Lifted from this story has ben doing the rounds since the late 90s.


Dantes Inferno 1024

The following is an actual question given at a Texas A&M Chemistry Midterm: Is Hell exothermic (giving off energy/heat) or endothermic (absorbing energy/heat)? Support your answer with proof.

Most of the students wrote using Boyles Law: gas cools when it expands and heats up when compressed. One student, however, wrote the following:

“First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing over time. So, we need to know the rate at which souls are moving into Hell and rate at which 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 far as how many souls are entering Hell, let’s look at the different religions. Some state that if you are not a member of their religion then you will go to Hell. Since there is more than one religion and since people do not belong to more than one religion we can safely project that all people and all souls go to Hell. And, with the birth and death rates as they are we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially.

“Now, if we will look at the rate of change with respect to volume in Hell. Because Boyle’s Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to remain the same the volume of Hell has to expand as souls are added. This gives only two possibilities:

“If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate than which souls are entering then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose.

“Of course, if hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls then the temperature will drop until all Hell freezes over.

“So which is it?

“If we accept the postulate given to me by Ms. Sheryl Atkinson during my freshman year that it would ‘be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with you,’ and taking into account that I have not succeeded in having sexual relations with her, then I am sure that Hell must be exothermic.”

This student received the only ‘A’.