Why Indeed Did the WTC 7 Buildings Completely Collapse?
The paper has undergone significant modifications following an additional set of peer reviews organized by Journal of 9/11 Studies Editor Kevin Ryan.An earlier version is now published in a volume edited by David Ray Griffin and Peter Dale Scott, 9/11 And the American Empire: Intellectuals Speak Out, Northampton, MA: Interlink Publishing, 2006. It is published here by kind permission of the editors. One of the editors (Prof. Griffin) has explained that there were four reviewers for my paper, all Ph.D’s, two were Physicists. To clarify some apparent confusion: the paper is not published in “The Hidden History of 9-11-2001,” Elsevier, 2006, although that volume does contain a number of relevant articles.
In this paper, I call for a serious investigation of the hypothesis that WTC 7 and the Twin Towers were brought down, not just by impact damage and fires, but through the use of pre-positioned cutter-charges. I consider the official FEMA, NIST, and 9-11 Commission reports that fires plus impact damage alone caused complete collapses of all three buildings. And I present evidence for the controlled-demolition hypothesis, which is suggested by the available data, and can be tested scientifically, and yet has not been analyzed in any of the reports funded by the US government.
We start with the fact that large quantities of molten metal were observed in basement areas under rubble piles of all three buildings: the Twin Towers and WTC7. A video clip provides eye-witness evidence regarding this metal at ground zero: . Frank Silecchia show chunks of the hot metal being removed from the North Tower rubble on September 27, 2001 . Notice the color of the lower portion of the extracted metal — this tells us much about the temperature of the metal and provides important clues regarding its composition, as we shall see. Next, as a basis for discussion, I invite you to consider the collapse of the 47-story WTC 7, which was never hit by a jet.
WTC 7 collapsed completely on 9/11/2001, primarily onto its own footprint. Now that you have seen the still photographs, it is important to the discussion whichfollows for you to observe video clips of the collapse of this building, so go to: View the reaction of a demolition expert, as he observes for the first time the rapid collapse of WTC 7 Then consider a video close-up of the same building, southwest corner, as this corner begins its steady drop to the ground:New, side-by-side comparison of WTC7 collapse and a controlled demolition using explosives:
What did you observe?
Did the building collapse straight down (nearly symmetrically) – or did it topple over?
How fast did the southwest corner of the roof fall? (Students and I measure[6.5 +- 0.2] seconds for the SW corner of WTC 7, after this corner begins its steady fall.) Smoke/debris-jets:
Did you observe puffs of smoke/debris coming out of the building? Please note for yourself the sequence and fast timing of observed plumes of dust. Note that references to web pages are used in this paper due largely to the importance of viewing motion picture clips, thus enhancing consideration of the laws of motion and physics generally. High-quality photographs showing details of the collapses of WTC 7 and the WTC Towers can be found in books. On the basis of photographic and video evidence as well as related data and analyses, I provide thirteen reasons for rejecting the official hypothesis, according to which fire and impact damage caused the collapse of the Twin Towers and WTC 7, in favor of the controlled-demolition hypothesis. The goal of this paper is to promote further scrutiny of the official government-sponsored reports as well as serious investigation of the controlled- demolition hypothesis. (No rebuttal of my arguments for in-depth investigation can be complete, of course, unless it addresses all of these points.)
Thirteen Reasons to Challenge Government-sponsored Reports and to investigate the Controlled-demolition Hypothesis
Molten Metal: Flowing and in Pools.
There are several published observations of molten metal in the basements of all three buildings, WTC 1, 2 (“Twin Towers”) and 7. For example, Dr. Keith Eaton toured Ground Zero and stated in The Structural Engineer,
‘They showed us many fascinating slides’ [Eaton] continued, ‘ranging from molten metal which was still red hot weeks after the event, to 4-inch thick steel plates sheared and bent in the disaster’.
The existence of molten metal at Ground Zero was reported by several observers (see first photograph above), including Greg Fuchek:
For six months after Sept. 11, the ground temperature varied between 600 degrees Fahrenheit and 1,500 degrees, sometimes higher. “In the first few weeks, sometimes when a worker would pull a steel beam from the wreckage, the end of the beam would be dripping molten steel,” Fuchek said. (Walsh, 2002)
Sarah Atlas was part of New Jersey’s Task Force One Urban Search and Rescue and was one of the first on the scene at Ground Zero with her canine partner Anna. She reported in Penn Arts and Sciences, summer 2002,
‘Nobody’s going to be alive.’ Fires burned and molten steel flowed in the pile of ruins still settling beneath her feet. (Penn, 2002; emphasis added.)
Notice that the molten metal (probably not steel alone; see discussion below) was flowing down in the rubble pile early on; so it is not the case that the molten metal pools formed due to subterranean fires after the collapses.
The observer (second video) notes that the observed surface of this metal is still reddish- orange some six weeks after 9-11. This implies a large quantity of a metal with fairly low heat conductivity and a relatively large heat capacity (e.g., iron is more likely than aluminum) even in an underground location. Like magma in a volcanic cone, such metal might remain hot and molten for a long time — once the metal is sufficiently hot to melt in large quantities and then
kept in a fairly-well insulated underground location. Moreover, as hypothesized below, thermite reactions may well have resulted in substantial quantities (observed in pools) of molten iron at very high temperatures – initially above 2,000 °C (3,632 °F). At these temperatures, various materials entrained in the molten metal pools will continue to undergo exothermic reactions which would tend to keep the pools hot for weeks despite radiative and conductive losses. Any thermite cutter charges which did not ignite during the collapse could also contribute to the prolonged heating.
Thus, molten metal was repeatedly observed and formally reported in the rubble piles of the WTC Towers and WTC 7, metal that looked like molten steel or perhaps iron. Scientific analysis would be needed to conclusively ascertain the composition of the molten metal in detail.
I maintain that these observations are consistent with the use of high-temperature cutter- charges such as thermite, HMX or RDX or some combination thereof, routinely used to melt/cut/demolish steel. [See Grimmer, 2004] Thermite is a mixture of iron oxide and aluminum powder. The end products of the thermite reaction are aluminum oxide and molten iron. So the thermite reaction generates molten iron directly, and is hot enough to melt and even evaporate steel which it contacts while reacting. Here is the thermite-reaction equation for a typical Mixture of aluminum powder iron oxide powder:
2Al + Fe2O3 = Al2O3 + 2Fe (molten iron), ∆H = − 853.5 kJ/mole.
Thermite contains its own supply of oxygen and so the reaction cannot be smothered, even with water. Use of sulfur in conjunction with the thermite, which we call “thermate,” will accelerate the destructive effect on steel, and sulfidation of structural steel was indeed observed in some of the few recovered members from the WTC rubble. On the other hand, falling buildings (absent incendiaries such as thermite) have insufficient directed energy to result in melting of large quantities of metal; any particles of molten metal somehow formed during collapse will not coalesce into molten pools of metal!
The government reports admit that the building fires were insufficient to melt steel beams — then where did the molten metal pools come from?
Your gut reaction would be the jet fuel is what made the fire so very intense, a lot of people figured that’s what melted the steel. Indeed it did not, the steel did not melt. And in an a fact sheet released in August, 2006, NIST states: “In no instance did NIST report that steel in the WTC towers melted due to the fires.
None of the official reports tackles the mystery of the molten metal pools. Yet this is clearly a significant clue to what caused the Towers and WTC 7 to collapse. So an analysis of the composition of the previously-molten metal is required by a qualified scientific panel. This could well become an experiment crucis. Prof. Thomas Eagar explained in 2001 that the WTC fires would NOT melt steel:
« The fire is the most misunderstood part of the WTC collapse. Even today, the media report (and many scientists believe) that the steel melted. It is argued that the jet fuel burns very hot, especially with so much fuel present. This is not true…. The temperature of the fire at the WTC was not unusual, and it was most definitely not capable of melting steel.
In combustion science, there are three basic types of flames, namely, a jet burner, a pre- mixed flame, and a diffuse flame…. In a diffuse flame, the fuel and the oxidant are not mixed before ignition, but flow together in an uncontrolled manner and combust when the fuel/oxidant ratios reach values within the flammable range. A fireplace is a diffuse flame burning in air, as was the WTC fire. Diffuse flames generate the lowest heat intensities of the three flame types… The maximum flame temperature increase for burning hydrocarbons (jet fuel) in air is, thus, about 1000 °C
— hardly sufficient to melt steel at 1500 °C. » « But it is very difficult to reach [even] this maximum temperature with a diffuse flame. There is nothing to ensure that the fuel and air in a diffuse flame are mixed in the best ratio… This is why the temperatures in a residential fire are usually in the 500 °C to 650 °C range [Cote, 1992]. It is known that the WTC fire was a fuel-rich, diffuse flame as evidenced by the copious black smoke…. It is known that structural steel begins to soften around 425 °C and loses about half of its strength at 650 °C [Cote, 1992]. This is why steel is stress relieved in this temperature range. But even a 50% loss of strength is still insufficient, by itself, to explain the WTC collapse… The WTC, on this low-wind day, was likely not stressed more than a third of the design allowable… Even with its strength halved, the steel could still support two to three times the stresses imposed by a 650 °C fire. »
We will return to the question of fire-induced stresses and WTC collapses later.
Even without a direct elemental analysis, we can rule out some metals based on available data. The photograph in the introduction shows a chunk of hot metal being extracted at ground zero. The hottest portion of the chunk is the lower portion, which was deepest down in the slag, and the metal is seen to be yellow-hot, certainly above cherry-red hot. The following table provides data regarding the melting temperatures of lead, aluminum, structural steel and iron, along with approximate metal temperatures by color. Note that the approximate temperature of a hot metal is given by its color, quite independent of the composition of the metal. (A notable exception is falling liquid aluminum, which due to low emissivity and high reflectivity appears silvery-gray in daylight conditions, after falling through air 1-2 meters, regardless of the temperature at which the poured-out aluminum left the vessel. Aluminum does incandesce (glow) like other metals, but faintly, so that with the conditions described in the previous sentence (which prevailed at the WTC on 9/11), falling liquid aluminum will appear silvery-gray. Rapid oxidation of the hot flowing aluminum will contribute to the observed appearance.
No, the lower level of the building. You know like when they demolish a building, how when they blow up a building, when it falls down? That’s what I thought I saw. And I didn’t broach the topic to him, but he asked me. He said I don’t know if I’m crazy, but I just wanted to ask you because you were standing right next to me… He said did you see any flashes? I said, yes, well, I thought it was just me. He said no, I saw them, too… I mean, I equate it to the building coming down and pushing things around, it could have been electrical explosions, it could have been whatever. »
It is highly unlikely that jet fuel was present to generate such explosions especially on lower floors, and long after the planes hit the buildings. Dr. Shyam Sunder, Lead Investigator for NIST stated: « The jet fuel probably burned out in less than 10 minutes.” »Electrical explosions » would clearly be insufficient to bring a steel-frame skyscraper down, in any building built to code. On the other hand, pre-positioned explosives provide a plausible and simple explanation for the observed detonations followed by complete building collapses. Thus, it cannot be said that “no evidence” can be found for the use of explosives. This serious matter needs to be treated as a plausible scientific hypothesis and thoroughly investigated.
Ejection of Steel Beams and Debris-plumes from the Towers
The horizontal ejection of structural steel members for hundreds of feet and the pulverization of concrete to flour-like powder, observed clearly in the collapses of the WTC towers, provide further evidence for the use of explosives – The observed plumes or « squibs » are far below the pulverization region and therefore deserving of particular attention.
Unlike WTC7, the twin towers appear to have been exploded “top-down” rather than proceeding from the bottom – which is unusual for controlled demolition but clearly possible, depending on the order in which explosives are detonated. That is, explosives may have been placed on higher floors of the towers and exploded via radio signals so as to have early explosions near the region where the plane entered the tower. Certainly this hypothesis ought to be seriously considered in an independent investigation using all available data.
Rapid Collapses and Conservation of Momentum and Energy
The rapid fall of the Towers and WTC7 has been analyzed by several engineers/scientists . The roof of WTC 7 (students and I are observing the southwest corner as it commences its steady fall) falls to earth in (6.5 +- 0.2) seconds, while an object dropped from the roof (in a vacuum) would hit the ground in 6.0 seconds. This follows from t = (2H/g)1/2. Likewise, the Towers fall very rapidly to the ground, with the upper part falling nearly as rapidly as ejected debris which provide free-fall references. Where is the delay that must be expected due to conservation of momentum – one of the foundational Laws of Physics? That is, as upper-falling floors strike lower floors – and intact steel support columns – the fall must be significantly impeded by the impacted mass. If the central support columns remained standing, then the effective resistive mass would be less, but this is not the case – somehow the enormous support columns failed/disintegrated along with the falling floor pans. Peer-reviewed papers which further analyze the WTC skyscraper collapses, by Dr. Frank Legge, Professor Kenneth Kuttler, Gordon Ross and Kevin Ryan, are recommended. How do the upper floors fall so quickly, then, and still conserve momentum and energy in the collapsing buildings? The contradiction is ignored by FEMA, NIST and 9-11 Commission reports where conservation of energy and momentum and the fall-times were not analyzed. Gordon Ross argues that when conservation of energy and momentum are factored in, then a gravity-driven collapse will be arrested, so that only a partial collapse of the Tower would occur. The paradox is easily resolved by the explosive demolition hypothesis, whereby explosives quickly remove lower-floor material including steel support columns and allow near free-fall-speed collapses.
And these explosives also readily account for the turning of the falling Towers to fine dust as the collapse ensues. Rather than a piling up with shattering of concrete as we might expect from non-explosive-caused progressive collapse (“official theory”), we find that most of the Towers material (concrete, carpet, etc.) is converted to flour-like powder WHILE the buildings are falling. The Towers’ collapses are not typical random collapses, but quite possibly a series of “shock-and-awe” explosions coupled with the use of thermate-incendiaries – at least the evidence points strongly in this direction. The hypothesis ought to be explored further.
What happens to the block and its angular momentum?
We observe that approximately 30 upper floors begin to rotate as a block, to the south and east. They begin to topple over, not fall straight down. The torque due to gravity on this block is enormous, as is its angular momentum. But then – and this I’m still puzzling over – this block turned mostly to powder in mid-air! How can we understand this strange behavior, without explosives? Remarkable, amazing – and demanding scrutiny since the US government-funded reports failed to analyze this phenomenon. But, of course, the Final NIST 9-11 report “does not actually include the structural behavior of the tower after the conditions for collapse initiation were reached.”
Indeed, if we seek the truth of the matter, we must NOT ignore the data to be observed during the actual collapses of the towers, as the NIST team admits they did. But why did they follow such a non-scientific procedure as to ignore highly-relevant data? The business smacks of political constraints on what was supposed to be an “open and thorough” investigation. So I with others call for an open and thorough investigation. I hope the international community will rise to the challenge. The field is wide open for considering the alternative hypothesis outlined here, due to its neglect in studies funded by the US government.
Controlled Demolition “Implosions” Require Skill
The occurrence of nearly symmetrical, straight-down and complete collapses of the WTC 7 and the Towers is particularly upsetting to the “official” theory that random fires plus damage caused all these collapses. Even with high-level cutting charges, achieving such results requires a great deal of pre-planning and expertise. As Tom Harris, an authority in this field, has explained: The main challenge in bringing a building down is controlling which way it falls. Ideally, a blasting crew will be able to tumble the building over on one side, into a parking lot or other open area. This sort of blast is the easiest to execute. Tipping a building over is something like felling a tree. To topple the building to the north, the blasters detonate explosives on the north side of the building first…Sometimes, though, a building is surrounded by structures that must be preserved. In this case, the blasters proceed with a true implosion, demolishing the building so that it collapses straight down into its own footprint (the total area at the base of the building). This feat requires such skill that only a handful of demolition companies in the world will attempt it. Blasters approach each project a little differently… [A good] option is to detonate the columns at the center of the building before the other columns so that the building’s sides fall inward…. Generally speaking, blasters will explode the major support columns on the lower floors first and then a few upper stories…
Careful observation of the collapse of WTC 7 demonstrates a downward “kink” near the center of the building first, suggesting “pulling” of the support columns, then the building’s sides pull inward such that the building “collapses straight down into its own footprint” (Harris, 2000). The plumes of debris observed on upper floors of WTC 7 as the collapse begins appear consistent with explosive cutting of supports for « a few upper stories » as outlined above. FEMA admitted that WTC 7 collapsed onto a well-confined footprint: The collapse of WTC 7 had a small debris field as the facade was pulled downward, suggesting an internal failure and implosion… The average debris field radius was approximately 70 feet. Evidently we agree that this was a beautifully done implosion in the collapse of WTC 7, and yet: This feat requires such skill that only a handful of demolition companies in the world will attempt it.
Consider: Why would terrorists undertake straight-down collapses of WTC7 and the Towers, when “toppling-over” falls would require much less work and would do much more damage in downtown Manhattan? And where would they obtain the necessary skills and access to the buildings for a symmetrical implosion anyway? These questions suggest the need for further investigation.
One of the people a thorough investigation should question would be demolition expert Mark Loizeaux, president of Controlled Demolition, Inc. Speaking of the way the WTC buildings came down, he said in an interview: “If I were to bring the towers down, I would put explosives in the basement to get the weight of the building to help collapse the structure.” Just right – “explosives in the basement” agrees with eyewitness reports of pre-collapse explosions down low in the buildings (point 7 above). Also, this would be the way to effectively sever the support columns, consistent with both the apparent initial drop of the communication tower (WTC Tower 1) and the “kink” in the middle of WTC 7 as its collapse began. Yes, and as president of Controlled Demolition, Inc., Mr. Loizeaux would know the “handful of demolition companies in the world [that] will attempt” a symmetrical controlled demolition or « implosion ». ) His company is certainly one of these and was hired to help in the rapid clean-up work following the building collapses.
In summary, we have discovered substantial evidence supporting the idea that thermites were used on the steel columns of the WTC Tower to weaken the huge steel supports, not long before explosives finished the demolition job. We can next estimate the amount of explosives needed by comparing with a known controlled demolition: the explosive demolition of the Landmark Tower.
“The explosive charges used to bring down the Landmark Tower [380 ft tall, 30 stories] weighed only 364 pounds [165 kilograms], consisting of 198 pounds of 60-percent nitroglycerine-based gel in 1-1/4 inch sticks, and 166 pounds of RDX (a C-4 derivative). » Scaling to the 110-story WTC Towers, roughly 1300 pounds [590 kg] of explosives per Tower would suffice. Scaling to the size of WTC 7, 570 pounds [260 kg] would be indicated. The videos referenced above show WTC 7 falling top-down, in conventional controlled demolition fashion. On the other hand, the Towers were evidently demolished from the top downward, which although unusual is certainly possible using explosives. Indeed, for very tall towers such as these, top-down demolition seems be the best approach, to avoid toppling over of the tower onto surrounding buildings.
Explosives such as RDX, or HMX, or superthermites, when pre-positioned by a small team of operatives, would suffice to cut the supports at key points such that these tall buildings would completely collapse with little damage to surrounding buildings. Radio-initiated firing of the charges is implicated here, perhaps using superthermite matches Using computer-controlled radio signals, it would be an easy matter to begin the explosive demolition near the point of entry of the planes in the Towers (to make it appear that the planes somehow initiated the collapse.) In this scenario, linear cutter-charges would have been placed at numerous points in the building, mostly on the critical core columns, since one would not know beforehand exactly where the planes would enter. If you still haven’t looked at the rapid symmetrical collapse of WTC7 for yourself, why not do so now? Watch for the initial “kink” or drop in the middle, and for the plumes blowing in sequence up the side of the building, and notice the symmetrical, straight-down collapse. Furthermore, the collapse is rapid and complete, with the building falling quite neatly onto its own footprint. All of these features are common in controlled demolitions.
Steel Column Temperatures of 800°C Needed:
A Problem in the Argument of Bazant and Zhou
A Mechanical Engineering professor suggested that I review a paper by Zedenek P. Bazant and Yong Zhou, which I did. Quoting: The 110-story towers of the World Trade Center were designed to withstand as a whole the forces caused by a horizontal impact of a large commercial aircraft. So why did a total collapse occur? Correct – the WTC Towers were designed to withstand forces caused by large commercial aircraft – we can agree on that. MIT’s Thomas Eagar also concurs “because the number of columns lost on the initial impact was not large and the loads were shifted to remaining columns in this highly redundant structure” We continue with Bazant & Zhou:
The conflagration, caused by the aircraft fuel spilled into the structure, causes the steel of the columns to be exposed to sustained temperatures apparently exceeding 800oC…But here we note from the recent NIST report that: “The initial jet fuel fires themselves lasted at most a few minutes” and office material fires would burn out within about 20 minutes in a given location. (NIST, 2005; p. 179, emphasis added.) Certainly jet fuel burning was not enough to raise steel to sustained temperatures above 800oC, although air temperatures could have exceeded that value. But we continue: Once more than half of the columns in the critical floor.. suffer buckling (stage 3), the weight of the upper part of the structure above this floor can no longer be supported, and so the upper part starts falling down onto the lower part below… Bazant & Zhou do not explain how “more than half of the columns in the critical floor [can] suffer buckling” at the same time to precipitate the complete and nearly symmetrical collapse observed. There were 47 huge steel core columns in each Tower, and 24 such support columns in WTC 7
The WTC towers were solidly constructed with 47 steel core columns and 240 perimeter steel columns. 287 steel-columns total. Many doubt that random fires/damage could cause them to collapse completely and straight down (official theory), and suspect that explosives were used to cause the complete collapse of these buildings. Steel-frame: Huge core is an enormous heat sink. Notice workers standing on floor pan which is firmly attached to the interconnected core columns. Clearly, the Towers were not “hollow tubes.” They do NOT explain how steel-column temperatures above 800oC were achieved near- simultaneously due to burning office materials. NIST notes that office materials in an area burn for about 15-20 minutes, then are consumed away . This is evidently not long enough to raise steel column temperatures above 800oC as required in the Bazant & Zhou model, given the enormous heat sinks of the structures. And to have three buildings completely collapse due to this unlikely mechanism on the same day strains credulity.
Moreover, the Final NIST report on the Towers admits: Of the more than 170 areas examined on 16 perimeter column panels, only three columns had evidence that the steel reached temperatures above 250ºC… Only two core column specimens had sufficient paint remaining to make such an analysis, and their temperatures did not reach 250 ºC. … Using metallographic analysis, NIST determined that there was no evidence that any of the samples had reached temperatures above 600 ºC. Relevant to this point, Eagar noted that « Factors such as flame volume and quantity of soot decrease the radiative heat loss in the fire, moving the temperature closer to the maximum of 1,000 ºC. » (Eagar and Musso, 2001) While this is the maximum air temperature possible in the WTC fires, this does not mean that the structural steel reached this temperature in the time the fires acted. Indeed, NIST emphasizes that there was no evidence that « any of the samples had reached temperatures above 600 ºC. » This statement is consistent with their data plots of « predicted column temperatures », which « shows maximum temperature reached by each column » in that no temperature above 600 ºC is given for any of the steel columns. As for WTC 7, Bazant & Zhou say little but mention in a separate “addendum” that burning natural gas might have been a source of the needed heat . The FEMA report (FEMA, 2002) addresses this issue: Early news reports had indicated that a high pressure, 24-inch gas main was located in the vicinity of the building [WTC 7]; however, this proved not to be true. »
12. Problems in the NIST Report: Inadequate Steel Temperatures and Tweaked Models I have read through the hundreds of pages of the Final NIST report on the collapses of the WTC Towers. (NIST, 2005) It is interesting to note that NIST “decoupled” and delayed their final report on WTC 7, which is overdue as of this writing (NIST, 2005; NISTb, 2005). I agree with some of the NIST report; for example:
Both WTC 1 and WTC 2 were stable after the aircraft impact, standing for 102 min and 56 min, respectively. The global analyses with structural impact damage showed that both towers had considerable reserve capacity. This was confirmed by analysis of the post-impact vibration of WTC 2… where the damaged tower oscillated at a period nearly equal to the first mode period calculated for the undamaged structure. At any given location, the duration of [air, not steel] temperatures near 1,000oC was about 15 min to 20 min. The rest of the time, the calculated temperatures were near 500oC or below.” NIST contracted with Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. to conduct tests to obtain information on the fire endurance of trusses like those in the WTC towers… All four test specimens sustained the maximum design load for approximately 2 hours without collapsing.” However, I along with others challenge NIST’s collapse theory. NIST maintains that all three building collapses were fire-initiated despite the observations above, particularly the fact that fire endurance tests with actual models did not result in collapse. In a paper by fire- engineering experts in the UK, we find: The basis of NIST’s collapse theory is… column behaviour in fire… However, we believe that a considerable difference in downward displace between the  core and  perimeter columns, much greater than the 300 mm proposed, is required for the collapse theory to hold true… [Our] lower reliance on passive fire protection is in contrast to the NIST work where the amount of fire protection on the truss elements is believed to be a significant factor in defining the time to collapse… The [proposed effect] is swamped by thermal expansion … Thermal expansion and the response of the whole frame to this effect has NOT been described as yet [by NIST]. I agree with these pointed objections, particularly that the “response of the whole frame” of each building should be considered, especially heat transport to the whole frame from localized fires, and that the “core columns cannot pull the exterior columns in via the floor. »
The computerized models of the Towers in the NIST study, which incorporate many features of the buildings and the fires on 9-11-01, are less than convincing. The Final report states: The Investigation Team then defined three cases for each building by combining the middle, less severe, and more severe values of the influential variables. Upon a preliminary examination of the middle cases, it became clear that the towers would likely remain standing. The less severe cases were discarded after the aircraft impact results were compared to observed events. The middle cases (which became Case A for WTC 1 and Case C for WTC 2) were discarded after the structural response analysis of major subsystems were compared to observed events. The NIST report makes for interesting reading. The less severe cases based on empirical data were discarded because they did not result in building collapse. But ‘one must save the hypothesis,’ so more severe cases were tried and the simulations tweaked, as we read in the NIST report:
The more severe case (which became Case B for WTC 1 and Case D for WTC 2) was used for the global analysis of each tower. Complete sets of simulations were then performed for Cases B and D. To the extent that the simulations deviated from the photographic evidence or eyewitness reports [e.g., complete collapse occurred], the investigators adjusted the input, but only within the range of physical reality. Thus, for instance,…the pulling forces on the perimeter columns by the sagging floors were adjusted… The primary role of the floors in the collapse of the towers was to provide inward pull forces that induced inward bowing of perimeter columns. How fun (perhaps) to tweak the model like that, until the building collapses — until one gets the desired result. But the end result of such tweaked computer hypotheticals is not compelling. Notice that the “the pulling forces on the perimeter columns by the sagging floors were adjusted” (NIST, 2005, p. 142; emphasis added) to get the perimeter columns to yield sufficiently – one suspects these were “adjusted” by hand quite a bit — even though the UK experts complained that “the core columns cannot pull the exterior [i.e., perimeter] columns in via the floor.” I also agree with Kevin Ryan’s objections regarding the NIST study. Kevin Ryan, at the time a manager at Underwriters Laboratories (UL), makes a point of the non-collapse of actual WTC-based models in his letter to Frank Gayle of NIST:
As I’m sure you know, the company I work for certified the steel components used in the construction of the WTC buildings. In requesting information from both our CEO and Fire Protection business manager last year… they suggested we all be patient and understand that UL was working with your team… I’m aware of UL’s attempts to help, including performing tests on models of the floor assemblies. But the results of these tests… indicate that the buildings should have easily withstood the thermal stress caused by… burning .
That models of WTC trusses at Underwriter Laboratories (UL) subjected to fires did NOT fail is also admitted in the final NIST report: NIST contracted with Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. to conduct tests to obtain information on the fire endurance of trusses like those in the WTC towers…. All four test specimens sustained the maximum design load for approximately 2 hours without collapsing… The Investigation Team was cautious about using these results directly in the formulation of collapse hypotheses. In addition to the scaling issues raised by the test results, the fires in the towers on September 11, and the resulting exposure of the floor systems, were substantially different from the conditions in the test furnaces. Nonetheless, the [empirical test] results established that this type of assembly was capable of sustaining a large gravity load, without collapsing, for a substantial period of time relative to the duration of the fires in any given location on September 11. So how does the NIST team justify the WTC collapses, when actual models fail to collapse and there are zero examples of fire-caused high-rise collapses? Easy, NIST concocted computer- generated hypotheticals for very “severe” cases, called cases B and D 138). Of course, the details are rather hidden to us. And they omit consideration of the complete, rapid and symmetrical nature of the collapses. The focus of the Investigation was on the sequence of events from the instant of aircraft impact to the initiation of collapse for each tower. For brevity in this report, this sequence is referred to as the « probable collapse sequence, » although it does not actually include the structural behavior of the tower after the conditions for collapse initiation were reached…The results were a simulation of the structural deterioration of each tower from the time of aircraft impact to the time at which the building became unstable, i.e., was poised for collapse. …What about the subsequent complete, rapid and symmetrical collapse of the buildings? What about the observed squibs? What about the antenna dropping first in the North Tower? What about the molten metal observed in the basement areas in large pools in both Towers and WTC 7 as well? Never mind all that: NIST did not discuss at all any data after the buildings were “poised for collapse.” Well, some of us want to look at ALL the data, without « black-box » computer simulations that are “adjusted,” perhaps to make them fit the desired outcome. An hypothesis which is non-refutable is non-scientific. On the other hand, Occam’s razor suggests that the simplest explanation which addresses and satisfies ALL the evidence is most probably correct.
NIST’s Failure to Show Visualizations
An article in the journal New Civil Engineering (NCE) lends support to concerns about the NIST analysis of the WTC collapses. It states: World Trade Center disaster investigators [at NIST] are refusing to show computer visualizations of the collapse of the Twin Towers despite calls from leading structural and fire engineers, NCE has learned. Visualisations of collapse mechanisms are routinely used to validate the type of finite element analysis model used by the [NIST] investigators. The collapse mechanism and the role played by the hat truss at the top of the tower has been the focus of debate since the US National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST) published its findings…. University of Manchester [U.K.] professor of structural engineering Colin Bailey said there was a lot to be gained from visualising the structural response. “NIST should really show the visualisations; otherwise the opportunity to correlate them back to the video evidence and identify any errors in the modeling will be lost,” he said….A leading US structural engineer said NIST had obviously devoted enormous resources to the development of the impact and fire models. “By comparison the global structural model is not as sophisticated,” he said. “The software used [by NIST] has been pushed to new limits, and there have been a lot of simplifications, extrapolations and judgment calls.” Here we have serious concerns about the NIST WTC collapse report raised by structural and fire engineers, augmenting the arguments raised here by a physicist. The thirteen points above provide scientific data and analyses that support my call for an immediate investigation of 9/11 events, while challenging the official story. A few other considerations provide further motivation for the proposed urgent investigation. And what are the odds that the office furnishings converged to supply highly directed and (somehow) forced-oxygen fires at very precise points on the remaining columns? Is it another one in a thousand? What is the chance that those points would then all soften in unison, and give way perfectly, so that the highly dubious « progressive global collapse » theory could be born? I wouldn’t even care to guess. But finally, with well over a hundred fires in tall buildings through history, what are the chances that the first, second and third incidents of fire-induced collapse would all occur on the same day? Let’s say it’s one in a million. Considering just these few points we’re looking at a one in a trillion chance, using generous estimates and not really considering the third building (no plane, no jet fuel, different construction. How convenient that our miraculous result, combined with several other trains of similarly unlikely events [no interception of hijacked planes by the military on 9/11, etc.], gives us reason to invade the few most strategically important lands for the production of oil and natural gas…” Nor does NIST (or FEMA or the 9-11 Commission) even mention the molten metals found in the basements of all three buildings (WTC 1, 2 and 7).So where does that leave us? I strongly agree with Kevin Ryan when he says,This [“official”] story just does not add up…. That fact should be of great concern to all Americans…. There is no question that the events of 9/11 are the emotional driving force behind the War on Terror. And the issue of the WTC collapse is at the crux of the story of 9/11.
Preferably international team of scientists and engineers. Note that I did not ask if those present believed that the WTC Towers and WTC 7 had been brought down by explosives. Rather, I asked if they agreed with me that an in-depth investigation of this hypothesis by a team of scientists was needed. Inconsistencies in “Official” Models. Finally, and by way of review, we consider the variations and inconsistencies in the fire/damaged-caused collapse models with time. The earliest model, promoted by various media sources, was that the fires in the towers were sufficiently hot to actually melt the steel in the buildings, thus causing their collapse. For example, Chris Wise in a BBC piece spouted out false notions with great gusto. “It was the fire that killed the buildings. There’s nothing on earth that could survive those temperatures with that amount of fuel burning… The columns would have melted, the floors would have melted and eventually they would have collapsed one on top of the other.” But as we have seen from later serious studies, most of the jet fuel burned out within minutes following impact. And recall the statement of expert Dr. Gayle refuting the notion that fires in the WTC buildings were sufficiently hot to melt the steel supports: Your gut reaction would be the jet fuel is what made the fire so very intense, a lot of people figured that’s what melted the steel. Indeed it did not, the steel did not melt. Then we have the model of Bazant and Zhou, which requires the majority of the 47 huge steel columns on a floor of each Tower to reach sustained temperatures of 800oC and buckle (not melt) – at the same time. But as we’ve seen, such temperatures are very difficult to reach while burning office materials, in these connected steel structures where the heat is wicked away by heat transport. (Paul and
Hoffman, 2004, p. 26) And then to undergo failure at the same time for straight down collapse, well, no, this scenario is far too improbable.
That approach was, understandably, abandoned in the next effort. Eagar expresses the view that « the failure of the steel was due to two factors: loss of strength due to the temperature of the fire, and loss of structural integrity due to distortion of the steel from the non-uniform temperatures in the fire. » Instead of having the columns fail simultaneously, FEMA has floor pans in the Towers warp due to fires, and the floor connections to the vertical beams break, and these floor pans then fall down onto the floor pans below, initiating “progressive collapse” or pancaking of one floor pan on another. Very simple. But not so fast – what happens to the enormous core columns to which the floors were firmly attached? Why don’t these remain standing like a spindle with the floor pans falling down around them, since the connections are presumed to have broken away? This interconnected steel core is founded on bedrock (Manhattan schist). FEMA does not totally ignore the core: As the floors collapsed, this left tall freestanding portions of the exterior wall and possibly central core columns. As the unsupported height of these freestanding exterior wall elements increased [no mention of the huge central core anymore!], they buckled at the bolted column splice connections and also collapsed.” This approach finally fails to account for the observed collapse of the 47 interconnected core columns which are massive and designed to bear the weight of the buildings, and it has the striking weakness of evidently requiring the connections of the floor pans to the vertical columns to break, both at the core and at the perimeter columns, more or less simultaneously. That didn’t work out, so NIST goes back to the drawing board. They require that the connections of the floor pans to vertical columns do NOT fail (contrary to FEMA’s model), but rather that the floor pans “pull” with enormous force, sufficient to cause the perimeter columns to significantly pull in, leading to final failure (contrary to objections of ARUP Fire experts, discussed above). Also, NIST constructs a computer model
— but realistic cases do not actually lead to building collapse. So they “adjust” inputs until the model finally shows collapse initiation for the most severe cases. The details of these “adjustments” are hidden from us, in their computerized hypotheticals, but “the hypothesis is saved.” NIST also has Underwriters. Laboratories construct models of the WTC trusses, but the models withstand all fires in tests and do NOT collapse.
We are left without a compelling fire/impact-damage model, unless one blindly accepts the NIST computer simulation while ignoring the model fire-endurance tests, which I’m not willing to do. NIST did not even do the routinely-used visualizations to validate their finite- element analysis model (point 13 above). And none of the “official” models outlined above accounts for what happens to the buildings AFTER the building is “poised for collapse” – namely the rapid and nearly-symmetrical and complete collapses. Reports of explosions, heard and seen, are not discussed. And they ignore the squibs seen ejected from floors far from where the jets hit – particularly seen in WTC 7 (where no jet hit at all). Finally, what about that molten metal under the rubble piles of all three WTC skyscrapers and the yellow-white hot molten metal seen flowing from the South Tower just prior to its collapse? Remarkably, the controlled-demolition hypothesis accounts for all the available data rather easily. The core columns (and corner perimeter columns) on floors damaged by the planes are cut near-simultaneously using radio-signaled explosives/incendiary-cutters. In this scenario, cutter-charges were set every two or three floors during routine “maintenance” of elevator shafts, etc., so that the cutting sequence could be matched in a controlling computer to begin at the level where the plane entered each Tower. Next cutter-charges were detonated from the top downward for the Towers, ejecting beams and material long distances horizontally as observed during the destruction. The “collapses” are thus near-symmetrical, complete, at near-free-fall speeds with accompanying “squibs”. Thermite analogs (whose end product is molten iron) including the explosive form, nano-thermite, may account for the molten metal which then pooled beneath the rubble piles as well as the sulfidation observed in steel from both the WTC 7 and Towers rubble piles (points 1 and 2 above). WTC 7 evidently proceeded in a more conventional fashion for controlled demolition, with collapse-initiating explosions starting on lower floors (rather than at high-floor levels as for the Towers). I believe this is a straightforward hypothesis, much more probable actually than the official hypothesis. It deserves thorough scientific scrutiny, beyond that which I have been able to outline in this treatise.
I have called attention to glaring inadequacies in the “final” reports funded by the US government. I have also presented multiple evidences for an alternative hypothesis. In particular, the official theory lacks repeatability in that no actual models or buildings (before or since 9-11-01) have been observed to completely collapse due to the proposed
fire-based mechanisms. On the other hand, hundreds of buildings have been completely and symmetrically demolished through the use of pre-positioned explosives. And high- temperature chemical reactions can account for the observed large pools of molten metal, under both Towers and WTC 7, and the sulfidation of structural steel. The controlled- demolition hypothesis cannot be dismissed as « junk science » because it better satisfies tests of repeatability and parsimony. It ought to be seriously (scientifically) investigated and debated.
A truly independent, cross-disciplinary, international panel should be formed. Such a panel would consider all viable hypotheses, including the pre-positioned-explosives theory, guided not by politicized notions and constraints, but rather by observations and calculations, to reach a scientific conclusion. If possible it would question, under oath, the officials who approved the rapid removal and destruction of the WTC steel beams and columns before they could be properly analyzed. None of the government-funded studies have provided serious analyses of the explosive demolition hypothesis at all. Until the above steps are taken, the case for accusing ill-trained Muslims of causing all the destruction on 9-11-01 is far from compelling. It just does not add up. And that fact should be of great concern to Americans. (Ryan, 2004). Clearly, we must find out what really caused the WTC skyscrapers to collapse as they did. The implications of what happened on 9/11/2001 clearly supercede partisan politics. Physics sheds light on the issue which we ignore to our peril as we contemplate the wars that have been and may yet be justified on the basis of the 9/11 tragedy and its « official » interpretation. To this end, NIST must release the 6,899 photographs and over 300 hours of video recordings – acquired mostly by private parties – which it admits to holding (NIST, 2005, p. 81). Evidence relating to WTC 7 and its mysterious collapse must not be held back. In particular, photos and analyses of the molten metal observed in the basements of both Towers and WTC7 need to be brought forth to the international community of scientists and engineers immediately. Therefore, along with others, I call for the release of these and all relevant data for scrutiny by a cross-disciplinary, international team of researchers. The explosive-demolition hypothesis will be considered: all options will be on the table.
In writing this paper, I call for a serious investigation of the hypothesis that WTC7 and the Twin Towers were brought down, not just by impact damage and fires, but through the carefully planned use of explosives/incendiaries. I have presented ample evidence for the controlled-demolition hypothesis, which is scientifically testable and yet has not been seriously considered in any of the studies funded by the US government. At the same time, I acknowledge that other notions have sprung up in the near vacuum of official consideration of this very plausible hypothesis. These notions must be subjected to careful scrutiny. I by no means endorse all such ideas. A March 2005 article in Popular Mechanics focuses on poorly-supported claims and proceeds to ridicule the whole “9-11 truth movement” William Rodriguez has sent important information . « Thank you so much for coming out with a report questioning the « official Story » of 9/11. I read with a lot of dedication your paper and I distributed it widely to all the Victims and survivors of that day (I am the leader of the families and the last person pulled from the rubble from the North Tower). You are just missing my experience. I told the 9/11 Commission about the explosions and the events on the sub-basement on that day. They did not put it in the final report. Please check the internet under « William Rodriguez 9/11 ». I am trying to raise the same questions. Since I am a respected figure internationally, I noticed how my testimony has been presented unedited all over the world. But in the USA, I am edited and even though I have a lot of respect from the media, I am asked constantly about other subjects and issues but nothing about the explosions of that day. Congratulations from the side of the really affected on that day. Keep up your investigations.
William Rodriguez Hispanic Victims Group, 9/11 United Services Group, LowerManhattan Family Advisory Counsel
I thanked Mr. Rodriguez and asked him how he could say the explosion came from the sub- basement below him, rather than far above (where the plane hit), also regarding the timing of the explosions. He replied:
About my experience. My basis was, like I told the Commission, there was an explosion that came from under our feet, we were pushed upwards lightly by the effect, I was on basement level 1 and it sounded that it came from B2 and B3 level. Rapidly after that we heard the impact far away at the top. My assertions are [that] my 20 years experience there and witnessing prior to that many other noises [enable me] to conclude without any doubt where the sounds were coming from. 2ND- Some of the same people that I saved gave testimonies in interviews of the same experience prior to my actually being reunited with them after the event!!! Like I explained, some of these survivors stories were told in countless [interviews] of coverage, but in SPANISH!! I have the actual recordings available of some of the Television Specials that featured our stories.
Mr. Rodriguez worked for years in the building and his perception of sounds cannot be overlooked. He is a reliable witness. Above (and elsewhere) he records that the explosion in the sub-basement was followed “rapidly after that” by the sound of an impact far above. This assertion is remarkable for it strongly suggests that the colliding plane or its fuel could not have caused the (earlier) explosion in the sub-basement. William Rodriguez and other witnesses may shed additional light on the explosions in the Towers on 9/11/2001.
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- Congressman Confronted CSPAN « The Evidence That WTC Building-7 Was Brought Down With Explosives Is Real And Proven! » (dailypaul.com)
A growing organization of building trades professionals suspect that there was more to the event thanthe government will admit.
Richard Gage, founder of Architects and Engineers for 911 Truth, says the World Trade Center couldn’t possibly have been brought down by planes.
JUST A FEW YEARS ago
Ed Munyak, a fire protection engineer for the city of San Jose, seemed like a lonely, out-there figure, a sometimes-target because of his outspoken position on the events of Sept. 11, 2001. These days, hundreds of other building trade professionals have joined him in challenging the official narrative about the collapse of three buildings at New York’s World Trade Center (WTC) on that fateful, traumatic day.
Munyak, of Los Altos Hills, is a mechanical and fire engineer whose job is to review building plans to ensure they comply with the California Building and Fire Code. In 2007, after speaking out on his own for a few years, Munyak signed on with a then-fledging organization called Architects and Engineers for 911 Truth (AE911 Truth), founded by Bay Area architect Richard Gage.
Today, far from being isolated, Munyak now counts as allies 804 professional architects and building engineers from around the country. Collectively, they have joined Munyak’s call for an independent technical investigation of the causes of the WTC buildings collapse. In doing so, they reject the federal government’s conclusions that two airplanes alone brought the buildings down—without the aid of pre-planted explosives.
Munyak and his fellow AE911 supporters recently received acknowledgement from the FBI’s counterterrorism division, which concluded that the organization’s core evidence deserves—and will get—FBI scrutiny. In a letter, Deputy Director Michael J. Heimbach assessed AE911’s presentation as « backed by thorough research and analysis. »
Munyak and his professional allies insist that they are not conspiracy theorists, and they refuse to speculate on the « why » or « who » of 9/11. Munyak described their basic position in an interview with Metro.
« Buildings do not fail from fire related causes in the way that World Trade Center 1, 2 and 7 failed. Steel frame or composite steel buildings, modern high-rise buildings—they just do not collapse catastrophically like that. It’s impossible.
« Only if you sever columns in some other way will those buildings collapse. It takes too much energy, and that energy was not there even with adding in all that jet fuel. It defies all engineering analysis and theory that those buildings collapsed in that manner. It just doesn’t make any sense. »
Apparently reinforcing this position, a team of three scientists working at technical laboratories in the United States and Denmark reported in April that analysis of dust that they say was gathered at the World Trade Center found evidence of the potent incendiary/explosive « super thermite, » used by the military.
The re-investigation movement received attention this week after it percolated into the high ranks of the Obama administration.
The President’s green jobs advisor, Van Jones, resigned on Sept. 5 amidst a controversy over his statements about Republicans and his endorsement of a 2004 statement by the group 9/11 Truth.org, when he was head of an Oakland non-profit organization.
The letter, signed by more than 100 official-version doubters, called for « immediate public attention to unanswered questions that suggest that people within the [Bush] administration may indeed have deliberately allowed 9/11 to happen, perhaps as a pretext for war. »
San Jose architect Thomas Lyman Chamberlain, another member of AE911 Truth, calls the official account of the 9/11 events « a fraud. »
« In light of the human life and liberties being taken based on that fraud, » Lyman wrote on the AE911.org site, building industry professionals « have a patriotic duty to invoke their credentials on behalf of the victims and the integrity of our nation. »
Chemical engineer T. Mark Hightower of San Jose, a member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, agrees. « It is clear that the buildings had help to bring them down, » he says.
AE911 Truth has grown rapidly, igniting a struggling grassroots movement of hundreds of other « 9/11 Truth » organizations, and spearheading a growing assault on the official story. In recent years, other single-profession 9/11 Truth groups have launched or gained momentum, including those comprised of airline pilots, firefighters, veterans, medical professionals, scholars, lawyers, religious leaders and former government employees.
Also individually calling for a new inquiry are two dozen retired U.S. military brass and eight former U.S. State Department officials, along with a number of Republicans who have served in high federal positions since President Reagan, including former Assistant Treasury Secretary Paul Craig Roberts and former Reagan administration Assistant Defense Secretary (and retired Marine Corps colonel) Ronald D. Ray.
Activists around the country attribute AE911’s professional credibility and its unwavering focus on the WTC as the fuel that has galvanized the movement. David Ray Griffin, the retired Santa Barbara philosophy professor and theologian who is perhaps the leading intellectual force within the Truth groups—with seven 9/11 books to his credit, including The New Pearl Harbor—notes that it « is possible many of these organizations wouldn’t even have formed without AE911 first being there. »
« AE911 represents the biggest boost yet to the credibility of the 9/11 truth movement, » Griffin says. « It is clear there are far more architects and engineers who have spoken out against the official story than have publicly supported it. »
Building a Case
The local members of AE911 Truth and their allies elsewhere make these arguments:
• Cru cial elements of the key government study on the step-by-step events that occurred in the collapse of the WTC buildings don’t stand up to analytical scrutiny. The study was undertaken by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the U.S. Commerce Department agency responsible for building and other safety codes and standards.
• An airplane crash and subsequent fire aren’t sufficient cause to bring down the towers, not even when combined with the presumed dislodging of fireproofing that protected the core steel beams in the areas in which the two planes struck. (This dislodging, NIST asserts, made the steel vulnerable to softening by fire and brought on the collapse—the first ever of a steel-framed building hit by fire.)
• NIST never tested for explosive residues despite evidence, including many eyewitness accounts from first responders and people who escaped the buildings, that explosives and incendiaries were present.
• The collapse of the three buildings resembles two different types of controlled demolitions, and not the bending or toppling of a heated building section that might result from a fire.
Following the collapses, NIST assembled a panel of more than 300 staff and external experts and spent three years and $20 million on what it claims is the most exhaustive technical study ever of a building collapse.
Released in 2005, the initial NIST report concluded that the twin towers, which NIST agrees could not normally be brought down by fire alone, collapsed because of a combination of factors, most crucially the dislodging of fireproofing by the planes’ impacts. This allowed certain beams to soften sufficiently to force an inward bending of perimeter-supporting steel beams, putting so much pressure on the fire-weakened—and in some cases severed—center steel columns (three severed in one tower and five in another out of 47 in each) that they collapsed in the areas where the planes had struck.
NIST also stated that there was more than enough « mass plus acceleration » of the upper stories of the twin towers as they fell to force a collapse of the lower structure straight down at nearly free fall speed, with each floor adding its weight and the force of its fall to the pressures on the floors below—a theory it argues is supported by elaborate computer models.
NIST’s report on the third building to collapse, WTC7, released in August 2008, argues that mass computer modeling of existing evidence also fails to support an explosives theory. The report concludes that WTC7 was brought down by seven hours of fires combined with falling debris from the towers that weakened an entire building section and forced the collapse of a key support column, allowing the building to cave in on itself.
(The NIST towers report should not be confused with the 9/11 Commission Report, which came out a year earlier with a wildly inaccurate technical analysis that not even NIST accepts.)
Poll numbers reflect varying levels of disbelief of the official narrative. The Zogby poll in 2004 found that half of New Yorkers thought that U.S. officials knew the terrorist plot was going to unfold and consciously failed to act. The New York Times and CBS News commissioned an Angus Reid Global Monitor poll in 2006 and found that 80 percent of Americans thought President Bush was at least hiding something regarding 9/11.
In 2006, Popular Mechanics magazine published a study debunking critiques of NIST, most notably the assertion that explosives brought down the Trade Center buildings. All this was before engineers, scientists and architects began to organize and present evidence challenging both the official narrative and Popular Mechanics‘ defense of that narrative.
Within his 20-year career, Richard Gage counts among his accomplishments the design of numerous fireproofed steel-framed buildings. In an interview with Metro, Gage, 53, a lifelong Republican, described having a moment of clarity when he first heard alternative theories of 9/11 presented in March 2006 by David Ray Griffin. As he tells it, he was driving to a construction meeting and crossed the talk radio political divide that day to listen to progressive Pacifica Radio’s KPFA interviewing Griffin.
« What Griffin was saying is that the ends of these beams that were being ejected out of the World Trade Center at 55 mph were dripping with molten steel, and they landed more than 500 feet away, » Gage recounts. The station also played interviews recorded after 9/11, including with firefighters who described hearing explosions and seeing flashes of light that would support an explosives/incendiaries theory.
Before this, Gage notes, he hadn’t paid heed to the technical details of the collapse or questioned the official story. Particularly striking to Gage was the fact that the taped eyewitness interviews had only in August 2005 been released to The New York Timesby the city of New York by court order—nearly four years after 9/11.
« This was information that has been hidden by the city of New York, and it became obvious the reason why they hid it, » Gage said. « So I began looking at it myself. The more I read, the more disturbed I got, and I realized fairly quickly what I needed to do, and that was to start Architects and Engineers for 9/11Truth. »
As founder and executive director, the soft-spoken Gage has since become something like a subversive Al Gore, delivering a disturbingly inconvenient PowerPoint presentation that he maintains dissects most of the key elements of the NIST report. Somewhat obsessed with recruiting as many building professionals as possible, Gage left his job and spends most of his time traveling from city to city presenting the core forensic case to bodies of fellow experts and to any groups that will listen.
« Most all of the architects and engineers that I present to, once they see the graphic evidence, they are completely overwhelmed, as I was, with the forensic-based scientific facts surrounding this case, » Gage says. He gets similar buy-in from nonprofessional groups of all political stripes.
Like Munyak, Gage cites the fact that steel framing serves as a heat conductor, actually cooling fires and equalizing the burden on any one steel section. « The steel doesn’t get to the temperature that would cause it to weaken, » he says. « No steel-framed high rise has ever collapsed due to fire, and we have almost 100 examples. »
As for NIST’s theory that once the towers’ impact-area beams gave way, the mass above them would rapidly crush the lower stories, Gage argues that the premise ignores the laws of physics.
« No force can crush that kind of a structure at near freefall speed. It’s ludicrous, » he says. « Not only that, the videos show that 95 percent of the south tower is being blown outside, indicating explosions. And the top of the north tower is being reduced from 15 stories to seven stories before it even starts to drop. Half of its mass is destroyed in the first two seconds.
« The remaining mass cannot fall at near freefall speed and crush 80,000 tons of steel and pulverize to powder 90,000 tons of concrete and create tons of molten metal by some unknowable process. »
Defending the NIST research, spokesman Michael Newman says the agency’s computer models were highly reliable in their crucial assessment of the amount of fireproofing dislodged—a factor not present in fires in other steel buildings cited by Gage.
NIST, supported by a number of independent building and explosives professionals who are critical of AE911, also stands behind its theory that the impact of the upper floors crushed the lower ones.
« Basically, gravity and the utter force of the upper floors forced the towers down, » Newsman says. « If you have 20 floors of mass suddenly released, as it goes downward it picks up more mass and more force—and, yes, you can have a building collapse in 10 seconds, and yes, it is physically possible.
« We believe that three years of hard scientific technical investigation based around a tremendous amount of evidence and confirmed by many physicists will give you the same conclusions. »
Newman adds that while the force of the collapse created air pressure that blew debris outward, mimicking what Gates argues are explosions but which NIST says were not, there was more than enough mass still descending straight down to hammer the lower floors into collapsing one by one, each failed floor then adding to the descending mass.
However unquestioningly the public, media and government may have accepted NIST’s conclusions (« I saw the planes hit the buildings; what else could have brought them down? » is a common refrain), Gage and his « not-so-fast » colleagues argue that they easily found flaws and ignored evidence in the study.
Most prominently, the 47-story steel structure Building 7 was never struck by a fire-proof dislodging plane but collapsed anyway.
Dust to Dust
Moreover, according to Gage and others, a major clue that something in the twin towers was producing far more heat than could a jet fuel fire (and reached far more of the steel structure than the areas around the jet fuel fires) is the alleged sightings by some first-responders and later by some of the debris-removal crews, of molten metal, like hot lava, some found to be glowing in the basements of WTC buildings up to three weeks after 9/11—far longer, they say, than jet fuel sources could produce. (Interviews of many cleanup-crew members by a demolition company found no evidence of molten steel sightings. Gage cites evidence to the contrary.)
Newman says NIST believes that any molten metal sightings, including metal seen pouring from the south tower, were likely molten aluminum from the airplane. Moreover, he says, NIST was not presented with evidence of molten steel, and if some melted, this occurred after the event, in fires underground, and was not a contributing factor to the fall of the building. Gage dismisses this as « impossible without a source of oxygen such as thermate, » adding that molten metal seen in NIST-cited videos isn’t the color of molten aluminum.
The 9/11 Truthers also respond that most of the steel evidence was carted away rapidly and recycled in China before it could be examined to prove either melting or NIST’s key theory of dislodged fireproofing, and consider this « destruction of evidence. »
Supporting AE911’s theory is Dr. Steven E. Jones, a nuclear physicist known for his work in cold fusion. Jones says he was forced into early retirement from his position as a professor at Brigham Young University because of his work attempting to show that powerful explosives were present in the WTC towers.
After Jones initial analysis was harshly criticized for flaws by BYU’s own building engineering department, Jones and other scientists co-authored a new critique accepted for publication in the peer-reviewed New Civil Engineering Journal that mentioned thermite as a potential culprit in the building collapses. This was followed by a research paper published last April.
Co-authored by Jones and associate professor Niels Harrit of Copenhagen University’s famed Niels Bohr Institute in Denmark, and by Dr. Jeffrey Farrer, lab manager for BYU’s Transmission Electron Microscopy lab, as well as four other researchers, the paper provided vivid microscopic photo evidence of highly flammable red-gray chips that the authors say appear to be super thermite found in four different reputed WTC dust samples sent to Jones by suspicious New Yorkers who had collected them shortly after 9/11.
Thermite, a mixture of aluminum powder and iron oxide, is known to burn through steel. Adding either silicon, magnesium or titanium to the mixture makes it thermate or « super thermite, » a substance with an accelerated capacity to cut through steel. According to Gage, « the military uses it to cut through steel like a hot knife through butter. »
« Dr. Jones found the chemical signature of thermite, » Gage says. « So, the evidence all ties together to support the hypotheses of a controlled demolition. »
In an interview with Metro, Jones said his and his colleagues’ microanalysis of the four different samples of dust collected from various sites in lower Manhattan revealed not only extensive presence of red-gray chips of unignited thermite, it also found significant traces of microspheres of previously molten iron that are normally the product of incendiary explosions far hotter than jet fuel fires.
« What strikes me as odd, » Jones said, « is that these red chips we found are so striking, and yet no one has reported their presence before. These red chips are very unusual and very prevalent, and they test out as being consistent with a form of thermite. We can ignite them, and they react very violently when touched off. So how do you explain their presence in the towers’ dust?
« USGS [the U.S Geological Survey, which did some testing on WTC dust for NIST] has a lame explanation for not looking for this. I have been encouraging them to test early dust samples, but they haven’t responded. »
Jones said he sent a letter in April 2008 to NIST about his findings, inviting it to test its own dust for such chips. In public comments since, NIST has dismissed his research as not scientifically valid, because Jones can’t prove the « chain of custody » of the dust he tested. Other groups, notably contributors to AE911.info, which supports the NIST findings, argue that neither the samples nor Jones tests are reliable.
Jones simply says: « They don’t need my dust to test. They have plenty of dust of their own where they know the chain of custody. They just won’t test it. »
Gage, Jones and other critics cite other official evidence possibly pointing to explosives including the fact that iron-rich microspheres were found in tests by USGS and RJ Lee Labs.
Says Gage, « In the twin towers, it’s very explosive. You can see the explosions in all the videos, and what’s happening is the explosions are creating this incredible dust cloud. The dust clouds are forming immediately. In the dust from the WTC, you have millions of these tiny, perfectly spherical microspheres of iron. Now, where did they come from?
« The only way they could have been formed is to have molten iron and then a series of explosions whose incredible force atomizes, if you will, the molten iron. »
Dr. Jones notes that a USGS scientist told him the microspheres might have come from the cleanup process, when crews were cutting steel. « Problem is that we have samples from long before the cleanup began, » he says.
Gage and other Truthers point to other indications of explosives. Besides vast mushroom clouds of dust and debris exploding outward at the top of both towers, videos show squibs that appear to be many small explosions. Moreover, like some first responders and escapees, in some cases live on-air broadcasts reporters joined in describing the explosions.
According to Newman, NIST studies showed that the apparent explosions and squibs were actually compressed air from the force of the collapse finding openings and blowing debris and dust outward in an explosive manner.
Eyewitness accounts of explosions, he says, weren’t evident in 10,000 interviews NIST conducted, and a few such reports were readily explained by other phenomena.
« No one gave us any evidence that there was any kind of explosive, » Newman says. Nor did NIST find evidence of a « severe high-temperature corrosion attack, » he says, noting that sulfur and manganese were heavily present in building materials and that any corrosion might have occurred in the debris pile after the buildings’ collapse, due to the conditions there.
AE911 critics support NIST with an argument that explosive sounds likely derived from electrical and air-conditioning transformers exploding, the sound of floors collapsing onto each other, or rivets popping all at once as the pressure got to them. « The way I see it, it had to be the rivets, » the online Journal of Debunking 9/11 Conspiracy Theories quotes one firefighter saying.
« So why didn’t we look for explosive residues in the towers? » Newman asks rhetorically. « Because there was no evidence saying go that way. There was a lot of evidence saying look at the impact of the plane, the loss of fire-proofing, the bowing of the perimeter beams, which was the final straw that broke the camel’s back. »
Even so, why not test debris—a relatively simple operation—to put the question fully behind and silence critics? Newman says NIST did calculate the quantity of thermite that would be needed—and found that it would require a tremendous amount in each column to get it to melt.
Newman acknowledges that NIST’s response that it sees « no need » to test dust for any form of thermite won’t satisfy critics, and adds: « We don’t try to debate or argue with these folks because they have their opinions and what they believe is evidence, but to us it is counterproductive to engage in debate.
« We’d rather let the body of evidence we presented stand on its own merits. We feel this is a very good piece of work—in many ways pushing investigations way beyond what’s gone before. Our work is to help strengthen buildings, and proof of the validity of our research is that most all our recommendations for changing building codes have been accepted by the international organization that models building codes. That wouldn’t have happened if they doubted our findings. »
Gage and his allies say that Newman is one among a group of government-dependent employees fearful that evidence of explosives would be too traumatic for the public to handle—and probably too risky to their political superiors.
Notably, however, unlike with, say, Environmental Protection Agency research on WTC toxins, no whistleblowers have emerged to lend credence to that theory. Not one NIST scientist or technician has protested the findings or leaked an accusation that the NIST report was influenced by political pressure.
Ed Munyak, who is more nuanced than Gage in his critique of NIST, concedes that the NIST report actually provides some evidence supporting alternative theories of the WTC collapse. Munyak argues that top-down influence shows up in the overall presentation of the report to the public and its final conclusions, not in all its details provided by working technicians and scientists.
« There is some very good information in the NIST report if you really look at it and analyze it, as I’ve done, that makes the case that something else happened, » Munyak says. « The report [conclusion] says there was one structural failure and after that happened, collapse was inevitable. Which just is not the case. I’m saying that’s the falsehood of the NIST political leaders, not so much the people who do the research. »
« The fact is that the collapses don’t resemble any fire-induced behavior of structures, but it exactly mimics a controlled demolition, so why not investigate that? It’s all very suspicious and that’s why an independent investigation is needed so we can all learn from this. »