Santa Claus: An Engineers Perspective

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Airman 1st Class
Santa Claus: An Engineers Perspective

|. There are approximately two billion children (persons under 18 ) in the
world. However, since Santa does not visit children of Muslim, Hindu, Jewish or
Buddhist religions, this reduces the workload for Christmas night to 15% of the
total, or 378 million (according to the Population Reference Bureau).

At an average (census) rate of 3.5 children per household, that comes to 108
million homes, presuming that there is at least one good child in each.

||. Santa has about 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 967.7 visits per second. This is to
say that for each Christian household with a good child, Santa has around 1/1,
000th of a second to park the sleigh, distribute the remaining presents under
the tree, eat whatever snacks have been left for him, get back up the chimney,
jump into his sleigh and get on to the next house.

Assuming that each of these 108 million stops is evenly distributed around the
earth (which, of course, we know to be false, but will accept for the purpose
of our calculations), we are now talking about 0.78 miles per household; a
total trip of 75.5 million miles, not counting bathroom stops or breaks. 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, the
Ulyssses space probe, moves at a pokey 27.4 miles per second, and a
conventional reindeer can run (at best) 15 miles per hour.

|||. The payload of the sleigh adds another interesting element. Assuming that
each child gets nothing more than a medium sized Lego set (two pounds), the
sleigh is carrying over 500 thousand tons, not counting Santa himself. On land,
a conventional reindeercan pull no more than 300 pounds. Even granting that the
"flying" reindeer could pull ten times the normal amount, the job can't be done
with eight or even nine of them - Santa would need 360,000 of them. This
increases the payload, not counting the weight of the sleigh, another 54,000
tons, or roughly seven times the weight of the Queen Elizabeth (the ship, not
the monarch).

|V. 600,000 tons travelling at 650 miles per second creates enormous air
resistance - this would heat up the reindeer in the same fashion as a
spacecraft re-entering the earth's atmosphere. The lead pair of reindeer would
absorb 14.3 quintliion joules of energy per second each. In short, they would
burst into flames almost instantaneously, exposing the reindeer behind them and
creating deafening sonic booms in their wake.

The entire reindeer team would be vaporized within 4.26 thousandths of a
second, or right about the time Santa reached the fifth house on his trip.

Not that it matters, however, since Santa, as a result of accelerating from a
dead stop to 650 miles per second in .001 seconds, would be subjected to
centrigugal forces of 17,500 g's. A 250 pound Santa (which seems ludicrously
slim) would be pinned to the back of the sleigh by 4,315,015 pounds of force,
instantly crushing his bones and organs and reducing him to a quivering blob of
pink goo.

Therefore, if Santa did exist, he's dead now.

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