Example: [Collected on the Internet, December 2003]
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.
There are two 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 —
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
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
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
If every one of the 91.8 million homes with good children were to put out a single chocolate chip cookie and an
The payload on the sleigh adds another interesting element. Assuming that each child gets nothing more than a medium-sized lego set (two pounds), the sleigh is carrying 321,300 tons, not counting Santa, who is invariably described as overweight. On land, conventional reindeer can pull no more than
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
In conclusion: If Santa ever DID deliver presents on Christmas Eve, he's dead now.
Origins: We don't have anything to add to this piece, but as a perennial Christmas item which has circulated as netlore for several years it merits inclusion here. This tongue-in-cheek scientific analysis of Santa's toy delivery mechanisms is believed to have originated with an article published in (the now defunct) Spy magazine at the end of 1990, although some readers claim to have encountered the Internet prior to its publication in Spy.
This piece has proved popular enough that others have tried their hands at writing rebuttals to it, and some sites have archived collections of rebuttals.
Last updated: 20 December 2008
Blaney, Betsy. "Santa Likely Pulled by All-Female Reindeer Team." Associated Press. 19 December 2008.