Ramani K. Raman
A physics professor gave his
graduate students in a thermodynamics course a take home exam. It had only one question, albeit a
"Show by means of rigorous proof whether Hell Exothermic or Endothermic? What does this mean?
Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle's Law or some variant. One student, however, turned in the following truly witty answer:
First, we postulate that if souls exist, then they must have some mass. If
they do, then a mole of souls will also have a mass. So, at what rate are souls
moving into hell and at what rate are souls leaving? This will determine
whether hell is indeed exothermic or endothermic.
If we accept the postulate given to me by a young lady during my first year, "It will be a cold night in Hell before I sleep with you", and given the fact that as of now, all my attempts to sleep with her have failed, clearly number 1 above must be true, in which case, Hell is exothermic. However, I continue to nurture the hope that hell shall turn endothermic in the near future.
This above story is found floating around the net, often attributed to certain Dr. Schambaugh, Professor at the School of Chemical Engineering at University of Oklahoma. I decided to check the veracity of this story and to my surprise found that the professor is not fictional and does indeed exist. So I wrote to him to check the veracity of this claim. He was kind enough to reply back, and this is what he had to say:
I receive numerous e-mails about this urban legend. My name is misspelled more than 20 different ways in the various versions of the story, and usually the story involves an actual class that I teach (CHE 3123 – Heat, Mass, and Momentum Transfer II). Yes, I am notorious for giving unusual problems. However, I never gave this problem about hell.
Robert L. Shambaugh
|Copyright 2004 All Rights Reserved.|