This was sent to me by Stefan (who works here), who got it from Steve (who
works at Hayes down the street), who evidently got it from somewhere that
had SPY magazine in its ancestry....The rebuttal is all mine, however. Jim.
Proposition: IS THERE A SANTA CLAUS? (See below for my rebuttal..)
As a result of an overwhelming lack of requests, and with research help from
that renown scientific journal SPY magazine (January, 1990) - I am pleased to
present the annual scientific inquiry into Santa Claus.
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
REBUTTAL: (Jim Mantle, Waterloo Maple Software)
Come on, ya gotta believe! I mean, if you can handle flying furry animals, then
it's only a small step to the rest.
1) As admitted, it is possible that a flying reindeer can be found. I would
agree that it would be quite an unusual find, but they might exist.
2) You've relied on cascading assumptions. For example, you have assumed a
uniform distribution of children across homes. Toronto/Yorkville, or
Toronto/Cabbagetown, or other yuppie neighbourhoods, have probably less than
the average (and don't forget the DINK and SINK homes (Double Income No Kids,
Single Income No Kids)), while the families with 748 starving children that
they keep showing on Vision TV while trying to pick my pocket would skew that
15% of homes down a few percent.
3) You've also assumed that each home that has kids would have at least one
good kid. What if anti-selection applies, and homes with good kids tend to have
more than their share of good kids, and other homes have nothing except
terrorists in diapers? Let's drop that number of homes down a few more percent.
4) Santa would have to Fedex a number of packages ahead of time, since he would
not be able to fly into Air Force Bases, or into tower-controlled areas near
airports. He's get shot at over certain sections of the Middle East, and the
no-fly zones in Iraq, so he'd probably use DHL there. Subtract some more homes.
5) I just barely passed Physics and only read Stephen Hawking's book once, but
I recall that there is some Einsteinian Theory that says time does strange
things as you move faster. In fact, when you go faster than the speed of light
time runs backward, if you do a straight line projection, connect the dots and
just ignore any singularity you might find right at the speed of light. And
don't say you can't go faster than the speed of light because I've seen it done
on TV. Jean-Luc doesn't have reindeer but he does have matter-antimatter warp
engines and a holodeck and that's good enough for me.
So Santa could go faster than light, visit all the good children which are not
uniformly distributed by either concentration in each home or by number of
children per household, and get home before he left so he can digest all those
stale cookies and warm milk yech.
6) Aha, you say, Jean-Luc has matter-antimatter warp engines, Santa only has
reindeer, where does he get the power to move that fast!
You calculated the answer! The lead pair of reindeer will absorb 14.3
QUINTILLION joules of energy. Per second. Each. This is an ample supply of
energy for the maneuvering, acceleration, etc, that would be required of the
loaded sleigh. The reindeer don't evaporate or incinerate because of this
energy, they accelerate. What do you think they have antlers for, fighting over
females? Think of antlers as furry solar array panels.
7. If that's not enough, watch the news on the 24th at 11 o'clock. NORAD (which
may be one of the few government agencies with more than 3 initials in it's
name and therefore it must be more trustworthy than the rest) tracks Santa
every year and I've seen the radar shots of him approaching my house from the
direction of the North Pole. They haven't bomarck'd him yet, so they must
believe too, right?
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