Is Hell Exothermic or Endothermic?

A friend of mine recently sent me the following forward. I had seen it before but like it enough that it deserves to be shared. Snopes has their take on it too.

The following is an actual question given on a University of Florida chemistry mid-term. The answer by one student was so profound that the professor shared it with his colleagues via the internet, which is, of course, why we 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 off when it expands and heats up when it is compressed) or some variant of that law. 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 that the souls are moving into Hell and the rate 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. Some of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell. Since there are more than one religions, and since people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all souls will go to Hell. With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls to increase exponentially. Now, we look at the rate of change in the volume of Hell because Boyles law states that in order for the temperature and pressure of Hell to stay the same, the volume in Hell has to expand proportionately as souls are added. This gives two possibilities:

1.If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than that rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all hell breaks

2.Of course, 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 still have not succeeded in having sexual relations with her, then number 2 cannot be true, and thus I am sure that Hell is exothermic and will not freeze.

The student received the only “A” given.

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