Monday, January 20, 2014

Knowledge is Power

I was one of the weirdo students at school that seemed to bridge the gap between different subjects.  I wasn't a science geek.  I wasn't the best in English.  I did pretty well in music, and got a decent grade in art.  I was an all-rounder, so to speak.  This is not me trying to sound like a smart arse, rather me saying there wasn't anywhere that I particularly excelled. 

Then there are other students who are simply geniuses in one particular area.  Some will put this knowledge to good use and become the experts of the next generation, and some use it for more antagonistic purposes.  A good example would be the unceremonious war that broke out between two such boys at my school.  Genius One, let's call him, was a mathematical whizz, and will surely one day re-enter my consciousness when he is named as the scientist who disproved Einstein's theory of Relativity.  The other, Genius Two, was the boy who will no doubt go on to create the super computer upon which Genius One will succeed.  But when Genius Two used his knowledge of computer coding to produce a website that went viral (at least at school), a website dedicated to mocking Genius One for an unfortunate physical disability, we all witnessed first hand how the idea that Knowledge is Power, doesn't necessarily mean that knowledge is good. 

But then there are some kids who are just good at everything. These are the all round smart arses who have their finger on every button.  Currently this image below (courtesy of Buzzfeed) is doing the rounds on the internet and shows how a student called Sairam Gudiseva managed to interweave an intricate essay about renowned physicist Niels Bohr to include the lyrics of a Rick Astley classic. 

Whilst this amused me a great deal, one of the Facebook comments about it for me was even better.  At the University of Oklahoma, Dr. Schambaugh from the School of Chemical Engineering enjoyed perplexing his students with abstract and complicated exam questions.  The final exam question for May of 1997 in his Momentum, Heat and Mass Transfer II class was: "Is hell exothermic or endothermic? Support your answer with proof."  Here is one student's answer.

"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 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, let's 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, then 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 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 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. Two options exist:
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.
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 quote given to me by Theresa Manyan during Freshman year, "that it will be a cold night in hell before I sleep with you" and take into account the fact that I still have NOT succeeded in having sexual relations with her, then Option 2 cannot be true...Thus, hell is exothermic."
The student, Tim Graham, got the only A.

No comments:

Post a Comment