Sunday, December 23, 2007

On Donder, and Blitzen!

We're moving corporate headquarters for efficiency:
With characteristic Scandinavian thoroughness, ...logistics experts calculated the most efficient route for Father Christmas to make his way round each of the world's 2.5 billion households, and discovered he is based in the wrong place. They decided that his workshop needs to move 3,400 miles south, to a mountainous region of Kyrgyzstan in central Asia, a country once part of the Soviet Union.

....Anders Larsson, one of the experts behind the study at the Stockholm-based engineering consultants Sweco, which calculates optimum delivery routes for companies, said: "Kyrgyzstan is the best place because it is close to China and India, while it is also located in the northern hemisphere, which is more densely populated than the southern.

....The Swedish programme recommends that Father Christmas start delivering his presents in eastern Asia, then fly west before finishing his journey in Alaska or Hawaii. That direction of travel, against the Earth's rotation, would extend the night, giving him twice as much time to deliver gifts to all the world's children. But even so, his sleigh would need to travel at 3,604 miles per second, or 17,000 times faster than the speed of sound.

At each home he would have just 34 millionths of a second to climb down the chimney, leave the gift, gulp a mince pie and knock back a glass of sherry before rejoining his waiting reindeer. Mr Larsson added: "His extreme speed is also the reason we rarely meet him."

The Kyrgyzstan authorities have seized on the idea of relocating Santa to their country with enthusiasm. Despite being predominantly Muslim, the residents believe in Ayaz Ata, or Father Snow, who brings gifts to their children. The ministry for tourism has also announced plans for an expedition to the area identified by the Swedish study to climb a mountain and rename the peak Mount Santa.

Akbar Djigitov, a tourism official, said: "It was a real surprise to find he would be best to set up his home in our country, but we think it perfect. Our mountains are very snowy, so he would feel at home."

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