusive sale is going on now through Monday, February 18th, offering great discounts on stormproof backpacks.
Emerging Tech

DeepSqueak is a machine learning A.I. that reveals what rats are chatting about

Want to know what rats are squeaking about? You'd better check out DeepSqueak, the new deep learning artificial intelligence developed by researchers at the University of Washington.
Health & Fitness

Immune cell discovery takes us one step closer to a universal flu vaccine

A group of international researchers have made a discovery which could take us one step closer to the universal, one-shot flu vaccine that people around the world have been dreaming of.

NASA celebrates Earth’s incredible natural beauty with free photo book

NASA has published a fabulous new book featuring stunning imagery captured by its satellites over the years. A hardback version is available for $53, though it can also be downloaded to ebook readers for free, and enjoyed online.

This new all-in-one flashlight is a power bank, lighter, and screwdriver

The Pyyros modular flashlight can perform numerous field tasks, from hammering to starting fires. If you back it on Kickstarter now, you can score some savings on this innovative flashlight and multi-tool, but act fast: This early-bird…
Movies & TV

Hilarious new Kickstarter aims to fix Scorcese’s last scene in The Departed

A fan of The Departed and apparent hater of rat-as-symbolism imagery has launched a Kickstarter campaign to digitally erase the rodent from the end of Martin Scorsese’s 2006 movie.
Emerging Tech

Baristas beware, Bbox cafe uses robots to brew your morning coffee

Want your morning coffee and pastry prepared by robot? Bbox, a new coffee shop in downtown Berkeley, California, lets customers place their order by app and then uses automation to take care of the rest.
Emerging Tech

This ridiculous new flamethrower makes Elon Musk’s look like a cigarette lighter

The XL18 Flamethrower is a flame-shooting beast on steroids, capable of firing off bursts of flame more than 110 feet in length. The best part? You can order it over the internet today.
Emerging Tech

SpaceX just nailed its most challenging Falcon 9 rocket landing to date

If you've been following the SpaceX launch calendar, you know this week marks the first launch from Cape Canaveral in two months. We have the details on where you can watch the launch live.
Emerging Tech

Touchdown! Japan successfully lands its Hayabusa2 spacecraft on asteroid Ryugu

Japan's space agency has just completed the latest stage of its extraordinarily complex mission, successfully landing its Hayabusa2 spacecraft on an asteroid millions of miles from Earth.
Emerging Tech

Delivery drones: NASA to test advanced traffic control system for cities

Delivery drone services are edging closer as NASA prepares to demonstrate its advanced drone traffic management system, which it claims offers safe and effective control of autonomous aircraft in urban areas.