**Investigative
report: Is there a Santa Claus? **

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

No known species of
reindeer can fly. BUT there are 300000 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.

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.

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 0.78 miles per
household, a total trip of 75.5 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, 3000 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.

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 214200 reindeer.
This increases the payload - not even counting the weight of the sleigh - to
353430 tons. Again, for comparison - this is four times the weight of the Queen
Elizabeth.

353000 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 17500.06
times greater than gravity. A 250-pound Santa (which seems ludicrously slim)
would be pinned to the back of his sleigh by 4315015 pounds of force.

In conclusion - If
Santa ever DID deliver presents on Christmas Eve, he's dead now.