AOH :: 66SANTA.TXT 66 Microseconds with Santa
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Date: Sun, 19 Dec 1993 09:22:57 UTC
Subject: 66 microseconds with Santa
Lines: 113

Hi, people,

I guess this is something of a de-lurk. No one here has even discussed
Christmas in this newsgroup, and it's almost upon us. So why am I
posting this here? I suppose it's because of my Catholic upbringing and
sexually repressed childhood ...

No, that's just my psychologist trying to plant false memories so he can
collect a fortune when I start suing my parents.

But I digress. Christmas is coming and a fair fraction of us are
expecting Santa to call. Our lesson today involves figuring out how much
time Santa can really afford to spend with each and every one of us, boys
and girls, S's and M's, T's and B's.

Let's see. There are about 5.4 billion people on the planet last time I
checked. Of course, the really relevant figure is the number of
households, which is harder to estimate since I don't have a statistical
abstract sitting conveniently in front of me. I'd guesstimate about a
billion since it's a nice round number and works out to about 5.4
members per household. As Tom Bodek sez, a little less in some areas, a
little more in others ... and we'll leave the light on for you.

Where was I? Santa basically has the entire 24 hour day to work with
since we are considering the entire world. (Yes, yes, I know Santa is a
white, western motherfucker who only appeals to people with christian
backgrounds in limited parts of the world, blah, blah, blah, woof, woof.
Put in a correction factor and leave me alone.)

Anyway, with 86,400 seconds in a day (can YOU multiply 24 x 60 x 60?),
that works out to about 86 microseconds per household. Not much time to

But of course the reason why Santa would want cookies and milk is to
provide enough energy to get to the next household. And since Santa
needs a lot of velocity to get to the next household before his time
runs out, he needs a BIG energy source. Let's assume that Santa needs
most of his 86 microseconds to put the gifs - I mean gifts! - under the
tree. Reasonable people might disagree (but don't, because I'm *not*)
but Santa probably wants to keep his travel time between households to a
minimum, less than, say, 20 microseconds, giving him a luxurious 66
microseconds to place the gifts and sit back and smoke a pipe.

Damn! Now I've got to figure out how far apart the households are on
average so I can calculate the energy Santa needs to get from one to the
other. This is not to hard to compute using the formula for the area of a
sphere and the fact that about 25% of the area is land, minus about 20%
to account for uninhabited and sparsely populated regions.

If any of you math anxiety types are still reading this, send e-mail
for my autographed "Story Problems from Hell: an A.S.B. Perspective".

Anyway, this works out to about 320 meters between households. That's
350 yards for you metric-phobe folks (did you know that the National
Football League actually has a provision that football teams will always
play on a 100 yard playing field no matter what this country does,
metric-wise?).

We're not going to worry about computer science issues such as the
Traveling Santa problem here. No doubt, some of you will figure out
efficient strategies for visiting all the households. The problem is
left as an exercise for the reader, assuming there are any left.

Let's see ... (punches buttons on calculator) that's an average speed of
16,000 km/sec, about 5% of the speed of light. SANTA IS RELATIVISTIC!!!

Well, this changes everything. He's gonna need a *REALLY BIG* energy
source. Let's say Santa weighs about 250 lbs (he used to weigh more, but
the reindeer started an animal rights union and made him slim down).
Correcting for the fact that he needs to start and stop his motion
between households, dear Santa needs about 2.9 x 10^16 joules to get
from one home to the next.

In other words, Santa has to get about 7 trillion food calories in the
form of cookies at *every household* to be able to make his rounds in
time!! Remember, he only has 66 microseconds to eat them, less the time
taken to put gifts under the tree.

So how many cookies should we stock (leave the milk out of it, you anal
retentive types)? I'm on shakier ground here, but let's say that the
average chocolate chip cookie (for me, the phrase "chocolate chip

And the answer is ... (furiously punches more buttons) 70 billion
cookies having a total weight of 2 million tons!! At \$0.25 a cookie
(assuming large discounts with planet size orders), every household has

Note that I'm assuming that the cookies are metabolized into energy
without being added to Santa's weight. Unfortunately, every household
now has to provide facilities able to handle 2 million tons of fecal
material. Take note, toilet slaves.

Think about it. With a billion households, a total of 2 x 10^15 tons of
cookies have to be produced. That's 2 with 15 zeros following it like
lemmings.

What's all this mean in terms the average sex deviate can understand? It
means that about 4 meters of the earth's crust has to be converted into
chocolate chip cookies to keep one overweight guy in a red suit and a
beard burglarizing a planetfull of homes (I'll skip the law enforcement
issues in this note). This estimate assumes a 30% efficieny for the
conversion process, which nicely accounts for the difference in density
between shit and crustal rock.

Merry Christmas!

Mr. P ... expecting coal in his stocking this Christmas
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