Is There a 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

Sarita 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 onto 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 ieast 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 medium-sized logo 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

spacecrafts re-entering the earth’s atmosphere. The lead pair of reindeer

will absorb 14.3 QUlNTlLLlON 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 subjected to centrifugal forces 17,500 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 DlD deliver presents on Christmas Eve, he’s

dead now.

P.S. For those chilled by the grim fate of Santa in this analysis, the

entire calculation assumes only one Santa. If there is more than one jolly

individual performing the annual ritual of cherubic philanthropy, then

things change as we shall see. This Is conceptually equivalent to a

parallel processing procedure, and I must provide credit for this insight

to an electrical engineering friend of mine.

If there are 2 santas operating in parallel, then we can divide the

workload evenly. However, the calculations will still produce forces and

aerodynamic heating which no man or beast can survive.

If there are 10, the calculations are different, but the results are the

same.

If there are 1000 santas, or what we shall call a kilosanta, then our –

calculations show that each santa has 1 visit per second, travels 75,500

miles on Christmas Eve to complete his mission, pulls 321 tons in his

sleigh, and travels at roughly 2435 miles per hour, which is 3 times the

speed of sound, or roughly as fast as the SR-71 Blackbird, the US Air

Force’s (until recently) premier high altitude spy aircraft. Even with the

reductions in speed and subsequent reductions in drag, aerodynamic

heating is still unreasonable and the kilosanta still dies.

lf we run the calculation for 1,000,000 santas operating in parallel, or a

Megasanta, then the results are more encouraging. For instance, each santa

travels at 2 miles per hour between stops, has about 20 minutes at each

house, and travels a total of 75 miles. Furthermore, each santa has a load

of only 182 lbs. for his 91 stops. Even if each santa is a load (as we can

safely assume from the stories surrounding our corpulent culprit!). we are

dealing with a total of approximately 532 lbs.

Our alternate conclusion then? Santa is not dead, he‘s distributed.