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Wow: Look at that nasal heat exchange!
Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Why is Rudolph's nose red? Vascular regulation of nasal heat exchange, of course 

The ever-wonderful Improbable.com blog has a link to a paper that asks what mechanism could make Rudolph's nose glow so bright.

The exceptional physical burden of flying with a sleigh with Santa Claus as a heavy load could have caused cerebral and bodily hyperthermia, resulting in an overworked nasal cooling mechanism that resembles an overheated cooling radiator in a car: Rudolph suffered from hyperemia of the nasal mucosa (a red nose) under more extreme heat loads during flight with a sleigh.

This is, however, flawed, because the song clearly says that Rudolph's nose was red even when not pulling the sleigh - otherwise, the other reindeer wouldn't have laughed and called him names.

Nonetheless, check it out here. Maybe it's time for me to dig up my annual column calculating the square footage of Santa's workshop, incorporating OSHA regulations and the Americans with Disability Act.