Santa's reindeer are moving pretty fast

How fast do Santa and the reindeer have to travel to deliver gifts around the globe?

Well, let's see. To figure this out we have to make certain assumptions. First, let's assume that Santa has 12 hours of darkness to deliver his gifts. Because of the Earth's rotation, there are differences in time zones; certain time zones are nearly a day ahead or behind that of Maryland. That means that Santa has 12 + 24 or 36 hours to deliver his presents across the globe.

Next, we have to figure out how far Santa has to travel. Assuming 30 percent of the globe is land, the land mass would equal 99,419,390.72 square miles. For Santa to make his trip within 36 hours he would have to be traveling at 2,761,649 mph or 767.12 miles per second. The speed of light is 186,282 miles per second, so Santa is traveling at about .4 percent of the speed of light.

Finally, we have to assume that Santa will be visiting nearly 400,000,000 households. This means that Santa will have to visit nearly 11,000,000 households per hour to deliver his presents.

It's easy to see why Santa and the reindeer would be tired after Christmas.

Popular Christmas tree varieties

The United States is a very large and diverse country. Is it any wonder there are regional differences in the types of Christmas tree that can be grown, sold and enjoyed over the holidays?

In a central state like Maryland, the more popular varieties include Fraser fir, a tree that naturally grows in high elevations in the South; Douglas fir, a Western species; Concolor fir, a tree also found in the West; Scotch pine, a native tree of Scotland; white pine, a native tree in the East; blue spruce from Colorado; and Norway spruce, from Norway.

A northern state such as Minnesota lists the following as popular varieties: Balsam fir, Fraser fir, Scotch pine, Norway spruce, white pine, red pine, blue spruce and white spruce. In California, some of the more popular Christmas trees include Douglas fir, Concolor fir, blue spruce, Sierra redwood, incense cedar, Scotch pine and Monterey pine.

In the Deep South the Christmas trees must be able to withstand warmer conditions. Some of the most common Christmas trees found in Alabama include Leland cypress, Arizona cypress, Eastern red cedar, Virginia pine, white pine, blue spruce and Norway spruce.

Sixty percent of Christmas trees are sold in choose-and-cut locations. Christmas tree lots supply another 30 percent and others are ordered by catalog.

The most favorite variety of Christmas tree, according to a nationwide poll, are Fraser fir, Douglas fir, balsam fir, Colorado blue spruce, Scotch pine, Eastern red cedar, white spruce, Eastern white pine, Concolor fir and Virginia pine.

Nature Notes for 12/25/2011