Does Santa Claus Exist?
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 18) 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 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. 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.
5) 353,000 tons traveling at 650 miles per second creates enormous air resistance - this will heat the reindeer up in the same fashion as spacecraft re-entering the earth's atmosphere. The lead pair of reindeer will absorb 14.3 QUINTILLION 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 centrifugal 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.
This inquiry is based on the premise that there is only one Santa Claus. The calculations work out more realistically if you assume some form of parallel processing. A thousand Santas (1 kilosanta) or a million (a megasanta) or more, working in parallel, could perform the same number of visits in the same allotted time with less advanced technology (and fewer vaporized reindeer).
Who does the air traffic control for a megasanta? A million sleighs and 12 million reindeer occupy a significant amount of airspace. If we assume that each reindeer team, sleigh and Santa needs no more than 5 feet of vertical airspace (which, given that known species of reindeer with antlers are quite nearly five feet tall, leaves very little room for error), then a megasanta requires almost 947 miles of vertical airspace. This also disregards the fact that each Santa must make frequent landings. The airspace at chimney level will be in high demand and disproportionately crowded, particularly as Christmas-celebrating households tend to be densely clustered in the same geographic areas. It seems likely that a megasanta, while perhaps avoiding vaporized reindeer, would suffer huge casualties from in-air collisions.
This is a long overdue editorial response to the "Scientific Inquiry into the existence of Santa Claus"
The theories outlined in the previous article, while being mathematically and scientifically correct, are somewhat limited in scope. I offer some speculations in another direction. I feel that it is necessary to offer the POSSIBILITY that Santa Claus (or some iteration of that story) exists, in opposition to the distinctly negative slant that the aforementioned source article suggests.
Consider, if Santa Claus started his operation sometime in the 1600's (as legend has it), then it's altogether likely that it is no longer THE Santa Claus that carries out this yearly responsibility. I ask for some latitude at this point, as I am not a mathematician, so my numbers, though close, will be approximate.
Let's examine the possibility of Claus population. At an accepted average rate of 3.5 generations per century (Population Reference Bureau), this gives us approximately 14 generations of Claus breeding to consider. At an average (taking historical references and averages as a rule) of 4 children per Claus Family (starting with Santa and Mrs.Claus), producing at least 2 males per family unit, that renders a total current possible Claus population of approximately a quarter of a BILLION Clauses (factoring in the attrition due to the harsh Arctic Circle climate, reindeer pilot training incidents, elf uprisings, sibling homicide, and other accidental deaths).
Presuming that the maintenance of the secret of the Claus "situation" is due to limitation or exclusion of outside people, this would lead us to speculate that the current Claus population is a product of rampant inbreeding. Generations and generations worth. So much so that the combination of magnified recessive gene traits, exclusion of new genetic material, and limited task training has, in all likelihood, produced a population of Task Specific Idiot Savant Clauses who know nothing other than the functions of piloting sleighs in flight (clear point of contention with the original article), breaking and entering, gift distribution, and gorging on any exposed foodstuffs, all on one specific evening all around the world. I believe that this massive undertaking is financed by a well-established fund raising program, implemented centuries ago, incorporating the street-corner and mall residing Santas.
If the idea of a multi-Claus population were proved, that would guarantee that all of the Santas would then, in fact, be THE Santa Claus (or more appropriately, _A_ Santa Claus), simplifying the explanation to children inquiring into why there are so many Clauses ringing bells, or why Santa was at THIS mall when he was just at the LAST one. That would also alleviate any guilt on the parents' part stemming from feeling the need to respond to the child with either the perceived truth that there is actually NO Santa Claus (surely helping the child along to his/her specific predestined emotional dysfunction), or the creation and maintenance of a lie ("Oh, that's because he's following us, dear", surely resulting in deep psychological scarring in the child for life, and producing an unfortunate deep-seated fear of overweight people in red crushed velvet leisure suits and black patent leather boots). Of course, this also means that every city and town has a resident population of Clauses, simplifying local gift distribution.
Back to the numbers. If we do the math, we would see that the average number of "Active Delivery Units" (which we will refer to hereafter as ADU's, being described as male-Claus gift distribution units, but not with the insensitive intent of perpetuating the sexist image of the traditional Christmas figure) is reduced to a paltry 53.5 million ADU's. Keep in mind that though there are clearly more Male Clauses alive at this point, some may be children, some in training, and some may be too old or infirm to engage in the Christmas Eve task. Using the numbers that you provided in your article, 98.1 million homes, our numbers would suggest that the average Claus would only have to deliver to an average of 1.71 homes, and they would only need to walk an average of a mile and one half to get there. Of course, rural ADU's might have fewer homes and further to walk, where urban Clauses might have more homes in a more compressed neighborhood, but Claus allocation would address that.
As far as Payload per household is concerned, we need to clarify that as a current societal issue. In today's society, we can no longer afford to judge a child to the extent that what they receive on Christmas morning is based on their emotional/psychological/interpersonal performance of the past year. The modern non-Claus family unit (practicing random breeding patterns, typically excluding members of their immediate family) cannot bear the responsibility or social impact of having raised a dysfunctional child. Thus, we can presume that the lumps of coal and switches are no longer gift options to be delivered by an ADU. Our point is, all Christmas participating non-Claus families with children will receive actual gifts.
Again, based on our current societal standards, the average family of three children will receive a minimum of eleven gifts (three for each of the children, and one each for the parents, regardless of whether or not they believe in Santa). I would conservatively estimate the average total weight of gifts per family to be in the 50-70 lb. range, which is no problem at all for a lumbering idiot-savant who considers the transportation of this payload to be among the chief ingredients to his happiness (the delivery of which immediately follows the most satisfying Breaking and Entering portion of the evening, and the reward of which would be the removal and consumption of any exposed baked goods). Engaging in these activities in the house/houses within his jurisdiction is the only thing that truly gives him pleasure (save, perhaps, producing his share of Clauses with his particular Mrs. Claus). At an average walking speed of 3 miles-per-hour, travel time would be roughly an hour, round trip,
per house. Using this theory, the arguments about friction, wind resistance, and centrifugal force are reduced to insignificance. The only flames that an ADU might face might be found in the dying embers in a fireplace, and then only if an ADU insisted on using the chimney as an access point (probably uncommon nowadays, and realistically unlikely).
As far as the reindeer are concerned, I think that you have not fully examined their usage from an operational standpoint. I have considered that with common herd thinning, and attrition through losses when flying over countries with sensitive military airspace, they might have phased out the usage of flying reindeer altogether. Understanding that each ADU has only to walk a couple of miles to reach a target household, the use of reindeer as transportation on Christmas Eve would be a waste of reindeer technology and resources. However, if we discount the herd thinning, and apply the same formulas to reindeer mating as we have to the Claus Principle (excepting, we hope, the incest), one would end up with an enormous herd. This would provide a wonderful stock delivery service from the manufacturing site at the North Pole (assuming that they have not followed suit with other modern manufacturing companies and either built remote manufacturing sites, or out-sourced their operations altogether) directly to the residence of each ADU. Understanding that the ground speed of a laden reindeer is approximately 15 miles-per-hour (factoring in variables in terrain, un-navigable obstacles, and hoof soreness), we might then grant an airborne reindeer a possible forward airspeed of perhaps 75 miles per hour. At that speed, the distribution process could begin as early as August.
It is clear to me that the author of the previous article was very negative on the possibility of an actual functioning Santa (or Santas). It is evident that science has blinded that author's perspective, and it is my hope that my article might correct any damage that might have been caused to any children that might have happened upon that author's most narrow-minded opinion.
Does Santa Exist: Part Three
This is a rebuttal to the original intellectual interrogation (see Does Santa Claus Exist?) that arrived at the conclusion that Santa Claus does not exist.
Several key points are overlooked by this callous, amateurish "study".
1) Flying reindeer: As is widely known (due to the excellent historical documentary "Santa Claus is Coming to Town"), the flying reindeer are not a previously unknown species of reindeer, but were in fact given the power of flight due to eating magic acorns. As is conclusively proven in "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" (a no-punches pulled look at life in Santa's village), this ability has bred true in subsequent generations of reindeer, obviously the magic acorns imprinted their power on a dominant gene sequence within the reindeer DNA strand.
2) Number of households: This figure overlooks two key facts.
First of all the first major schism in the Church split the Eastern Churches, centered in Byzantium, from the Western, which remained centered in Rome. This occurred prior to the Gregorian correction to the Julian calendar. The Eastern churches (currently called the Orthodox Churches) do not recognize the Gregorian correction for liturgical events, and their Christmas is, as a result several days after the Western Churches. Santa gets two shots at delivering toys.
Second, the figure of 3.5 children per household is based on the gross demographic average, which includes households with no children at all. The number of children per household, when figured as an average for households with children, would therefore have to be adjusted upward. Also, the largest single Christian denomination is Roman Catholic, who, as we all know, breed like rabbits. If you don't believe me, ask my four brothers and two sisters, they'll back me up. Due to the predominance of Catholics within Christian households, the total number of households containing Christian children would have to be adjusted downward to reflect the overloading of Catholics beyond a standard deviation from the median. Also, the assertion that each home would contain at least one good child would be reasonable enough if there were in fact an even 3.5 children per household. However, since the number of children per household is distributed integrally, there are a significant number (on the order of several million) of one child Christian households. Even though only children are notoriously spoiled and therefore disproportionately inclined towards being naughty, since it's the holidays we'll be generous and give them a fifty-fifty chance of being nice. This removes one half of the single child households from Santa's delivery schedule, which has already been reduced by the removal of Orthodox households from the first delivery run.
3) Santa's delivery run (speed, payload, etc.): These all suffer from the dubious supposition that there is only one Santa Claus. The name "Santa" is obviously either Spanish or Italian, two ethnic groups which are both overwhelmingly Catholic. The last name Claus suggests a joint German/Italian background. His beginnings, battling the Burgermeister Meisterburger, suggest he grew up in Bavaria (also predominantly Catholic). The Kaiser style helmets of the Burgermeister's guards, coupled with the relative isolation of the village, suggest that his youth was at the very beginning of the Prussian influence in Germany. Thus, Santa and Mrs. Claus have been together for well over one hundred years. If you think that after a hundred years of living at the North Pole with nights six months long that they remain childless, you either don't know Catholics or are unaware of the failure rate of the rhythm method. There have therefore been over five generations of Clauses, breeding like Catholics for over one hundred years. Since they are Catholic, their exponential population increase would obviously have a gain higher than the world population as a whole. There have therefore been more than enough new Santas to overcome the population increase of the world. So in fact, Santa has an easier time of it now than he did when he first started out. Santa dead, indeed; some people will twist any statistic to "prove" their cynical theory.
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