An Engineering Analysis S. 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 Santa has ever seen.
2. There are 2 billion children in the world (persons under 18). But since Santa
doesn't (appear) to handle Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, or Buddhist children, that reduces the
workload by 85% of the total -leaving 378 million according to the Population Reference
Bureau. At an average (census) rate of 3.5 children per household, that's 91.8 million
homes. One presumes there is at least one good child per house.
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 stocking, 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 91.8 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 0.78 miles per household, a
total trip of 75.5 million miles, not counting stops to do what most of us do at least once
every 31 hours, plus feeding, etc. That means that Santa's sleigh is moving at 650 miles
per second, 3000 times the speed of sound. For purposes of comparison, the fastest manmade
vehicle, the Ulysses space probe, move at a poky 27.4 miles per second; and a
conventional reindeer can run, at tops, 15 miles per hour.
4. The payload on the sleigh adds another interesting element. Assuming each child
gets nothing more then 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' can pull TEN TIMES that normal amount, we cannot do the job with eight, or
even nine reindeer, 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. 353,430 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 will absorb 14.3 quintillion
Joules of energy per second. Each. In short they will burst into flames almost
instantaneously, exposing the reindeer behind them, and creating a deafening sonic boom
in their wake. The entire reindeer team will be vaporized within 4.26 thousandths of a
second. Santa meanwhile will be subject to centrifugal forces 17,500 times greater than
gravity. A 250 pound Santa (which seems ludicrously slim) would be pinned to the back
of the sleigh by a 4,315,015 pound force.
In short, if Santa did exist, he is now dead.
Last Updated (Wednesday, 22 December 2010 06:13)