Does Santa Claus Exist?

by Staff on December 24, 2011

in Offbeat

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It’s that time of year again and the staff at Mitchell News decided to do a bit of scientific research in an attempt to answer that nagging question, “Does Santa Claus Exist?” Here’s what we’ve discovered.

We started by looking into the reindeer and found that no known species of reindeer can fly. However, there are 300,000 species of living organisms yet to be classified and, while most of these are insects and germs, this doesn’t completely rule out flying reindeer (which only Santa has ever seen).

Next, we looked at the number of children that Santa has to accommodate on his annual excursion. There are approximately two billion children (persons under 18) in the world. Since Santa doesn’t (appear) to handle the Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, and Buddhist children, however, that reduces his workload to about 15% of the total — 378 million, according to the Population Reference Bureau.

At an average rate of 3.5 children per household, that’s 108 million homes that Santa must visit. For sake of argument, we’ll assume there is at least one good child in each.

Santa has 31 hours of Christmas to work with, thanks to the different time zones and the rotation of the Earth, assuming that he travels east to west, which seems logical. This works out to 822.6 home visits per second.

That is, for each Christian household with good children, Santa has approximately 1/1000th of a second to park, hop out of the sleigh, jump down the chimney, fill the stockings, distribute the 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 the 108 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.

That adds up to a total trip of 75.5 million miles and that’s not even counting stops to do what most of us must do at least once every 31 hours, plus feeding, 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 pokey 27.4 miles per second — a conventional reindeer can run, tops, 20 miles per hour.

The payload on the sleigh adds another interesting element. Assuming that each child gets nothing more than a medium-sized lego set (weighing two pounds), the sleigh is carrying 321,300 tons. That’s not even counting Santa himself, which is invariably described as overweight.

On land, a conventional reindeer can pull no more than 300 pounds. Even granting that “flying reindeer” (see above) could pull ten times the normal amount, we cannot do the job with eight or even nine.

No, 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.

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.


In short, they will burst into flame almost instantaneously, exposing the reindeer behind them and creating 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 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 dead now.

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