Does Santa Claus exist?
- No known special species of reindeer can fly. But there are 300.000 species of living organisms still to be classified, and although these are mainly insects and bacteria, this does not rule out flying reindeer with absolute certainty. (Which only Santa Claus has seen so far.)
- There are two billion children (people under 18) in the world. But since Santa Claus (apparently) does not deliver to Muslims, Hindus, Jews and Buddhists, his work is reduced to about 1.5 percent of the total number – that is 378 million children (lt. Census Bureau). With an average number of children of 3,5 per household, this results in 91,8 million houses. We assume that there is at least one well-behaved child in every household.
- Santa Claus has a 31-hour Christmas Day, due to the different time zones when he travels from east to west (which seems logical). This results in 822.6 visits per second. Thus, for every Christian household with well-behaved children, Santa Claus has 1/1000 of a second to do his job: park, jump out of the sleigh, climb down the chimney, fill the socks, distribute the remaining presents under the Christmas tree, eat all the rest of the Christmas dinner, climb back up the chimney and fly to the next house. Assuming that all of these 91.8 million stops are evenly distributed over the whole earth (which, of course, we know is not true, but we can accept it as a basis for calculation), we now get a distance of 1.3 km from household to household, a total distance of 120.8 million km, not counting the stops for those things that each of us has to do (at least) once a day, plus food, etc. This means that Santa’s sleigh flies at 1040 km per second, which is 3000 times the speed of sound. By comparison, the fastest human-built vehicle on Earth, the Ullysses Space Probe, travels at a paltry 43.8 kilometers per second. An ordinary reindeer can do no more than 23 km per hour.
- The load of the sleigh leads to another most interesting effect. Assuming that each child is given no more than a medium-sized Lego set (about 1 kg), the sleigh has a weight of 378.000 tons loaded, not including Santa Claus himself, who is unanimously described as overweight. An ordinary reindeer cannot pull more than 175 kg. Even if we assume that a "flying reindeer" is the same weight as a reindeer (see point 1.) can pull ten times its normal weight, you don’t need eight or even twelve reindeer for the sleigh – you need 216.000 reindeer. This increases the weight – not even counting the sleigh itself – to 410.000 tons. For comparison, this is more than four times the weight of the Queen Elizabeth 1 .
- 410.000 tons at a speed of 1040 km/s create a tremendous air resistance – this heats up the reindeer, just like a spaceship re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere. The foremost pair of reindeer must thereby absorb an energy of 16.6 trillion joules. Per second! Any! In other words, they will instantly burst into flames, the next pair of reindeer will be subjected to air resistance, and a deafening bang will be created. The entire team of reindeer is vaporized within 5/1000 seconds. Santa Claus, meanwhile, is subjected to an acceleration the size of the 17.subjected to 500 times the acceleration due to gravity. A 120-pound Santa Claus (which, by description, must be ridiculously little) would be nailed to the end of his sleigh – with a force of 20.6 million newtons.
- This brings us to the conclusion: If Santa Claus existed at some time, he must have been dead before he brought the first presents.
1 The Queen Elizabeth referred to here is not the monarch of the Empire, mother-in-law of Lady Di, but the legendary luxury liner.
"Is there a Santa Clause?"
In 1897, Dr. Philip O’Hanlon, the assistant to an examining magistrate ("coroner") on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, asked by his eight-year-old daughter Virginia if Santa Claus really existed. Virginia had begun to doubt whether there was a Santa Claus, because her friends had explained to her that he did not exist.
Her father answered evasively, but agreed to let her write to the New York Sun, a major New York newspaper at the time, assuring her that the paper would tell the truth. While he was relieved of the responsibility, he unexpectedly gave an editor of the newspaper, Francis P. Church, an opportunity to reflect on the simple question and address the philosophical facts behind it.
Church was a war correspondent during the American Civil War, a time that produced great suffering and a corresponding lack of hope and faith among many in society. Although the paper placed its response to Virginia’s letter seventh among its editorials on page 6, still below a commentary about a just-invented "chainless bike," its message was moving to many people who read it. More than a century later, it is the most reprinted editorial ever in newspapers in the English language.
Some people have questioned the authenticity of the author of the letter and expressed doubt as to whether a young girl like Virginia would refer to children her own age as "my little friends". However, the original copy of the letter appeared, the authenticity of which was certified by an expert.
The following version of the New York Sun article is a Germanization based on the original text, without the embellishments usually found in the press or on websites in the German language.
"It is with pleasure that we reply at once, and thus in an outstanding manner, to the following communication, and at the same time express our great satisfaction that its conscientious author is numbered among the friends of the Sun:
Dear editor: I am 8 years old.
Some of my little friends say that there is no Santa Claus.
Papa says, ‘When you see it in the Sun, it’s so.’
Please tell me the truth: Is there a Santa Claus??
115 West Ninety-fifth Street.
Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They are influenced by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They don’t believe in anything they don’t see. They believe that nothing can be that is inconceivable to their little spirits. All ghosts, Virginia, whether they are of adults or children, are small. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect of intellect, an ant, compared with the boundless world above him, measured by the intelligence capable of comprehending the totality of truth and knowledge.
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as undoubtedly as love and generosity and affection exist, and you know that they abound and give your life its highest beauty and joy. O woe! How dull the world would be if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dull as if there were no Virginias there. There would then be no childlike faith, no poetry, no romance to make this existence bearable. We would have no joy but by feeling and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.
Don’t believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in elves! You could get your papa to hire people to watch all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus; but even if they didn’t see Santa Claus come down, what would that prove? No one sees Santa, but that’s not a sign that Santa doesn’t exist. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor adults can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that is no proof that they are not there. No one can comprehend, or imagine, the unseen and unseen wonders of the world.
You can tear apart the baby rattle and see what makes the sounds inside; but the invisible world is covered by a veil that not the strongest man, not even the combined strength of all the strongest men of all time, could tear apart. Only faith, imagination, poetry, love, romance can push aside that curtain and behold and describe the heavenly beauty and splendor behind it. Is it all true? Ah, Virginia, in all the world nothing else is truer and more constant.
No Santa Claus! Thank God! He lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now he will continue to gladden the heart of childhood."
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