Sleighing Santa With Science

I break into a cold sweat around this time of year. For me at least, Christmas represents a morphing of social, cultural, religious, and consumerstic psychosis, wrapped in narcissism and tied with ribbons of expectation, contradiction and excitement. It is a potent combination and one that is set to stay for some time yet, so those of us who feel like the ‘festive’ season is more like a festering sore season need to find ways to cope because to be outed as anti Christmas is rapidly becoming less acceptable than wearing crocs to a wedding.

I’ve also been pondering the dilemma’s parents face when the Santa subject inevitably comes up. Parents are entitled to a short window of blackmail each year. What better way to emotionally manipulate small children into complying that to threaten the potential for complete rejection from big red himself. In a world rapidly running out of a love of mystery and the unknown, where imagination and the realm of folk-law is being eradicated by the insatiable rationalistic machinations of science, we have a curious opportunity as a culture to blend some of the new sciences such as quantum physics with these colourful patchwork rituals that seem to be permanently sewn into our collective consciousness.

This is not to say I am an expert in quantum physics (people get pretty zealous when it comes to stating an ‘understanding’ of this kind of knowledge). However it is hard to ignore the allure of some of its more popular concepts that have become fodder for life coaches and gurus world wide espousing the power of ‘manifestation’. But with science making the quantum world more available as a backdrop for conversations, where time and space can be overcome and reality is ever unfolding, we can make some tentative connections to the role of consciousness and the observable world. Rational, logical, empiricist parents may now safely enter the Santa conversation armed with scientific back up! Here are a couple of simple explanations exploiting BASIC quantum physics:

Schrodingers Santa – This is based loosely on the experiment conducted by Erwin Schrodinger about the relationship between the location of particles and consciousness which has spawned the somewhat macabre obsession with killing cats…perhaps Gareth Morgan is related. Anyway Schrodingers Cat: Very simply cat is in a box, there is something deadly in the box with the cat (gunpowder or poisonous gas…depending on choice of death…ethics were a little different in the 1930’s) the fate of the cat is tied in with the observer, the cat is both alive and dead until the box is opened…or something close to that (plenty of Youtube videos willing to explain it to you much better than I can). So here is my Santa version, as he comes down the chimney this is ‘the box’ and upon waking in the morning ‘naughty or nice’ will be decided by what is under the tree. So this means that santa list is only valid until the moment of waking in the morning – all possibilities exist until children wake up. It means being able to extend the ‘be good or else’ hold for so much longer.

Santas special sleigh – if time and space can be overcome through manipulating wormholes or creating star gates of sorts then it is possible for Santa to cover the entire world in one night because he would have the power to time travel. The sleigh would be for show and the santa sack would be a quantum field of infinite depth where all presents would fit. Anti-gravity technology fits the sleigh and the reindeer of course could stay as part of the picture as he doesn’t want to leave a carbon footprint…just a snowy one.

The awkward conundrum for those in the southern hemisphere is the seasonal issue. Explaining why Santa is dressed in a coat and is dressed for the snow is kind of hard in the middle of summer. The fact that Santa is based at the North Pole could mean that he needs to stay cold so has built a force field around the sleigh to keep him feeling at home. Having said that, the capricious nature of NZ summers means it could be snowing in the South Island at Christmas.

So there are a couple of possibilities to get people started. I will continue to remain proudly detached from Christmas as a whole, but I respect those who have particular rituals, and beliefs that add to the significance of this time of year. My wish this year is for people to think beyond presents to presence and make the most of the connections and love with all things.

No cats were harmed in the writing of this blog…yet…just be mindful if they are playing in boxes.

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