Santa statistics

No known species of reindeer can fly. But there are roughly 300,000 species of living organisms yet to be classified. While most of these are insects and germs, this does not rule out flying reindeer – though Santa and my uncle Ralph, in his drinking days, are the only people who’ve ever seen one. 

There are two billion children (small people under the age of 18) in the world. But since Santa doesn’t (appear to) handle most non-Christian children, that reduces the workload to about 15 per cent of the total (roughly 378 million according to the Population Reference Bureau). At a rate of say, 3.5 children per household, that’s 91.8 million homes. One presumes there’s at least one good kid in each.

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.  That’s 822.6 visits per second. For each eligible household, Santa has 1/1000th of a second to park the sleigh, jump down the chimney, fill the stockings, put presents under the tree, eat any snacks, kiss mommy when available, get back up the chimney, hop in the sleigh and move on.

Assuming each of these 91.8 million stops are evenly distributed around the earth, we’re now talking about 0.78 miles per household – a total trip of 75.5 million miles, not counting stops to let Santa and the reindeer do what most of us must do at least once every 31 hours.

This means Santa’s sleigh moves at 650 miles per second, or 3,000 times the speed of sound. The fastest man-made vehicle, the Ulysses space probe, moves at a poky 27.4 miles a second (a conventional reindeer, by the way, can run 15 miles per hour, tops).

Assuming each child gets nothing more that a medium-sized Lego set (two pounds), the sleigh is carrying 321,300 tons, not counting overweight Santa. Conventional reindeer can pull no more than 300 pounds. Even granting flying reindeer could pull 10 times the normal amount, Santa would need 214,200 reindeer. This increases the payload (not counting the sleigh) to 353,430 tons, or four times the weight of the Queen Elizabeth II.

353,000 tons travelling at 650 miles a second creates enormous air resistance, which would heat the reindeer to incandescence in the same fashion as spacecraft or meteors 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 creating deafening sonic booms. The entire team will be vaporized within 4.26 thousandths of a second. 

Santa, meanwhile, will be subjected to centrifugal forces of 17,500.06 gravities. A 250-pound Santa (a wee bit of an underestimate) would be pinned to the back of his sleigh by 4,315,015 pounds of force.

If Santa ever did deliver presents on Christmas Eve, he’s dead now.

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12 Comments

Filed under Lazy Blogging, Pedantic

12 responses to “Santa statistics

  1. snarly

    whoa
    we hav a great uncle ralph now? this is new…

    too much numbers there. i cant read numbers

  2. It’s lazy blogging Snarly, as in I pinched it from somewhere else. I don’t really have an uncle Ralph. I do have an Uncle Alf though.

  3. “In short, they will burst into flame almost instantaneously, exposing the reindeer behind them and creating deafening sonic booms.”

    …and the smell of charred venison.

  4. Dom

    OK – centrifugal forces? He’s travelling in a straight line (and we’ll not even get into the issue of it really being centripedal acceleration) where are rotational forces coming into this?

    I once did a project on this for my A/O level maths, while I don’t have the exact figures to had I figured that he’d drink enough alcohol to kill a man many times over and is now wanted for so many counts of breaking and entering that he’s the #1 criminal in the world.

    I will be standing guard this year, armed to the teeth. Any fat bugger in a red suit trying to break into my house is going to get a katana in the neck 😀

  5. cha0tic, stinky. I imagine that nearly a quarter of a million flying reindeer would leave an awful pong behind.

    Dom, save yourself the effort. The fat man’s dead. If not he’s going to be moving so fast that you’ll never get the swing in on time.

  6. By comparison, the problems solved by Santa Claus make the proposition of the virgin birth of a supreme being almost trivial to the point of absurdity!

    R

  7. For some reason I read the part about the weight as,

    “…or four times the weight of Queen Elizabeth II.”

    Which I at first thought was some sort of snarky commentary and then I realized there was a “the” in there and it all made much more sense.

    Perhaps http://www.edthefuture.com/ will shed further light on this controversial topic…

  8. Chippy

    Get real folks, there is no Santa, its a lie made up by generations of parents to get you to shut the F**k up for the best part of a year…
    Bah Humbug!!
    LOL

  9. “Assuming each of these 91.8 million stops are evenly distributed around the earth, we’re now talking about 0.78 miles per household – a total trip of 75.5 million miles, not counting stops to let Santa and the reindeer do what most of us must do at least once every 31 hours.”

    Obviously Santa has magic “no-go” pills… but the rest of it is totally believable. By the end of his rounds his ho-ho-hos aren’t so cheerful anymore but you take the good with the bad.

  10. Magic no-go pills. I need some of those for my next night out with the lads.

  11. snarlz

    i hav a great uncle alf? hmmm…..

  12. Snarly, you have six great uncles.

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