
Engineers View on Santa

There are approximately two and onehalf 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 the 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 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 0.7 miles per household; a total trip of 75.6 million miles, not counting
bathroom stops or breaks.
This means Santa's sleigh is moving faster than 675 miles per second  3,000 times the speed
of sound. For purposes of comparison, the fastest manmade vehicle, the Ulysses space probe,
moves at a pokey 27.4 miles per second, and a conventional reindeer can (at best) run at
the rate of 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 (about three pounds), the sleigh is carrying
approximately 570 thousand tons, not counting Santa himself. On land, a conventional reindeer
can pull no more than 300 pounds. Even granting that a "flying" reindeer could pull 10 times
the normal amount, the job can't be done with eight or even nine of them  Santa would need
378,000 of them. This increases the payload, not counting the weight of the sleigh, another
38,000 tons, or roughly seven times the weight of the Queen Elizabeth (the ship, not the monarch).
Six hundred thousand tons traveling at 650 miles per second creates enormous air resistance 
this would heat up the reindeer in the same fashion as a spacecraft reentering 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 mps.
in 0.001 seconds, would be subjected to acceleration forces of 17,000 g's. A 250pound 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.



