Thermodynamics of Hell
The following is an actual exam question given on University
Washington chemistry mid-term. The answer by one student was
"profound" that the professor shared it with colleagues, via
Internet, which is, of course, why we now have the pleasure of
enjoying it as well.
Bonus Question: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic
Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle's
(gas cools off when it expands and heats up when it is compressed)
some variant. One student, however, wrote the following:
"First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing in time.
Therefore, we need to know the rate that souls are moving into
and the rate they are leaving. I think that we can safety assume
once a soul gets to Hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls
"As for how many souls are entering Hell, lets look at the different
religions that exist in the world today. Some of these religions
that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to
Since there are more than one of these religions and since most
do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that
souls go to Hell. With birth and death rates as they are, we
expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially."
"Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell because
Boyle's Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure
Hell to stay the same, the volume of Hell has to expand
proportionately as souls are added.
This gives two possibilities:
1. If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the
rate at which
souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will
increase until all Hell breaks loose.
2. If Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the
increase of souls
in Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell
So, which is it?
"If we accept the postulate given to me by Theresa during my
year, "* that it will be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with
and take into account the fact that I still have not succeeded
having that event take place, then, #2 cannot be true, and thus
sure that Hell is exothermic and will not freeze.
"The student received the only "A" given!
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