[Dixielandjazz] Bah humbug

John Farrell stridepiano at tesco.net
Fri Dec 16 09:40:00 PST 2005

While you are all tooting away at your Yuletide gigs consider this :

I. There are approximately two billion children (persons under 18) in
the world. However, since Santa does not visit children of Muslim,
Hindu, Jewish or Buddhist religions, this reduces the workload for
Christmas Night to 15% of the total, or 378 million - according to the
Population Bureau.

At an average (census) rate of 3.5
children per household, that comes to 108 million homes, assuming that
there is at least one good child in each.

II. Santa has about 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 967.7 visits per
second. This is to say that for each Christian household with a good
child, Santa has around 1/1000th of a second to park the sleigh, hop
out, jump down the chimney, fill the stockings, distribute the remaining
presents under the tree, eat whatever snacks have been left for him, get
back up the chimney, jump into the sleigh and get on to the next house.
Assuming that each of these 108 million stops is evenly distributed
around the world (which, of course, I know to be false, but will accept
for the purpose of my calculations), we are now talking about 0.78
miles per household; a total trip of 75.5 million miles, not counting
bathroom stops or breaks. This means 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, the Ulysses space probe, moves
at a poky 27.4 miles per second, and a conventional reindeer can run (at
best) 15 miles per hour.

III. The payload of the sleigh adds another interesting element.
Assuming that each child gets nothing more than a medium sized Lego set
(two pounds), the sleigh is carrying over 500,000 tons, not counting
Santa himself. On land, a conventional reindeer can pull no more than
300 pounds. Even granting that the "flying" reindeer could pull ten
times the normal amount, the job can't be done with eight or even nine
of them - Santa would need 360,000. This increases the payload,
not counting the weight of the sleigh, by another 54,000 tons, or
roughly seven times the weight of the Queen Elizabeth (the ship, not the

IV. 600,000 tons traveling at 650 miles per second creates enormous
air resistance - this would heat up the reindeer in the same fashion as a
spacecraft re-entering the earth's atmosphere. The lead pair of reindeer
would absorb 14.3 quintillion joules of energy per second each. In
short, they would burst into flames almost instantaneously, exposing the
reindeer behind them and creating deafening sonic booms in their wake.
The entire reindeer team would be vaporized within 0.00426 seconds, or
right about the time Santa reached the fifth house on his trip. Not
that it matters, however, since Santa, as a result of accelerating from
a dead stop to 650 MPS in 0.001 seconds, would be subjected to an
inertial force of 17,500 G's. A 250 pound Santa (which seems
ludicrously slim) would be pinned to the back of the sleigh by 4,315,015
pounds of force, instantly crushing his bones and organs and reducing
him to a quivering puddle of pink goo.

V. Therefore, if Santa did exist, he's dead now.

Season's Greetings,

John Farrell

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