Subject: Happy Holidays!
From: Randy Kuehn (kuehn@ORION.CMC.UAB.EDU)
Date: Tue, 20 Dec 1994 02:26:15 -0600
SOME FACTS ABOUT 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 in the world (persons under 18). But since
Santa doesn't (appear) to handle Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, or Buddhist
children, that reduces the workload by 85% of the total - leaving 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 is at least one good child per house.
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
1/1000 th of a second to park, hop out of the sleigh, jump down the
chimney, fill the stocking, 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 0.78 miles per household, a total
trip of 75.5 million miles, not counting stops to do what most of us do at
least once every 31 hours, plus feeding, etc. That means that Santa's
sleigh is moving at 650 miles per second, 3000 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, at tops 25-30 miles per hour.
4) The payload on the sleigh adds another interesting element. Assuming
each child gets nothing more then a medium sized LEGO set (2 lbs), the
sleigh is carrying 321300 tons, not counting Santa, who is invariably
described as overweight. On land, conventional reindeer can pull no more
than 300 pounds. Even granting the 'flying reindeer' can pull TEN TIMES
that normal amount, we cannot do the job with eight, or even nine - we need
214200 reindeer. This increased the payload - not even counting the weight
of the sleigh to 353430 tons. Again for comparison, this is four timed the
weight of the HMS Queen Elizabeth.
5) 353000 tons travelling at 650 miles per second creates enormous air
resistance. This will heat the reindeer up in the same fashion as
spacecrafts re-entering the earth's atmosphere. The lead pair will absorb
14.3 QUINTILLION joules of energy per second, each. In short, they will
burst into flames almost instantaneously, exposing the reindeer behind
them, and creating a deafening sonic boom in their wake. The entire
reindeer team will be vaporized within 4.26 thousandths of a second. Santa
meanwhile, will be subject to centrifugal forces of 17500.06 times greater
than gravity. A 250 lb Santa (which seems ludicrously slim) would be pinned
to the back of the sleigh by a 4,315,015 pound force. In conclusion, if
Santa ever DID deliver presents on Christmas eve, he's now dead.