Posts tagged christmas

Santa Claus is Coming to Town
For the last few years NORAD and Google have partnered to track Santa’s flight. This year though, the aerospace agency will use Bing and Microsoft’s Windows Azure cloud computing platform. Eager Santa watchers will also have dedicated Windows Phone and Windows 8 apps to follow along.
The 62-year history of NORAD’s Santa tracking is interesting. It all started with a typo. Via TechNet:



[The] error ran in a local Colorado Springs newspaper back in 1955 after a local department store printed an advertisement with an incorrect phone number that children could use to “call Santa.” Except that someone goofed. Or someone mistook a three for an eight. Maybe elves broke into the newspaper and changed the number. We’ll never know.
But somehow, the number in the advertisement changed, and instead of reaching the “Santa” on call for the local department store, it rang at the desk of the Crew Commander on duty at the Continental Air Defense Command Operations Center, the organization that would one day become the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or “NORAD.”
And when the commander on duty, Col. Harry Shoup, first picked up the phone and heard kids asking for Santa, he could have told them they had a wrong number.
But he didn’t.
Instead, the kind-hearted colonel asked his crew to play along and find Santa’s location. Just like that, NORAD was in the Santa-tracking business.



Last year more than 20 million people around the world followed Santa via the NORAD Santa Tracker Web site and another hundred thousand called in to dedicated telephone operators. You can do so this year starting December 24.
Image: Star Wars Christmas by Bart Zimny.

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

For the last few years NORAD and Google have partnered to track Santa’s flight. This year though, the aerospace agency will use Bing and Microsoft’s Windows Azure cloud computing platform. Eager Santa watchers will also have dedicated Windows Phone and Windows 8 apps to follow along.

The 62-year history of NORAD’s Santa tracking is interesting. It all started with a typo. Via TechNet:

[The] error ran in a local Colorado Springs newspaper back in 1955 after a local department store printed an advertisement with an incorrect phone number that children could use to “call Santa.” Except that someone goofed. Or someone mistook a three for an eight. Maybe elves broke into the newspaper and changed the number. We’ll never know.

But somehow, the number in the advertisement changed, and instead of reaching the “Santa” on call for the local department store, it rang at the desk of the Crew Commander on duty at the Continental Air Defense Command Operations Center, the organization that would one day become the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or “NORAD.”

And when the commander on duty, Col. Harry Shoup, first picked up the phone and heard kids asking for Santa, he could have told them they had a wrong number.

But he didn’t.

Instead, the kind-hearted colonel asked his crew to play along and find Santa’s location. Just like that, NORAD was in the Santa-tracking business.

Last year more than 20 million people around the world followed Santa via the NORAD Santa Tracker Web site and another hundred thousand called in to dedicated telephone operators. You can do so this year starting December 24.

Image: Star Wars Christmas by Bart Zimny.

This Year’s War on Christmas

It’s begun. By “it’s” we mean Fox News’ annual coverage of it.

Via Talking Points Memo.

Fact Checking Santa Claus

The Physics of Santa and His Reindeer 

Not to be a buzz kill but… Via Snopes (and with apologies for quoting in its entirety):

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.

There are two 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 .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, 3,000 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.

If every one of the 91.8 million homes with good children were to put out a single chocolate chip cookie and an  8 ounce  glass of  2% milk,  the total calories (needless to say other vitamins and minerals) would be approximately  225 calories  (100 for the cookie, give or take, and 125 for the milk, give or take). Multiplying the number of calories per house by the number of homes (225 x 91.8 x 1000000), we get the total number of calories Santa consumes that night, which is 20,655,000,000 calories. To break it down further,  1 pound  is equal to  3500 calories.  Dividing our total number of calories by the number of calories in a pound (20655000000/3500) and we get the number of pounds Santa gains, 5901428.6, which is  2950.7 tons. 

The payload on the sleigh adds another interesting element. Assuming that each child gets nothing more than a medium-sized lego set (two 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 above) could pull TEN TIMES the normal amount, we cannot do the job with eight, or even nine. We need 214,200 reindeer.  This increases the payload (not even counting the weight of the sleigh) to 353,430 tons.  Again, for comparison, this is four times the weight of the Queen Elizabeth.  353,000 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 17,500.06 times greater than gravity.  A 250-pound Santa (which seems ludicrously slim) would be pinned to the back of his sleigh by 4,315,015 pounds of force.

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

For the true believers, be sure to follow Santa on the Norad Santa Tracker. The countdown to liftoff is on.

Happy Hanikwanzimus from the FJP.