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Is Hell exo or endothermic?


Well-Known Member
Supporting Member
Aug 26, 2004
Is Hell Exo or Endothermic?

The following is supposedly 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, why we now have the pleasure of enjoying it as well.

Bonus Question: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic
(absorbs heat)?

Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle's Law (gas
cools when it expands and heats 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 at which souls are moving into Hell and the rate at which 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 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 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 slept with her last night, then number 2 must be true, and thus I am sure that Hell is exothermic and has already frozen over.

The corollary of this theory is that since Hell has frozen over, it
follows that it is not accepting any more souls and is therefore, extinct ... leaving only Heaven, thereby proving the existence of a divine being which explains why, last night, Teresa kept shouting "Oh my God."



The golfer fka ST Champ
Aug 31, 2004
If that is a true story then that is one talented college kid.

The real shock would be that he didn't get an F for using the word god on a college campus. :)


ST Homeland Security
Aug 30, 2004
I think he side-stepped the F by using "divine being" as the prequel to issuing the God statement, thus implying that while this devine being may be Teresa's "my God", it is open to interpretation that this divine being may be someone else's "god" also. Quite ingenius.

I often looked for ways to involve my filandering activities in college mid-terms and found myself falling well short of this guy.


Well-Known Member
Aug 27, 2004
This story needs authentication... So it's not...

snopes said:
Variations: Commonly, the piece begins with a statement meant to authenticate the story. "An actual question given on University of Washington chemistry midterm," "from a Yale professor," and "Dr. Schambaugh, of the University of Oklahoma School of Chemical Engineering, Final Exam question for May of 1997" have been spotted so far.
Sometimes the student's comments culminate in the assertion that hell must be exothermic because a girl he'd been chasing had sworn it'd be a cold day in hell before she'd sleep with him, and he'd so far been unable to get to first base with her.
Often the story concludes with "The student received the only 'A' given on the exam."
Origins: The piece quoted above likely began as a humor post to the newsgroup rec.humor in 1997. Its roots, however, are far older: an unattributed parody of a scientific proof concluding Heaven was hotter than Hell appeared in a 1972 edition of Applied Optics, a story found in a 1962 book (reprinted from a 1960 magazine) is a mathematical "proof" that heaven is hotter than hell, and article published in a 1979 edition of the Journal of Irreproducible Results written by Dr. Tim Healey (written as a response to the Applied Optics piece) carried the joke one step farther by arguing that Hell was hotter still. Though these older pieces don't directly correlate with what has now become a standardized bit of Internet lore, the themes are similar enough for us to postulate that the older versions sparked the newer ones.
Interestingly enough, the purported student's opening gambit, "We postulate that if souls exist, then they must have some mass," stands in opposition to the position taken centuries ago by the Roman Catholic Church. The Holy See had given its official approval to a particular line of scientific thought, the vacuum, to specificially allow for immaterial forms such as weightless souls and armies of angels in what would otherwise be a filled universe. Without vacuums, places where measurable matter does not exist, both Heaven and Hell and all their denizens would have no place in the cosmic order of things. The time-honored Aristotelian assertion "Nature abhors a vacuum" had to be (and was) elbowed out of the way because the vacuum was a theological necessity.
Barbara "it also scares cats" Mikkelson

The link here:

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