OT-One for the science nerds...

Discussion in 'United Kingdom' started by sletti, Oct 19, 2004.

  1. sletti

    sletti F1 Veteran
    Lifetime Rossa

    Nov 19, 2003
    NW Kent
    Full Name:
    Stig W
    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 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 proportionately 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. 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 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 an affair with her, then number 2 above cannot be true, and thus I am sure that Hell is endothermic and will not freeze over.

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  3. stevep

    stevep F1 Veteran

    Jan 19, 2004
    Geordie Land
    Full Name:
    as usual stig, quality mate
  4. Ade

    Ade Formula 3

    Jan 31, 2004
    ha ha :) I wish I'd had the guts to write stuff like that back in the day.
  5. mindgam3

    mindgam3 Rookie

    Sep 2, 2004
    lol, nice
  6. Albert V8

    Albert V8 Formula Junior

    Jun 3, 2004
    Full Name:
    I wish i could think like that.

    O to be a nerd!
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  8. rico

    rico Formula Junior

    Nov 2, 2003
    Full Name:
    There was a philosophy exam where the question was 'Is this a question?'...

    one bloke answered 'if this is an answer' and got an A

  9. sletti

    sletti F1 Veteran
    Lifetime Rossa

    Nov 19, 2003
    NW Kent
    Full Name:
    Stig W
    Found this one as well;

    Engineering Proof of the non-existence of Santa (yes, we ruin

    There are approximately two billion children (persons under 18) in the
    world. However, since Santa does not visit children of Muslim, Hindu,
    Jewish or Buddhist (except maybe in Japan) religions, this reduces the
    workload for Christmas night to 15% of the total, or 378 million
    (according to the Population Reference Bureau). At an average
    (census) rate of 3.5 children per household, that comes to 108 million
    homes, presuming that there is at least one good child in each.

    Santa has about 31 hours of Christmas to work with, thanks to the
    different time zones and the rotation of the earth, assuming he
    travels east to west (which seems illogical). This works out to 967.7
    visits per second. This is to say that for each Christian household
    with a good child, Santa has around 1/1000th of a second to park the
    sleigh, hop out, jump down the chimney, fill the stockings, distribute
    the remaining presents under the tree, eat whatever snacks have been
    left for him, get back up the chimney, jump into the sleigh and get on
    to the next house.

    Assuming that each of these 108 million stops is evenly distributed
    around the earth (which, of course, we know to be false, but will
    accept for the purposes of our calculations), we are now talking about
    0.78 miles per household; a total trip of 75.5 million miles, not
    counting bathroom stops or breaks. This means Santa's sleigh is
    moving at 650 miles per second--3,000 times the speed of sound. For
    purposes of comparison, the fastest man-made vehicle, the Ulysses
    space probe, moves at a poky 27.4 miles per second, and a conventional
    reindeer can run (at best) 15 miles per hour.

    The payload of the sleigh adds another interesting element. Assuming
    that each child gets nothing more than a medium sized Lego set (two
    pounds), the sleigh is carrying over 500 thousand tons, not counting
    Santa himself. On land, a conventional reindeer can pull no more than
    300 pounds. Even granting that the "flying" reindeer could pull ten
    times the normal amount, the job can't be done with eight or even nine
    of them--Santa would need 360,000 of them. This increases the payload,
    not counting the weight of the sleigh, another 54,000 tons, or roughly
    seven times the weight of the Queen Elizabeth (the ship, not the

    600,000 tons traveling at 650 miles per second creates enormous air
    resistance--this would heat up the reindeer in the same fashion as a
    spacecraft re-entering the earth's atmosphere. The lead pair of
    reindeer would absorb 14.3 quintillion joules of energy per second
    each. In short, they would burst into flames almost instantaneously,
    exposing the reindeer behind them and creating deafening sonic booms
    in their wake. The entire reindeer team would be vaporized within
    4.26 thousandths of a second, or right about the time Santa reached
    the fifth house on his trip.

    Not that it matters, however, since Santa, as a result of accelerating
    from a dead stop to 650 m.p.s. in .001 seconds, would be subjected to
    acceleration forces of 17,500 g's. A 250 pound Santa (which seems
    ludicrously slim) would be pinned to the back of the sleigh by
    4,315,015 pounds of force, instantly crushing his bones and organs and
    reducing him to a quivering blob of pink goo.

    Therefore, if Santa did exist, he's dead now.

    Merry Christmas.
  10. markcp

    markcp Karting

    Feb 3, 2004
    North London
    Full Name:
    Mark Parsons
    I've heard a similar story about an entrance exam for a philosiphy course at Oxford. The question was "What is bravery?"

    Answer, "This is."

    Needless to say the student got admitted :)
  11. sletti

    sletti F1 Veteran
    Lifetime Rossa

    Nov 19, 2003
    NW Kent
    Full Name:
    Stig W
    (written by some physics professor)

    Some time ago I received a call from a colleague who asked if I would
    be the referee on the grading of an examination question. He was about
    to give a student a zero for his answer to a physics question, while
    the student claimed he should receive a perfect score and would if the
    system were not set up against the student: The instructor and the
    student agreed to submit this to an impartial arbiter, and I was

    I went to my colleague's office and read the examination question:
    "Show how it is possible to determine the height of a tall building
    with the aid of a barometer."

    The student had answered: "Take a barometer to the top of the
    building, attach a long rope to it, lower the barometer to the street
    and then bring it up, measuring the length of the rope. The length of
    the rope is the height of the building."

    I pointed out that the student really had a strong case for full
    credit since he had answered the question completely and correctly. On
    the other hand, if full credit was given, it could well contribute to
    a high grade for the student in his physics course. A high grade is
    supposed to certify competence in physics, but the answer did not
    confirm this. I suggested that the student have another try at
    answering the question I was not surprised that my colleague agreed,
    but I was surprised that the student did.

    I gave the student six minutes to answer the question with the warning
    that the answer should show some knowledge of physics. At the end of
    five minutes, he had not written anything. I asked if he wished to
    give up, but he said no. He had many answers to this problem; he was
    just thinking of the best one. I excused myself for interrupting him
    and asked him to please go on. In the next minute he dashed off his
    answer which read:

    "Take the barometer to the top of the building and lean over the edge
    of the roof. Drop that barometer, timing its fall with a stopwatch.
    Then using the formula S = ½at², calculate the height of the building.

    At this point I asked my colleague if he would give up. He conceded,
    and I gave the student almost full credit.

    In leaving my colleague's office, I recalled that the student had said
    he had many other answers to the problem, so I asked him what they
    were. "Oh yes," said the student. "There are a great many ways of
    getting the height of a tall building with a barometer. For example,
    you could take the barometer out on a sunny day and measure the height
    of the barometer and the length of its shadow, and the length of the
    shadow of the building and by the use of a simple proportion,
    determine the height of the building."

    "Fine," I asked. "And the others?"

    "Yes," said the student. "There is a very basic measurement method
    that you will like. In this method you take the barometer and begin to
    walk up the stairs. As you climb the stairs, you mark off the length
    of the barometer along the wa]l. You then count the number of marks,
    and this will give you the height of the building in barometer units.
    A very direct method."

    "Of course, if you want a more sophisticated method, you can tie the
    barometer to the end of a string, swing it as a pendulum, and
    determine the value of `g' at the street level and at the top of the
    building. From the difference of the two values of `g' the height of
    the building can be calculated."

    Finally, he concluded, there are many other ways of solving the
    problem. "Probably the best," he said, "is to take the barometer to
    the basement and knock on the superintendent's door. When the
    superintendent answers, you speak to him as follows: "Mr.
    Superintendent, here I have a fine barometer. If you tell me the
    height of this building, I will give you this barometer."
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  13. coolblue

    coolblue Karting

    May 6, 2004
    As a scientist, i do not have a snowball in hells chance of beating drawer!!!!!!!!!
  14. sletti

    sletti F1 Veteran
    Lifetime Rossa

    Nov 19, 2003
    NW Kent
    Full Name:
    Stig W
    what sort of scientist are you?
  15. F308 MAN

    F308 MAN F1 Rookie

    Jan 19, 2004
    Isle of Man
    Full Name:
    Dave S
    Sorry it's a tad late, and i am sorry to ruin your theory stig, but I had a few thoughts, although if i had more
    time i would have liked to rip it to pieces! Santa DOES exist!!!!!! Shame on
    you !

    As it says; to assume that santa's visits are evenly distributed around the
    earth is hugely inaccurate. Christianity is the main religion in most areas
    of Europe, North and South America,Africa and Western Asia. This reglects
    Central and Eastern Asia - which makes up roughly a third of the earth's
    circumference and land mass! Thus reducing the number of miles travelled per
    household by a third - not really sometihng to ignore!

    Also, saying that flying reindeer can only carry 10 times more than a
    conventional reindeer is not fair -no one has ever seen them! There are
    300,000 species of living organisms yet to be classified and so it would be
    completely wrong to rule them out. They are the Arnie's of the reindeer
    world, so lets assume there are only 9 of them, as the story goes, and that
    they can pull the weight of the sled. So there is in fact no increase in
    total load.

    To say that 600,000 tons travelling at 650 miles per second creates massive
    air resistance in correct, but ONE ton travelling at 650 miles per second
    with the same exposed surface area would create the SAME massive air
    resistance! Air resistance is only a function of exposed surface area and
    velocity, not mass. So the exposed area of 9 reindeer is the same as that of
    the quoted 360,000 reindeer, as the exposed area is effectively only the
    front of the reindeer line and the top of the sled. The reduction in number
    of miles travelled per second, by a third, means a reduction in air
    resitance of a ninth due to the velocity squared relationship.

    1000 times the speed of sound is roughly a third of the speed of light, and
    as such is very quick and seems impossible to reach to the modern day
    scientist. However, it should be remembered that fourty years ago or so the
    fastest man could travel was roughly 100km per hour (28m/s) in a motor car,
    and it was doubted that that this could be improved by much. Nowadays
    spacecraft can travel at 10 times the speed of sound (3300m/s) - a hundred
    times faster in just 40 years. A further hundred times greater would match
    the required speed needed for the sled - maybe in 40 more years time we
    will understand how Santa can travel so fast!............. lets not be

    As for Santa getting crushed due to the need to accelarate very quickly - he
    does not need to rush at all. At the speeds that Santa can travel,
    relativistic effects mean that time effectively runs slower. so there is no
    need to accelarate so fast, meaning there is no large force and so Santa is
    still as plump as he always has been, and live and well!

    In short, Santa DOES exist - stop being miserable! He brings happiness to
    millions of families worldwide. Peolple who say he doesn't exist are just
    being plain boring! So there you go.......
  16. barabus

    barabus F1 Rookie

    Aug 22, 2004
    12 Cylinder Village
    Full Name:
    Blimey Stig, haven't read so much in a long time.......LOL
  17. sletti

    sletti F1 Veteran
    Lifetime Rossa

    Nov 19, 2003
    NW Kent
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    Stig W

    A fine set of points, and I'm not sure I could be arsed to spent too much time typing a mostly bollox justification for my assertions.....

    A belated merry chrismas to you. :D
  18. sletti

    sletti F1 Veteran
    Lifetime Rossa

    Nov 19, 2003
    NW Kent
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    Stig W
    **** Diggin up long dead thread mode - ON ****

    For all you science nerds, this is a killer website;

    Been sniggering at that one for some days now....
  19. gareth t

    gareth t Karting

    Nov 10, 2004
    south wales
    Full Name:
    gareth thwaite
    what a very clever answer and well thought out,,, love it
  20. Robgvx

    Robgvx Formula Junior

    Oct 7, 2004
    Full Name:
    Here's a question:

    If you stand on the equator, centrifugal force is throwing you out outwards, but gravity is pulling you in towards the earth by more than the centrifugal force. So, you stay put and the difference in these two forces, times your mass, gives you your weight.

    Correct, oh wise ones..?

    However, if you stand on one of the poles, there is no centrifugal force. But gravity remains the same as it was on the equator. So, with gravity pulling you in, but no centrifugal force trying to throw you out in the opposite direction, you should weigh more....

  21. spidermanUK

    spidermanUK Formula 3

    Feb 26, 2005
    Full Name:
    That is far too complicated for a Monday!
    Why don't you go back to playing international Rugby, which is what you did before you became a plural!:D
  22. sletti

    sletti F1 Veteran
    Lifetime Rossa

    Nov 19, 2003
    NW Kent
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    Stig W
    Not correct.

    The force in question would be cetripetal force which acts at a tangent to the Earths surface and would provide no partial balancing force to your mass.

    To illustrate the difference, imagine thet you are standing on the equator and facing the same direction as the rotation of the Earth (ie facing East), centrifugal force would upwards through your head. Clearly there is no force acting upwards through your head, so in this scenario there is no centrifugal force. You do however have a net forward force (angular momentum caused by you mass travelling at some 1500mph). This is centripetal force. Clearly this would be greater at the equator than at the poles, but it has little or no effect on your mass.

    It could have a relativistic effect on the flow of time (as suggested by Einstein and all his relativity bollox), and time may flow infinitesimally slower at the equator than at the poles. This may affect the speed at which one could consume pies and beer, and the corresponding mass gain could be slower, and therefore make you feel lighter. :D
  23. harmitc

    harmitc Karting

    Nov 2, 2003
    Full Name:
    Bernard R
    Good answer Stig!

    Anybody that can draw a simple vector diagram would know the answer!

  24. 208 GT4

    208 GT4 Formula 3

    Dec 27, 2003
    Brighton (UK)
    Full Name:
    Two sodium atoms are walking along the road, when one of them stops suddenly and says "I think I've lost an electron".
    "Are you sure?" asks the second one.
    "Yep, I'm positive!" says the first.

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