Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Santa Claus v. The Laws of Physics

I’m blatantly stealing this from elsewhere but it’s worth wheeling out at this time of year, I think. Merry Christmas! I’m signing off until January.

  • So, Santa Claus has 31 hours to work with, thanks to the different time zones and the rotation of the earth, assuming he does the logical thing and travels east to west. This works out as 822.6 visits per second.
  • For each ‘Christian’ household with good children, Santa has 1/1000 of a second to park safely, leap out of his sleigh, jump down the chimney, fill the stockings, distribute any remaining presents under the tree, eat whatever dubious snacks have been left, scramble back up the chimney, climb into the sleigh and move on to the next house.
  • To achieve this, Santa’s sleigh needs to move at 650 miles per second, 3000 times the speed of sound. For purposes of comparison, a common or garden reindeer can run at 15 miles per hour.
  • Even if each child only gets one small toy, the sleigh is still carrying 321,300 tons, not counting Santa, who is invariably described as overweight.
  • If we’re generous and assume that magical red-nosed reindeer can carry ten times more weight than regular reindeer, Santa would still need 214,200 reindeer – increasing the overall weight of the flying vehicle to 353,430 tons.
  • This alarming bulk of flying animals, gifts and a worryingly obese driver travelling at 650 miles per second creates enormous air resistance, which 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 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 vaporised within 4.26/1000 of a second. Santa, meanwhile, will be subjected to centrifugal forces 17,500 times greater than gravity. A 250-pound Santa (a generous estimate) would be pinned to the back of his sleigh by 4,315,015 pounds of force.

Ho ho ho.

p.s. SEW7KNGMZYNH - sorry, that's just a gobbledegook code I need to insert for Technorati, apparently. I don't understand technology.


  1. And yet, I still believe. In unshakeable fashion.

  2. Love this post. And it's 'recycled' not nicked. :-)