Wednesday, October 08, 2008

"Don't sweat it..."

I remember from my science teaching days explaining some chemistry basics per balancing those dreaded equations, especially as it relates to changes of state. Take water for add heat to the liquid to get it to change to vapor, or your cool it down enough to form ice. Clouds (vapor) can turn into raindrops (and more) if the air is by some mechanism cooled or too much vapor added to the air mass, coming in from another weather system.

And so I'd talk about stepping out of a shower, or getting out of a pool, even on a very hot day...there's that coolness you immediately feel. Same thing when you wipe your face and neck with a wet towel to cool off a little bit, and the real purpose of our sweat glands...


Good ol' water-into-vapor is a basic chemical equation in which heat is an 'input' into the equation and consumed, not given off/produced. The fancier word for that is "endothermic"...and if heat were produced, an 'output', like the burning of wood, that reaction is "exothermic". The prefixes tell it all, endo- and exo-, and thermic is self-explanatory.

And so it is a mass e-mail just came my way, and one I've seen before and you may have, as well. said it's a true story, pulled from the internet in 1997. The original story isn't quite as detailed as this one, and supposedly no grade was any rate, I'm posting the 'tweaked' version as it's really cute...although there is technical error some may catch...

Enjoy the chuckle, regardless!


Hell – As Explained By a Chemistry Student

Note: 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


"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


"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

Stephenson 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!'"


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