Sunday ka Funda

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

This was an actual chemistry mid-term question by the University of Washington.

Most of the students wrote of their beliefs using Boyle's Law that 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."

This student received the only ‘A’

(Got this as a forward)


  1. Mast Qalandar07/11/2011, 09:33

    That's a good yarn Farzana. And an old one. In fact its original version predates the internet by about 70 years.

    See http://www.snopes.com/college/exam/hell.asp

    Still - a good yarn, as I said!

    Mast Qalandar

  2. Hello Mast Qalandar:

    Wonder why you did not send the parchment version of the yarn-nama, instead of an ornery link.

    I am sure this must be around, but so is Moses' tablet...I haven't seen the original :)

    I was just sharing...

  3. Mast Qalandar09/11/2011, 09:39


    I have been reading your blog for quite a while and enjoy your original writing.

    When I saw this post I was a bit irritated, possibly because (a) I have had it forwarded to me earlier, (b) I am against such forwards as I consider them spam, (c) it is not original writing by a blogger whose writing I otherwise admire and (d) I did not find any attribution in the blog post or any mention that this is a yarn and not a factual account of an actual incident.

    Having said this, what the hell - it is your blog, and you are free to put what you wish on it in any manner whatsoever.

    Since you shared your thoughts on my comment, I just wanted to share my reasons for posting my previous comment :).

    And - as I said - I do admire your writing - both for form and for content.

  4. MQ:

    If you have been following this blog for a while, then you would know that the 'Sunday ka Funda' is usually a quote, a fable, a song. I give the readers a rest from me - well, not always, but at least one post.

    Re. your points:

    I had not read this before; I did receive this forma reliable source so it was not spam; putting it on a blog is not spam; the attribution was in the body of the post where the university is mentioned.

    I add the tag 'I got mail', which I had not done, but have now and also added a footnote.

    Is there anything else I can do? :)

    Thanks for your kind words and hope you will excuse my unoriginal Sunday treats, too.

  5. Mast Qalandar10/11/2011, 07:56

    More nitpicking from me!

    If you have gone through the "ornery" link to snopes.com, I think it says FALSE right at the start. Later on it says that one of the variations of this yarn is to attribute it to the University of Washington.

    I trust snopes as I have found it to be among the most authentic sources for checking on internet forwards, myths, legends etc.

    I admit however that I have not personally been able to check whether the University of Washington ever actually gave this question on one of its Chemistry exams.

    That's about it from me on this :).


    And keep the writing flowing.



  6. Even if it was just a joke, not based on 'facts', why nitpick so much?

    Anyhow, for all your effort, here is another one. This time there is a link, and it also has the same yarn you have been picking on :)

    Enjoy, even if this too has been forwarded to you earlier and you consider it spam. I am spamming my comment box. Sue me.

    Rumour has it that this is a true story from the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois.

    Two Engineering students left Champaign Friday afternoon for a weekend in Chicago. They hadn't been home for weeks and there was a party Saturday night they did not want to miss. The plan was to drive back Sunday afternoon so that they would have time to study for their MidTerm exam Monday morning. (The unwritten Undergraduate law book at UI states that anyone who begins studying more than twelve hours before the exam is totally uncool.)

    The party was indeed worth coming home for and, needless to say, Monday morning found them still sacked out on the livingroom floor in a house in the Chicago suburbs. So much for the MidTerm.

    They arrived in Champaign early Monday afternoon and immediately went to see their Engineering Professor. The students explained that they had been in Chicago at a family occasion and had risen at the ungodly hour of four to drive back to Champaign. They would have been in plenty of time for the MidTerm were it not for that miserable flat tire half way between Kankakee and Champaign.

    The professor was sympathetic and agreed that the two could write a make up exam first thing Tuesday morning.

    Tuesday morning the Professor placed one student at the TA's desk in his office and one student two doors down in the office of an absent colleague.

    The first question - worth 20% - was a standard Engineering question. Neither student had overmuch difficulty with it.

    The second question - worth 30% - was a slightly more complex question, but certainly answerable.

    The third question - worth 50% - asked "Which tire was flat?"



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