My school is hosting a family night, and the math department has charged me with setting up a booth where visitors can grab a yard stick and a world map and, given Santa’s top speed, calculate how long it would take him to reach various cities on the map.
Seeing that none of my world maps have a scale that works in the way they had hoped, I want to refocus the booth, an instead show students just how complex supersonic flight is and let them try to make their own conclusions by considering all of the information.
Here are some things I know they’d need to consider:
- If he accelerates above 4 G, Santa will experince blurred vision and possibly pass out.
- If he accelerates about 64 G, Santa would will be crushed by the speed.
- He can travel faster in the thin altitude at 35,000 feet, but reindeer can’t breathe beyond 20,000 ft as the air is too thin.
- The outside of the SR-71 could reach temperatures of 600 °F in flight. Santa’s wooden sled would burn up at temperatures of 451 °F.
- If Santa travels faster than the speed of sound in air (767 mph) in an urban area, he’ll break many windows.
Assume the only magic that breaks physics is the reindeer can fly, potentially as fast as an SR-71, but the laws of physics (e.g. they can't accelerate too fast that they'd melt) will limit their maximum possible speed.
What other considerations must be made when calculating how quickly Santa can get from one city to another?