The Reason Rudolph's Nose Is So Bright
Lots of blood vessels, researchers explain
By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff
Posted Dec 24, 2012 1:08 PM CST
Updated Dec 24, 2012 3:27 PM CST
Rudolph is shown in a screenshot from   (

(Newser) – Everyone knows Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer has "a very shiny nose" that even, some might say, "glows." But why? A new—and, The Local notes, tongue-in-cheek—investigation explains. Researchers in Norway and the Netherlands compared reindeer noses to human noses and found that reindeer have 25% more blood vessels in their nasal lining, which help control body temperature—an important task when you're flying all around the globe in a single evening. Researchers had reindeer walk on a treadmill, and observed that afterward, "they do indeed have red noses," MedPage Today reports.

"Rudolph's nose is red because it is richly supplied with red blood cells, comprises a highly dense microcirculation, and is anatomically and physiologically adapted for reindeer to carry out their flying duties for Santa Claus," say the researchers. They also estimated that in order to get Christmas presents to everybody on time, Rudolph would have to lead Santa's team at 650 miles per second—a speed that would vaporize them, unless Rudolph could protect them with an ion shield.

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Arthur Machado
Dec 26, 2015 8:30 AM CST
650 miles per second is 2,340,000 miles per hour, which is 100 times escape velocity (which is 100 times the speed of the Apollo moon shots and about 150 tmes the speed of the space shuttle) the biggest problem is keeping from shooting off into space. Rudolph would need some kind of downward thruster. Furthermore, at sea level it isn't ions you need to shield, it is radiant and conduction heat caused by drag. Rudolph would need a ceramic mirrored surface to deflect the radiant heat and some kind of lightweight insulator, like aerogel (sometimes called liquid smoke). He'd also need some way to collect and disburse this heat to keep from burning all the homes and forests he flew over. Maybe a super cooled refrigeration system with the heat sink above the atmosphere. Or, he could just use magic. Because, "Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.
Dec 29, 2012 8:06 AM CST
w.c. fields nose was brighter
Dec 25, 2012 4:20 AM CST
"Rudolph's nose is red because it is richly supplied with red blood cells, comprises a highly dense microcirculation ..." You're describing rosacea. Just sayin'.