Friday, December 17, 2010

The Fat Man Cometh...

Holy crap, is it that time of year again??? Its like we celebrate Christmas every year or something. Ooops... sorry, I mean "The Holidays", because it seems the "C-Word" has become a dirty word.

If I sound a bit cynical towards "The Holidays", maybe its because I am. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE the concept, its just our follow-through that seems to suck.

But lets look at how many more accidents there are on the roads at this time of year. Or how about the 'holiday cheer' being spread in any of the malls as people frantically push and shove each other for the last remaining PS3, so little eight year old Timmy can play Grand Theft Auto IV, despite the game being rated M, for Mature (18 years and up).

Let's look at all those joyous souls going deeper in debt so they can make someone happy... so they themselves can be miserable for the rest of the year as they continue to get late notices for their credit card bill and eventually have to shut off the cable, *cringe*.

Or how about all the endless feelings of stress and obligation everyone feels to visit the malls, and family and friends and bring them the perfect gift, or prepare the perfect meal. Or the frustration of employees trying to arrange for time off work, or angry demanding customers screaming in their face because they can't give them exactly what they want or need.

How about the incredibly high suicide rate during "The Holidays"? Does that do anything for ya homes?

Despite the fact that Christmas was intended as a Christian holiday to celebrate the birth of Jesus, we as a society have twisted this into something... unnatural. Something called Santa Claus, (...insert dramatic music here). Maybe its because December 25th was originally a Pagan holiday celebrating winter. Is all the evil and negativity in the world simply God's way of saying "...pick another day dumbass"?

Well, I for one do not need a calendar to tell me to do something nice for others.

But maybe it's just me. Perhaps I have a personal grudge against this time of year. A grudge that can be traced back to a single moment in grade school in the small mid-western town I grew up in.

I was in the front of the school bus, sitting with my best friend, Scott. We were in a heated debate over the existence of The Claus. I always knew there was no such thing as Santa. Maybe my parents didn't want to give me a twisted sense of reality. Or maybe I was just smart enough to figure out there is no way in hell its possible... since we had no fireplace for him to use. Or maybe its because I was nosy and had a bad habit of finding my presents before they were wrapped anyway.

While my friend and I endlessly debated, I decided to finish it and pulled out my trump card... ask an adult. In hind-sight, I should have known better than to ask a bus driver... but he was the only one around.

You can imagine the Christmas chill I felt when this obvious Harvard graduate bus driver told my friend and I, there IS a Santa. From that day forth, I swore I would have my revenge...!

For those reading with children, and you have chosen this moment to bring them into the real world... I present the following foray into logic, (which I did NOT write by the way... but I wish I had):

Santa Claus:

An Engineering Analysis

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 our 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 an 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 purpose of our calculations we will accept), we are now talking about .78 miles per household, a total trip of 75« million miles, not counting stops to do what most of us must do at least once every 31 hours, plus feeding, etc.

This means that Santa's sleigh is moving at 650 miles per second, 3,000 time 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 medium-sized lego set (2 pounds), the sleigh is carrying 321,300 tons, not counting Santa, who is invariably described as overweight. On land, the conventional reindeer can pull no more than 300 pounds. Even granting the "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) 353,000 tons travelling at 650 miles per second creates enormous air resistance - this 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 vaporized within 4.26 thousandths of a second. Santa, meanwhile, will be subjected to centrifugal forces 17,500.06 times greater than gravity. A 250-pound 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.

Enjoy your eggnog,

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