Thursday, December 23, 2004

Does Santa exist???

I found this essay in my e-mails, sent from a friend. It’s an interesting read if you’re a critical historical thinker / Cartesian method scientist, but sucks if you believe that the question “How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?” may have some pertinence. I’m of the later persuasion and thus do believe in Santa Claus; it’s the Easter Bunny that I have problems with, partially because when I was a boy the Santa at the mall told me that the Easter Bunny doesn’t exist!

I love Christmas because of family, good food and the hope of salvation in Christ; which is so glaringly missing in the modern version of “Consumer Fest” previously known as Xmas, a.k.a. Christmas. Anything I can do to debunk this modern myth makes me feel all warm inside.

That said, after reading “Polar Express” to my kids when they were young, causes me to hear the bell and surrender to the myth even at the expense of my dislike for this modern tarnished holiday going on inside the many shopping malls of the western world. I think we’ve missed the point!

Don't Choke
Please don't choke on the wrapping!

Therefore, I submit this essay to you:

Does Santa exist???
As a result of an overwhelming lack of requests, and with research help from that renown scientific journal - I am pleased to present the annual scientific inquiry into Santa Claus.
1) 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.
2) 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.
3) 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 hour.
4) 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 Elizabeth.
5) 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's 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.
Mmmm... but remember kids, when you stop believing in Santa is when you start getting clothes for Christmas...


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