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 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 anount, 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.