Seeing is Believing; Believing is Achieving

The Personal Experiment

Is Hell endothermic or exothermic?

Posted by sibbia on October 26, 2007

As I’m taking a course in statistical thermodynamics right now (in fact we had our midterm today), I just couldn’t pass this one up!  I hope my readers share my sense of humor (and pardon my irreverence!)

The following is an actual question given on a University of Washington chemistry mid term.

The answer by one student was so “profound” that the professor shared it with colleagues, via the Internet, which is, of course, why we now have the pleasure of enjoying it as well:

Bonus Question: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)?

Most of the 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 in time. So we need to know the rate at which souls are moving into Hell and the 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 for how many souls are entering Hell, let’s look at the different religions that exist in the world today.

Most of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell. Since there is more than one of these religions and since people do not 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 look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell because Boyle’s Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same, the volume of Hell has to expand proportionately 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. 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 Teresa during my Freshman year that, “It will be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with you,” and take into account the fact that I slept with her last night, then number two must be true, and thus I am sure that Hell is exothermic and has already frozen over. The corollary of this theory is that since Hell has frozen over, it follows that it is not accepting any more souls and is therefore, extinct……leaving only Heaven, thereby proving the existence of a divine being which explains why, last night, Teresa kept shouting “Oh my God.”


Note:  I do realize that this was not an actual exam, and the true origins of this story can be found here, but it was too rich to pass up.  Always enjoy the little things!  They make up the bulk of your life.



8 Responses to “Is Hell endothermic or exothermic?”

  1. Mama G said

    Love it! If only that was true, that hell was no longer accepting souls. We would all live happier, I hope.

  2. sibbia said

    Hi Mama G!

    Welcome to the site. I’m pretty sure there would be chaos if hell was no longer accepting souls. I’m sure the idea of hell has kept someone in check.

    I personally view hell as seperation from God and heaven as the reconnection with the divine source, which means hell can be (and usually is) right here on earth and heaven can be anywhere.

    I know a lot of people would have trouble with that thought initially. I should write a post explaining that view. How to Find Heaven

  3. Hyacinth said

    Oh my. Hello everyone. I am amazed that someone would actually spend energy devising such a question. The “endo” or “exo” concerning hell never crossed my mind. It is obvious that reference was given to hell “fire” which was not mentioned. I am persuaded that “hell” and “hell fire” are two different entities. I am further convinced that whether “endo” or “exo”, I want nothing to do with either one.

  4. CuriousC said

    I’m still trying to recover my brain from reconciling/combining STATISTICS and THERMODYNAMICs in the same sentence! I’m with you on thinking of hell as separation and heaven as a re-joining…

  5. sibbia said


    Supposedly, the idea for this was a reply to the statement “Heaven is hotter than Hell” which was a parody of some “real” idea or postulate. So, I suppose that would make this the parody of a parody. I personally always favored the levels of Hell or custom made Hell theory of the Ancients in some ways. Given that idea, Hell would be a very very…. very cold place. No matter how you look at it though, I agree with you. Best to stay away from it!

    Remember, I just put this post up as an amusement, and because I am covering statistical thermodynamics now. Which leads me to…


    LOL, you’re funny! The official name of the course is Thermodynamics of Materials. Our first thermo that you, me and most engineers dealt with concerns itself with what’s happening on the macro (large, we can see it) scale. This class deals with what’s happening on the micro (atomic) scale. And as it’s been explained to me thus far, since several states are possible and we can’t be sure of what’s what… we “average” things out using ideas from statistics!

    I hope that helps and doesn’t make it worse!

    One more mid-term to go. (phew!)


  6. hahahaha…. this was a great post. The one thing I see about people’s feelings towards hell is that it is a place where “bad” souls go. This makes them act really nice and not who they really are. It is quite deceptive.

  7. tobeme said

    I love this! Thanks for sharing!

  8. enreal said

    This was amazing!!!!!!Thanks Sibbia

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