"Well, there is only one piece of advice I can give you," said the wisest of wise men. "The secret of happiness is to see all the marvels of the world and never to forget the drops of oil on the spoon."



('The Alchemist' Paulo Coelho)




Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Not to be read by children!

I have seen this or something similar before but it is definitely worth a second visit. I got it this time here

Engineers and Santa Claus!

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 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 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 his sleigh, hop out, jump down the chimney, fill the stocking, 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 onto 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 0.78 miles per household; a total trip of 75.5 million miles, not counting bathroom stops or breaks. This means that Santa's sleigh is moving at 650 miles per second, 3000 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.
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 can pull 10 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, another 54,000 tons, or roughly seven times the weight of the Queen Elizabeth (the ship not the monarch).
600,000 tons travelling 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 vaporised within 4.26 thousandths of a second, or right about the same time that 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 m.p.s in 0.001 seconds, would be subjected to acceleration forces of 17,000 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, he's dead now. Merry Christmas.
Author Unknown!

6 comments:

  1. What a sad life "Author Unknown" must have. :(

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hogwash! It's the idea, the myth, the legend, the magic of Santa Claus that we should embrace - not the arithmetical illogical impssibility of it all. Santa lives because he is part of what we wish the world to be like. He is of imagination and irrationality and for that reason I still believe in him. Also in your calculations you omitted the fact that he never visits Wales because he doesn't like it there -the homes are too messy because Welsh ladies just ain't houseproud. Sorry if the truth hurts!

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  3. yp, you needn't be so cruel. Jenny's home is neat as a pin, I'll bet.

    But Jenny dear, this post. This new .. post. Well, it's raised some questions, hasn't it? Are you suggesting that there might be no ..?
    Are you casting doubt on the existance of Father Christmas? Well are you?

    My ... lip is ... quivering.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Well, that would explain that when I heard the sleigh bells when I was a kid, I still didn't catch a glimpse, he'd already be miles away.

    Crushed in his seat, honestly, he drinks loads of warm milk for stonger bones, everyone knows that ;-)

    Paul.

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  5. Dear Santa,

    Ignore Jenny, she really does believe in you...if however you decide she doesn't need anything more than a lump of coal this year, then please fell free to forward her loot to my little house in Toronto...where there will always be a mince pie and a glass of sherry out for old St. Nick.

    Love, JustSue xo

    ReplyDelete
  6. It's OK, Sue and Dale, I'll be hanging up my stocking as usual! :)
    Paul, I always thought he preferred sherry.
    Greg, I think you are probably right.
    YP, I am not Welsh and I am not ALL that houseproud, I admit, but my part of the living room is pretty tidy - it's just good old NASA which is the fly in the ointment! Direct your observations to Keith, please. He is Welsh and VERY untidy!

    ReplyDelete

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