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Scientists Marvel at Santa's Stamina
Date:12/24/2007

As another Christmas Day approaches, they speculate how he jolly well does it

MONDAY, Dec. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Circling the globe in an airborne sleigh, slipping down millions of chimneys, bulging sacks in tow -- how does Santa Claus do it every year?

Scientists everywhere south of the North Pole have pondered that question for years. And nowhere is it more hotly debated than at the Santa Institute, a special think-tank based at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, in Jackson.

The institute is perhaps most famous for unveiling its "Naughty or Nice" detector back in 2005 -- a silver headset inspired by St. Nick's uncanny ability to separate good kids (and grown-ups) from the not-so-good when doling out presents.

Doctors at the Santa Institute discovered the mechanism after performing Santa Claus Emission Tomography (SCET) on the jolly old man's brain (he cheerfully volunteered when visiting the center).

They discovered that Santa has a special part of his brain that lights up when a child is nice but another area that activates when naughtiness comes near. Based on the Santa discovery, the institute's scientists developed a silver, wireless headset to help ordinary humans figure out who deserves what under the tree.

So, how is the machine -- now upgraded to Naughty or Nice 3.0 -- doing two Christmases later?

So far, it "seems to be working OK," said developer Dr. David J. Dzielak, UMC associate vice chancellor for strategic research alliances and head Santa scientist.

But, he said, the device still has some bugs.

"One thing that is becoming clear is that the detector seems to function better when testing children than when testing adults. When adults get tested, it seems to get stuck in the 'naughty' mode," Dzielak said.

In fact, all of the young students who met with Santa earlier this month at UMC tested "nice," with only their t
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