Is There a Santa Claus? No.
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Is There a Santa Claus? No.
As a result of an overwhelming lack of requests, and with research
help from that renown scientific journal SPY magazine (January,
1990)  I am pleased to present the annual scientific inquiry into
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 has 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 and
Buddhist children, that reduces the workload to 15% of the total 
378 million according to Population Reference Bureau. At an average
(census) rate of 3.5 children per household, that's 91.8 million homes.
One presumes there's at least one good child in each.
3) 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 (which seems logical). This works out to
822.6 visits per second. This is to say that for each Christian
household with good children, Santa has 1/1000th 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 91.8 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 751/2 million miles, not counting
stops to do what most of us must do at least once every 13 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 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 that each child gets nothing more than a mediumsized lego
set (2 pounds), the sleigh is carrying21,300 tons, not counting
Santa, 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 four times the weight of the Queen Elizabeth.
5) 53,000 tons traveling at 650 miles per second creates enormous
air resistance  this will heat the reindeer up in the same fashion
as spacecraft reentering 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 vaporized within
4.26 thousandths of a second. Santa, meanwhile, will be subjected
to centrifugal forces 17,500.06 times greater than gravity. A
250pound 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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Entered on: 05/09/1998
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