This is reputed to be a true story from the Engineering Dept. of Texas A&M University.
A physics professor had written a take-home exam for his graduate students. The exam consisted of only one question:
"Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)? Support your answer with a proof."
Most students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle's Law (gas cools when it expands and heats 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 with time. Thus, we need to know the rate at which souls are moving into Hell, and the rate they are leaving. I think 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 don't 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 must look at the rate of change of the volume of Hell, because Boyle's Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to remain the same, the volume of Hell must expand as souls are added. This produces two possibilities:
(1) If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure of Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose.
(2) Of course, if Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase in the number of souls entering 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, "It will be a cold night in Hell before I sleep with you!" and taking into account the fact that I have not succeeded in sleeping with her, then #2 cannot be true, so Hell is exothermic.
The student received an "A" in the class.
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