09 August 2007

Schrödinger's Cat(holic)

Geeky post alert. This is for the few geeks who read my blog.

I really don't have an opinion about Schrödinger's cat. Well, not one based in science, but one based on gut feeling. I think the cat is alive throughout the experiment for the simple reasons that I'm a cat person and no real experimenter would conduct an experiment like this today where a cat would ever be in serious jeapordy or risk PETA or other animal rights activists coming after them. Plus, all this wave stuff is just too electrical engineeringesque for my tastes. The following heat transfer problem suits me better...


The temperature of Heaven can be rather accurately computed. Our authority is Isaiah 30:26, "Moreover, the light of the Moon shall be as the light of the Sun and the light of the Sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days." Thus Heaven receives from the Moon as much radiation as we do from the Sun, and in addition 7*7 (49) times as much as the Earth does from the Sun, or 50 times in all. The light we receive from the Moon is one 1/10,000 of the light we receive from the Sun, so we can ignore that ... The radiation falling on Heaven will heat it to the point where the heat lost by radiation is just equal to the heat received by radiation, i.e., Heaven loses 50 times as much heat as the Earth by radiation. Using the Stefan-Boltzmann law for radiation, (H/E)^4 = 50, where E is the absolute temperature of the earth (300K), gives H as 798K (525C). The exact temperature of Hell cannot be computed ... [However] Revelations 21:8 says "But the fearful, and unbelieving ... shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone." A lake of molten brimstone means that its temperature must be at or below the boiling point, 444.6C. We have, then, that Heaven, at 525C is hotter than Hell at 445C.
-- From "Applied Optics" vol. 11, A14, 1972

But, there's more...

The following is one of Dr. Schalmbaugh's Final Test questions for May 1997. (Dr. Schalmbaugh, University of Oklahoma School of Chemical Engineering, is known for asking questions such as this on his final exams.)

May 1997, Momentum, Heat and Mass Transfer II Final Exam Question:

Support your answer with truth.

(Definitions for exothermic and endothermic. An exothermic reaction gives off energy in the form heat and an endothermic reaction requires energy in the form heat.)

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, lets 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

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.

Case 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.

Case 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 Theresa Banyan during my freshman year, "it will be a cold night in hell before I go out with you" and take into account the fact that I still have NOT succeeded in dating her, then Case 2 cannot be true.

Thus, hell is exothermic.

The student, Tim Graham, got the only A.

The original version of this joke appeared in Applied Optics, vol. 11, A14
1972) - reference in p. 106 of "A Random Walk in Science", compiled R. L. Weber, published IoP 1973.

(Oddly enough, the last conversation I had with my father, before we found out he was dying, was regarding exothermic and endothermic reactions.)


tara said...

Hey how did you know I was a geek who LOVES chemistry? This was very fun to read!

:o) said...

Aaaaaaah. That made my head hurt!

Tiberius Odgen said...

That's totally awesome!

swissmiss said...

I certainly hope there is one place that is fairly cool...I don't like temps that are too hot!

Chemistry geeks are the best kind ;} My husband is an aerospace/mechanical engineer, my brother is an electrical engineer and I was a chemical engineer, so we always teased each other about our specific areas.