Thursday, 12 April 2007


Even though Snopes outs this joke as an ongoing urban legend dating back to early-70s science rag publications, I still think it's funny as, ummm...hell.

Going to Hell

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.

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 thereof.

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."



* Now I get why Bachelor of Science degree holders (BSc) capitalize the BS but leave the c small.


EbNflo said...

This totally explains a few things. LOL

My idea of Hell was totally skewed after I saw the movie, "Come What May." For some reason, the imagery haunted me...

But that's just me; I'm constantly swayed by Hollywood which is, of course, a modern day propoganda device for ol' Beezlebub.


Anonymous said...

I love it.

I often wished when I was a child that I were a Jew since they don't believe in Hell.

Becca said...

I love it! Though I will have to ask my geekified husband if it really works that way or if I will have to sleep with him to get the answer!

Anonymous said...

That student, whoever s/he was, is brilliant and I'm glad they got the A.

Thought counts.

Hollie said...

What a way to put a smile on my face....the student deserved the A maybe even an A+

Anonymous said...

Absolutely brilliant. Being a teacher I can honestly say that that is the kind of answer we dream of finding when marking exams!

Anonymous said...

This is great! I haven't heard this one yet. I'm passing it on to my father who will get a kick out of recalling his college years and to my husband who is the Physics geek and gets a silent kick out of jokes involving any element of sex ;)

Holy Thought of the Week

"To live fully is to let go and die with each passing moment, and to be reborn in each new one."

~ Jack Kornfield ~