Hurricanes and Hangovers and Other Tall Tales and Loose Lies from the Coconut Telegraph by Dear Miss Mermaid

The Science of Santa Claus

written by BAH HUMBUG!


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.

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.

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
and 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 poky 27.4
miles per second - a conventional reindeer can run, tops, 15 miles per

The payload on 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 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

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 create deafening sonic booms in their wake.
The entire reindeer team will be vaporized within 4.26 thousandths of a
second. 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 dead now