Saturday, 24 December 2011

Happy Christmas

To those of you have chosen to follow this Blog or sneakily RSS it so I can't see you.  I just wanted to take the time to say Happy Christmas.  We are shutting up shop today for the Christmas period having just taken delivery of our newly sharpened logos from Wangbar.  Many thanks to Ewan for turning these around for the New Year.  We also wanted to leave you with something seasonal from our informal Senior Policy Advisor, and Academic at Bath School of Management, Tony Roath.  Originally from the Bangkok Post's business section, here is an analysis of Santa's logistics.

 Celebrating Christmas in a Buddhist country like Thailand requires advance planning, flexibility and a good imagination. However, even though Thais do not take a holiday _ Christmas would have to be the most enthusiastically celebrated festive event of the year. In fact throughout Southeast Asia _ the Christmas supply chains have not only been stocking up with good will but in supplying the thousands of tonnes of decorations, artificial trees, tinsel, coloured lights, Santa costumes and artificial snow. With presents under the tree and unable to wait any longer, Christmas this year is a very special time to have a well-deserved break and put behind us a year of tragedy, floods, earthquakes and cyclones.
Now let us see if there is some logic behind all this talk of Christmas.
The logistics of Santa's delivery service
An interesting study by B.A. Robinson (of Ontario Consultants) has computed certain delivery performance criteria for Santa's annual journey. It is largely reprinted from the original source and lists a number of assumptions:
_ Santa delivers no gifts to naughty children.
_ Only one Santa distributes all of the gifts.
_ Santa bypasses Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, and other non-Christian homes.
_ The percentage of households in which there is at least one child who has been not naughty, but was nice enough to receive a present is 90%.
_ Santa loads all of the presents before starting his journey. i.e. he does not return to the North Pole periodically to reload nor does he use any form of backhaul from remote suppliers.
Further calculations follow:
Amount of time Santa spends per household:
_ Number of humans in the world: 60 billion comprising about 2 billion children.
_ Percentage of children whose parents are Christian: 33%
_ Maximum number of children who might receive gifts: 667 million.
_ Average number of children per household: 3.5
_ Number of destinations where Santa might deliver presents: 189 million.
_ Number of destinations for Roman Catholic and Protestant families: 173 million. (The remainder are Eastern Orthodox locations, which Santa would handle, in his second trip on Jan 5.
The Eastern Orthodox Church has not yet adopted the Gregorian calendar; the current gap between the calendars is 12 days and expanding).
_ Total number of destinations where Santa delivers gifts: 156 million.
Santa cannot arrive until the children are asleep, so it is assumed he could commence distributing presents in each time zone at perhaps 9 pm local time, finishing within an hour, before moving one time zone to the west.
He could take longer in each time zone, as long as the entire job was finished comfortably before children woke up in the last zone.
Assuming that the children sleep for seven hours, this gives him 31 hours (or a total of 1,860 minutes, or 111,600 seconds) to finish all deliveries.
_ Average number of homes to visit per second = 1,398.
This only gives him about 715 microseconds in which to decelerate the sleigh, land on the roof, walk to the chimney, slide down the chimney, distribute the presents and retrace his steps.
Adjustment for special circumstances: If one considers that: Santa's competitor Befana distributes gifts in Italy.
Santa distributes gifts on Boxing Day (Dec 26) to poor children in some British Commonwealth countries.
Santa distributes some gifts in bulk quantities to orphanages, children's hospitals etc. before Christmas.
Sinter Klass distributes some gifts on Dec 5 to children in Belgium, Germany and Holland.
Then the average number of homes to visit per second on Christmas Eve is only perhaps 1,000. He would deliver gifts to about 500 million children.
Distance and Speed
Assuming that Antarctica is essentially uninhabited, and ignoring the various inland lakes, the total inhabited land on earth is about 204 million sq km.
Assuming the destinations are evenly distributed over the available land, the average distance between destinations is in the order of 1.26 km.
Total distance travelled is 180 million km: a little longer than the distance from the earth to the sun! Over a 31-hour interval he needs to cover 1,600 km a second.
This is the average speed of the sleigh. Some time is required to decelerate the sleigh to a stop, for Santa to deliver the presents, for him to return to the sleigh and for the sleigh to accelerate to cruising speed. The latter would be on the order of 3200 km a second. Santa would perhaps then need to visit 1,000 homes per second.
Even at a much lower speed 100 km/second, air resistance would cause the lead reindeer to adsorb 14.3 quintillion joules of energy per second and that the entire team of Reindeer and Santa in his Sleigh would be converted almost instantly to charcoal.
There are two logical explanations for these incredible figures:
Santa Claus does not exist, except as a symbol or a myth. Some adults believe this, but most young children do not (including my daughter).
Santa Claus has magical, near god-like powers: from his location at the North Pole, he sees the children when they are sleeping. He knows when they are awake. He knows they are bad and good. This in Thailand is the only logical explanation.
So you'd better not shout, you'd better not cry
Santa does logistics better than anyone else in the sky! Happy Christmas.    (NB certain air cargo carriers may dispute this last point)

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