Question:At Christmastime, Santa can get so busy his head spins. Making matters worse, his house sits right on the North Pole. Why is this worse, and which direction does Santa's front door face anyhow?

Answer: As the Earth turns, different points at different latitudes trace out larger or smaller circles through the day — roughly 25,000 miles at the equator, or just over 1,000 miles per hour rotational speed, lesser circles and speeds moving toward the poles, say Arthur Upgren and Jurgen Stock in "Weather: How It Works and Why It Matters."

By the time you get to Santa's place, it's not tracing out a circle at all but turning on a dot, spinning around completely in the course of 24 hours, with a speed of zero. So "Santa Claus's house just rotates on itself, with every window (and door) facing south all the time."

A truly dizzying Yuletide thought. And here's another: What is Santa's house sitting on, poses Pennsylvania State University geoscientist Richard B. Alley. There is a big ocean out there. If his house is on the sea bed, that's fine. If it is on the sea ice, well, it is drifting across the Arctic Ocean and won't be at the North Pole much longer.

When a drill ship recently cored into the sea floor not far from the North Pole, they took along some icebreakers to run interference; as the ice drifted up, the breakers broke the ice to keep it away. "So maybe Santa has a fleet of icebreakers to keep the ice from sweeping his anchored-and-floating house away."


Send STRANGE questions to brothers Bill and Rich at strangetrue@compuserve.com, coauthors of "Can a Guy Get Pregnant? Scientific Answers to Everyday (and Not-So- Everyday) Questions," from Pi Press.