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Santa science checked against the KitGuru slide rule

We think it normal to make instant contact with a huge number of people across the globe, but just how does the jolly fat fellow in the red suit pull it off? KitGuru searches the web on Xmas Day so you don’t have to. The numbers are as big as they are wondrous.

At the time of writing, there are close to 7 BILLION people on planet Earth.

By true faith, chance or other circumstance, we have around 2.2 billion Christians who seem to take it seriously, but Santa is not proud – so we’ll increase that number by 50% to include ‘folks with only a passing interest’ (all denominations). That gives us a maximum target population of 47% of humanity that would be interested in ‘being considered by Santa’ on Xmas Day.

Here’s our first extrapolation: With around 28% of the planet’s population as ‘children’ – and our calculation of a 47% interest in Xmas – Santa will be looking at around 900 million targets.

Overall, the number of children per Christian household in the world is close to 3. Parents are notoriously ‘soft’, so we’ll make the huge assumption that ALL of them are good [Scrub to ~1 minute for confirmation of what’s needed – Ed].

We now have some numbers for Santa’s SatNav: It’s a round-robin trip with 300 million stops.

Working with the Earth’s rotation, Santa can probably stretch 25th December to just over 30 hours. With 3,600 seconds an hour and 300 million stops to make, he’ll need to bang em in at a rate of just over 2,700 a second in order to make sure all the kids get sorted.

The speed needed for this voyage is extraordinary, but that’s not the half of it.

If each child gets just 1 Kg of presents, then that’s close to a million tons, which needs to be accelerated to phenomenal speed almost instantaneously.

If present delivery is ‘instant’ – so the sleigh never needs to slow down – and the entire planet’s children could be hit with a single 40,000km run (no chance), then we have to accelerate a million tons to 1,333Km/h in one second. That’s is 370 metres a second.

KitGuru dusted off an old copy of Bostock and Chandler to find that the Force needed (according to Newton – don’t get us started on the old quantum mechanics) equals the Mass (in Kg) times the Acceleration (target speed in metres/second).

F = 1,000,000,000 x 370 or 370 billion Newtons.

If we achieve that speed in 1 second, then we’ll need 370 billion joules of energy. Which, for 1 second, seems to be the same in watts.

Checking Answers.com, we see that the combined output of every nuclear power plant on Earth in 2007 was ALSO around 370,000 megawatts.

To say that Santa needs special technology to achieve that kind of acceleration is an understatement – let alone how flat he’d be against the back of the sleigh when he hits 370 metres a second at take off. Mr Claus might need more than Recaro can offer.

And, so far, we haven’t allowed for the amount of heat dissipation needed at the front of the reindeer. Let’s just say that it would take more than your average Phanteks unit to keep the reindeer cool. No wonder Rudolph has a red nose!

The maths and implications are fun, but – whatever your belief system –  we’d like to think Santa does a quick check on KitGuru’s reviews before stocking the sleigh.

With an engine that's around 1,000 times more powerful than the biggest nuclear reactor on Earth and at least one Tardis for storage - Santa has no problems delivering to the faithful. But what a trip!

KitGuru says: Whatever the scientific implications, Santa does a bang up job. For all the commercialism, the underlying principal of ‘being nice’ once a year is a wholly refreshing one. By tomorrow, of course, we’ll have had enough of our families for 12 months and will need a 364 day break to get over all the ‘being nice’. But, for now, let’s enjoy it.

Comment below or in the KitGuru forums. Please note that the numbers shown here were calculated under the influence of fortified wines – so we welcome any/all corrections!

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