A piece about how easily ol' St. Nick gets around on Christmas Eve, reprinted here for all to enjoy. Letting young children see this page may be a bit bewildering. Proceed with caution.

1) ** Flying Reindeer:** 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) **Children:** 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) **Timing:** 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, weknow 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) **Weight:** 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 anount, 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) **Speed:** 353,000 tons traveling
at 650 miles per second creates enormous air resistance - this will heat the
reindeer up in the same fashion as spacecrafts 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.

**Conclusion:** If Santa ever
DID deliver presents on Christmas Eve, he's dead now.

**Foundations:** 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).

**One Other Point:** 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.

In **final** conclusion --

Poor Santa has a lot on his hands.

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