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A thermodynamics professor had written a take home exam for his graduate
students. It had one question: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or
endothermic (absorbs heat)? Support your answer with a proof.
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.
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,
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 of these religions and since people do
not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all people and 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 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. 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 Ms. Therese Banyan
during my Freshman year, 'That it will be a cold night 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 so Hell is
This student got the only A.
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