With Christmas Eve approaching, many people are getting ready to be visited by Santa. Have you ever thought about what it takes for Santa to visit the children of the world? Have you ever wondered how fast his sleigh must travel or how many chimneys he has to slide down? To accomplish these amazing feats, Santa must have an incredible understanding of science and technology. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if we found out that is exactly how he succeeds each year in delivering presents to the deserving children of the world.
So, let’s break it down. We can estimate that there are roughly 700 million children in the world who celebrate Christmas and that there are about 3 children per household, that leaves Santa with over 200 million stops to make (which means he has to slide down the equivalent number of chimneys)! If Santa moves on his journey from east to west, traveling with the sun to maximize his night-time hours, that leaves him with about 32 hours to complete this task. This means that Santa will have to move at a speed of a little under 2900 km/s (over 10 million km/h)! Considering that the speed of sound is 1,236 km/h, Santa must have some kind of amazing jet boosters to get him up to those kinds of speeds!
Now let’s talk about the weight of the sleigh. If we estimate that every child will get a Furby for Christmas this year and each Furby weighs approximately 660g, the toys themselves will weigh 460,000 metric tons. That doesn’t include the weight of the sleigh itself or the weight of Santa (who we all know is no string bean!). Perhaps Santa doesn’t carry all of the toys at once on his sleigh but rather his elves spend the year stashing the toys in selective pick-up locations around the globe. One professor from North Carolina University suggests that Santa’s sack is actually an on-site toymaker where the toys grow from nano-sized particles of carbon within the bag at the time they are needed (you can read more about it here: http://www.ncsu.edu/faculty-and-staff/bulletin/2011/12/the-science-of-santa-2/)
How about all of those Christmas cookies that are left out for Santa to help himself to? It probably doesn’t make sense that he would eat them all. Let’s assume that two cookies and a glass of 2% milk weigh in at roughly 300 calories, it would mean that Santa would have to consume 60 trillion calories! Perhaps he converts the milk and cookies into biofuel to power his sleigh?
So, keep in mind this holiday season that science is in the world around us every single day of our lives. It is what allows us to accomplish amazing feats of engineering, create new technologies and help us to understand the intricacies of life. No one has a better understanding of these things than Santa.