IS THERE A SANTA CLAUS?
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 cihldren, that reduces the workload to to 15% of the total -
378 million according to 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 seemes logical). This works out to 822.6 visits
per second. This is to say that for each Christian household with good
children, Santa has 1/1000th 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
next house. 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 per
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 travelling at 650 miles per second creates enourmous
air resistance - this will heat the reindeer up in the same fashion as
spacecrafts re-entering the earth's atmosphere. The lead pair of
reindeer will absorb 14.3 QUINTILLION joules of energy. Per second.
Each. In short, they 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.
Merry Christmas to all from California, where we can't tell that it's winter.