Santa From a Physicist's Perspective.

Updated 12/18/02! My PBL class did the necessary research to check my numbers and found out the World has changed in the last 10 years! Go figure! The following story reflects th most recent Global Population references, cited where appropriate.

1. There are approximately 2.5 BILLION children (persons under 18) in the world. This is based on the World Population Consensus of 2000 and using the US's basis of 42% population under 18. However, since Santa does not visit children of Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, or Buddhist religions, this reduces the workload for Christmas night to 33% of the total, according and; 825 MILLION (according to the World Population Reference Bureau). At an average rate of 2.5 children per household worldwide, that comes to 330 MILLION homes, presuming, of course, that there is at least ONE good child in each household, not a real safe assumption, but...

2. Santa has a total of 31 hours to work with, thanks to the different time zones and the rotational speed of the earth, assuming he travels from East to West, a safe assumption. This works out to about 3000 visits per second. This is to say that for each Christian home with a good child, Santa has just under 1/3000th of a second to park the sleigh, hop out, jump down the chimney or mist through a door or window, fill the stockings, distribute gifts around the tree, eat whatever snacks the good children have left him, get back up the chimney or back out the door, jump into the sleigh and get on to the next house. Assuming each of these 330 MILLION stops is evenly distributed around the landmass of the world (which we know is false, but accept to make the calculations simpler), we are now looking at about 0.78 miles per household; a total trip of 258 MILLION MILES, not counting bathroom breaks and watering the reindeer stops. This means that Santa's sleigh MUST move at about 8.3 MILLION MPH or 2,300 miles per SECOND – 3000 times the speed of sound. For purposes of comparison, the fastest manmade vehicle, Voyager II, moves at a pokey 39 miles per second, and a conventional reindeer can run at best 15 miles an HOUR!

3. The payload of the sleigh adds another interesting element. Assuming that each child gets nothing more than a medium sized Transformer© set of about 2 pounds and a small Spnge Bob SquarepantsTM hand puppet, the sleigh is carrying over 825 THOUSAND TONS, not counting the fat man himself. On land, a conventional reindeer can pull only 300 pounds. Even granting that these special reindeer could pull 100 times the normal amount, the job would take 36,000 reindeer. This, of course, increases the payload, not counting the fat man, another 54,000 tons, or roughly 7 times the weight of the QEII, the largest cruise ship on earth.

4. 880,000 TONS traveling at 2,300 MILES PER SECOND creates an enormous air resistance – this would heat up the reindeer in the same fashion as a shuttle reentering the atmosphere. The lead pair of reindeer would absorb 32 QUINTILLION (32,000,000,000,000,000,000) Joules of heat energy every second each! This is 6.4 x 1019 WATTS of power – enough to light up the United States for 55 MILLENIUM! In short, they would burst into flames and vaporize into plasma, the 4th State of Matter, instantaneously, exposing the reindeer behind them and creating a deafening sonic boom in their wake which would pulverize the remaining reindeer if they would, indeed, still be there. The entire reindeer team would be vaporized within 0.000 426 seconds, or right about the time Santa reaches the 2nd house of the trip. Not that this matters however, since Santa as a result of the tremendous acceleration from rest to 2,300 MILES PER SECOND in 1/3000th of a second would subject him to a force = 1.1 BILLION times the pull of gravity here on earth! A 250 pound Santa, a conservative estimate since that's my weight, would be pinned to the back of the sleigh by 275,000,000,000 POUNDS of force, instantly crushing his bones and organs and reducing him to a quivering blob of pink goo.

5. Therefore, if Santa ever existed, he doesn't now.

6. But, we all know that Santa DOES EXIST and survives very well, thank you, due to his special powers inherited from his home planet of Krypton.

Back to Daryl's Wit, or lack of it...