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Santa Claus as Seen by an Engineer
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 Subject: Santa Claus as Seen by an Engineer
 From: "Caldwell, Stan" <scaldwell(nospamat)halff.com>
 Date: Thu, 23 Dec 2004 11:45:04 0600
 Priority: NonUrgent
Title: Message
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
there is at least 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 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 stocking, 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 go onto the next house.
Assuming that each of these 108
million stops is evenly distributed around the Earth (which, of course, we know
is 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 and 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 manmade 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
hour.
The payload of 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 over 500 thousands tons, not counting
Santa himself. On land, a conventional reindeer can pull no more than 300
pounds. Even granting that the flying reindeer can pull 10 times the normal
amount, the job can't be done with eight or 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 reentering the 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 thousands 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 mps in 0.001 seconds, would be subjected to acceleration forces
of 17,000 g's. A 250pound Santa 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, unless there are millions
of Santas around the world, it's quite difficult, from the engineering point of
view, to explain his presence tomorrow
night .
Nevertheless, Merry Christmas, all y'all!
Santa Caldwell, P.E.
in Snowy Dallas,
Texas

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