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 children, that reduces the workload 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 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
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 hour.
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,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.