Remembering Jessica’s question

Dec. 20, 2019
by Mark Ollig

“Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?”

In 1897, 8-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor of the New York Sun newspaper asking this question.

In 2008, a young person named Jessica sent me an email asking, “Does Santa Claus use a computer?”

My mother very much enjoyed reading the answer I provided to Jessica. So, in her memory, I am republishing (with a few modifications) the column from Dec. 22, 2008.

Alright, Jessica, just for you, I emailed my list of North Pole contacts and found one elf who agreed to investigate your question.

The name of this helpful elf is Finarfin Elendil, who, during the offseason, is a freelance journalist with the North Pole Frosty newspaper.

He informed me the jolly older man with the white beard and familiar laugh is indeed very computer savvy.

It turns out Santa Claus manages the “Claus Computer Center” (CCC) supercomputer, which is hidden under the North Pole’s primary toy-making factory.

Finarfin Elendil reports the CCC maintains his primary sleigh-command and toy-making facilities.

The CCC uses an advanced quantum computer to assist Santa in processing every child’s Christmas wish-list.

This computer incorporates a massively-integrated optical-fiber parallel light-switching bus architecture for processing the data generated by eight 500-qubit processors.

I sometimes wonder if Santa magically performed reverse-engineering using advanced extraterrestrial technology from Area 51.

Jessica, just to let you know, if you ask Santa about the CCC, he will likely not want to talk about it, or admit it exists.

The CCC is a bit like NASA’s Mission Control Space Center.

Instead of a Saturn V rocket or a space shuttle, Santa’s mode of travel at Christmas time is in his special airborne sled, code-named Sleigh-One.

Sleigh-One is more than just your average flying wooden toboggan – there is an on-board mini-computer Santa uses to obtain statistical sleigh-positioning and telemetry data.

A 3-dimensional holographic display on Sleigh-One shows Global Positioning System (GPS) data.

Another status monitor shows the MPR (Miles per Reindeer) efficiency.

Sleigh-One is powered by the magic of Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Blitzen, Dunder, and Blixem.

And because of his bright and shiny red nose, Rudolph, the “Red-Nosed Reindeer,” has been designated by Santa as “Reindeer One,” and guides his mighty sleigh around the world on Christmas.

Sleigh-One also includes a few cup-holders that he and Mrs. Claus (when traveling with Santa) use for storing the eggnog – Santa thinks of everything!

Sleigh-One receives telemetry data from the CCC to instantly map and compute the coordinates for every rooftop fireplace in the world he needs to climb down.

Finarfin Elendil said if the home has no chimney, Santa’s computer will automatically run the “back door” software program to deliver the presents.

As a child during this time of year, my favorite Christmas TV special was “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” which first aired in 1964.

No doubt, many of you have watched this Christmas classic.

A major snowstorm hit the North Pole on Christmas Eve. Santa realized he would not be able to drive his reindeer sleigh through it, so he was going to cancel Christmas.

However, Santa realized Rudolph’s bright red nose would, as Santa said, “. . . cut through the murkiest storm they can dish up.”

Santa: “Ready, Rudolph?”

Rudolph: “Ready, Santa!”

Santa: “Well, let’s be on our way. OK, Rudolph. Full power!”

And now, I digress back to Jessica’s column.

Finarfin Elendil provided the following in his report.

The North Pole’s supercomputer verified the number of households in the United States at 129 million, including 79.2 million families. Santa will be very busy on Christmas Eve delivering presents.

The world’s population is nearly 8 billion.

The earth’s radius is 3,959 miles and has a surface area of 197 million square miles.

Further calculations reveal an average distance of 1.65 miles between homes.

For Sleigh-One to deliver all the Christmas presents over 24 hours throughout the entire world, Santa and the reindeer travel at an average cruising speed of 5,080,000 miles per hour.

Finarfin Elendil told the story of when Dasher asked Santa if the sleigh could go faster than the speed of light.

Santa said if he went that fast, the red light-beam from Rudolph’s nose would bend around and shine behind the sleigh instead of in front of it.

He also said going that fast might cause them to travel back in time and deliver presents before Christmas.

Well, Jessica, I hope you have a Merry Christmas and found this story fun to read; I sure enjoyed writing it.

“Christmas” comes from the Old English phrase, “Cristes maesse,” which means “Christ’s Mass.”

Dec. 25 is the day when Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas.

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