## December 21, 2005

**Is there a Santa(and the response)?**

Don't say that I didn't warn you...

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IS THERE A SANTA CLAUS?As a result of an overwhelming lack of requests, and with research help

from that renown scientific journal SPY magazine (January, 1990) - 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 1 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.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 (a rounded figure). 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 (the ship, not the monarch).5. 353,000 tons traveling at 650 miles per second creates an enormous

amount of heat when you factor in the air resistance - this will heat the

reindeer up in the same fashion as a spacecraft re-entering the earth's

atmosphere.The lead pair of reindeer will absorb 14.3 QUINTILLION

(14,300,000,000,000,000) 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 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.

--------------------------------------------------------------The response

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The analysis you sent me about the death of Santa Claus, based on

classical physics, is seriously flawed owing to its neglect of

quantum phenomena that become significant in his particular case. As

it happens, the terminal velocity of a reindeer in dry December air

over the Northern Hemisphere (for example) is known with tremendous

precision. The mass of Santa and his sleigh (since the number of

children and their gifts is also known precisely, ahead of time, and

the reindeer must weigh in minutes before the flight) is also known

with tremendous precision. His direction of flight is, as you say,

essentially east to west.

All of that, when taken together, means that the momentum vector of

Mr Claus and his cargo is known with incredible precision. An

elementary application of Heisenberg's uncertainty principle yields

the result that Santa's location, at any given moment on Christmas

Eve, is highly imprecise. In other words, he is "smeared out" over

the surface of the earth, analogous to the manner in which an

electron is "smeared out" within a certain distance from the nucleus

in an atom. Thus he can, quite literally, be everywhere at any

given moment.

In addition, the relativistic velocities which his reindeer can

attain for brief moments make it possible for him, in certain cases,

to arrive at some locations shortly before he left the North Pole.

Santa, in other words, assumes for brief periods the characteristics

of tachyons. I will admit that tachyons remain hypothetical, but

then so do black holes, and who really doubts their existence

anymore?

Here is **a link** which contains lots and lots of rebuttals. People with less of a life than me. Go figure.

Posted by: Physics Geek at
02:29 PM
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