Festive Science

(December 22nd, 2016) At the future Centre of Excellence for Santa Claus Research, four Norwegian scientists revealed Santa's undercover identity and the relationship between him, his subordinates and the children he visits.

“It is well known that Santa Claus quite often finds the time to enjoy some holiday punch in the homes he visits, and this leaves small traces of DNA on the goblets he drinks from. We have been able to obtain several samples of this genetic material and analyse it. It turns out that Santa is genetically related to suspiciously many of the kids he visits!” Gaute Einevoll, brain scientist and Santa Claus researcher reveals.

It's known that a lot of children are struggling with post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) after seeing Santa kissing their mother. But: Is it possible that Santa goes further than just kissing? Is he really a sexual predator? Is he grabbing attractive mothers around the world you-know-where, just because he can? “Yes, I can see what you are thinking, and you are absolutely right. We can’t rule out the possibility that Donald Trump is Santa Claus. It seems like Santa is exploiting his status as a celebrity in order to commit sexual assaults on innocent women. This reminds us of things that became public under the recent US election campaign”, whispers Anders Hafreager, another Santa Claus researcher.

On the other hand: It is not completely certain that Santa has exclusively malicious reasons for disguising himself as Donald Trump. “Consider the famous Superman, who has perfected the art of having a secret identity as camouflage in order to perform his important work. Superman's solution is to dress up as the bespectabled and boring reporter Clark Kent. It is obvious that also Santa Claus needs an undercover identity. If not, he couldn’t find the time to produce all the gifts that he distributes during Christmas. I mean, Santa would be bogged down by countless requests for interviews all year long, but nobody really wants to talk to Donald Trump”, says Hjort. “This is brilliant! Santa Claus couldn’t possibly choose a better undercover identity than an American reality television celebrity who only says mean things!”, Einevoll adds.

But if this is so, how can Einevoll’s analyses of Santa’s DNA show that the subordinate santas are genetically related to the children they visit? The four researchers confirm, whispering, that the explanation is mildly startling: The subordinates are probably Santa's children, while the children who receive gifts are mostly Santa’s grandchildren. (Please don’t tell this to anyone. The scientists are not prepared to go public with this new knowledge, for fear of provoking angry reactions from a lot of gullible fathers around the world.)

The Santa Claus scientists at the University of Oslo have made great scientific progress in 2016, but they have also experienced a couple of setbacks. The biggest disappointment came when Santa didn’t come to a planned seminar in December. Instead, he copied Bob Dylan’s response to becoming a Nobel Prize laureate in literature and refrained from even responding to the invitation. The second big disappointment was that the Norwegian Research Council rejected the application to become a Centre of Excellent Santa Claus Research. “Instead, they referred us to the Council’s scheme for Centres for Research-based Innovation. We are at present working on a new application”, says Rose. “The Research Council said that we must have an innovative industry partner, so we naturally contacted Donald Trump. He hasn’t responded yet”, informs Einevoll.

In this situation, facing a bunch of sceptical bureaucrats in the Norwegian Research Council, it is a good thing to have Nils Lid Hjort on the team. He is namely grandson of the famous Norwegian ethnologist Nils Lid, who already in 1933 documented Santa's existence in the groundbreaking work "Jolesveinar and grøderikdomsgudar" ("Yule Lads and Fertility Gods”). Moreover, he is a member of a European Research Council panel with the ability to overrule irresponsible decisions in the Norwegian Research Council. “We have to admit that there is a lot of skepticism out there. The Norwegian Research Council has stated clearly that we must prove Santa's existence before we can get funding for our new research Centre. It's absolutely shocking to see what some people may believe or disbelieve”, Hjort sighs. “However, we don’t really expect this to become a problem, because we can also prove Santa's existence by referring to several legendary stories in early editions of Donald Duck”, adds Hjort.

The four Santa Claus scientists are now writing a strategy for the further research in 2017, with the Research Council’s funding as a given prerequisite. This is not only about Santa's relationship but about something much bigger: The national and global kindness. “I have for many years been concerned with the issue of nice children: Where is the limit that separates nice children from the naughty ones? Do we have enough nice children in Norway? I am not so sure, and it is plausible that we need a certain amount of nice children – a critical mass – if Santa Claus will bother about swinging by Norway at Christmas. The good news is that the famous American physicist and string theorist John Hagelin has calculated that we don’t need that many nice children”, says Hjort – and continues: “Hagelin has a very interesting theory which says that the number of kind people in a community needs to be larger than the square root of 1 percent of the population, because this will lead to the spreading of kindness in the population. This is a result of Hagelin’s investigations at the Maharishi University of Management.”

The Norwegian population amounts to 5,1 million, and one percent of this is obviously only 51,000. The professors Hjort and Einevoll agree that the square root of 51,000 is quite small: Norway only needs 226 kind people, of all ages, in order for kindness to spread out and become a dominant force in the society. “Obviously, the necessary quantity of nice children is even less than 226. I guess that 100 children should be enough”, Hjort says. “We must therefore ensure that Norway – and every other country that wants to be a force for good – maintains a critical mass of kindness, among both children and adults. This will be a priority area for the activities of the Centre for Research-driven Santa Claus Innovation (CRESCI) in 2017: How can we design a method for developing kindness in a sustainable way? It is obviously not enough to be kind to your grandmother from time to time: You should instead be nice and kind constantly, in a conscious and concentrated effort”, summarises Hjort.

Adapted from the University of Oslo

Lab Times wishes everyone Happy Holidays and an even Happier New Year. We will be back in 2017.

Photo: www.publicdomainpictures.net/kai Stachowiak

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