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As a result of an overwhelming lack of requests, and with research help
from that renown scientific journal SPY magazine (January, 1990) - I am
pleased to present the annual scientific inquiry into Santa Claus.
1) No known species of reindeer can fly. BUT there are 300,000
species of living organisms yet to be classified, and while most of
these are insects and germs, this does not COMPLETELY rule out flying
reindeer which only Santa has ever seen.
2) There are 2 billion children (persons under 18) in the world. BUT
since Santa doesn't (appear) to handle the Muslim, Hindu, Jewish and
Buddhist children, that reduces the workload to 15% of the total - 378
million according to the Population Reference Bureau. At an average
(census) rate of 3.5 children per household, that's 91.8 million homes.
One presumes there's at least one good child in each.
3) Santa has 31 hours of Christmas to work with, thanks to the
different time zones and the rotation of the earth, assuming he travels
east to west (which seems logical). This works out to 822.6 visits per
second. This is to say that for each Christian household with good
children, Santa has 171000th of a second to park, hop out of the
sleigh, jump down the chimney, fill the stockings, distribute the
remaining presents under the tree, eat whatever snacks have been left,
get back up the chimney, get back into the sleigh and move on to the
Assuming that each of these 91.8 million stops are evenly distributed
around the earth (which, of course, we know to be false but for the
purposes of our calculations we will accept), we are now talking about
78 miles per household, a total trip of 75-1/2 million miles, not
counting stops to do what most of us must do at least once every 31
hours, plus feeding and etc.
This means that Santa's sleigh is moving at 650 miles per second, 3,000
times the speed of sound. For purposes of comparison, the fastest
man-made vehicle on earth, the Ulysses space probe, moves at a poky
27.4 miles per second - a conventional reindeer can run, tops, 15 miles
4) The payload on the sleigh adds another interesting element- assuming that
each child gets nothing more than a medium-sized lego set (2 pounds), the
sleigh is carrying 321,300 tons, not counting Santa, who is invariably
described as overweight. On land, conventional reindeer can pull no more than
300 pounds. Even granting that "flying reindeer" (see point #1) could pull TEN
TIMES the normal amount, we cannot do the job with eight, or even nine- we need
214,200 reindeer. This increases the payload - not even counting the weight of
the sleigh - to 353,430 tons. Again, for comparison - this is four times the
weight of the Queen Elizabeth.
5) 353,000 tons traveling at 650 miles per second creates enormous air
resistance - this will heat the reindeer up in the same fashion as spacecraft
re-entering the earth' s atmosphere. The lead pair of reindeer will absorb
14.3 QUINTILLION joules of energy. Per second. Each. In short, will burst
into flame almost instantaneously, exposing the reindeer behind them, and
create deafening sonic booms in their wake. The entire reindeer team will be
vaporized within 4.26 thousandths of a second. Santa, meanwhile, will be
subjected to centrifugal forces 17,500.06 times greater than gravity. A
250-pound Santa (which seems ludicrously slim) would be pinned to the back of
his sleigh by 4,315,015 pounds of force.
In conclusion - If Santa ever DID deliver presents on Christmas
Eve, he's dead now.