Hell of a Test Question

Per Nicholas Fiedler
“My friend Rob Costa sent me this. It is supposedly true, which means it didn’t really happen, but here it is.
“The following is an actual question given on a University of Washington
chemistry mid-term exam. 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 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, but fell short in producing a demonstration argument.
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 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, lets 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 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
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, 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
Considering then the postulate presented to me by Teresa K. during my
Freshman year: that “it will be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with
you” and taking into account the fact that over two years later, I still
have not succeeded in having 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.”
Hell? Really?

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