Hell is definitely cooler than heaven

From the Laudator:

H. Allen Smith, "The Achievement of H.T. Wensel," in Clifton Fadiman, ed., The Mathematical Magpie (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1962), pp. 141-142 (at 142):

    The exact temperature of hell cannot be computed, but it must be less than 444.6° C., the temperature at which brimstone or sulphur changes from a liquid to a gas. Revelations [sic] 21:8: "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 below the boiling point, which is 444.6° C. If it were above this point it would be a vapor and not a lake.

As the article points out, hell (below 445° C. = 833° F.) is actually cooler than heaven (525° C. = 977° F., computed from Isaiah 30:26).

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  1. torch621 says:

    I still don’t want to go to hell. Nosiree

  2. Catholicity says:

    That tells me that God’s love burns hotter than his wrath. Definitely a good thing from our perspective.

  3. AnAmericanMother says:

    Which leads us to the old physics essay question: Is hell exothermic or endothermic?

    You can look it up. It’s an old, old joke that may be funny only to GA Tech graduates (I married one).

  4. edwardo3 says:

    And who says faith and reason aren’t compatible?

  5. FrCharles says:

    Two points come to mind. First, that’s still pretty hot. Second, on my reading of Isaiah, the brightness suggested does not demand the associated heat. Perhaps heaven will be a lot of light but not much heat. That would be the opposite of many homilies I’ve heard here on earth.

  6. Father S. says:

    I am surprised that I am the first to post this, but here is Robert Frost’s famous “Fire and Ice.”

    Some say the world will end in fire;
    Some say in ice.
    From what I’ve tasted of desire
    I hold with those who favor fire.
    But if it had to perish twice,
    I think I know enough of hate
    To say that for destruction ice
    Is also great
    And would suffice.

  7. MikeJ9919 says:

    This ignores pressure. Higher pressure means higher boiling point means sulfur and brimstone can stay liquid to much higher temperatures.

  8. MikeJ9919 says:

    Also, AnAmericanMother, I love the “Hell: Exothermic or Endothermic?” joke. I’m not sure where it originated, though. I’ve seen it rewritten to include many different schools, including my alma mater (not GA Tech).

  9. AnAmericanMother says:

    It’s been going the rounds at least since 1969, when my husband matriculated at Tech. Chem (not ChemE) ’73.

    I never asked my grandfather if he heard it, he was Tech ’18. But he was an electrical engineer, so he wouldn’t necessarily know. What did EEs do in 1918? LARGE steam or water powered generators, that’s what!

  10. Discipulus Humilis says:

    I liked your comment, Catholicity. Nice.

  11. MikeJ9919, pressure was my first thought as well. If the air pressure of Heaven is 1atm and Hell’s is 3atm, then Hell could still be hotter than Heaven, (using the Isaiah passage referenced), even ignoring Fr. Charles’ very good point. At 3atm, brimstone would boil at about 574C. At 2atm, it would be 521C (or thereabouts)

    Lumens and temperature are not necessarily directly proportional in this case, since the source of additional lumens is not stated by Isaiah, so the number arrived at for the temperature of Heaven is also suspect.

  12. B.C.M. says:

    Catholic nerds. I love you guys :)

  13. wolskerj says:

    I think Dante had this figured a long time ago. Hell is much, much colder than Heaven.

  14. Science nerds and being Catholic :), of course in heaven we’ll be in union with the Trinity, so we’re not going to notice the heat. The temperature may be colder in hell, but it’s like 70 degrees at the beach vs. 70 degrees in the desert, 2 completely different things

  15. Tina in Ashburn says:

    Two things:
    In Genesis, light is created before the sun and stars, so light is not necessarily related to heat. So FrCharles’ comment makes sense!

    All us snarky folks that think we are going to avoid hell, should keep in mind the theory that Purgatory is the same as Hell, except for being in union with God and we get out eventually.

    Like torch621, I don’t wanna go tah Hell –OR Purgatory!

  16. luiz says:

    In hell the flames of wrath, in heaven those of love!

  17. I certainly don’t want to land in Hell. I’d rather go straight to Heaven but I will find it a great blessing and much mercy from God if I make it to the bottom rung of Purgatory, dangling from the end of a rope as my toes feel the heat from below.

    St. Teresa of Avila’s visit to Hell.

    “A long time after the Lord had already granted me many of the favors I’ve mentioned and other very lofty ones, while I was in prayer one day, I suddenly found that, without knowing how, I had seemingly been put in hell. I understood that the Lord wanted me to see the place the devils had prepared there for me and which I merited because of my sins. This experience took place within the shortest space of time, but even were I to live for many years I think it would be impossible for me to forget it. The entrance it seems to me was similar to a very long and narrow alleyway, like an oven, low and dark and confined; the floor seemed to me to consist of dirty, muddy water emitting foul stench and swarming with putrid vermin. At the end of the alleyway a hole that looked like a small cupboard was hollowed out in the wall; there I found I was placed in a cramped condition. All of this was delightful to see in comparison with what I felt there. What I have described can hardly be exaggerated.

    “What I felt, it seems to me, cannot even begin to be exaggerated; nor can it be understood. I experienced a fire in the soul that I don’t know how I could describe. The bodily pains were so unbearable that though I had suffered excruciating ones in this life and according to what doctors say, the worst that can be suffered on earth for all my nerves were shrunken when I was paralyzed, plus many other sufferings of many kinds that I endured and even some as I said, caused by the devil, these were all nothing in comparison with the ones I experienced there. I saw furthermore that they would go on without end and without ever ceasing. This, however, was nothing next to the soul’s agonizing: a constriction, a suffocation, an affliction so keenly felt and with such a despairing and tormenting unhappiness that I don’t know how to word it strongly enough. To say the experience is as though the soul were continually being wrested from the body would be insufficient, for it would make you think somebody else is taking away the life, whereas here it is the soul itself that tears itself in pieces. The fact is that I don’t know how to give a sufficiently powerful description of that interior fire and that despair, coming in addition to such extreme torments and pains. I didn’t see who inflicted them on me, but, as it seemed to me, I felt myself burning and crumbling; and I repeat the worst was that interior fire and despair.

    “Being in such an unwholesome place, so unable to hope for any consolation, I found it impossible either to sit down or to lie down, nor was there any room, even though they put me in this kind of hole made in the wall. Those walls, which were terrifying to see, closed in on themselves and suffocated everything. There was no light, but all was enveloped in the blackest darkness. I don’t understand how this could be, that everything painful to see was visible.”

    [Source: The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila, Volume 1, Chapter 32: paragraphs: 1,2,3.

  18. PostCatholic says:

    The surface temperature of hell ranges from -128.6° F to 135.9°F. Heaven has the exact same temperature range.

  19. catholicmidwest says:

    Depending on the pressure, maybe. Anybody have a phase diagram?

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