Students Were Asked to Explain ‘Hell’ On A Chemistry Exam, Only One Got An ‘A’

When a chemistry professor added an unusual bonus question to an exam, no one could know how students would respond. The following question was given on a University of Washington chemistry mid-term:

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 something so profound that the professor thought it deserved to be shared.

This is the student’s answer:



Well, it’s a nice story anyway. According to Snopes, there are many versions of this well-circulated piece of humor which began when it was posted to the Internet in 1997. The origins of this particular variation/version is unknown. But it should be noted that there similar versions circulating on the Internet (there’s even one version where the young man is not successful with his lady love). As for its origins, the original piece, according to Snopes, is from a “1920’s-era piece written by Dr. Paul Darwin Foote.  It was later reprinted in several books and magazines in the 1960s and 1970s.

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