Stan the Statistician <<Last | Next>> | Current Stan | Archive Stan
Work in the media? Struggle with statistics? Stan's irreverent (and often irrelevant) review of the latest media reports, news and gossip may not help at all... Stan the Statistician

Stan # 67: Santa Statistics December 2002

A friend of mine used to say that if you have one foot in a bucket of ice water and one foot in a bucket of boiling water, on average, you are quite comfortable. Therein lies the problem with averages be they means, medians or modes. They are merely one way of describing a distribution of data. The average foot size would not be much use to a shoe manufacturer though it might be to a foot fetishist.

According to Top Gear magazine, the average British driver will be locked out of their car nine times in a lifetime, honk the horn 15,250 times, nod off 11 times, jump 181 red lights and munch 21 pounds of chocolate while driving. They also spend an average of 2 hours 14 minutes kissing in their cars and have sex in them six times. So, are you Mr or Ms Average or have you some catching up to do this festive season?

If Santa delivers presents to every child in the World in one night, how big is his sleigh? Those of you not wanting to see the result, turn away now. A stocking filled with toys has a volume of 19,125 cubic centimetres and there are 2,106 million children in the World. If Santa fits the total volume of all these stockings (40,277,250 cubic metres) on to one sleigh, it must be 272 metres high (28 metres taller than Canary Wharf in London, Emgland - Britain’s tallest building), 272 metres wide and 544 metres long. A two man, 2 metre by 1 metre sleigh will set you back £4,800 (or $7,200). That means the cost to Santa is £97b ($146b). Add to this the cost of toys (assuming a modest £30 ($45) per child) and a further £60b ($90b) is required plus feeding the 1,184,625 reindeer needed to pull the sleigh. You wonder how Santa manages to fund the whole thing. Well within the means of Bill Gates, though. A sense of propriety prevents me from pursuing this line of thought with the reindeer but no doubt those of my readers who enjoy toilet humour will be able to calculate the volume of droppings produced by this huge herd of reindeer and how many elves with shovels will be needed to clear up the mess, though what it would do to the ozone layer I shudder to think.

Check in again at my desk soon!

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