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How Santa's Sleigh Works

Sleigh Technology

santa's sleigh
Santa's sleigh is a state-of-the-art marvel of modern engineering. HowStuffWorks

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Rustic on the outside and state-of-the-art on the inside, Santa's sleigh would have to be a marvel in engineering. Let's break down the main components of St. Nick's sleigh that we think he'd need to get across the world in one night.

The Sleigh's Interior

Based on films and illustrations, Santa's sleigh looks charming, though antiquated, but we suspect it's way more cutting-edge than he lets on. Think about it — doesn't it make sense that Santa's elves would have adopted an "autopilot" system that would give any Tesla a run for its money? The North Pole crew might call it something different, but rest assured that Santa's sleigh is almost certainly equipped with the most advanced autonomous, self-flying technology out there.

If we were the team in charge of Santa's safety, we'd equip the sleigh with a special blind spot monitoring system specifically designed to alert Santa and the reindeer to the presence of aircraft and large birds. (Santa has to remain hidden, obviously.) The sleigh's typical rearview camera would also get an upgrade, and it's likely designed to scan in every direction to ensure Santa's path is always clear for takeoff and landing. This system would most likely even be aided by thermal imaging cameras so the sleigh can automatically steer away from other airborne obstacles.

The sleigh's dashboard is likely be dominated by Santa's own GPS navigator so the elves could map out Santa's millions of stops well before Christmas Eve, just to make sure Santa doesn't miss anyone. The sleigh definitely has a built-in "Naughty-or-Nice" sensor that keeps Santa updated on children's activities, right down to the last minute. This is important, as even the most minor of naughty deeds committed within the final few hours of Dec. 24 can determine whether children get what's on their gift list or they instead receive shiny lumps of coal.

A speedometer on the sleigh's dashboard allows Santa to monitor his flying speeds, and a state-of-the-art radio keeps him in constant touch with Mrs. Claus and the team in the North Pole. They send him minute-to-minute updates on local weather reports and toy inventory.

Transdimensional Present Compartment (The Bag)

When it comes to Santa's toy bag, you're probably wondering how he fits all of those presents into one bag. Think of a transdimensional present compartment in the form of a traditional gift sack. As in Santa's toy bag as we know it really acts as a portal between the sleigh and the North Pole. However, we'd also like to think that Santa may have harnessed the power of nanotechnology and found a way to miniaturize millions of presents into one large bag. But this information remains unconfirmed.

The Stardust Antimatter Propulsion Unit

We suspect that Santa's sleigh incorporates a stardust antimatter propulsion unit for power, and that's still a very real possibility. Here's how it would work.

Antimatter is the opposite of regular matter — the mirror image of normal particles that make up everything we can see or touch. The big draw to antimatter is the amount of energy it helps create. When antimatter and matter come into contact, they annihilate each other — breaking apart into tons of smaller particles — and 100 percent of their masses convert into energy.

Although antimatter propulsion rockets are mainly used in science-fiction shows to allow spaceships to travel at warp speed, the possibility of designing one is very real — NASA is currently developing one that would get us to Mars within a matter of weeks [source: NASA].

Now, we have reason to believe Santa's clever elves would have figured out a way to combine this kind of stardust antimatter propulsion unit with an electric motor, for a high-tech, one-of-a-kind hybrid powertrain. Why, you might ask? It simply makes sense. If Santa knows who's naughty and nice, Santa certainly also knows that electric vehicles are the way of the future. He's just doing his part to try to prevent global warming from melting the North Pole.

Keep reading to learn how Santa stays comfortable during the busiest night of his year.

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