As a result of an overwhelming lack of requests 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 (the boat, that is).
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.