23 June 2012

Heaven is hotter than hell

According to the Bible, as calculated in the August 1972 issue of Applied Optics:
The temperature of Heaven can be rather accurately computed from available data. 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 a 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
grate beyond power law
where E is the absolute temperature of the Earth: 300K. This gives H as 798K 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 means that its temperature must be below the boiling point, which is 444.6°C. (Above that point it would be a vapor, not a lake.)
It's not clear to me whether Isaiah chapter 30 is describing Heaven or "Zion at Jerusalem" - fulltext of the chapter here.

Found in the Futility Closet.


  1. To some people, hell is a climate controled 70 degrees.

  2. I have my doubts about the second factor of 7. To me, "the light of the Sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days" means just seven times the normal light of the Sun (the second phrase being illustrative, rather than multiplicative). That gives a heavenly temperature of about 500K or about 230C. Way warmer than comfortable, but not boiling sulfur range...

  3. This is why taking the Bible literally just doesn't work, especially the Book of Revelations. I agree with jsb16 that the mathematician is misreading or deliberately stretching the passage to come up with x49 instead of x7. Highly amusing, though!

    1. But Melissa, Evangelical Preachers always say that they believe "the bible to be the literal word of God". Atheists like myself dont "stratch the passage" we read it literally, as we are told to by the people that teach it for a living.

  4. No mention is ever made of pressure. Presumably, Hell could be at a much higher pressure than Heaven and, similar to a pressure cooker, raise the boiling point of liquid sulfur.

  5. This is why I read your blog...who ever thinks of these things? This one made my dAY!

  6. IIRC 1st Isaiah (the first 39 chapters) are relatively early and predate the later conception of "heaven". I don't think heaven is a Jewish belief even today? It definitely wasn't in the 8th century BCE, approximate date of 1st Isaiah.
    But of course, Christians get to reinterpret the "Old Testament" to mean whatever they want, so the point is kind of moot.

  7. I thought this would be the old explanation given by the Chemistry Student - http://cognitive-edge.com/blog/entry/3655/hell-explained-by-a-chemistry-student/


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