On the latest episode of It's Okay To Be Smart, host Joe Hanson delves into the science behind a number of Christmas-related science quandaries. Including: Why do the lights always tangle? What's makes reindeers noses red? And what could let Santa visit every child in one night?
It's December and December means reindeer science. It turns out that reindeer actually prefer keeping their distance from people. Good luck hitching them to a sleigh.
In addition to being one of the more unlikely string of words you've heard this week, this aerial video of reindeer-herding shot by a hexacopter camera drone is surprisingly serene and relaxing. Watching it feels a little like tending a rock garden with your brain.
When you get hundreds of reindeers together and try to move them around, they turn into one gigantic sentient-seeming swarm that spins around together. This footage, taken from above with a drone by photographer Jan Helmer Olsen, shows the stunning spirals that are created when herding reindeers. It's got to be…
Finland is a dangerous place for reindeer to be in the winter. In a place where it's dark most of the day, these beasts blend in with their surroundings, making it hard for drivers to see them. So Finnish herders are getting creative.
Dogs and cats are adorable creatures by day, but under the cover of night their eyes seem to shine like demon spawn. That's the work of the light-reflecting tapetum lucidum, a layer of tissue that sits right behind the retina. As it turns out, that same tapetum lucidum just might be responsible for turning reindeer…
It might not be bright red, but Rudolph's nose really does go glow. These thermal images of reindeer acquired by scientists show that Santa's flying friends have incredibly warm noses.
Reindeer might seem like mythical beasts that make an annual holiday appearance only to disappear back into some magical North Pole night—but the big-horned mammals are very real and, for centuries, they've been herded by the Sami people who live year-round in arctic-adjacent Lapland. French photographer Celine Clanet…
Hey it's almost Christmas so we're feeling festive around here. We're loving these DIY Rudolph Lunar Guidance Modules.
Via the always-excellent Annals of Improbable Research come not one, but two, studies (both of them Dutch... make of that what you will) on possible physiological explanations for Rudolph's ruby schnoz.
Yesterday we discussed the horrors of the Russian drug krokodil. This flesh-eating heroin-like substance may seem like the most nightmarish of all nightmares, but there are plenty of other toxic (and just plain grody) substances out there, ready to be consumed for no good reason. Here are 10 more intoxicating things…
This carving may not look like much, but it's possibly the oldest art ever found in Britain. The rock art appears to depict a reindeer with a spear sticking out of it. Hunter-gathers did tend to carve what they knew.
There's a reason that certain wavelengths are known as "visible" light, because those are the wavelengths that humans and most animals even remotely like us can see. But one mammal can see in ultraviolet light...and it's all because of snow.
A close-up image of a blood vessel in the brain shows a picture that looks amazingly like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Seriously, there's the antlers, the tail, and even the famous glowing red nose.
What if Rudolph were reimagined as an evil, metallic minifig?
The December 22, 1900 Duluth Evening Herald (Duluth, MN) ran this illustration of the 20th Century Santa who, naturally, uses a flying machine. Those poor reindeer, now out of work, have been replaced by machines.
KRISS KRINGLE UP-TO-DATE
No old-fashioned reindeer for him - he skims over house tops in a flying…