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Matt's Occasional Writing Blog

Quote of the Day

"Until then I had thought each book spoke of the things, human or divine, that lie outside books. Now I realized that not infrequently books speak of books: it is as if they spoke among themselves. In the light of this reflection, the library seemed all the more disturbing to me. It was then the place of a long, centuries-old murmuring, an imperceptible dialogue between one parchment and another, a living thing, a receptacle of powers not to be ruled by a human mind, a treasure of secrets emanated by many minds, surviving the death of those who had produced them or had been their conveyors." 

 

- The Name of the Rose (Umberto Eco)

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Santa versus Science

Ho Ho ... Whoah!!!

The precise origin of the following article is somewhat in debate. I haven't checked the math, nor do I accept all of the writer's premises about St. Nick, but those caveats aside, I hope this gives you a chuckle, and I wish you a very Happy Holiday season.

 

Enjoy!

 

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Santa & His Reindeer

 

As a result of an overwhelming lack of requests, and with research help from a renowned scientific journal, I am pleased to present the following scientific analysis of the alleged phenomenon 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 has ever seen.

 

2. There are 2 billion children (persons under the age of 18) in the world. BUT since Santa doesn't (appear) to handle the Muslim, Hindu, Jewish & 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 (see ** below). This is due 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 .001 seconds 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 75.5 million miles; not counting stops to do what most of us must do at least once every 31 hours, plus feeding & etc.

 

So Santa's sleigh must be 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 receives nothing more than a medium-sized Lego set (2 pounds), the sleight is carrying 321,300 tons, not counting Santa, who is invariably described as overweight. On land, conventional reindeer can pull no more that 300 pounds. Even granting that "flying reindeer" could pull 10 TIMES the normal amount, we cannot do the job with 8, or even 9 reindeer. We need 214,200. This increases the payload – not counting the weight of the sleigh – to 353,430 tons. This is four times the weight of the ocean-liner Queen Elizabeth.

 

5. 353,000 tons traveling at 650 miles per second creates enormous air resistance. This will heat the reindeer up in the same fashion as a 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 .00426 of a second. Meanwhile, Santa, will be subjected to centrifugal forces 17,500.06 times greater than gravity. A 250 pound Santa (seems ludicrously slim) would be pinned to the back of his sleigh by 4,315,015 pounds of force.

 

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And that's what happens when a lovely legend gets run through the cold hard press of science.

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Quote of the Day:

"And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end ..."

 

- Ecclesiastes 12:12  (KJV)

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Quote of the Day:

"If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all."

 

 

- Oscar Wilde

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Quote of the Day

 

"As are your repeated imaginations so will your mind be, for the soul is dyed by its imaginations."

 

 

- Marcus Aurelius

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Quote of the Day

"Ah, Grendel!" he said. He seemed that instant almost to rise to pity. "You improve them, my boy! Can't you see that yourself? You stimulate them! You make them think and scheme. You drive them to poetry, science, religion, all that makes them what they are for as long as they last. . . .

 

If man's the irrelevance that interests you, stick with him! Scare him to glory!"

 

 

- Grendel, by John Gardner

 

 

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Quote of the Day

 

"Editing might be a bloody trade, but knives aren't

the exclusive property of butchers. Surgeons use them too." 

 

— Blake Morrison, FRSL

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