The Physics of Santa
Al Gore claims Santa causes global warming, demands Christmas
The Problem of 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 flying reindeer which only Santa
and rednecks have ever seen.
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.
The Problem of Time
Thanks to the different time zones, the rotation of the earth, and assuming he travels east to west (which seems
logical) Santa has 31 hours of Christmas to get the job done. 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 his
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 purpose of our calculations we will accept), we are now talking about .78 miles per
household, a total trip of 75.5 million miles, not counting stops to do what most of us must do at least once every
31 hours, plus feeding and etc. This means that Santa's sleigh is moving at 650 miles per second, 3000 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.
The Problem of Payload
The payload on the sleigh adds another interesting element. Assuming that each child gets nothing more than a
medium-sized Lego TM 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" could pull ten times the normal load, 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 - 353,430 tons. Again,
for comparison - this is four times the weight of the Queen Elizabeth.
The Problem of Force
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 flames almost instantaneously,
exposing the reindeer behind them. This will create a deafening sonic boom in their wake and raise the atmospheric
temperature. The entire reindeer team will be vaporized within 4.26 thousandths of a second.
Santa, meanwhile, will be subjected to centripetal 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.
Therefore - If Santa ever DID deliver presents on Christmas Eve, he's dead by
NOTE: The above research was
funded in part by the United Nations Global Warming International Committee and Al Gore.
by Albert Elfstein, Phd.