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  1. #1
    SitePoint Wizard Aes's Avatar
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    Is there really a Santa Claus?

    Is there a Santa Claus?

    To answer this, we need to examine all the different aspects relating to Mr. Claus, and what he gets up to once a year, and I'm afraid to say, the evidence does not bode well for him.

    Flying Reindeer: 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 the possibility that there are flying reindeer that only Santa had ever seen.

    Children: There are two billion children in the world, but since Santa does not appear to handle the Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, and Buddhist children, that reduces the workload to about 15% of the total - 378 million according to the Population Reference Bureau. At an average (census) rate of three and one half (3.5) children per household, this means he has to visit 91.8 million homes. One presumes there is at least one good child in each.

    Timing: 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. 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 for him, get back up the chimney, return to the sleigh, and move on to the next house. Assuming that each of these 91.8 million stops are evenly distributed around the world (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 have to do at least once every 31 hours (eating, etc.). This means that Santa's sleigh is moving at 650 miles per second, a blistering 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. A conventional reindeer can run, at maximum, 15 miles per hour.

    Weight: The payload on the sleigh adds another interesting element. Assuming that each child gets nothing more than a medium sized lego set (roughly two pounds) the sleigh is carrying 321,300 tons, not counting Santa himself, who is invariably described as overweight. On land, conventional reindeer can pull no more than 300 pounds. Even granting that these magical flying reindeer could pull ten times the normal amount, 214,200 reindeer would be required. This increases the payload - not counting the weight of the sleigh itself - to 353,430 tons. Again, for comparison, this is over four times the weight of the Titanic.

    Speed: 353,000 tons traveling at 650 miles per second creates enormous air resistance. This will heat the reindeer up in the same fashion as spacecraft 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 subsequently vaporized within 4.26 thousandths of a second. Santa, meanwhile, will be subjected to centrifugal forces over 17,500 times greater than that of gravity. A 250-pound Santa (which, for him, seems a little on the slim side), would be pinned to the back of his sleigh by 4,315,015 pounds of force.

    Conclusion: If Santa ever did deliver presents on Christmas Eve, he's dead now.

    Foundations: This inquiry is based upon the premise that there is only one Santa Claus. The calculations work out more realistically if we assume some form of parallel processing. One thousand Santas (one kilosanta) or one million (one megasanta), working in parallel, would be able to perform the same number of visits in the same allotted time with less advanced technology (and fewer vaporized reindeer).

    One other point: Who does the air traffic control for one megasanta? One million sleighs and 12 million reindeer occupy a significant amount of airspace. If we assume that each team of reindeer, Santa, and sleigh need no more than five feet of vertical airspace (which, given that known species of reindeer with antlers are, at average, five feet tall, this leaves very little room for error), then a megasanta requires almost 947 miles of vertical airspace. This also disregards the fact that each Santa must make frequent landings. The airspace at chimney level will be in high demand and disproportionately crowded, particularly since Christmas-celebrating households tend to be densely clustered in the same geographic areas. It seems likely that one megasanta, while perhaps avoiding vaporizing reindeer, wound suffer huge casualties from numerous in-air collisions.
    Last edited by Aes; Dec 16, 2001 at 17:59.
    Colin Anderson
    Ambition is a poor excuse for those without
    sense enough to be lazy.

  2. #2
    SitePoint Addict
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    I can't believe I read the whole thing, but it was quite entertaining.

    Good One Aes!!

  3. #3
    SitePoint Wizard
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    Good one, but give credit where credit is due. This one is posted on almost every forum around Christmastime.


  4. #4
    SitePoint Wizard Aes's Avatar
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    Yup yup. It's been around for several years; do a simple search on Google (or any other search engine for that matter) and you'll likely come up with several matches, if not more.

    EDIT: Or click on qslack's google link there as well (didn't see it).
    Last edited by Aes; Dec 16, 2001 at 18:02.
    Colin Anderson
    Ambition is a poor excuse for those without
    sense enough to be lazy.

  5. #5
    SitePoint Zealot
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    Yep, I just saw him at a gas station - Elvis was pumping gas, he was in the front seat and even more amazing - Jimi Hendrix and Steve Ray were in the back seat.
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  6. #6
    Making a better wheel silver trophy DR_LaRRY_PEpPeR's Avatar
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    i am Santa Claus.
    - Matt ** Ignore old signature for now... **
    Dr.BB - Highly optimized to be 2-3x faster than the "Big 3."
    "Do not enclose numeric values in quotes -- that is very non-standard and will only work on MySQL." - MattR

  7. #7
    Not a post-script error?!! guysmy's Avatar
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    Thanks Aes, that was awesome!

    I'm not as fact-orientated or nearly as intellegent as you are, yet here is my contribution.

    Someone killed off the real Santa in the late 1930's. It's rumoured that the former CEO/president of Sears Robuck is responsible for this.

    Six years ago, Santa was cloned by toy manufacturers (Bandai & Tonka) so that he could cover more ground. Most have turned into drunks and most are only employed during the holiday seasons at various malls in North America and the Orient. Population: 300,000 worldwide.

    Funding is made possible via our bank accounts, the citizens. These drunken Santa's have access to our credit cards, and even a few Swiss bank accounts. Peter Jennings (on the "Fleecing of America") has noted that the drunken Santa's have been laundering funds to buy cheap wine and mouthwash.

    The US goverment is now working on "Project S-GIFT". They are building thousands of Santa robots capable of flying cyborg Reindeer, eating fancyful Kebler cookies and shimmying down chimnies with great effiency.

    This army of cyborg Santa's are rumoured to be operational in 2010. Population: 603.

  8. #8
    SitePoint Wizard Ian Glass's Avatar
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    There is one fatal flaw in your calculations, Guy. It's Tom Brokaw, not Peter Jennings, who does the Fleecing of America on the NBC Nightly News. I will be forced to reject your findings unless and until you correct your factual inaccuracies. :-p

  9. #9
    Not a post-script error?!! guysmy's Avatar
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    Close enough...they are both Vulcans.

  10. #10
    The short answer is yes... Herbster's Avatar
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    Santa would gladly visit the Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, and Buddhist children if they wanted him to! I've watched him for many, many years and can avow that he is a nonsectarian source of hope and joy for all girls and boys of all ages!
    Last edited by Herbster; Dec 16, 2001 at 23:16.

  11. #11
    Degrading Gracefully PalmerB's Avatar
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    Yes,
    He is one of our clients...
    http://www.yourwebbuddy.com/santa.htm

    Palmer

  12. #12
    I am the night... bman's Avatar
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    you are forgetting one little thing that would make all of this possible. Magic. Magic does exsist. For all of you who have grown too not believe in magic, i feel sorry for you.
    Some say the world will end in fire, Some say in ice.
    From what I've tasted of desire
    I hold with those who favor fire.


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