AN ENGINEER’S VIEW OF SANTA

I can’t find the origin of this description but it is rather clever and may even be technically correct (I didn’t verify the calculations).

I. There are approximately two billion children–persons under 18–in the world. But, since Santa is not supposed to visit non-Christian children, his Christmas Eve work-load is limited to 15% of the total, or 378 million children–according to the Population Reference Bureau. At an average of 3.5 children per household, that comes to 108 million homes, presuming that there is at least one “good” child in each.

II. Assuming Santa travels east to west, which seems logical considering the earth’s rotational direction, he has about 31 hours in which to complete his gift-distribution task. This works out to 967.7 visits per second, leaving him about .001 of a second to park his sleigh at each
“good” child’s house, hop out, zip down the chimney, fill the stockings, distribute the remaining present under the tree, eat whatever snacks have been left for him, get back up the chimney, jump into the sleigh and get on to the next house. Assuming that each of these 108 million stops is evenly distributed around the earth, he would have to cover about 0.78 miles between each pair of houses, a total of 75.5 million miles, not
counting potty stops or rest breaks. His sleigh would have to move at 650 miles per second–3,000 times the speed of sound. For comparison, the fastest man-made vehicle, the Ulysses space probe, moves at a mere 27.4 miles per second. Incidentally, a normal reindeer can run no faster than 15 miles per hour, so Santa’s would have to be quite gifted as track stars.

III. The sleigh’s payload adds another interesting element. Assuming that each child gets only a medium-sized Lego set (two pounds), the sleigh would be carrying over 500,000 tons, not counting Santa himself. On land, a conventional reindeer can pull no more than 300 pounds. Even granting that a “flying” reindeer could pull ten times the normal amount, the job couldn’t be done with eight or even nine (remember Rudolph) of them. Santa would need 360,000 normal reindeer, increasing the total moving mass-not counting the weight of the sleigh–by at least another 54,000 tons, or roughly seven times the eight of the QEII (Queen Elizabeth II ocean liner).

IV. Over 550,000 tons traveling at 650 miles per second encounters enormous air resistance, creating a deafening onic boom and heating up the reindeer in the same fashion s a spacecraft re-entering the earth’s atmosphere. The ead pair of reindeer would absorb 14.3 quintillion joules of energy per second. In short, they would burst into flames almost instantly, exposing the pair behind them to the same consequences. The entire eight-reindeer team would be vaporized within .00426 of a second, or right about the time Santa reached the fifth house on his tour. Not that it would matter, since Santa, having accelerated from rest to 650 m.p.s. in .001 of a second, would have been subjected to a centrifugal force of
17,500 g’s. A 250 pound Santa 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 genuine “bowl full of jelly,” whether laughing or not.

V. Therefore, if Santa ever existed, he’s been dead for quite a while, but he lives in our hearts forever

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