Performance Analysis of Santa Claus

For your holiday enjoyment, please find below a performance analysis of 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 Claus has ever seen.

2) There are 2 billion children (persons under 18) in the world. BUT since Santa Claus doesn’t appear to handle Muslim, Hindu, Jewish and Buddhist children, that reduces the workload to 15% of the total to 378,000,000 according to the Population Reference Bureau. At an average (census) rate of 3.5 children per household, that’s 91,800,000 homes. One presumes there is at least one GOOD child in each.

3) Santa Claus 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 for each Christian household with good children, Santa Claus has 1/1,000th 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 91,800,000 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 75,500,000 miles, not 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 comparison purposes, the fastest man-made (person-made, for the politically correct) 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 each child gets nothing more than a medium-sized present (2 pounds), the sleigh is carrying 321,300 tons, not counting Santa Claus, 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 roughly four times the weight of the QE2.

5) 353,430 tons traveling at 650 miles per second creates enormous air resistance – this will heat up the reindeer in the same fashion as a 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 creating deafening sonic booms in their wake. The entire reindeer team will be vaporized within 4.26 thousands of a second. Santa Claus, meanwhile, will be subjected to centrifugal forces 17,500.06 times greater than gravity. A 250-pound Santa Claus (which seems ludicrously slim by modern American weight standards) would be pinned to the back of his sleigh by 4,315,015 pounds of force. So without inertia dampers such as might be seen in Star Trek, Santa Claus would wind up flat as a postage stamp on the back of his seat.

In conclusion – if Santa Claus ever DID deliver presents on Christmas Eve, he’s dead now.

BUT…

For those chilled by the grim fate of Santa Claus in this analysis, the entire calculation assumes only ONE Santa. If there is more than one jolly individual performing the annual ritual of cherubic philanthropy, then things change as we shall see. This is conceptually equivalent to a PARALLEL  processing, or multi-tasking, procedure.

If there are two Santas operating in parallel, then we can divide the workload evenly, but the results are the same….

If there are ten Santas, the calculations are different, but the results are still the same….

If there are a 1,000 Santas, or what we shall call a kiloSanta, then our calculations show that each Santa has 1 visit per second, travels 75,500 miles on Christmas Eve to complete his mission, pulls 321 tons on his sleigh, and travels at roughly 2,435 miles per hour, which is 3 times the speed of sound or roughly as fast as the SR-71 Blackbird, the U.S. Air Force’s (until recently) premier high-altitude spy aircraft. Even with the reductions in speed and second-order reductions in drag, aerodynamic heating is still unreasonable and the kiloSanta still dies.

If we run the calculations for a 1,000,000 Santas operating in parallel, or a megaSanta, then the results are more encouraging. For

instance, each Santa travels at 2 miles per hour between stops, has about 20 minutes at each house, and travels a total of 75 miles. Furthermore, each Santa has a load of only 182 lbs. for his 91 stops. Even if each Santa is a load (as we can safely assume from the stories surrounding our corpulent culprit!), we are dealing with a total of approximately 532 lbs.

Our alternate conclusion then? Santa is not dead. He is merely distributed.