Thursday, December 24, 2009

How Do the Presents Get There?

You're all probably well aware of the physics to debunk Santa Claus. If not, here's one of many links to what was originally a cynic's argument to do just that, with quite a few rebuttals from physicists, engineers, mathematicians, and other folks that likely did not want the lump o' coal in their stocking. I'm not going to print all the rebuttals (although a couple of them warrant perusement), but I will print the original assertions below.

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 space crafts 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 greaterthan 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.

Now, not sludging into much of the fallacious reasoning asserted in this argument (i.e. flying reindeer only being credited with pulling 10 times the amount of non-talking, non-flying reindeer [HUH???], the incredibly high [these days] amount of children on the "naughty list", omitting elvin assistance [and all that implies], etc.), any essay containing both the words "Santa" and "joules" -- although "Santa" and "payload" deserves it's due credit -- within should be summarily dismissed. Has no one learned the folly of the Burgermeister Meisterburger and the distribution of Christmas toys?

Flying reindeer, dragging what must be an incredibly gargantuan sleigh, that somehow avoid all the anti-aircraft, fighter jets, ground-to-air missles that have to come along with the job in this Call of Duty Modern Warfare Age; magical, toy-making elves (and "toy-making" is a loose term that denotes all the modern techno gadgetry in which these sprites have quite possibly led the Technological Age) that abide in a sub-zero degree climate and darkness most of the year; a crystal ball that illuminates the activities of roughly 2.9 billion children twenty-four hours a day, seven-days a week, 364 days a year not including Christmas - and 365 on Leap Years; ten zillion presents a year both packed and taken out in a logical child-by-child order starting at the first house in Japan (according to the NORAD tracker) to the last house in Hawaii, including automobiles for sixteen year olds, weights and benches for athletes, pre-assembled drum sets, bikes, toy trains, etc., that are somehow encased (and rarely broken) in an unbreakable burlap sack that miraculously stays in an uncovered sleigh going near or at the speed of light; a five hundred lb., one-thousand year old Kringle that spryly slides down and nimbly clambers back up chimneys with the greatest of speed, agility, and ease (or slips in windows when chimneys are not of avail) all while lugging a bag many times the size of himself, not to mention the fact that he's been a pipe smoker for all these years without a hint of lung problems; treating peoples to aforementioned presents on six continents not including islands nor scientists holed up in Antartica...

...I mean, what's not to believe here? I believe.

So to all you cynics, skeptics, and pseudo-scientists that try to debunk what happens every December 24th like clockwork, I pose the question used in the title of this post. If my mom and dad don't put them there -- and they don't -- and I don't put them there, then how...?


Milly said...

I believe! And that's all I need to know!

DugALug said...

All this debunking! Hogwash! Debunk this: if you believe that national healthcare will 'save' us money, then believing in Santa Claus is a very small step.

God Bless