Is Hell Exothermic or Endothermic?


macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jun 20, 2004
Berkeley, California
I'm sure many of you have seen this before (I know I have), but I just got in my email again today and was highly amused, so I thought I ought to share it with all of you :p

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 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

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

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 two
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."



macrumors 68020
Aug 30, 2006
Lord Blackadder said:
Hell WILL freeze over the day I believe that some student actually wrote that...which doesn't meant it isn't funny, of course.

true. Teresa would have killed him. :D


macrumors 6502
Jun 25, 2003
What if God made those things happen for real but also changed snopes to say that it was false?


macrumors 68000
Mar 7, 2006
That is pretty funny. It reminds me of the Uni question "Is this a question?" and a student's answer "Is this an answer?"


macrumors regular
Mar 7, 2005
Also reminds me of a couple college admissions essay questions.
I know that these questions and answers have actually happened, also.

Q: Define Risk
A: This is.

Q: Why?
A: Why not?

In both cases, the applicants were accepted.


macrumors 65816
Feb 24, 2004
Hehe, nice idea. It's like that "What is confidence?" question and supposedly someone writes only "This" and they get an A. If only you could do that, I'd still be in University right now!


macrumors 603
Jan 10, 2006
Cool. It reminds me of another I heard about students having to write a physics essay about why a chair that the lecturer picked out did not physically exist. One guy finished within seconds and walked out. All the other students were baffled.

He simply put "What Chair?"



macrumors member
Oct 27, 2005
I remember my science teacher giving giving us that in Junior High.
EDIT: they version I read 12 years ago was a little more tame.
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