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Christmas Science

"’Santa is using technologies that we are not yet able to recreate in our own labs,’ explains North Carolina State University's 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.’ For example, Silverberg says that Santa's sleigh is far more advanced than any modern form of air transportation. ‘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.’”
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