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> Question Given On University Of Washington Chemist, Question given on University of Washingt
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post Jun 22 2004, 09:58 AM
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The following is an actual question given on
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. 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 us 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'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

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 still have not
succeeded in having an affair with her; then, #2 above cannot be true.
Thus, I am sure that Hell is exothermic and will not freeze over."


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