Engineering Prof Explains the Science Behind Santa

December 15, 2009
By Chris Richter


Got a doubting six-year-old? Or a little one who really wants to know how Santa Claus makes it to everyone’s house in a single night? Larry Silverberg, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, can help you explain it all, from the bag that serves as an on-site toy factory to the state-of-the-art sleigh:

“The truss of the sleigh, including the runners, are made of a honeycombed titanium alloy that is very lightweight and 10 to 20 times stronger than anything we can make today,” Silverberg says. The truss can also morph, Silverberg adds, altering its shape slightly to improve its aerodynamics and “allowing it to cut through the air more efficiently. The runners on the sleigh, for example, have some flexure. This allows them to tuck in to be more aerodynamic during flight, and then spread out to provide stability for landing on various surfaces – such as steeply pitched roofs.”

And make sure you check out Young Silverbell, Silverberg’s Young Frankenstein spoof explaining the science of Santa (featuring a cameo by Tom O’Brien).

(Image courtesy of NC State Web Communications)


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