- 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 2 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.
- Assuming one mince pie (250kcal) and one 50ml glass of sherry per household (58kcal) we have 308 calories times 91.8 million households, or 28,274,400,000kcal. The recommended daily allowance for an adult male, according to the Department of Health, is 2,550kcal. Santa will therefore eat 11,087,999 times his daily dues.
- The aforementioned 50ml glass of sherry works out at around one unit of alcohol, according to the UK definition. So Santa would be expected to knock back 91,800,000 units over the course of the evening. The daily recommended maximum for a man is four units, meaning that Santa is endangering his health by drinking 22,949,999 times the DoH limits. Worse, he is likely to be in no fit state to drive his sleigh. The legal blood alcohol limit is 80mg per 100mls of blood, or roughly four units (although this of course would be less for a big man). So Santa would also be at least 20 million times the legal driving limit as well, and would probably have his licence revoked.
- 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 seemes 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 75-1/2 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 pokey 27.4 miles per second - a conventional reindeer can run, tops, 15 miles per hour.
- The payload on the sleigh adds another interesting element. Assuming that each child gets nothing more than a medium-sized lego set (2 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 point #1) could pull ten times the normal anount, 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.
- 353,000 tons travelling at 650 miles per second creates enourmous air resistance - this will heat the reindeer up in the same fashion as spacecrafts 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.
Programming E. coli to Release Drugs into a Tumor.One might imagine a bacterium as a simple, solitary cell doing all that it can to survive and reproduce. But many bacteria are social creatures; by using a process called quorum sensing, they communicate and alter their behaviors as a group. This intelligent decision-making system inspired MIT researchers to ask an unusual question: can we “hack” bacteria and use them to treat cancer?
Image: Here, they have rewired a colony of E. coli to produce a burst of fluorescent protein when it reaches a predetermined density. The researchers hope to modify this system and engineer the bacteria to release a coordinated burst of drugs at a tumor site.