# Decay of Santa Claus

Willie Koorts (wpk@saao.ac.za)
Thu, 19 Dec 1996 09:23:56 +0200 (GMT+0200)

If anyone wants to accuse me for being off-topic,  please refer to point #5.

Greetings All...      Willie Koorts.

IS THERE A SANTA CLAUS?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

As a result of an overwhelming lack of requests, and with research help
from that renown 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 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 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 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, plus 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 pokey 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 lb),
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 amount, 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 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 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 create deafening sonic booms in
their wake.  The entire reindeer team will be vaporized within 4.26
milliseconds.  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 force.

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