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Forum topic by pashley posted 11-23-2009 06:37 PM 1175 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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pashley

1036 posts in 3184 days


11-23-2009 06:37 PM

Topic tags/keywords: santa

The physics of Christmas, as seen by an engineer.

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, which 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 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 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, 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 thousands 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 traveling 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 adsorb 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 m.p.s. 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 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.

-- Have a blessed day! http://newmissionworkshop.com


13 replies so far

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

115206 posts in 3044 days


#1 posted 11-23-2009 06:51 PM

You missed how long his list would be. I’m guessing very long:-))

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View BlankMan's profile

BlankMan

1488 posts in 2820 days


#2 posted 11-24-2009 04:28 AM

Using warp drive and exploiting rifts in the space-time continuum to leverage time travel, it might be possible.

-- -Curt, Milwaukee, WI

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2136 posts in 2575 days


#3 posted 11-24-2009 10:56 PM

The beauty of children, and I hope this never changes, is that they would look you straight in the eye and say “You are not making any sense. Santa touches his nose, time stops, and his bag fills back up again with new toys. He’s magic” ;) Which is why many of us still find ourselves at 3am on Christmas morning stuffing stockings, eating sugar cookies, hiding carrots, laying out new presents, and leaving the door to the fireplace open just a little… :)

-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View Gary's profile

Gary

8968 posts in 2900 days


#4 posted 11-24-2009 11:20 PM

Ah pooh. Next you’ll be down on the Easter Bunny

-- Gary, DeKalb Texas only 4 miles from the mill

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patron

13538 posts in 2808 days


#5 posted 11-24-2009 11:32 PM

maybe thats why it’s a

miracle ?

how ever your analyses is also a

miracle .

i knew i should have gone to M.I.T. !

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2718 posts in 2753 days


#6 posted 11-24-2009 11:42 PM

Grinch! ——-Don’t share this with the children.
Realism is overated.

-- http://shepherdtoolandsupply.com/

View pashley's profile

pashley

1036 posts in 3184 days


#7 posted 11-25-2009 12:20 AM

No, guys, I didn’t mean it that way.

When i first read this, I found it insanely funny, with things like:

• This means Santa’s sleigh is moving at 650 miles per second—3,000 times the speed of sound.
• 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.

I certainly didn’t mean it to diminish Santa Claus – one of the last remaining good things in the world we can believe in.

Sorry for the misunderstanding.

-- Have a blessed day! http://newmissionworkshop.com

View papadan's profile

papadan

1182 posts in 2835 days


#8 posted 11-25-2009 12:43 AM

If all this calculating is to prove there is no Santa Claus, you’re missing a few digits yourself and I’m tellin Santa what you wrote!

-- Carpenter assembles with hands, Designer builds with brains, Artist creates with heart!

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2718 posts in 2753 days


#9 posted 11-25-2009 12:50 AM

pashley, I really didn’t take it that way—just being cute. I actually found the concept fasinating. Santa has held us all in awe as little kids. I think it will continue that way for a long time to come. Goes to show how children love to believe in unbelievable things. Sure makes for a happier world. I don’t believe for a minute that Santa has warped our kids. Too bad adults can’t lighten up some.

-- http://shepherdtoolandsupply.com/

View littlecope's profile

littlecope

3055 posts in 2969 days


#10 posted 11-25-2009 12:58 AM

Santa never read the Laws of Physics, Silly!!!

-- Mike in Concord, NH---Unpleasant tasks are simply worthy challenges to improve skills.

View Gary's profile

Gary

8968 posts in 2900 days


#11 posted 11-25-2009 12:59 AM

Ho Ho Ho….you’re forgiven but, Dan’s got you on the blacklist now. Probably wont get that new tool you wanted for Christmas

-- Gary, DeKalb Texas only 4 miles from the mill

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

17674 posts in 3142 days


#12 posted 11-30-2009 06:28 AM

Some phenomena defy scientific explanation :-))

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

18615 posts in 3627 days


#13 posted 11-30-2009 04:12 PM

“here here” to David Craig…
:)

and I chuckled at the posting. I’m sure Santa will see the humour in it as well—no need to worry about the “being good” list.

And, the engineer is really missing out on the beauty of life (aka David Craig’s comment) :)

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (https://www.facebook.com/DebbiePribeleENJOConsultant)

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