From the Greek meaning 'heavy with wine'
A blog devoted to science and reason
Written after a glass or two of Pinot Noir.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Santa Claus Science - Part 1

How does Santa do it?  Deliver all those presents to the children of the world.  Let's consider what his task entails.

There are 6.79 billion people in the world, 1.855 billion are children.  Sad as it may seem to some, but I don't think Santa visits all the good children of the Earth.  Santa only visits Christians.  Since Christians are 32% of the Earth's population, it seems reasonable to assume Santa has to visit 594 million youngsters under the age of 15.

Suppose each child gets one present, and that present has a mass of 1 kg.  (2.2 lb.s of weight for you non-SI people).  Santa gets to lug around 564,000 tonnes of toys.  Reindeer can pull up to twice its weight.  The jolly one then has to harness over 3 million reindeer to his sleigh. 

Speaking of the sleigh - let's assume each present fits in a cubic box 15 centimeters (6 inches) on a side.  With 594,000,000 presents to deliver, Santa is going to need a large sled.  He needs to haul 2 million cubic meters of presents.  Since the world's largest supertanker has a capacity of 670,000 cubic meters, the rotund one will need three of them and an additional 8 million reindeer.

11 million reindeer.   Imagine all that poop.

A Trillion YouTube Hits

I was listening to KPCC last night, and they reported that YouTube had one trillion hits this year.  One freaking' trillion! There's only 300 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy.

Let me put this into perspective.  If someone were to give you $1,000,000 (one million) with the requirement that you had to spend $1000 a day, it would take you 1000 days.  2 years, 38 weeks, and 4 days.

Let's suppose then that someone gives you $1,000,000,000 (a billion) with the same stipulation.  You won't be done shopping for 2,739 years, 37 weeks, and 6 days.

So low long would it take to spend a $1,000,000,000,000 (a trillion)? Over 2.7 million years.

So people of the world spent so much time on the Internet that they watched one trillion YouTube videos?  I have no idea how long an average video lasts, but let me assume the average one is three minutes long.  That means people were watching 5.7 million years worth of videos just this year.

KPCC also reported what the most watched video was this year.  Rebecca Black's Friday.  

"It's Friday, Friday, get-en down on Friday. Everybody's looking' forward to the weekend.  Partyin, partying, yah!  Partyin, partying, yah! Fun, fun, fun, fun…"

13,901,677 views.  Each lasting 3 minutes 38 seconds.  A freaking' eternity.

Friday, December 9, 2011

What Really Matters

I have had to spend a great deal of time and energy thinking about and dealing with the charges leveled against my colleagues, and I am fatigued, tired, worn out, weary, and pooped.

But last night I was reminded why I do what I do.  

My Physics 213 students have spent three (long!) semesters with me in PHY 211, 212, and 213.   It may be a bit egotistical for me to say this, but I believe my engineering and science majors are the best students Rio Hondo has, and I am privileged to able to teach and mentor them.  I make sure they work hard, and they return the favor.  I frustrate them with all my questions, and  they frustrate me when they don't get it as fast or as deeply as I want them, too. 

So after these three semesters which now seems to have gone too fast , I take them out to Pizza Mania, and we spend a couple of hours away from the books and the classroom.  The conversation can go from what we're doing during the break to where they are transferring, to some research one student is doing with rats and methamphetamine, and then to this crazy video of a solar flare passing Mercury.

What I have always come away with from this event - including a full stomach - is that they get it.  They understand what they've been doing these past three semesters.  

As we left the restaurant and said goodbye, they all said "thanks,"  and I realize there's one thing they didn't get.  It's that I thank them for everything they've done for themselves.