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Publisher's Summary

Can reindeer fly? Why is Santa Claus fat? Could scientists clone the perfect Christmas tree? Was the star of Bethlehem really a comet? Why is Rudolph's nose red? How does Santa manage to deliver presents to an estimated 842 million households in a single night? What could we do to guarantee a white Christmas every year?

These are among the questions explored in this irresistibly witty audiobook, which illuminates the cherished rituals, legends, and icons of Christmas from a unique and fascinating perspective: science.

The Physics of Christmas is also available in print from Little, Brown and Company.

Executive Producer: Jacob Bronstein
Producer: John McElroy
Cover design by John Fulbrook III
Cover illustration by John Pirman for Art Department
©1998 by Roger Highfield
(P)2002 Random House Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Enchanting...a delightful compendium." (New York Times Book Review)
"Just what the elves ordered...Highfield is the best sort of guide: he is brimming with facts, but he doesn't use them to bludgeon the mystery out of Christmas." (Newsweek)
"Excellent entertainment for the Christmas connoisseurs in your circle." (USA Today)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall
  • Tara
  • crooksville, OH, United States
  • 03-11-08

close but no banana

Good book but really focuses more on the anthropological standpoints in Christmas than physics.
I had been expecting something a bit more like the physics of what it would take for Santa to go around the world in one night - this really wasn't covered.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Anne
  • Evans, GA, USA
  • 02-08-04

I put my tree up to the sound of this book!

This was very fun and interesting. The science was presented in a fun manner that should appeal to most people.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

80% Physics, 20% Christmas

My expectation was that there was going to be more "Christmas" in this book. There are some interesting explanations but it reads more like the physics of things in general with Christmas sprinkled in as a loose narrative to connect it all together. The author gets high marks for effort, but low marks for execution.

  • Overall
  • Laura
  • Cincinnati, OH, USA
  • 04-23-07

A lot of fun

A lot of fun facts, in amusing prose and read in a lively way, about Christmas and its various tropes.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

More history than science

Best for those who find history fascinating. Could also use much more humor (in my opinion). Otherwise, an OK audiobook. Not much else to say.

3 of 12 people found this review helpful