View Full Version : Is Hell Exothermic?
This is a question that has plagued me for some time. I have heard numerous answers but i am still not satisfied. i am pondering whether hell is exothermic or endothermic and why?
01-20-2001, 09:05 PM
Amas, you're new here, so you might not realize that this forum is for questions which can be answered in a factual manner. Unfortunately, any scientific answer to your question would require data which is not available concerning Hell, so there is no factual answer. We do, however, have another forum for non-factual questions, among other things, called "In My Humble Opinion", so I'll move this thread over there.
01-20-2001, 09:09 PM
Oh, by the way, welcome to the Straight Dope, and have fun!
01-20-2001, 09:36 PM
Here's the classic answer:
Is Hell Exothermic or Endothermic? (http://www.pssm.com/hell.htm).
Don't know if it's a true story, but a cute answer anyway.
01-20-2001, 09:37 PM
I assume you came across this chuckle online somewhere. I first remember seeing it type-written (remember typewriters?) on paper about 15-20 years ago. Plugging the phrase "hell is exothermic" into my search engine gave me only 668 hits, every single one of which on the first page was related to this story, almost certainly an urban legend since they all claim this happened at different universities. Since ULs are not copyrighted as far as I know, here it is:
"Is hell exothermic or endothermic?" - A true Story
A thermodynamics professor gave his graduate students a take home exam. It had one question: "Is hell exothermic or endothermic? Support your answer with a proof."
Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle's Law or some variant to show either that hell was exothermic (generating heat faster than it is lost, resulting in a buildup of heat) or endothermic (generating heat slower than it is lost, resulting in a loss of heat).
One student, however, wrote the following: First we must postulate that if souls exist, then they must have some mass.
So, at what rate are souls moving into hell and at what rate are souls leaving? i.e. what is the rate of change of mass of hell. I think that we can assume that once a soul gets to hell, it will not leave. Eternal damnation is pretty much final.
Therefore, no souls are leaving. As for souls entering hell, let's look at the different religions that exist in the world today.
Many 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 people generally do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that everyone is damned by lack of adherence to one religion or another, and so 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, and therefore its mass, to increase exponentially. Now, we look at the rate of change in volume in hell. Boyle's Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in hell to stay the same, the ratio of the mass (of souls) and the volume needs to stay constant. We arrive therefore at two possible hyptheses :
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. On the other hand, 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 Therese Banyan during Freshman year that : "It'll 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 Hypothesis 2. cannot be true.
Hence, hypothesis 1. must be correct: Hell is exothermic.
01-20-2001, 09:39 PM
Damn you to exothermia, brachyrhynchos!!
01-20-2001, 09:42 PM
Richard Lederer quotes the story in the book Anguished English. He says that it was forwarded to him, so I don't know what the copyright issues are.
01-24-2001, 12:25 AM
I knew that someone was going to post that story... I feel obliged to point out that even assuming that Therese Banyan spoke the truth, the deduction in that final paragraph is still invalid. She stated that it would be a cold day in Hell before she would have relations with the author, but this does not in any way preclude the possibility that it is currently a cold day in Hell, and that she will have relations with him at some unspecified future time. There's also the possibility that Hell is expanding at the same rate as its mass is increasing, but that's a minor detail.
01-24-2001, 07:39 AM
Great story, now for the OP:
I have thought about that too. My guess that hell is a dead place where all energy is in the lowest possible state - sort of like the heat death of the universe. If so then there is no net change in energy and no energy to convert and no way of transforming mass into energy as any mass would be at a state where any fusion or fission would be endothermic (iron?).
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