Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Santa Exposed

Much has been made about the physics of Santa Claus, often calculating his requisite speed in Mach numbers normally reserved for experimental aircraft. I'm told these calculations are a regular exercise at engineering colleges. All these theories are brought to naught, however, by the lack of plausible answers to one question frequently asked by children:

What does he do at the houses with no fireplace?

Ours is such a house. If anyone managed to get down our chimney, they'd end up in our harvest-orange Chrysler furnace. (Yes, Chrysler made furnaces, too, about as well as they made cars.) Houses with fireplaces are now, I believe, the exception, rather than the norm.

So what does he do?

I have an answer: he goes through the attic. Not only that, but, as you'll see in this photographic evidence gathered a week before Christmas, the presents are already there.

This is troubling data, indeed. The presents are already there? A week in advance? Wrapped, and assembled neatly by the attic stairs? One can come to only two conclusions: either Santa visited early, and dropped off the presents, but didn't distribute them (rather unlikely from an efficiency standpoint) OR... Santa has outsourced delivery. Consider that systems are already in place for the timely delivery of packages to individual homes; Santa could simply send gifts by the truckload to major shipping hubs.

The gedankenexperiment ("thought experiment") prompts further questioning: What if Santa wasn't stuffing all the stockings in person, either? The so-called "Santa's Helper" theory would have us believe that local agents carry out the "last mile" of distribution, and we must reluctantly admit that it has merit.

So, then, does Santa distribute presents at all? Actually, this distributed distribution system makes the traditional delivery possible: Santa, in his old age, can still make several hundred, perhaps thousand, deliveries in person. One might theorize as to the how these recipients are chosen; perhaps only those on the "nice" list receive a visit from the old gent himself; perhaps visits are chosen for their high profile, or likeliness to be seen "in the act" by people that will perpetuate the Santa Claus mythos. This reduces the necessary speed of such an arrangement to a much more believable level, and gets around the problem of the reindeer burning up upon re-entry.

Whatever the case, these revelations neither confirm nor deny the existence of Santa Claus, but we believe make the theory much, much more plausible.


Carolina Kerr said...

Obviously you are spirit and image of Edwin Kerr, who can explain absolutely anything. Congratulations.

Jonadab said...

If you take the traditional nonsense seriously, the conventional wisdom is that he visits each home precisely at midnight. Taking that literally, and assuming that he visits homes in both the northern and southern hemisphere, implies that he travels significantly faster than light. Physics, then, tells us that he must have an imaginary mass.


Carolina Kerr said...

It's funny that I was reading this entry while listening to a proof that Santa does indeed outsource delivery, and I didn't even realize it until later. I am in Spain, now, where presents are delivered on the evening of January 5. The 6th is the day of the Three Kings, who are the ones responsible for infantile delights here. Some parents are starting to change their provider, however, since the Spanish system has a severe difficulty. The children are on vacation from school starting before Christmas, and have to go back to classes right after January 6. That means that they are at home with "nothing to do" for two weeks, and the day after they get their toys they have to play with them after school. Anyway, the Kings do the distribution here, and throughout Latin America, and probably other places. This doesn't make the speed of Santa much less, but it does prove he has practical help.

barefootRhys said...

that's a lot of thought into a myth (:

zaya informed santa claus at the RMH that he was pretend. not that i'm worried, to us santa is a nice story.

it is fun, though, to speculate on probabilities.