# Given the following by a non-believer, who...

## WE WERE

December 22, 1994

WE WERE given the following by a non-believer, who apparently found it in that renowned scientific journal, SPY magazine (January 1990):

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 percent of the total -- 378 million, according to the 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 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. . . .

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 321,000 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 10 times the normal amount, we cannot do the job with eight or even nine. We need 214,000 reindeer.

. . . If the above calculations fall into the hands of children, tell them they can't believe everything they read.

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