One Hell of a midterm


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This was an "Actual Question" given on a University of Washington
chemistry midterm:
"Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs
heat)? Support your answer with 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 temperature and the 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 that area, then (2) cannot be true, and so Hell is
exothermic.

This student got the only A.





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