Exothermic or Endothermic?

Issue 7 and Volume 102.

Exothermic or Endothermic?

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. One student, however, wrote the following:

First, we postulate that if souls exist, then they must have some mass.

If they do, then a mole of souls can also have a mass. So, at what rate are souls moving into hell and at what rate are souls 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 souls 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 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 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 volume needs to stay constant.

#1 – So, 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, meaning that hell is exothermic.

#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, meaning that hell is endothermic.

So which is it?

If we accept the postulate given me by Therese Banyan during freshman year, and take into account the fact that I still have not succeeded with her, then #2 cannot be true.

Therefore, hell is exothermic.

This student got the only A. p

Editor`s note: Thanks to reader Gary A. Loeb for this contribution to efun.

Flights of Fancy

NASA was interviewing professionals to be sent to Mars. Only one could go, and he or she couldn`t return to Earth.

The first applicant, an engineer, was asked how much he wanted to be paid for going. “One million dollars,” he answered, “because I want to donate it to M.I.T.”

The next applicant, a doctor, was asked the same question. She asked for two million dollars. “I want to give a million to my family,” she explained, “and leave the other million for the advancement of medical research.”

The last applicant was a lawyer. When asked how much money he wanted, he whispered in the interviewer`s ear, “Three million dollars.”

“Why so much more than the others?” the interviewer asked. The lawyer whispered, “If NASA pays me $3 million, I`ll give you $1 million, I`ll keep $1 million, and we`ll send the engineer.” p