|Is There a Santa Claus?As a result of an overwhelming lack of requests, and with research help fromthat renown scientific journal SPY magazine (January, 1990) - I am pleased topresent the annual scientific inquiry into Santa Claus.1) No known species of reindeer can fly. BUT there are 300,000 species ofliving organisms yet to be classified, and while most of these are insectsand germs, this does not COMPLETELY rule out flying reindeer which only Santahas 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 andBuddhist cihldren, that reduces the workload to to 15% of the total - 378million according to Population Reference Bureau. At an average (census)rate of 3.5 children per household, that's 91.8 million homes. One presumesthere's at least one good child in each.3) Santa has 31 hours of Christmas to work with, thanks to the differenttime zones and the rotation of the earth, assuming he travels east to west(which seemes logical). This works out to 822.6 visits per second.This is to say that for each Christian household with good children, Santahas 1/1000th of a second to park, hop out of the sleigh, jump down thechimney, fill the stockings, distribute the remaining presents under thetree, eat whatever snacks have been left, get back up the chimney, get backinto the sleigh and move on to the next house. Assuming that each of these91.8 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 75-1/2million miles, not counting stops to do what most of us must do at least onceevery 31 hours, plus feeding etc.This means that Santa's sleigh is moving at 650 miles per second, 3,000times the speed of sound. For purposes of comparison, the fastest man-madevehicle on earth, the Ulysses space probe, moves at a poky 27.4 miles persecond - a conventional reindeer can run, tops, 15 miles per hour.4) The payload on the sleigh adds another interesting element. Assumingthat 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 invariablydescribed as overweight. On land, conventional reindeer can pull no morethan 300 pounds. Even granting that "flying reindeer" (see point #1) couldpull TEN TIMES the normal anount, we cannot do the job with eight, or evennine. We need 214,200 reindeer. This increases the payload - not evencounting 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 travelling at 650 miles per second creates enourmous airresistance - this will heat the reindeer up in the same fashion asspacecrafts re-entering the earth's atmosphere. The lead pair of reindeerwill absorb 14.3 QUINTILLION joules of energy. Per second. Each. In short,they will burst into flame almost instantaneously, exposing the reindeerbehind them, and create deafening sonic booms in their wake.The entire reindeer team will be vaporized within 4.26 thousandths of asecond. Santa, meanwhile, will be subjected to centrifugal forces 17,500.06times 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'sdead now.