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Interesting Physics Problem

Subject: An Interesting Question
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,
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
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
 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

 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
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
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

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."



  • Lovely. Urban myth but lovely.
  • Yes, hell of a gag. You need fiery students in the firmament that is tertiary education.
  • my geography teacher once asked me

    "if there were no border, how would you notice you're in Italy"

    my response "by the rusty crash barriers"

    i didn't get an A for that though... :rolleyes:
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