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Santa Works Hard!!

It's that time of year again.  You know, all full of holly, HO HO HO and snow.  In fact I've just cleared the desktop in preparation for the celebration.  Accountants are never too slow in doing their calculations, and this time of year is no exception. A mystery "chain fax" that submits that the Father Christmas myth to scientific analysis has popped up in the City, much to the amusement of money men, who are chuckling at the sight of the bearded old fraud being ruthlessly audited.  The analysis calculates that there are possibly 378 million children in the Christian world; at just over 4.1 per household, that's 98.1 million homes.  "One presumes that there's at least one good child in each". Time zones give Santa 31 hours of Christmas to work with, which means 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 his sleigh, fill the stockings ... [and] get back into
the sleigh." The sleigh itself would have to travel at 3,000 times the speed of sound, 650 miles per second.  "[The] fastest man made vehicle ... the Ulysses space probe, moves at a pokey
27.4 miles per second."  The sleigh's payload - assuming nothing more than a medium-sized Lego set, weighing 2 lbs, is 321,300 tons and, even if flying reindeer have 10 times the
pulling power of an ordinary reindeer, he will need 214,000 of the beasts. Finally, "353,000 tons, travelling at 650 miles per second, creates enormous air resistance ... the lead pair of reindeer (you know, Rudolph and chum) will absorb 14.3 quintillion joules
of energy ... per second ... each.  In short, they will burst into flames almost instantaneously".  Santa's whole flying circus, the fax claims, would burn up, like a spacecraft re-entering the atmosphere. "In conclusion: If Santa ever did deliver presents on Christmas Eve .. he's dead now!!" The above may be used in Christmas 1997 as a cost saving exercise, and copies distributed
in lieu of presents to children/grandchildren.

Get the details right (by Stephen Weinstein)

Department of Applied Physics North Pole University Santa's Village, Arctic Ocean Dear cynic: Your report that Santa Claus, the reindeer, or the sleigh, would lack sufficient time to reach every household, would need to carry toys for every child simultaneously, or would produce sonic booms, experience concussions, burst into flames, etc., is false. Santa Claus, the reindeer, and the sleigh travel in polar orbit through space. As they are well above the atmosphere, there is no sonic boom, no friction with the atmosphere, and no heat generation. They do not stop at each house. Instead, Mr. Claus drops the presents from the (still moving) sleigh into the chimneys without stopping the sleigh. The only time that they have to stop is when they periodically reload (take on more presents) at the north pole. As there are no children living anywhere within a several-thousand mile radius of the north pole, they have plenty of time to decelerate gradually, and are not injured. The reason that they travel in a polar orbit and the reason that the toy factory was built at the north pole was to ensure that they would pass the toy factory on every orbit and could reload as often as necessary. They only need to carry enough presents during each orbit for the deliveries that they make during that orbit. However, there is a very real danger that all of us at the north pole face, which may put an end to the toy distribution system. Due to global warming, the polar icecap is melting rapidly. If this is not correct, then our village, including the toy factory, may soon fall into the Arctic Ocean. Please devote your time to assisting us with this problem and stop spreading silly urban legends. Sincerely, (Stephen) "SuperSteve" Weinstein Lu-clausian Professor of Orbital Mechanics
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