A Scientific Santa Report

From:         aircargo@concentric.net
Date:         Mon, 15 Dec 1997 04:01:52 GMT
Organization: misc.transport.air-industry.cargo
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((Originally posted 12/21/96))

As a result of an overwhelming lack of requests -- and with research
help from that renowned scientific journal Spy magazine (January 1990)
-- I am pleased to present the annual scientific inquiry into Santa

(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 --
378,000,000 according to Population Reference Bureau. At an average
(census) rate of 3.5 children per household, that's 91,800,000 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 0.001 seconds 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 91,800,000 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 75,500,000
miles, not counting stops to do what most of us must do at least once
every 31 hours, plus feeding, 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 10 times the normal
amount, we cannot do the job with 8, or even 9. 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 4
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 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 0.00426
seconds. 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.

*<|:{ )

Happy Holidays,
Michal Douglas <moderators@mta-ic.com>
Usenet Moderator for misc.transport.air-industry.cargo 
The Air Cargo Newsgroup - http://www.mta-ic.com