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Re: An Engineer's Take On Christmas

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Gosh!  I shudder at the thought of an engineer's take on Easter.  Claret

At 03:35 PM 12/8/1998 -0600, you wrote:
>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 (except maybe in Japan) 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 household, that comes to 108 million homes, presuming that
>there is at east one good child in each.
>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 poky 27.4
>miles per second, and a conventional reindeer can run (at best) 15 miles per
>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 "flying" reindeer could pull ten times the normal amount,
>the job can't 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).
>600,000 tons traveling at 650 miles per second creates enormous air
>resistance--this would heat up the reindeer in the same fashion as a
>spacecraft re-enteringthe earth's 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 vaporized 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 stop to 650 m.p.s. in .001 seconds, would be subjected to acceleration
>dead forces of 17,500 g's. 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.
>Therefore, if Santa did exist, he's dead now.   
>Merry Christmas!
>Stan R. Caldwell, P.E.
>Still Waitin' on Santa