Santa - An Engineer's Perspective

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 (except maybe in Japan) religions, this reduces the workload for Christmas night to 15% of the total, or 378 million (according to the Population Reference Bureau). At an average (census) rate of 3.5 children per household, that comes to 108 million homes - presuming that there is at least one good child in each.

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 earth (which, of course, we know to be false, but will accept for the purposes of our calculations), we are now talking about .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) 25 miles per hour - less than .007 miles per second.

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 thousand 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 of them. 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 monarch).

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 4.26 thousandths of a second, 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 miles per second in .001 seconds, would be subjected to acceleration forces 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 blob of pink goo.

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

Mery Christmas!

OK, about 10 minutes after emailing this to a freind (Stan Czerno), here is his response...

Ok, welp let's suppose Santa can take his time. It is believed that the space-time continuum is curved and that the curvature occurs because of the influence of mass against movement in time. Welp, maybe there is a reason for the mass of Santa's sleigh and belly. If traveling through time is possible a time machine should already exist because the idea is that once all the formulas and variables are worked out and a means/mechanism/machine/modus for time transport is devised, then a time machine should then exist for all time.

If someone can calculate the level of improbability of such a machine, enters the data into a computer connected to a, let's say, a cup of milk and turns it on, the time machine is just simply called into existence. So here's the real problem, since we can perceive only X, Y, Z, and T (where T is apparently a linear straight line) the time travel means/mechanism/machine/modus would exist at Tx, Ty, Tz, X, Y, Z. Since we cannot directly perceive of that machine, just the same as a two-dimensional being cannot directly perceive a three-dimensional object. The machine could already exist. There are two discernable possibilities here:

1 - The machine could be perceived only at the moment it deposits an object (presents and gifts) into our current point in the space-time continuum. Since the time machine would have the ability to change its location directly from point A to point B in the space-time continuum, the machine may not have a sequential existence within our journey in the space-time continuum (here today, gone tomorrow).

2 - The time machine may already have portals into our dimension. But since we do not have the reference points for Tx, Ty, and Tz, we would not realize the true purpose of the portals even though we might be standing right in front of them, like a Christmas tree.

So therefore, I must conclude that Santa has some way of distorting or circumventing the space-time continuum and is able to achieve so much it what seems to be such little time.

Anyone else wanna chime in?