December 19th, 2003

(no subject)

I got this in an email from an old friend who also attends UW. Thought it was pretty intriguing.

The Thermodynamics of Hell

The following is an actual question given on a University of
Washington chemistry mid-term. The answer by one student was
so "profound" that the professor shared it with colleagues,
via the 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 (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. So 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's look at the
different religions that exist in the world today. Most of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell. Since there is 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
because 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 proportionately as souls are added. This gives two

1) If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at
which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell wll 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 freezes over.

So which is it?

If we accept the postulate given to me by Teresa 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 an affair with her then #2 above cannot be true, and thus -- am sure that Hell is exothermic and will not freeze over."

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