Is Hell Exothermic or Endothermic (Boyle’s Law)

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 of the mid-term exam: 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, and 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.”

THIS STUDENT RECEIVED THE ONLY “A”

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11 Responses to Is Hell Exothermic or Endothermic (Boyle’s Law)

  1. Sanjeev says:

    HILARIOUS!!! May be an urban legend and not a real story… but I enjoyed this. The last para had me in splits! ;)

  2. hanzee says:

    great joke, but it stuffs up in the last paragraph, saying that hell has frozen over already and is therefore EXOTHERMIC…. it is the endothermic reations that get cold. hell is ENDOTHERMIC. hey im a year 12 chem student i have nothing better to do with my time that pick up flaws in jokes like this.

    • Phillip says:

      Hanzee, It is better to keep your fingers still and only be thought of as a FOOL,than to move them (on a keyboard) and remove all doubt! Sad but telling that you have not found something better to do with your PRECIOUS time than pick flaws in jokes designed to bring joy.

  3. Firestarter says:

    Hi Hanzee,

    yeah there might something wrong in the technical stuff mentioned…
    But its a joke, its supposed to make you laugh…it did….so purpose served :)

  4. Shard says:

    Absolutely hysterical.

  5. vvurm says:

    This is a variation on a classic joke. Although it appears to me the error mentioned of the exothermic being switched around is a result of that modification. Being that there is a postulate that “therefore God exists” I’m guessing this was a Christian theist who needs to learn more about science and logic.

  6. ROCKFISH says:

    First of all this joke is awsome and I give credit to who thought it up.

    Second of all hell would be exothermic and not endothermic in this joke. Endothermic reactions start of “cold” and take in energy to get “hot”. It’s exothermic because it started off “hot” by giving off energy and reached a stable level which the joke meant as it being “cold” in the end.

    So next time you though you found a flaw in the joke look think it over again or someone like me who gets linked to a funny joke decides to point out your “year 12 chem” error’s :P

  7. yoyo says:

    “thus I am sure that Hell is exothermic” >_> a little paying attention to reading makes less fools around the world…

  8. bluebutterflz says:

    Many different versions exist of this joke. The more common ending I’ve found is this one:

    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

    I must admit that I can more readily see a student handing in this version rather than the one I read here. The website http://www-users.cs.york.ac.uk/~susan/joke/exoendo.htm discusses the different versions.

  9. Anon says:

    No…hanzee, the year 12 chem student, is right.
    Rockfish should pay more attention to the tense. It says “I am sure that Hell is exothermic and has already frozen over”. If it has already frozen over, then it “was” and not “is” exothermic.
    Vvrum’s conclusion regarding theists altering the ending (which is not as common as the ending stated by bluebutterflz) is probably right. The alternate version is actually funny because it is credible, in contrast to the one shown above.

  10. BoBo says:

    I dont get how hell could be endothermic if its frozen over. ,, if its frozen and absorbing heat,, does that not mean hell would melt and not be frozen anymore!? looks like it used to be exothermic and now it has ceased to be!

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