05 July 2017

How one student in Crete responds
to the change in temperatures

Blue skies and blue seas in Platanes … what sort of heat is the heatwave producing? (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2017)

The temperatures are changing and the heatwave seems to have come to an end in Rethymnon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2017)

Patrick Comerford

The weather is changing in Crete after the heatwave I have experienced since arriving last week.

The change in temperatures make it easier to walk around Rethymnon, which is a university town and one of the locations of the dispersed campus of the University of Crete.

Heat and the University of Crete are topics brought together in a story told by the writer and journalist Theodore Pagiavlas, who lives in Chania. In a recent book, The Holy Madness of Modern Greeks, he recalls an answer offered by a student at a mid-term chemistry examination in the University of Crete. He writes:

The question was as follows:

Is Hell exothermic or esothermic?

(In chemistry, exothermic reactions produce heat, while esothermic reactions absorb it.)

The responses of most students were based on evidence procured by applying Boyle’s Law (gases cool down when expanded and heat up when compressed) or some other variant.

One student, however, wrote the following answer:

First, we need to find out whether the mass of \hell changes in time. Therefore, we need to discover the rate at which souls are entering Hell as well as the rate at which they are leaving.

I believe we can safely say that once a soul arrives in Hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls ever escape. As for the number of souls that are entering Hell, we should start by examining all the different religions that exist in the world today. Most of these religions dictate that if a person does not abide by their specific dogma, they will most certainly end up in Hell. Since there are numerous religions, and people do not believe in more than one religious dogma, we can easily draw the conclusion that all souls will eventually go to Hell. Moreover, judging by the birth and death rates, we should expect the number of souls in hell to increase exponentially.

The reason why we had to analyse the rate at which the volume of Hell changes in time was because Boyle’s Law states that, in order for temperature and pressure in Hell to remain stable, its volume has to expand in proportion to the souls added. Therefore, two different possibilities arise:

1. If Hell expands at a slower rate than the rate at which souls are being added, the temperature and pressure will keep increasing until all Hell breaks loose.

2. If Hell expands at a rate faster than the rate at which souls are being added, the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over.

The question is which possibility is actually true.

If we accept the postulate that Teresa announced to me during my Freshman year that ‘It will be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with you’ and take into consideration the fact that last night she did in fact sleep with me, the second case must be true. Hell is therefore exothermic and it has already frozen over.

The corollary of this theory is that, since Hell is frozen, it cannot accept any more souls and is extinct … leaving only Heaven open …

Theodore Pagiavlas adds: ‘This student received the only A.’

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