Fun_People Archive
7 Dec
Do Scientists Know Everything?

Date: Tue,  7 Dec 93 16:35:09 PST
To: Fun_People
Subject: Do Scientists Know Everything?

[I remember back when they said the heavens and Earth couldn't have been
 made in just six days and hummingbirds couldn't fly, either.  -psl]

 From: Chris LaFournaise <>


As a result of an overwhelming lack of requests, and with research help from
that renowned scientific journal SPY magazine (January, 1990) - I am pleased
to present the annual scientific inquiry into 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
Santa 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 the 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 seemes logical).  This works out to 822.6 visits per second.  This
is to say that for each Christian household with good children, Santa has
slightly over 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 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 .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
least once every 31 hours, feeding, 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 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" (see point #1) could
pull TEN TIMES the normal anount, 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 travelling 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 QUINTILLION joules of energy.  Per second.  Each.  In
short, they will burst into flame almost instantaneously, exposing the
reindeer behind them, and creating deafening sonic booms in their wake.
The entire reindeer team will be vaporized within 4.26 thousandths of a
second.  Santa, meanwhile, will be subjected to centrifugal forces 17,500.06
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

In conclusion - If Santa ever DID deliver presents on Christmas Eve, he's
dead now.

[=] © 1993 Peter Langston []