SANTA STATS

Have you ever won­dered if it’s pos­si­ble for Santa to visit ev­ery home in a sin­gle night? Here’s some of the sci­ence be­hind his work.

Guru Magazine - - Contents - The Physics of Santa Claus Fa­ther Christ­mas’s Christ­mas Eve in fig­ures

He’s look­ing pretty good for a guy who is over six hun­dred years old. But it’s not just his age-de­fy­ing ap­pear­ance that’s mirac­u­lous – on page 31, our De­sign Guru, Ian Wild­smith, shows just how much Santa has to cram in ev­ery Christ­mas Eve.

No species of rein­deer has been recorded in flight. But then, 86% of earth’s or­gan­isms still haven’t been fully clas­si­fied. Ad­mit­tedly, most of them are in­sects or micro­organ­isms, but it would be wrong to com­pletely rule out the pos­si­bil­ity of dis­cov­er­ing fly­ing rein­deer. I per­son­ally sus­pect Santa ties a large he­lium-filled bal­loon to each one.

There are cur­rently 1.87 bil­lion chil­dren un­der 15 in the world. As­sum­ing Santa only vis­its fam­i­lies where Christ­mas is cel­e­brated, which make up 31.59% of the world’s pop­u­la­tion, he has 590,733,000 chil­dren on his list. The av­er­age num­ber of chil­dren per house­hold is

2.36, so Santa has 250,310,594 houses to visit.

Earth’s to­tal land mass has a sur­face area of 148,939,063 km2. Ac­cord­ing to the Global Ru­ral-Ur­ban Map­ping Project, ur­ban ar­eas take up 3% of the Earth’s land sur­face, and sci­en­tists at the Univer­sity of Wis­con­sin-Madi­son have worked out that 40% is used

for agri­cul­ture. So, if we as­sume that in­hab­ited land is a com­bi­na­tion of agri­cul­tural and ur­ban ar­eas, around 43% of Earth’s land sur­face, or 64,043,797 km2, is pop­u­lated. Ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Sleep Foun­da­tion, chil­dren be­tween the ages of 5 and 12 need be­tween 10 and 11 hours sleep a night. As­sum­ing ev­ery child gets 10.5 hours sleep, and Santa starts his jour­ney mov­ing west from the In­ter­na­tional Date Line, he has 34.5 hours to make his de­liv­er­ies. To meet this tight sched­ule he has to travel con­tin­u­ously at 3,669,941 km/hr, or 1,020 km/sec (I’m as­sum­ing he has a Present-Launcher, with a pre­cise air-to-stock­ing guid­ance sys­tem, some kind of mince-pie-and-sherry trac­tor beam, and prob­a­bly a toi­let built into his sleigh to cut out any stops…) And he must de­liver to 2,015 houses ev­ery sec­ond.

For all the rein­deer to still have antlers in late De­cem­ber, they must all be fe­male. Large fe­males weigh in at 120 kg, and can each pull about 240 kg, mean­ing Santa has over­es­ti­mated the abil­ity of his 9 beasts, and Ru­dolph is hav­ing a bit of an iden­tity cri­sis. Santa ac­tu­ally needs an ex­tra

2,479,116 rein­deer to pull this year’s presents and sleigh.

For sim­plic­ity, let’s as­sume that the in­hab­ited land is all grouped to­gether, and th­ese 250,310,594 dwellings are dis­trib­uted evenly over it. This means the av­er­age dis­tance Santa has to fly be­tween res­i­dences is 506 me­tres, and so

he trav­els a to­tal of 126,612,957 km on Christ­mas Eve.

The av­er­age weight of this year’s top 11 toys is 950 grams. If we round this up to 1 kg to in­clude wrap­ping pa­per and sticky tape, then Santa is haul­ing 590,733 met­ric tonnes (that’s about 98,455.5 male ele­phants). The av­er­age vol­ume of each toy is 8,942 cm3, so if all the toys were cubes, then each side would mea­sure 20.76 cm. His sleigh must have a cu­bic ca­pac­ity of 5,282,200 m3 – the equiv­a­lent of about 2,112 Olympic-size swim­ming pools. As­sum­ing Santa built the sleigh out of air­craft grade alu­minium, and the walls are 1 cm thick, it would weigh about 4,257 met­ric tonnes (709.5 ele­phants to you and me).

If Santa gets a mince pie and a sherry (tra­di­tional in the UK) from each house­hold, he piles on a to­tal of 64,830,443,846 calo­ries (the Rec­om­mend Daily Al­lowance is 2,500), at a rate of 521,985 a sec­ond, and con­sumes a to­tal of 250,310,594 units of al­co­hol (the RDA is 3-4). No won­der he’s so merry.

(Guru en­cour­ages re­spon­si­ble drink­ing. Please don’t try to drink as much as Santa – you’ll die.)

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