He knows when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake. No, not your parole officer – Santa! An omnipresent entity putting a positive spin on Orwellian mass surveillance, Mr Claus merrily defies every law of nature to bring joy to those who believe he’s watching over them. It could be argued that he poses a serious Top Trumps challenge to Jesus himself in terms of miracle-working.
Still, the millions of wee ones who will look to the skies in awe tonight care little for the hows and whys behind Santa’s superpowers. Until the fundamental emptiness of existence reveals itself to them, there’s certainly nothing wrong with a little make-believe. Hope and wonder are in short enough supply.
So in a season for succumbing to fantasy, let us now imagine we are children who believe in Santa once again – only with our joyless adult critical faculties intact. Is it really possible to deliver all those gifts in just one night? Unlikely. But it is Christmas and that makes anything possible, so let’s hold this annual miracle up to some scientific scrutiny …
IT’S ABOUT TIME
IF Santa traverses the globe from east to west, he can defy EU employment laws and enjoy a 31-hour working day by using time zones to his advantage. There are around two billion children in the world, but since Santa won’t be visiting the majority of Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and Jedi households, that reduces his workload to around 92 million properties. Presumably there is at least one good child in each. All in, this leaves Santa with just 0.00048 seconds for each stop. Maybe we should have dropped Santa into Bin Laden’s hideout instead of that slacker Navy SEAL unit.
WINTER FUEL BILL
GLOBALLY, Santa will visit an average of seven homes per square mile – doesn’t seem much, but he has around 230 million miles to cover in total. This puts his Christmas fuel bill at £50 million. Let’s hope he kept the VAT receipt. It’s theoretically possible to whittle this cost down to nothing though Cardiff University physicist Miguel Alcubierre has put forward a solution that merges Einstein’s theory of general relativity with Star Trek’s warp drive. By artificially contracting spacetime in front of the sleigh and expanding it behind, Alcubierre believes Santa and his reindeer could still travel at an unholy rate while remaining within their own “bubble” of space. Effectively, the world moves and they don’t. There is one problem, however – such manipulation of spacetime would require several billion times the amount of energy in the entire universe. No wonder we’re running out of fossil fuels.
TAKES THE BISCUIT
IF every one of those 92 million good children leave out a Tunnock’s tea cake and glass of milk, Santa will consume around 225 calories each visit. Multiplying this by the number of properties he’ll visit, we can estimate the big man will glutton himself on just over 20 billion calories. With 3,500 calories leading to one pound of weight gain, Santa is likely to put on almost six million stone – or 37,475 tonnes. However, gout will be the least of his worries if the police catch up with him. Even if just one in 10 of these households leave out a cheeky wine or whisky, Santa will be several million times over the drink-drive limit. If caught in some US states, he’ll get the electric chair for that.
A HEAVY DUTY
TO estimate just how heavy Santa’s sleigh will be, we’ll assume each child gets just one gift weighing two pounds. On that thoroughly unrealistic basis (in my day we got an apple, an orange and a slap to heat us up) Santa’s transport of choice would weigh 15,747,304 stones. On land, one conventional reindeer can pull no more than 22 stones. Even allowing for flying reindeer able to pull 10 times that amount, he’d still require 214,200 of them. They’d block out the moon and it would be a nightmare to untangle all those reins. Physicist Germano Iannacchione of Worcester Polytechnic Institute figures the amount of energy Santa’s sleigh requires is around the same as a small star. This is bad news, because you would get what cosmological types call a singularity. Meaning, Santa’s acceleration would instantly create a black hole that would suck in the planet and much of the surrounding galaxy.
Ho, ho, ho!
ORIGIN OF THE SPECIES
SPEAKING of reindeer, none have ever been observed flying. Still, there are hundreds of thousands of organisms yet to be discovered, and while most of these are insects and bacteria, it does not completely rule out flying reindeer. We’ll soon be able to create such a species in the lab anyway. But to get the job done, Santa’s reindeer would have to fly at 650 miles per second – which is 3,000 times the speed of sound. This would subject them to intense gravitational forces of a billion Gs. To compare, astronauts only endure three to four Gs, and they need special suits to stop their heads exploding. So what would a billion Gs do to 214,200 flying reindeer? Instantly vaporise them, with their ashes falling as snow. Merry Christmas!
MAKE CHRISTMAS TV GREAT AGAIN
APART from grotesque over-indulgence, spiralling levels of personal debt and eager cheerleading of capitalism’s blinkered onslaught, what is the worst thing about Christmas? I’m sure you’ll agree it’s all the repeats on TV.
But what if Del Boy falling through that bar could be hilarious once more? What if the startling twist in Michael McIntyre’s Christmas Roadshow (that he’s a real comedian and it’s not post-modern satire) could still surprise? Step forward, South Korean multinational conglomerate Samsung,which is now pushing voluntary amnesia as the future of entertainment.
This week, the firm was somehow allowed to release a hypnotic mind-control tool for public consumption. So you can now gamble with your childhood memories by way of a 23-minute online hypnotherapy film called “Unspoil Me”, which allegedly helps you forget what happened in any TV series. Yes, it means you can save lots of cash by rewatching the same box set on repeat forever. You’d be a hell of a bore at the water cooler though.
Even David Icke’s website described the concept as “bizarre”, and he’d know. The fact this seismic event has slipped under the radar of most of the world’s media is quite remarkable – unless they’ve also been hypnotised to turn a blind eye. Or maybe it’s because the project has only so far enjoyed a “soft launch” within the confines of Sweden.
Initially, the viewer is guided by a soothing voice as swirling patterns attempt to rewire their brain. This hypnotic portal also seems somewhat preoccupied by pushing the life-enhancing joys of the firm’s new QLED TV – aren’t there advertising laws against this type of thing? Perhaps no-one will care if it means Tony Soprano can live again. Yes, he was definitely popped in that last episode.
Participants must also indicate they are over 18 and “mentally healthy” – with the lengthy terms and conditions signing away any rights they have to anything ever. The listener is then asked to envision a staircase, along with a timeline upon which they can jump backwards and forwards. You are then invited to beam into a future where the show you have in mind never existed.
When you think of the myriad therapeutic benefits such mind-editing tech could have, it seems tacky of Samsung to push it as a way of enjoying the twists and turns of Breaking Bad once more. On the other hand, we can now free ourselves from traumatic childhood memories of laughing along heartily to