### Does Santa Exist? Finally the quesion is answered....

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Does Santa Exist?

There are approximately two billion children ( persons under 18) in the World. However, since Santa does not visit children of Muslim, 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 thiry one hours of Christmas to work with, thanks to the different times 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 out for him, collect the carrots for the reindeers, get back up the chimney, jump in to the sleigh and get onto thenext house.

Assuming that each of the 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 and breaks.

This means that Santa's sleigh is moving at 650 miles per second - 3000 times the speed of sound. For purposes of comparision, the fastest man made veheicle, the Ulysses space probe, moves at a pokey 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 weight) the sleigh is carrying over 500,000 tons, not counting Santa himself.

On land, a conventional reindeer can pull no more that 300pounds. Even granting that the flying reindeer can pull ten times the normal amount, the job cannot be done with 8 or even 9 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 Queen Elizabeth (the ship not the monarch) 600,000 tons travelling at 650 miles per second creates enormous air resistance and turbulence - this would heat up the reindeer in the same fashion as a space craft re-entering the earth's atmosphere.

The lead pair of reindeers would absorb 14.3 quintilion joules of energy per second each. In short, they would burst into flames almost instanteously, exposing the reindeers behind them and creating deafening sonic booms in their wake.

The entire reindeer team would be vaporised within 4.26 thousandth 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 17,000 g's. A 250 pound Santa (which seems ludicrously slim) would be pinned to the back of the sleigh - 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!

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Shamelessly purloined from the web... Regardz from Zaadz in OZ

-- Pieter (zaadz@icisp.net.au), December 12, 2000

Shhhh...don't tell the kids.

;-)

-- Peg (pegmcleod@mediaone.net), December 12, 2000.

Tsk, tsk, tsk ...

The above analysis has already been shown to be invalid because it omits the consequences of additional known facts not mentioned above.

(I can't find a copy of the refutation right now, but anyone who passed sophomore physics at Caltech ought to be able to reconstruct it after having once read it carefully -- It could be on the final!) The refutation went something like this:

Skipping minor stuff (e.g., Santa's stops are not evenly distributed around the Earth (which is even acknowledged above!), so a proper calculation would involve a smaller average distance between stops), the main omissions above are that (1) Santa Claus is known to be magical, and (2) it is a well-known principle that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Since the march of science has consistently shown that phenomena considered to be magical have later been found to be the consequence of nonmagical laws of nature, we can confidently conclude that future investigations will find that Santa's operations are simply the result of the application of advanced technology (and who would have advanced technology sooner than Santa?) to laws of nature not completely known to us yet. We could even extrapolate from known laws and principles, keeping in mind that the complete physics of Santa Claus is undoubtedly stranger and more beautiful than we can currently imagine.

Ol' Santa surely has some sort of faster-than-light (FTL) transportation, perhaps harnessing micro-wormhole technology, to achieve inter-household transit times far faster than the snail-like "around 1/1000th of a second" used in the faulty analysis. (Though some have also speculated that Santa uses "time travel", that is clearly not required as anything other than an observational side-effect of FTL travel.)

The middle paragraphs of the faulty analysis are all rendered moot by Santa's FTL transport. Details are left to the reader as an exercise.

Since FTL transport necessarily involves decoupling from the Earth-observer's inertial reference frame, there would be no "17,000 g's" acceleration force acting upon Santa. The penultimate paragraph in the faulty analysis which presents that figure and speculates upon the gruesome consequences for Santa is clearly only a dark fantasy with no basis in reality. The absence of end-of-year observations of any (*ugh*) "quivering blob of pink goo" sliding into roof gutters clearly illustrates the utter invalidity of the faulty analysis.

Yes, there is a Santa Claus, and he's as real as anything else.

Thanks, No Spam, I really needed that one today! I've always known there was a Santa, but I couldn't figure out *why* :-)

-- Patricia (PatriciaS@lasvegas.com), December 12, 2000.

You're quite welcome, Patricia. I just can't stand to let such faulty reasoning about an important matter go unchallenged.

Thanks No Spam. I'm printing your explanation for my kids.

-- helen (b@c.k), December 12, 2000.

Helen,

You're welcome, too. You might want to include the following absolutely-factual addendum in your printout:

In the fall of 1968, when I was a sophomore at Caltech, NBC announced that it would cancel the "Star Trek" TV show (The Original Series, as it is now known) because of low ratings.

Well, "Star Trek" was by far the most popular TV show at Caltech, as well as at many other college campuses. On "Star Trek" night (which changed from season to season), as soon as our student house president declared the nightly after-dinner business finished there was a mad rush to the living room to get the best seats for viewing the Radio Shack wide-screen TV that had been constructed by the double-E's. (Yes, Radio Shack sold a kit for building a wide-screen color TV back then.)

We science-and-technology-oriented students really liked "Star Trek" because, among other reasons, as one house member once put it, "We're going to do that stuff!"

When NBC announced the cancellation, the cry went up, "But Nielsen doesn't count us college students!" My roommate, Jim Cooper, was one organizer for "Save Star Trek" protests at several southern California colleges. One night in November 1968, most of us Techers got into buses to go to "beautiful downtown Burbank" ("Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In" had debuted that fall) for a protest march winding up at the NBC Studios there. It was well-organized and orderly. After a period of energetic chants (e.g., "Spock! Spock! Spock!"), we cheered when an NBC official came out to announce that the show would not be cancelled after all!

The next morning the reporter sent by the L.A. Times to cover the event wrote that students had mixed their Star Trek enthusiasm with chants celebrating famed anti-Vietnam-War protester Dr. Benjamin Spock. (I kid you not. Look it up if you have access to achives of the L.A. Times from that period.)

NBC extended "Star Trek" through the Spring 1969 season, but Gene Roddenberry had already left when the original cancellation was announced, and we all thought the last of the episodes were decidedly inferior.

You're probably wondering about the connection to Santa Claus.

Among the advanced technologies that would be useful to Mr. Claus would be a teleportation device, perhaps something like the "Star Trek" transporters (but faster -- he can't afford that interminable wait during the dematerialization and rematerialization sparkly shimmering that "Star Trek" put in for dramatic and show-stretching purposes).

On October 22, 1998, only thirty years after The Original Series of "Star Trek", the California Institute of Technology issued a press release announcing one teeny, tiny, baby step toward realizing the dream of teleportation. "Caltech physicists achieve first bona fide quantum teleportation" at http://broccoli.caltech.edu/~media/Press_Releases/PR11935.html

"We're going to do that stuff!"

Wow -- cool story, No Spam.

-- Patricia (PatriciaS@lasvegas.com), December 12, 2000.

No Spam -- you are the coolest! My kids think so too.

-- helen (b@c.k), December 12, 2000.

Spam,

Your explanation is fine, but incorrect. Santa does not travel faster than light, nor does he use a transporter beam. He has merely replicated himself and his reindeer in Mudd's robot machine, and has reproduced himself in sufficient numbers to accomplish the task at hand.

-- Uncle Deedah (unkeed@yahoo.com), December 13, 2000.

Unk -

This explains the "multiple Santa" sightings at the mall...I always KNEW there was a logical explanation for that!

-- JCL Jockey (WeThrive@onstress.com), December 13, 2000.

-- Pieter (zaadz@icisp.net.au), December 13, 2000.

Patricia, Helen,

Oooh! As a former geeky nerd (before those terms were invented), I find it especially nice to be considered cool.

But I forgot to point out one connection in my story.

When I was a kid, and heard about Santa Claus, I immediately zeroed in on the chimney bit. We lived in a ranch-style house with central heating and no fireplace. Grandma Woods's house had a fireplace, and chimney, but ours didn't. There was an exhaust pipe through our house's roof for the furnace, but it seemed clearly inadequate for Santa Claus.

Teleportation explains how Santa manages that one, as well as similar difficulties in apartment buildings and other living quarters.

- - - - -

JCL Jockey,

While it's quite possible that Santa Claus does not use FTL or teleportation (I freely acknowledge that there could be explanations other than the one I present, but Unk could not possibly have any proof that mine is definitely incorrect and should stop saying so), and replication could be involved, one should never try to fool kids with explanations they can easily perceive as false.

Mall Santas are ordinary people, dressed in Santa suits, doing a little acting for the entertainment of others, and any kid can see that clearly. Do not think you can or should try to fool any kid on that point. They know what acting is, acting is an integral part of human culture, and it's perfectly all right to acknowledge that.