The Thermodynamics of Hell

A thermodynamics professor prepared a take-home exam for his graduate

students.  It had one question:

     "Is hell exothermic or endothermic?  Support your answer with 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, 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 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. 

There are two possible conditions. 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. Conversely, if hell is expanding at

a rate faster than the increase of souls in hell, than the temperature and

pressure will drop until hell freezes over.

We can resolve this question with the 1990 postulation of Theresa LeClair,

the girl who lived across the hall from me in first year residence. Since I have

still not been successful in obtaining sexual relations with her, condition two

above (hell freezing over) has not been met, and thus it can be concluded that

condition one is true, and hell is exothermic.

It is rumored the student got an "A."

World’s shortest story:

     The Exam to End All Exams


            Read each question thoroughly. Answer all questions.

            Time limit: 4 hours. Begin immediately.


Describe the history of the papacy from its origins to the present day;

concentrate especially but not exclusively on the social, political,

economic, religious, and philosophical impact on Europe, Asia, America, and

Africa. Be brief, concise, and specific.


You have been provided with a razor blade, a piece of gauze, and a bottle of

Scotch. Remove your own appendix. Do not suture until your work has been

inspected. You have fifteen minutes.

Public Speaking

2,500 riot-crazed aborigines are storming the classroom. Calm them. You may

use any ancient language except Latin or Greek.


Create life. Estimate the differences in subsequent human culture if this

form of life had developed 500 million years earlier, with special attention

to the probable effects on the English parliamentary system. Prove your



Write a piano concerto. Orchestrate it and perform it with flute and drum.

You will find a piano under your seat.


Based on your knowledge of their works, evaluate the emotional stability,

degree of adjustment, and repressed frustrations of each of the following:

Alexander of Aphrodisias, Ramses ll, Hammurabi. Support your evaluation with

quotations from each man's work, making appropriate references. It is not

necessary to translate.


Estimate the sociological problems that might accompany the end of the

world. Construct an experiment to test your theory.

Management Science

Define management. Define science. How do they relate? Why? Create a

generalized algorithm to optimize all managerial decisions. Assuming an 1130

CPU supporting 50 terminals, each terminal to activate your algorithm, design

the communications interface and all the necessary control programs.


Develop a realistic plan for refinancing the national debt. Trace the

possible effects of your plan in the following areas: Cubism, the Donatist

controversy, the wave theory of light. Outline a method from all points of

view. Point out the deficiencies in your point of view, as demonstrated in

your answer to the last question.

Political Science

There is a red telephone on the desk beside you. Start World War lll. Report

at length on its socio-political effects, if any.


Take a position for or against the truth. Prove the validity of your



Explain the nature of matter. Include in your answer an evaluation of the

impact of the development of mathematics on science.


Sketch the development of human thought; estimate its significance. Compare

with the development of any other kind of thought.

General Knowledge

Describe in detail. Be objective and specific.