World-Gen Nov/Dec 2018

WORLD-GENERATION NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2018 17 PERSPECTIVE AROUNDTHE WORLD WITH SANTA CLAUS There are approximately two billion children (persons under 18) in the world. However, since Santa does not visit chil- dren of Muslim, Hindu, Jewish or Buddhist (maybe in Japan) religions, this reduces the workload for Christmas night to 15% of the total, or 378 million (according to the popu- lation reference bureau). At an average (census) rate of 3.5 chil- dren per household, which comes to 108 million homes, presuming there is at least 1 good child in each, Santa has about 31 hours of Christmas to work with, thanks to the different time zones and the rotation of the earth, assuming east to west (which seems logical). This works out to 967.7 vis- its per second. This is to say that for each Christian household with a good child, Santa has around 1/1000th of a second to park the sleigh, hop out, jump down the chimney, fill the stocking, distribute the remaining presents under the tree, eat whatever snacks have been left for him, get back up the chimney, jump into the sleigh and get on the next house. Assuming that each of these 108 mil- lion stops is evenly distributed around the earth (which, of course, we know to be false, but will accept for the purposes of our calculations), we are now talking about 0.78 miles per household; a total trip of 75.5 mil- lion miles, not counting bathroom stops or breaks. This means Santa’s sleigh is mov- ing at 650 miles per second, or 3,000 times the speed of sound. The payload of the sleigh adds another interesting element. Assuming that each child gets nothing more than a medium sized LEGO set (two pounds), the sleigh is carrying over 500 thousand tons, not count- ing Santa himself. On land a conventional reindeer can pull no more than 300 pounds. Even granting that the “flying” reindeer can pull 10 times the normal amount, the job can’t be done with eight or even nine of them. Santa would need 360,000 of them. This increases the payload, not counting the weight of the sleigh, another 54,000 tons, or roughly seven times the weight of the Queen Elizabeth (the ship, not the mon- arch). A mass of nearly 600,000 tons travel- ling at 650 miles per second creates enor- mous air resistance. This would heat up the reindeer in the same fashion as a spacecraft reentering the earth’s atmosphere. The lead pair of rein- deer would absorb 14.3 quintillion joules of energy per second each. In short, they would burst into flames almost instanta- neously, exposing the reindeer behind them and creating deafening sonic booms in their wake. The entire reindeer team would be vaporized within 4.26 thousandths of a second, or right about the time Santa reached the fifth house on his trip. Not that it matters, however, since Santa, as a result of accelerating from a dead stop to 650 miles/second in .001 sec- onds, would be subjected to acceleration forces of 17,000 g’s. A 250 pound Santa which seems ludicrously slim considering all the high calorie snacks he must have consumed over the years would be pinned to the back of the sleigh by 4,315,015 pounds of force. So is there really a Santa Claus? Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! ENGINEERS SUIT UP BY BOB PALMER The price of solar installed has dropped from over $8/watt in 2006 to $1/watt in 2017. The cost of wind turbines has dropped from $1.34/MW to $1.12/MW over the last five years. According to Investment Bank Lazard’s December 2016 Levelized Cost of Energy Analysis, the levelized cost of electricity from wind and solar are now among the cheapest available of any generation type: In good resource locations Power Purchase Agreements for Solar and Wind are well under $40/mwh. This is truly a game changer. Renewables have now put a cap on the price of energy. If oil were to increase in price dramatically, the market would move even faster to the electrification of transportation. If you were suddenly paying $5/gallon for gas the value proposition of an electric car that you can charge with cheap solar panels on your house becomes very compelling. If the price of natural gas spikes, utilities, homeowners and corporations will move to solar and wind at an even faster pace. The price of energy, which is embedded in our food, our cloth- ing, our manufacturing, our transportation, the list goes on, now has a ceiling. Why? Because the fuel is free. This is a turning point in the history of humanity. Large portions of the human population cannot breathe clean air due to the burning of coal (see Beijing and New Dehli). They don’t need to suffer any longer, the answers are here, they are cheaper and the societal health impacts alone will be enormous. Did I mention it will also solve our Climate Change problems and allow billions of people in the 3rd world access to cheap, affordable power while employing millions? This will allow our brothers and sisters in the 3rd world access to knowledge and unlock human potential that has been waiting to be unleashed but was constrained by the lottery of where they happened to be born. The Intermittency of Renewables will be solved with battery prices that are dropping faster than the price of Solar and Wind. There is a lot to be concerned about in today’s world, but it is also an extremely exciting time to be alive.