linux-l: An ordinary day somewhere at a University in the States...

Stephan Wernicke swe at
Di Mär 3 09:31:25 CET 1998

A true story:
A thermodynamics professor had written a take
home exam for his graduate students. 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
#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 Theresa
Banyan during 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 having sexual relations with her, then
#2 cannot be true.
Therefore, hell is exothermic.
This student got the only A.

Stephan Wernicke
mailto:swe at tel:+49-30-2455-7073 (-4760 fax)

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