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Gazette 2000-12-16
Articles | Archives | Gazette | 2000 Gazettes | Gazette 2000-12-16
Special Christmas Edition

     ___The Official AVATAR___________________________________
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     ________________________________________ 16 Dec, 2000 ___

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     Table of Contents
     __________________________________________________________

          1. Annual inquiry into the phenomena of Santa Claus

     ________________________________
     1. Annual inquiry into the phenomena of Santa Claus 
     ________________________________

Is There A Santa Claus? Proposition: 

As a result of an overwhelming lack of requests, and with research help
from that renowned scientific journal SPY magazine (January, 1990) - I am
pleased to present the annual scientific inquiry into Santa Claus.  

[Sorry its been so long since I've written. Life grants us so little
opportunity for "re-do's", and I didn't want to compound my shortcomings
by missing an opportunity to share this retise with you again this year.  
Since we started publishing this several years ago, the web has grown
dramatically, and you can find the following article on many sites.  And
finally, let me clear up any lingering doubt you may have about MY belief
system: Yes, I do believe in Santa. Really. - Diz]

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 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 91.8 million stops are evenly distributed around the earth (which,
of course, we know to be false but for the purposes of our calculations we
will accept), we are now talking about .78 miles per household, a total
trip of 75-1/2 million miles, not counting stops to do what most of us
must do at least once every 31 hours, plus feeding and etc.  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 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, conventional reindeer can pull no more
than 300 pounds.  Even granting that "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 traveling 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.

====================================================================

REBUTTAL: (Jim Mantle, Waterloo Maple Software) Come on, ya gotta believe!
I mean, if you can handle flying furry animals, then it's only a small
step to the rest.  For example;

1) As admitted, it is possible that a flying reindeer can be found. I
would agree that it would be quite an unusual find, but they might exist.

2) You've relied on cascading assumptions. For example, you have assumed a
uniform distribution of children across homes. Toronto/Yorkville, or
Toronto/Cabbagetown, or other yuppie neighbourhoods, have probably less
than the average (and don't forget the DINK and SINK homes (Double Income
No Kids, Single Income No Kids)), while the families with 748 starving
children that they keep showing on Vision TV while trying to pick my
pocket would skew that 15% of homes down a few percent.

3) You've also assumed that each home that has kids would have at least
one good kid. What if anti-selection applies, and homes with good kids
tend to have more than their share of good kids, and other homes have
nothing except terrorists in diapers? Let's drop that number of homes down
a few more percent.

4) Santa would have to Fedex a number of packages ahead of time, since he
would not be able to fly into Air Force Bases, or into tower-controlled
areas near airports. He'd get shot at over certain sections of the Middle
East, and the no-fly zones in Iraq, so he'd probably use DHL there.
Subtract some more homes.

5) I just barely passed Physics and only read Stephen Hawking's book once,
but I recall that there is some Einsteinian Theory that says time does
strange things as you move faster. In fact, when you go faster than the
speed of light time runs backward, if you do a straight line projection,
connect the dots and just ignore any singularity you might find right at
the speed of light. And don't say you can't go faster than the speed of
light because I've seen it done on TV. Jean-Luc doesn't have reindeer but
he does have matter-antimatter warp engines and a holodeck and that's good
enough for me.

So Santa could go faster than light, visit all the good children which are
not uniformly distributed by either concentration in each home or by
number of children per household, and get home before he left so he can
digest all those stale cookies and warm milk yech.

6) Aha, you say, Jean-Luc has matter-antimatter warp engines, Santa only
has reindeer, where does he get the power to move that fast!  You
calculated the answer! The lead pair of reindeer will absorb 14.3
QUINTILLION joules of energy.  Per second.  Each. This is an ample supply
of energy for the maneuvering, acceleration, etc, that would be required
of the loaded sleigh. The reindeer don't evaporate or incinerate because
of this energy, they accelerate. What do you think they have antlers for,
fighting over females? Think of antlers as furry solar array panels.

7. If that's not enough, watch the news on the 24th at 11 o'clock. NORAD
(which may be one of the few government agencies with more than 3 initials
in it's name and therefore it must be more trustworthy than the rest)
tracks Santa every year and I've seen the radar shots of him approaching
my house from the direction of the North Pole. They haven't bomarck'd him
yet, so they must believe too, right?

==================================================================== 

REBUTTAL TWO
Rebuttal: 
    Several key points are overlooked by this callous, amateurish "study." 

1) Flying reindeer:  As is widely known (due to the excellent historical
documentary "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," the flying reindeer are not a
previously unknown species of reindeer, but were in fact given the power
of flight due to eating magic acorns.  As is conclusively proven in
"Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" (a no punches pulled look at life in
Santa's village), this ability has bred true in subsequent generations of
reindeer - obviously the magic acorns imprinted their power on a dominant
gene sequence within the reindeer DNA strand.

2) Number of households:  This figure overlooks two key facts.  First of
all, the first major schism in the Church split the Eastern Churches,
centered in Byzantium, from the Western, which remained centered in Rome.  

This occurred prior to the Gregorian correction to the Julian calendar.  
The Eastern churches (currently called Orthodox Churches) do not recognize
the Gregorian correction for liturgical events, and their Christmas is as
a result several days after the Western Churches'.  Santa gets two shots
at delivering toys.  Secondly, the figure of 3.5 children per household is
based on the gross demographic average, which includes households with no
children at all.  The number of children per household, when figured as an
average for households with children, would therefore have to be adjusted
upward.  

Also, the largest single Christian denomination is Roman Catholic, who, as
we all know, breed like rabbits.  If you don't believe me, ask my four
brothers and two sisters - they'll back me up.  Due to the predominance of
Catholics within Christian households, the total number of households
containing Christian children would have to be adjusted downward to
reflect the overloading of Catholics beyond a standard deviation from the
median.  Also, the assertion that each home would contain at least one
good child would be reasonable enough if there were in fact an even 3.5
children per household.  However, since the number of children per
household is distributed integrally, there are a significant number (on
the order of several million) of one child Christian households.  Even
though only children are notoriously spoiled and therefore
disproportionately inclined towards being naughty, since it's the holidays
we'll be generous and give them a fifty-fifty chance of being nice.  This
removes one half of the single child households from Santa's delivery
schedule, which has already been reduced by the removal of the Orthodox
households from the first delivery run.

3) Santa's delivery run (speed, payload, etc.)  These all suffer from the
dubious supposition that there is only one Santa Claus.  The name "Santa"
is obviously either Spanish or Italian, two ethnic groups which are both
overwhelmingly Catholic.  The last name Claus suggests a joint
German/Italian background.  His beginnings, battling the Burgermeister
Meisterburger, suggest he grew up in Bavaria (also predominantly
Catholic).  The Kaiser style helmets of the Burgermeister's guards,
coupled with the relative isolation of the village, suggest that his youth
was at the very beginning of Prussian influence in Germany.  Thus, Santa
and Mrs. Claus have been together for well over one hundred years.  If you
think that after a hundred years of living at the North Pole with nights
six months long that they remain childless, you either don't know
Catholics or are unaware of the failure rate of the rhythm method.  There
have therefore been over five generations of Clauses, breeding like
Catholics for over one hundred years.  Since they are Catholic, their
exponential population increase would obviously have a gain higher than
the world population as a whole.

There have therefore been more than enough new Santas to overcome the
population increase of the world.  So in fact, Santa has an easier time of
it now than he did when he first started out.  Santa dead, indeed - some
people will twist any statistic to "prove" their cynical theory.

=======================================================================

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