The following is an actual exam question given on a University of
Washington chemistry mid-term. The answer by one student was so
profound that the professor shared it with colleagues, via the
Internet, which is, of course, why we have the pleasure of enjoying it
Bonus Question: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or Endothermic
in 1913, an Italian futurist-composer proudly displays his "noise-machines" or "intoners" (intonarumori) for use in his avante-garde musical compositions. When the instrument's crank was turned, it made this sound.
Image Courtesy Of The Douglas Self Site.
Most of the students wrote proofs of their belief using Boyle's Law (or some
Gas cools off when it expands and heats up when it is compressed.
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 at which souls are moving into Hell and the rate
that 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. 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 most 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, then Hell must expand proportionately as souls
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 rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and
pressure will drop until Hell freezes over.
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
that event take place, then #2 cannot be true, and thus I am sure that
Hell is exothermic and will not freeze.
This student received the only 'A' in the class.