# Disproving Santa Claus with a Back of the Napkin Calculation

There is another approach to the extraterrestrial hypothesis of UFO origins. This assessment depends on a large number of factors about which we know little, and a few about which we know literally nothing. I want to make some crude numerical estimate of the probability that we are frequently visited by extraterrestrial beings.

Now, there is a range of hypotheses that can be examined in such a way. Let me give a simple example: Consider the Santa Claus hypothesis, which maintains that, in a period of eight hours or so on December 24-25 of each year, an out-sized elf visits one hundred million homes in the United States. This is an interesting and widely discussed hypothesis. Some strong emotions ride on it, and it is argued that at least it does no harm.

We can do some calculations. Suppose that the elf in question spends one second per house. This isn't quite the usual picture – "Ho, Ho, Ho," and so on – but imagine that he is terribly efficient and very speedy; that would explain why nobody ever sees him very much – only one second per house, after all. With a hundred million houses he has to spend three years just filling stockings. I have assumed he spends no time at all in going from house to house. Even with relativistic reindeer, the time spent in a hundred million houses is three years and not eight hours. This is an example of hypothesis-testing independent of reindeer propulsion mechanisms or debates on the origins of elves. We examine the hypothesis itself, making very straightforward assumptions, and derive a result inconsistent with the hypothesis by many orders of magnitude. We would then suggest that the hypothesis is untenable.

## Notes:

At one house a second, it would take Santa three years to visit all the houses in America alone.

Folksonomies: superstition empiricism santa claus calculations

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Carl Sagan's cosmic connection
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Sagan , Carl (2000-10-23), Carl Sagan's cosmic connection, Cambridge Univ Pr, Retrieved on 2012-01-01
• Folksonomies: science

05 JAN 2012

## Santa Clause is Impossible

Santa Claus Can't Live at the North Pole > Emphasis > Disproving Santa Claus with a Back of the Napkin Calculation
He can't possibly visit as many families as he's supposed to in even a year and his workshop can't be located at the North Pole.
Folksonomies: superstition
Folksonomies: superstition

05 JUN 2011

## Raising Enlightened Children

Memes about raising children as a spiritual naturalist, with a sense of awe for the Universe and reverence for the laws of nature.
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