The science behind santa

By Bekki Bushnell, Head of Business Development

Given that a large part of tech PR is about presenting sometimes quite dry themes and packing them up in a press-ready format, I was delighted to stumble across this gem in the Daily Mail.

Without doubt, the one question on everybody’s mind this time of year is how Father Christmas is able to deliver all those presents across the entire globe in just one day. Fortunately, the “science behind Santa” has been unveiled.

The article starts with the wise assumption that Santa doesn’t deliver presents to certain faiths – meaning he will only have to give presents to 378 million children. It sounds like an impossible task, but there are factors that work in the big man’s favour.

Fortunately, due to the rotation of the earth, he will have 31 hours to deliver presents, rather than 24, if we assume he is flying East to West to match the Earth’s rotation. If we also take the average census rate that there are 3.5 children per household – that leaves him with 91.8million homes to visit in a single day.

This means 822.6 visits per second, requiring a stay of one thousandth of a second to deliver presents to each home. More than enough time to have a drop of sherry and a mince pie – but perhaps we shouldn’t consider the impact this might have on his waistline.

To achieve this astonishing feat, Santa’s sleigh will have to move about 650 miles per second, 3,000 times the speed of sound, or 0.35 per cent the speed of light.

At such a speed he would feel the effects of time dilation (due to the effects of relatively) and would age slightly slower – perhaps explaining how he is able to keep going year-after-year.

Some more calculations: If each child were to receive a present no more than two pounds in weight, the sleigh would weigh more than 320,000 tons – just shy of the weight of the Empire State Building.

Now, an average reindeer can pull only 300 pounds, so on that basis, 214,200 reindeer would be needed. However, we all know these are flying reindeer, not your run-of-the-mill Norwegian or Swedish fare, so it is only right that we assume they can handle more. But there is further peril for Rudolph et al as, unfortunately, Santa’s hardy band of helpers will be subjected to 13.4 quintillion joules of energy per second – which would vaporise the entire reindeer team in 4.26 thousandths of a second. I must have missed that part in the song “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”.

In the face of these cold, hard facts, we should be reminded that Christmas is without question the most magical time of the year which makes all of the above, frankly, irrelevant.

And on that note, have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

The Whiteoaks Team