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Is Hell exothermic or endothermic?

The following is an actual question given on a University of Washington engineering mid term. The answer was so profound that the Professor shared it with colleagues, which is 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 off when it expands and heats up 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 that souls are moving into Hell and the rate 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. 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 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 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. 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.

So which is it? If we accept the postulate given to me by Teresa Banyan 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 still have not succeeded in having sexual relations with her, then, #2 cannot be true, and thus I am sure that Hell is exothermic and will not freeze."

This student received the only A.



This document reproduces two classics of science parody/humor. The first appeared in Applied Optics (1972, 11 A14). It applies the physics of thermodynamics to conclude that Heaven is hotter than Hell. The second is a response which combines Biblical evidence with thermodynamics to argue that, while heaven is devilishly hot, hell it hotter still. It appeared in the Journal of Irreproducible Results in 1979. While the first paper is well known, and available many places on the www, the follow up isn't as well known. It is included here, for the first time on the net, in the interest of fairly presenting both sides of this burning debate on a hot issue.


The temperature of heaven can be rather accurately computed. Our authority is the Bible, Isaiah 30:26 reads, Moreover, the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold as the light of seven days. Thus, heaven receives from the moon as much radiation as the earth does from the sun, and in addition seven times seven (forty nine) times as much as the earth does from the sun, or fifty times in all. The light we receive from the moon is one ten-thousandth of the light we receive from the sun, so we can ignore that. With these data we can compute the temperature of heaven: The radiation falling on heaven will heat it to the point where the heat lost by radiation is just equal to the heat received by radiation. In other words, heaven loses fifty times as much heat as the earth by radiation. Using the Stefan-Boltzmann fourth power law for radiation

(H/E)4 = 50

where E is the absolute temperature of the earth, 300K (273+27). This gives H the absolute temperature of heaven, as 798 absolute (525C).

The exact temperature of hell cannot be computed but it must be less than 444.6C, the temperature at which brimstone or sulfur changes from a liquid to a gas. Revelations 21:8: But the fearful and unbelieving... shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone." A lake of molten brimstone [sulfur] means that its temperature must be at or below the boiling point, which is 444.6C. (Above that point, it would be a vapor, not a lake.)

We have then, temperature of heaven, 525C (977F). Temperature of hell, less than 445F). Therefore heaven is hotter than hell.

This version differs from some on the net, and has been faithfully copied from the version in Applied Optics. The misprint in the exponent of the equation has been corrected, and one insertion added, in square brackets. The author of this piece of humor is unknown. The Applied Optics version was prefaced by "The following reached your Managing Editor via John Howard (from) H. William Koch (from) Alan Bromley (from) an unnamed environmenetal physicist of several decades back." This places its origin as early as 1950.


Dr. Tim Healey, F. R. C. R.; M. I. Nuc. E.

In Applied Optics (1972, 11 A14) there appeared a calculation of the respective temperatures of Heaven and Hell. That of Heaven was computed by substituting the values given in Isaiah 30 26 [1] in the Stefan-Boltzman radiation law, so that (H/E)4 = 50, where E, the absolute temperature of the Earth, is 300K, whence the temperature of Heaven, H, is 798K or 525C. This is hard to find fault with.

The assessment of the temperature of Hell stands, I suggest, on less firm ground. As authority we use the data provided in Revelations 21 8 [2], so that the temperature of Hell seems to be 444.6C–the temperature at which liquid sulfur is in equilibrium with its vapour–a temperature indeed which is sufficiently reliable to be used in the secondary calibration of pyrometers.

Now this last reckoning fails to follow the argument through. 444.6C is the temperature at which liquid sulfur is in equilibrium with its vapour at normal atmospheric pressure. Have we any data as to the pressure likely to be found in Hell?

The answer is "Yes". A nineteenth century mathematician has already provided the groundwork for Us [3] and we may feel confident that by the year 2000 the total number of the damned will be at least 29,422,641,251,519,917,000 souls. Yet the area of the valley of Gehinnom [4] is only 7,000,000 square meters.

We can now apply these figures in the Ideal Gas Equation to calculate what the pressure will be in the valley of Gehinnom. Since surely some souls must have been damned since 1877 [5], the pressure can only have increased since these calculations were made and the equilibrium point on the phase diagram of sulfur must have shifted still further, so that if we can show that at a temperature of 525C sulfur would still be liquid at the pressure calculated (which is a minimum value, remember). Hell (Gehinnom) is now cooler than Heaven.

Certain corrections must be applied first, however.

1. Neiht based his calculation on a date of creation of 1658 + 2326 - 1877 = 2107 BC (minimum). Counting generations in the Bible gives a date for the Creation of 4004 BC. However, atomic dating has shown that Olduvai man is at least 2 106 years old [6].

2. We should use a Fibonacci series for the expansion, not a simple doubling series. [7] The ancient Jewish laws against inbreeding also act in the same direction. [8]

3. By a fortunate coincidence, the effects of 1 and 2 cancel each other exactly. [9]

4. The human body is not an ideal gas, but

5. A good deal of it is gaseous at 525C, and in any case,

6. It could well be that at very great pressures the external pressure may well exceed the pressure of electromagnetic repulsion, when different "gas" laws would apply. This merely explains how the Lord works in fitting so large a number of damned souls into so small a space [10] and it need not be quantitative.

In the calculation the following assumptions are made:

1. The average height can be taken as one meter. This seems a fair figure between the newborn babe and the fullgrown man.

2. The average space needed is about 30 cm 20 cm. It seems unlikely that any closer packing could be achieved. Neiht uses a figure of 1/20 cubic meters per person, which is nearly identical with my independent assessment. Mine allows a neat cancellation, later.

3. I have assumed that not more than two layers of damned persons can be accommodated, since otherwise those in the middle layers would escape the full rigours of Hell.

So that,

The volume available in Gehenna is 60 106 2 m3 and

The original volume of the damned is 0.06 29.422641 1018m3

Then, at constant temperature (which we assume, taking equilibrium)

P1V1 = P2V2 or P2 = P1V1/V2


P2 = [29 6 1016] / [2 6 107] = 14.5 109 atmospheres

Now let us see what pressure is needed to liquefy sulfur vapour at 525C.

We have, using the Clausius-Cleypeyron equation in its integrated form,

Log P = 7.43287 - 3268.2 / T

where P = pressure in mm Hg

and T = the elevated boiling point in K,

so that

Log P = 7.43287 - (3268.2/798) = 3.3373813


P = 2174.607 mm Hg = 2.86 atmospheres

(1) is so much greater than (2) that Revelations 21 8 indicates a temperature very considerably higher than 525C.

Thus, Hell is hotter than Heaven (which remains deucedly hot).


1. "The light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold as the light of seven days..." The light of the moon is negligible in comparison with that of the sun.

2. "...the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death".

3. A Mathematical Proof of the Non-Existence of Hell from the writings of the free-thinker Neiht, born in Brussels, 1877. "The area of the valley of Jehoshaphat is 60,000,000 sq. ms. ... Supposing that each race originated with one couple only, one has five couples or ten people, and applying to them the principle of compound interest, up to the Flood there were 9,289,000 births in 1,658 years. Since the Flood up to our epoch 2,326 years have passed, during which, if only five couples survived, they would have produced 2,213,867,610,000 children. If these calculations are extended up to the year 2000, the resulting number is 34,326,414,259,675,172,000 which, together with the 9,289,000, makes 34,326,414,259,684,461,000 offspring. If one concedes, charitably, that all papists are saved, their number today being 1/7th of the population of the earth, that of the damned would be made up of those born before the Flood plus those born since the Flood up to the year 2000 minus the 1/7th of those born since the year 44, that of the birth of Christ: this number is 4,903,773,008,164,544,000, and the total of damned would be 29,422,641,251,519,917,000.

"The mean cubic area between a new-born infant and an adult is about 1/20th metre; the bulk of the damned above is equal to the mass of a sphere of radius 705,504 metres; that of the earth is 6,366,200 metres.

"If one puts back the origin of man, following certain German naturalists, to 80,000 years, the number of damned would form a cube three times the size of the earth.

"Now, how does one assemble the 34,326,414,260 millions risen on a surface of 60,000,000 sq. metres to judge them and how does one sink this mass of damned, through all manner of rock, to a depth of 5,660,660 metres?"

[4] The valley of Jehoshaphat is the Gehenna of the Jews (Jehennam in the Koran)–the place of eternal torment. The word is derived from Gehinnom = the valley of Hinnom where sacrifices were offered to Moloch (2 Corinthians 33 6) (= Adremmelech–the God of Sepharvaim). In later times, all manner of refuse was dumped there and fires were constantly maintained to consume it. The sulfurous stench and the fire was the original of the Christian concept of Hell. (The estimate of Nieht of Gehenna's area 60 106 sq. m. is wrong, according to measurements taken on the spot by the Editors).

[5] e.g. Dzhugashvili, Losif and DeSalvo, Albert H.

[6] Curtis G. H. and Evemden, J. F. in Nuclear Clocks USAEC Pp 40-41.

[7] Leonardo da Pisa Liber Abaci 1202 (Out of print).

[8] Leviticus 18 6 et seq.

[9] Westfall, R. S. Newton and the Fudge Factor. Science 1973 751 -758.

[10] "In my father's house are many mansions: If it were so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you." John 14 2. Also, "Those things which are impossible with men, are possible with God" - Luke 18 27, and "...with God all things are possible." Matthew 19 26.

This paper appeared in The Journal of Irreproducible Results, Vol 25, No.4:17-18 Copyright 1979 by The Journal of Irreproducible Results, Inc.


The West Wing: speech from "The Midterms"
Written by: Aaron Sorkin

A talk show host defends calling homosexuality an "abomination" by saying that that is what the Bible says in Leviticus 18:22 (That verse, by the way, reads: "You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; such thing is an abomination.") This annoys President Bartlet who proceeds to ask a few pointed questions about just what one should accept from the Bible.

Exodus 21:7
"When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she shall not go free as male slaves do."
"I'm interested in selling my youngest daughter into slavery as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. She's a Georgetown sophomore, speaks fluent Italian, always cleaned the table when it was her turn. What would a good price for her be?"

Exodus 35:2
"On six days work may be done, but the seventh day shall be sacred to you as the sabbath of complete rest to the LORD. Anyone who does work on that day shall be put to death."

"My chief of staff, Leo McGarry, insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly says he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself or is it okay to call the police?"
Leviticus 11
7and the pig, which does indeed have hoofs and is cloven-footed, but does not chew the cud and is therefore unclean for you.
8Their flesh you shall not eat, and their dead bodies you shall not touch; they are unclean for you."
"Here's one that's really important cause we've got a lot of sports fans in this town: touching the skin of a dead pig makes one unclean. Leviticus 11:7 If they promise to wear gloves can the Washington Redskins still play football? Can Notre Dame? Can West Point?

"Does the whole town really have to be together to stone my brother, John, for planting different crops side by side? Can I burn my mother in a small family gathering for wearing garments made from two different threads?

"Think about those questions, would you?"

Note: the above references are from The New American Bible Translated from the original Languages with Critical Use of All the Ancient Sources by Members of the Catholic Biblical Association of America Copyright 1970. This "new Catholic" Bible wouldn't have been what Bartlet grew up with but might have been the Bible he read cover to cover.

Search Result 10
From: Momin (
Subject: Re: Islamic Paradise (Humor)
View: Complete Thread (54 articles)
Original Format
Newsgroups: soc.culture.pakistan, soc.culture.indian, soc.culture.bangladesh, alt.humor
Date: 2000/05/01
Conviction of  adultery  in  a  islamic court  depends
entirely on the  testimony of  four male  witnesses or
eight female  witnesses.  Or  the  accused  woman  can
condemn  herself  by   admitting  that   she  actually
committed the criminal act.

According to  the Iranian  law, a  man is  required to
perform ritualistic washings away of impurities as in a
religious rite  (abulation),  if  he ejaculates  while
having sex with a animal.

The law in many islamic countries reads, " After having
sexual relations with a lamb, it is  mortal sin to eat
its flesh."

In Oman, if a man has sex with a camel, a cow or a ewe,
the law says that the animal's milk becomes impure and
is no longer suitable  for human consumption.  The law
requires the  animal  to  be  immediately  killed  and
burned. The owner who sodomized  the beast is required
to pay its owner the dead animal's full market value.

In Lebanon, only men  are legally allowed  to have sex
with animals providing the animal is a female. The man
faces death  penalty  if caught  in  act  with a  male
animal. A woman  faces execution if  found fornication
with an animal-wild or domesticated.

In Iran, the law states that sex  with wild animals is
not recommended-especially with a lioness. Sex is only
allowed with domesticated animals such  as dogs, cats,
donkeys, lambs and yes, of all things, pigeons.

Sodomy is commonplace in middle east. In Iran, the law
declares that if a man's penis fully penetrates another
man's anus, abulation is also necessary, but this time
for both parties to the sex act.

In Kuwait, a married man cannot look at a female "in a
sensual manner". Nor can a  married man look lustfully
at a female statue or a female animal.

World Muslim  League  rules  that  "birth control  was
invented by  enemies of  Islam."  Therefore, in  Saudi
Arabia,  anyone  caught  smuggling  condoms  or  other
contraceptive devices  including  birth control  pills
into the country is punished with a term of six months
in prison.

In Bahrain, if a doctor must touch a woman's genitalia
for medical reasons, he must not  look directly at her
genitals,  He  may  do  this   only  by  seeing  their
reflections in a mirror.

A married man  in Iran  can legally sodomize  the son,
brother or father of his wife while  his spouse can do
nothing to stop this. The marriage nonetheless becomes

In Egypt, the laws prohibit a woman from belly dancing
unless her navel is  covered by a  gauze. Technically,
she can belly dance in nude providing the belly button
is covered.

In Doha, Qatar, a naked Muslim woman if surprised by a
man during  bathing or  dressing is  by  law commanded
first to cover her face, not her body.

In Iraq, women are required to bathe immediately after
sex and not leave the room in  which they had sex. The
punishment for breaking the rule is thirty lashes.

According to Muslim law the sister, daughter or mother
of the  man  who was  sodomized  can  never marry  the
sodomite even when the  act of sodomy  took place when
the two men hadn't reached puberty.

Eating the meat of donkeys, horses or mules is against
the law if  the animal when  alive was sodomized  by a
Muslim  man.  If  this  transpired,  the  animal  must
immediately be taken outside the city and sold.

When a Muslim husband becomes aroused by another woman
and then makes love to his own wife, it is illegal for
him to pray if he perspired during this session, But if
he made love  to his  wife and then  made love  to the
other woman, he  can legally  pray even though  he may
still be perspiring.

A Muslim man can not marry a  woman who was breast-fed
as a baby by his grand mother or mother.

No Muslim wife may refuse or even ignore her husband's
sexual advances. If  she is  guilty of this,  she cant
legally ask for food, clothing or a place to live with