Friday, December 18, 2009

The Physics of Santa

OK, so a fat man in a red suit is supposed to use flying male reindeer to deliver presents to the world's good Christian (and a few other religions, less a few Christian sects/denominations who don't celebate anything) children on December 24th?  Really?

Well, the thing with reindeer is that the male reindeer (the older ones, at least) drop their antlers in December (the younger males around March and the females around June-July) which means that as time goes by, assuming that reindeer live for over 2000 (or so) years, Rudolph wouldn't have antlers around Christmas time.  He may have when he was younger, or maybe Rudolph is actually female?  Either way, Rudolph isn't quite what he's made out to be.  Oh, yeah, and there's that flying thing, too!

So, the antler and flight issues aside, have you thought about how much energy one man would need to be able to travel around the entire planet - not just in a circle, stopping house-to-house to climb down a chimney (if one exists), deliver presents, drink milk/beer and eat cookies/whatever, possibly say hello in a special Santa way to mummy, and then head to the next house?

A relatively decent overview of the forces involved (though this does talk about "centrifugal" instead of the actual "centripetal" force involved) can be found at Snopes and many other places on the Intarweb.

A humorous, yet ludicrous account of how Santa may actually exist can be found here.

So, if we can encourage our children to believe in old, male, fully antlered, flying reindeer being able to pull a man around 121 million kilometers in one day (admittedly, with extended hours due to the rotation of the Earth) and a rabbit that delivers chocolate eggs, no wonder we can have them believe in a supernatural being that cares about our plight yet lets us make our own choices.

Personally, I'd rather believe in sanity, science and things that can actually exist.

Happy Festivus to all.  Maybe we should all look towards having a HumanLight party which happens to approximately fall on the approximate day of Festivus - the 23rd December, to celebrate sanity and the belief in human beings having morals and good intentions without needing a supernatural prod in the right direction.  This would encourage our children to grow up to believe in themselves, to believe in reason, to do good to others because it is simply the right thing to do.

As atheists, there's only one more God that we don't believe in compared to Christians, and here is the list.  So, you can see that we have a great deal in common and a small amount that we disagree on.

So, to all, I wish you a happy and safe holiday season and a happy and prosperous 2010.


The Outspoken Wookie

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