Todays fortune

My webmail application runs the unix fortune program, showing a witty quote above your email. Todays fortune is reprinted below:


The temperature of heaven can be rather accurately computed. Our authority is the Bible, Isaiah 30:26 reads:

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 the earth does from the sun, and in addition seven times seven (forty nine) times as much as the earth does from the sun, or fifty times in all. The light we receive from the moon is one ten-thousandth of the light we receive from the sun, so we can ignore that. With these data we can compute the temperature of heaven: 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. In other words, heaven loses fifty times as much heat as the earth by radiation. Using the Stefan-Boltzmann fourth power law for radiation:

(H/E)4 = 50

where E is the absolute temperature of the earth, 300°K (273+27). This gives H the absolute temperature of heaven, as 798° absolute (525°C).

The exact temperature of hell cannot be computed but it must be less than 444.6°C, the temperature at which brimstone or sulfur changes from a liquid to a gas. Revelations 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 [sulfur] means that its temperature must be at or below the boiling point, which is 444.6°C (Above that point, it would be a vapor, not a lake).

We have then, temperature of heaven, 525°C. Temperature of hell, less than 445°C. Therefore heaven is hotter than hell.

— From “Applied Optics” vol. 11, A14, 1972

A quick Google shows that there is a little known riposte. See it here. I’m not absolutely convinced of the science of the two articles, but it is an amusing distraction. It is best not take ourselves too seriously, you know.

One Reply to “Todays fortune”

  1. This argument fails to take into account that the velocity of light is different in heaven. Pick a constant, any constant.

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