Exothermic or Endothermic?
A Paper on the Temperature of Hell
The following is an actual question given on University of Washington chemistry
mid-term. The answer was so "profound" that the professor shared it with
colleagues, which is why we now have the pleasure of
enjoying it as well.
Bonus Question: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs
Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle's Law,
(gas cools off when it expands and heats up when it is compressed) or 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 Hell and the rate they are leaving. I think
that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell, it will not leave therefore, no
souls are leaving. As for how many souls are entering Hell, let us look at the different
religions that exist in the world today. Some of these religions state that if you
are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell. Since there are more than one of
these religions and since people do not belong to more than one religion, we can
project that all souls go to Hell. With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect
the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially.
Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell since Boyle's Law states that in
order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same, the volume of Hell has to
expand as souls are added. This gives two possibilities:
- 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.
- Of course, if Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in Hell,
then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over. So which is it?
If we accept the postulate given to me by Ms. Teresa Banyan during my Freshman
year," ... that it will be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with you" and take
into account the fact that I still have not succeeded in having sexual relations with her,
then, #2 cannot be true, and thus I am sure that Hell is exothermic and will not freeze.
The student received the only "A" given.