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Saturday, 24 December 2011

Santa Claus: An engineer's perspective:


I. 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 house hold, that comes to 108 million homes, presuming that there is at least one good child in each.

II. 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 1/1000th. of a second to park the sleigh, hop out, jump down the chimney, fill the stockings, distribute the remaining presents 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 (which, of course, we know to be false, but will accept for the purposes 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 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 Ulysses space probe, moves at a pokey 27.4 miles per second, and a conventional reindeer can run (at best) 15 miles per hour.

III. 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 reindeer can pull no more than 300 pounds. Even granting that the Oflying¹ reindeer could pull ten times the normal amount, the job can¹t 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).

IV. 600,000 tons travelling at 650 miles per second crates enormous air resistance. This would heat up the reindeer in the same fashion as a spacecraft re-entering the earth¹s atmosphere. The lead pair of reindeer would absorb 14.3 quintillion 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 vaporised 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 m.p.s. in a milli-second, would be subjected to  forces of 17,500 G¹s. 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.

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

Just saying.

Shamelessly nicked from Subrosa


  1. Global Warmists want to ban Santa because his magnificent efforts warm all our hearts during the Christmas season. That's 378 million children and their parents - assuming only a 1 degree increase in heart temperature they calculate the increased ice cap melting will flood the EU Parliament building.
    Nigel Farage welcomed the news and declared this to be a potential source of increased seasonal joy.

  2. Santa is magical and clones himself, so He accomplishes the mammouth task in real time. Just think of multiple universes and you'll get the picture.
    So I refute your argument.

  3. "Santa is magical and clones himself" ..

    What .. like Socialists & Eurocrats ? ... ;)

  4. Tsk! You people, honestly!

    Clearly we're looking at a time dilation effect. I'm not supposed to tell, but this effect is initiated by a specially transmitted signal over the existing TV networks. To hide its discovery the authorities broadcast wall to wall Crimbo Specials. You can detect its presence though by tuning to a non-xmas broadcast... I guarantee you'll see a programme from July (or some other month). A simple repeat? Or actual proof of time dilation? I'll leave you to judge.

    But what about all those folks in work-houses and such that don't have tellies I hear you ask? Arhhh but you see, that's what those cheap supermarket mince pies with hypnotic substances are for.

    So, there we have it. It's not a super fast Santa but rather a super slow populace.



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