The Christmas spirit was in full flow. I had eaten a third-world chocolate from my advent calendar. The tree, manufactured from the finest toxic plastics, was up and decorated with shiny baubles, and Jimmy Stewart was blubbing again on the TV (It’s a Wonderful Life is a strange symptom of the modern day Christmas experience; suicide with a fat angel, very Christmasy).
On a whim, I checked my e-mail. The first subject line read: ‘Santa Doesn’t Exist. Here is my evidence!’ Shocked, I opened the heinous document. The brutal words of a Christmas Scrooge were backed up by some, it has to be said, convincing empirical data.
But I believe in Santa, and more than that, I believe in Christmas, so this is why Scrooge is wrong:
Yes, but is Santa evil? Or a Robot? Can he deliver me my PS3 and Flat Screen TV?
‘There are 378 million Christian children in the world according to the Population Reference Bureau. At an average census rate of 3.5 children per household, that’s 91.8 million homes. Assuming that each of these 91.8 million stops are evenly distributed around the earth, we are now talking about 0.78 miles per household, a total trip of 75.5 million miles. This means that Santa’s sleigh would have to move at 650 miles per second, or 3,000 times the speed of sound. A conventional ground-based reindeer can top 15 miles per hour.
‘Assuming each child gets an average-sized present around 2 pounds in weight, Santa’s sleigh would also have to carry 321,300 tons, not including Santa himself. This is four times the weight of the QE2. This would require the pulling power of 214,200 reindeer.
‘353,000 tones travelling at 650 miles per second creates enormous air resistance. The two lead reindeer would absorb 14.3 quintillion joules of energy, per second, each, bursting into flame instantaneously and creating deafening sonic booms in their wake. The entire sleigh will be vaporised within 4.26 thousands of a second. Meanwhile, Santa would be pinned to the back of his sleigh by 4.3 million pounds of force.’
Forgoing the horrific Terminator 2-style nuclear-war imagery of reindeer being blown away by sonic booms of flame, there was no doubting the strength of this Scrooge’s case. Now, excluding the time I watched a film on Boxing Day a few years ago featuring Dudley Moore as an elf, my Christmas experiences have been magical.
Let’s tackle the weight problem first. Remember that big scientific underground ring in Europe that was in the news a while back? The Large Hadron Collider is its name, and its primary function is to prove the existence of the Higgs particle. Without getting too technical, the Higgs particle is the particle that carries the force of gravity. In other words, it’s what gives everything weight. It’s what makes the tides move, it’s what made an apple fall on Isaac Newton’s head, it’s what makes really obese people sweat all the time. These particles stick to us as we move through space. Imagine Santa has his own Large Hadron Collider, up in Lapland, surrounding his massive toy factory (rumour has it that Santa’s income is funded primarily by a series of never-fail pyramid scheme hedge funds). Imagine if he is one step ahead of everyone else, and has not only found the Higgs particle, but found a way to make himself and his sleigh resistant to the attraction of those particles, like a non-stick frying pan, or Simon Cowell’s shiny, shiny face. Suddenly everything is weightless. All he needs is a gas mask and some All-Bran for his reindeer and he has enough power to head skyward.
The world didn’t end, and Santa harnessed the Higgs hundreds of years before
So he’s up in the air and on his way, but how will he be able to deliver to nearly half a billion children in one night? In order for Santa to have enough time to deliver his presents, he needs to stop everyone else’s time. Did you ever wonder why as a child, Christmas Eve night seemed to last forever? This is the reason why. Santa utilises two faraway phenomena of the natural world. The first is called a singularity. It’s at the centre of a black hole, that thing you wished they would tell you about in science class instead of having to measure the number of Newtons a lead weight applied to your springy measuring thing. A black hole is an object of immense gravitational pull. As you get closer to its centre, time starts to slow down. The only problem is you can’t escape because if you have any weight at all, you will fall in and be crushed by the uber-powerful forces of gravity. But, remember, Santa has no weight anymore. He has removed the Higgs particles from his sleigh and his reindeer, so he can’t get sucked into the black hole, because there’s nothing to suck in as far as the black hole is concerned. It’s like a mother-in-law. All he needs to do is build a portable black hole into his dashboard and suddenly time is not an issue anymore, because it has effectively stopped for him, and he can take all the time he needs, which negates the issue of air resistance and speed. If you wanna think designs, perhaps something like this.
Checkmate to Santa, Scrooge. You might be asking how Santa could store the black hole in his dashboard without it sucking the entire planet and all surrounding space into its vortex, but you would be nitpicking.
Bear with me on this, it’s for the kids.
Do you ever wonder why Santa’s beard is so long? It’s not because he doesn’t shave, it’s because the only time anyone sees him is when he is in the middle of his epic voyage. The old adage that Santa works one day a year is baubles. With time slowed down, it takes him weeks, even months to get around the whole planet delivering his presents. By the time he nears the end of his journey, unshaven, his beard is near his waist and his armpit hair is ready for storage in Yucca Mountain. One Christmas Eve for us equates to one hard slog for Santa. He’s like Noel Edmonds on Deal or No Deal – you think he only does one show but he changes his shirt to fool you. Santa doesn’t change his shirt, he simply leverages the awesome powers of the laws of physics and bends the universe to his will. Those mince pies and milk are his only source of nourishment too, which is why he is so immensely fat and why when he gets home he says to his wife Mary, ‘No more f****** mince pies for another year, I’ll have a yard of ale, and where’s my damn bong?’
As for coming down the chimney, that’s rubbish. He picks the locks. Santa used to be a burglar before he was sent down for three years and got himself a learn direct course in choky. On release, he reformed, moved straight into middle management and the rest is, well, Christmas.