A few days ago, I received the following in my email which purported to be an actual bonus question given on a University of Arizona chemistry mid term, and an actual answer turned in by a student. Whether the information is true or not does not matter. What does matter is the ‘profound’ thought that went in to answering it. For search of a better word to describe the thought processes that put it together I can only say ‘genius.’ To come up with such an answer under the pressure of an exam is ‘genius’ working on all cylinders.
Most students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle’s Law (gas cools when it expands and heats when it is compressed) or some variant.
Bonus Question: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)?
Before you read the student’s answer, take a few minutes to reflect on the question and sketch out your reply.
Now, without further ado and for your reading enjoyment, here is what the student wrote.
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, which is unlikely.. 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’sLaw 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 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.’
THIS STUDENT RECEIVED AN A+.