The following is an actual question given on a University of Washington
chemistry midterm. 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
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
First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing in time. So we
need to know the rate that 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 us 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 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
This gives two possibilities:
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.
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
So which is it?
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.