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Tin Foil Hats on 9/11? (x-posted at Boo)

by Jeffersonian Democrat Sat Nov 12th, 2005 at 04:14:08 PM EST

Let me be very clear: I do not believe in conspiracies, mainly due to the fact that conspiracy theories do not take into account that the only secret is the one kept by one person.  If something like this report took place, it would take lot's of logistics and support personnel to carry out.  Since I firmly believe that people in our intelligence organs, the professionals, truly believe in protecting our country, such a conspiracy would produce whistle-blowers in the chain of people with the need-to-know.  That is why this study puzzles me and I do not know what to make of it.  Below the fold:


Y. professor thinks bombs, not planes, toppled WTC

By Elaine Jarvik

Deseret Morning News

      The physics of 9/11 -- including how fast and symmetrically one of the World Trade Center buildings fell -- prove that official explanations of the collapses are wrong, says a Brigham Young University physics professor.

      In fact, it's likely that there were "pre-positioned explosives" in all three buildings at ground zero, says Steven E. Jones.

      In a paper posted online Tuesday and accepted for peer-reviewed publication next year, Jones adds his voice to those of previous skeptics, including the authors of the Web site www.wtc7.net, whose research Jones quotes. Jones' article can be found at www.physics.byu.edu/research/energy/htm7.html.

Now here is an academic physics professor putting his academic reputation on the line.  BYU is a respectible institution of higher learning, but this professor sets out many points in his argument:

 * The three buildings collapsed nearly symmetrically, falling down into their footprints, a phenomenon associated with "controlled demolition" -- and even then it's very difficult, he says. "Why would terrorists undertake straight-down collapses of WTC-7 and the Towers when 'toppling over' falls would require much less work and would do much more damage in downtown Manhattan?" Jones asks. "And where would they obtain the necessary skills and access to the buildings for a symmetrical implosion anyway? The 'symmetry data' emphasized here, along with other data, provide strong evidence for an 'inside' job."

      * No steel-frame building, before or after the WTC buildings, has ever collapsed due to fire. But explosives can effectively sever steel columns, he says.

      * WTC 7, which was not hit by hijacked planes, collapsed in 6.6 seconds, just .6 of a second longer than it would take an object dropped from the roof to hit the ground. "Where is the delay that must be expected due to conservation of momentum, one of the foundational laws of physics?" he asks. "That is, as upper-falling floors strike lower floors -- and intact steel support columns -- the fall must be significantly impeded by the impacted mass. . . . How do the upper floors fall so quickly, then, and still conserve momentum in the collapsing buildings?" The paradox, he says, "is easily resolved by the explosive demolition hypothesis, whereby explosives quickly removed lower-floor material, including steel support columns, and allow near free-fall-speed collapses." These observations were not analyzed by FEMA, NIST nor the 9/11 Commission, he says.

      * With non-explosive-caused collapse there would typically be a piling up of shattering concrete. But most of the material in the towers was converted to flour-like powder while the buildings were falling, he says. "How can we understand this strange behavior, without explosives? Remarkable, amazing -- and demanding scrutiny since the U.S. government-funded reports failed to analyze this phenomenon."

      * Horizontal puffs of smoke, known as squibs, were observed proceeding up the side the building, a phenomenon common when pre-positioned explosives are used to demolish buildings, he says.

      * Steel supports were "partly evaporated," but it would require temperatures near 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit to evaporate steel -- and neither office materials nor diesel fuel can generate temperatures that hot. Fires caused by jet fuel from the hijacked planes lasted at most a few minutes, and office material fires would burn out within about 20 minutes in any given location, he says.

      * Molten metal found in the debris of the World Trade Center may have been the result of a high-temperature reaction of a commonly used explosive such as thermite, he says. Buildings not felled by explosives "have insufficient directed energy to result in melting of large quantities of metal," Jones says.

      * Multiple loud explosions in rapid sequence were reported by numerous observers in and near the towers, and these explosions occurred far below the region where the planes struck, he says.

      Jones says he became interested in the physics of the WTC collapse after attending a talk last spring given by a woman who had had a near-death experience. The woman mentioned in passing that "if you think the World Trade Center buildings came down just due to fire, you have a lot of surprises ahead of you," Jones remembers, at which point "everyone around me started applauding."

To me, this is simply implausible because of the reasons I said I do not believe in conspiracy theories.  Nevertheless, to a layman, these arguments seem sound and perhaps worth investigating further.  I am truly puzzled.  Perhaps Pat Lang may intercede here and substantiate my doubts that this could have happened within our intelligence community and reinforce my point of view.  Otherwise, this is troubling as it offers not tin-foil theories but actual laws of physics.  At least the good doctor offered a disclaimer:

As for speculation about who might have planted the explosives, Jones said, "I don't usually go there. There's no point in doing that until we do the scientific investigation."

Display:
The title is escaping me right now, but a friend loaned me a book a couple of years back, in which this very topic was given as a hypothesis...

And someone recently sent me an article about how this is fairly commonly believed in New York City.

I think one should at least be objective and wait for compelling evidence that refutes this hypothesis. I have often wondered why the debris after 9/11 was gotten rid of so quickly, as any true crime scene investigation would request it to be left and sifted through carefully...

Too many un-answered questions. But to contemplate what it might mean IF this hypothesis were to be true. It is a very scary thought...an inside job...who was on the inside?

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia

by whataboutbob on Sat Nov 12th, 2005 at 04:32:21 PM EST
Again Bob, my instincts are always sceptical.  As I said, this type of operation would have so many people involved that I can't believe that it could possibly occur.  Yet... the prof makes a good argument on the law of physics.  I'm not saying one way or the other, but perhaps it should be given some credibility since the article is accepted by a peer-reviewed academic journal next year.  I just don't know.

"Schiller sprach zu Goethe, Steck in dem Arsch die Flöte! Goethe sagte zu Schiller, Mein Arsch ist kein Triller!"
by Jeffersonian Democrat (rzg6f@virginia.edu) on Sat Nov 12th, 2005 at 04:59:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If this was an insider job, why did they bother to get the highjackers and the planes involved in it? Why target the Pentagon too? What about the plane, which was brought down by the passengers? Why would the 'insiders' have opted for such a complicated plan?

"The USA appears destined by fate to plague America with misery in the name of liberty." Simon Bolivar, Caracas, 1819
by Ritter on Sat Nov 12th, 2005 at 05:30:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No idea, I was throwing this out there for smarter people than I to comment on.

"Schiller sprach zu Goethe, Steck in dem Arsch die Flöte! Goethe sagte zu Schiller, Mein Arsch ist kein Triller!"
by Jeffersonian Democrat (rzg6f@virginia.edu) on Sat Nov 12th, 2005 at 05:37:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What do we know about the hijackers? The flight manifests were never made public by the airlines or the FBI, the versions given by the media are inconsistent, and in any case don't list the hijackers, and the FBI named about half a dozen hijackers who turned up alive and well.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Nov 12th, 2005 at 09:41:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Here's the citation on the website:
Steven E. Jones, (2006). "Why Indeed did the WTC Buildings Collapse?," The Hidden History of 9-11-2001, Research in Political Economy, Volume 23, P. Zarembka, editor, Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2006.

Perhaps someone can enlighten me about whether political economists are the best people to review a document that would require knowledge of the effects of explosives, reaction of materials to intense and prolonged fire in an enclosed space, etc.  In fairness, I should add that perhaps the editor of The Hidden History of 9-11 has assigned scientific peers to review the paper.

I have a very good dentist but would not go to him for brain surgery or for a software problem.  

by Plan9 on Mon Nov 14th, 2005 at 12:38:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Very good question.

"Schiller sprach zu Goethe, Steck in dem Arsch die Flöte! Goethe sagte zu Schiller, Mein Arsch ist kein Triller!"
by Jeffersonian Democrat (rzg6f@virginia.edu) on Tue Nov 15th, 2005 at 05:35:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One can look at a range of videos at:

http://www.plaguepuppy.net/public_html/collapse%20update/

I must admit, the collapse of WTC 7, in particular, appears to show squibs running up the side of the building before the collapse...

by Minerva on Sat Nov 12th, 2005 at 08:37:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
All I am going to say about ths is that a 100+ storey steel-frame building in Madrid recently burned like a torch for about 18 hours and did not collapse. See the pictures here.

Unlike the Windsor building, the WTC towers were neve actually engulfed by flames and firefighters were able to make their way to the affected floors (in Madrid thwy pretty much to give up and the building had to be demolished after the fire died out).

Draw your own conclusions.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Nov 12th, 2005 at 05:28:02 PM EST
you are really putting a damper on my scepticism!

"Schiller sprach zu Goethe, Steck in dem Arsch die Flöte! Goethe sagte zu Schiller, Mein Arsch ist kein Triller!"
by Jeffersonian Democrat (rzg6f@virginia.edu) on Sat Nov 12th, 2005 at 05:29:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How about this? You would expect a forensic investigation of the WTC collapses. However, the debris was swiftly trucked away and the steel fragments sold to China as scrap metal.

I repeat: there was no forensic investigation of the largest peace-time mass murder of American citizens on American soil.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Nov 12th, 2005 at 06:18:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually, 100+ metre, 32 storey. More comparable to WTC 7 than to the twin towers.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Nov 12th, 2005 at 07:48:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The rest is just corroborating evidence.  

There is really no doubt at all.  

The "conspiracy" does not have to be that large.  A single commando team, doing the work ahead of time.  Plus a few--just a few--high-level officials to give them access.  

Of course such a team would have to be crazy--virtual psychopaths . . . Not a counter argument:  It merely moves Bush and Cheney up on the list of suspects.  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Sun Nov 13th, 2005 at 08:32:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
WTC #1 and #2 were reportedly shut down the weekend of September 8-9 for "maintenance". Is 48 hours enough for a commando team to lace the elevator shafts with explosives?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Nov 14th, 2005 at 06:38:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Were they really?  Are there reports?  I would welcome them if you still have them.  

Forty-eight hours is more than enough.  

Wish there had been a forensic investigation.  

But given what we already know--as opposed to what we guess--it is apparent why there wasn't one.  

It still puzzles me that people aren't bothered by the lack of an investigation.  

Thinking further, the elevator core seems the right way to do it:  Start the collapse in the core to make the debris fall inward and pull the outer-wall support members in after.  The central collapse has to stay just ahead of the collapse of the outer columns and skin.  

Explosives in the elevator core would explain the great fireball in the elevator shaft that spread across the first floor, which at the time was attributed to burning jet fuel.  (I forget which tower this was.)  The problem with the jet fuel proposal is that--while it cannot be dismissed outright--it does require a lot of fuel to quit moving forward and stop dead, get funneled into the elevator shaft, and then fall down all 70 or 80 floors--in fine burning droplets that aren't too fine to make it down all the way down.  Not sure it's impossible, but if 9/11 really was done as a demolition using the elevator shaft, the fire-ball is straightforward and obvious.  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Thu Nov 17th, 2005 at 03:24:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The story is 18 months old, and I was quoting from memory. A cursory search reveals that this is classified as a hoax by 911review.com.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Nov 17th, 2005 at 04:12:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
(Hey, why do you hate America?)

My real response is here.

BTW, I really like the term "Eurotribe."  More than "Eurotrib."  

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Sat Nov 12th, 2005 at 05:45:56 PM EST
Yea, I like Eurotribe better as well, guess I read Das Nibelungenlied too many times.

"Schiller sprach zu Goethe, Steck in dem Arsch die Flöte! Goethe sagte zu Schiller, Mein Arsch ist kein Triller!"
by Jeffersonian Democrat (rzg6f@virginia.edu) on Sat Nov 12th, 2005 at 05:52:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So there have been countless engineering studies of what happened, and one nutcase comes up with a counter theory and that's the one you're going to go with? Might as well get out your tin foil hat right now, because there are lots of other "uneplainable" things out there. Perhaps a trip to Roswell should be next on the agenda...
by asdf on Sat Nov 12th, 2005 at 06:22:22 PM EST
No, no.  I never said that I was going with it - read the first sentence of my diary.  That is the reason I threw this out there, to see if this could be debunked.  As I said, I am very sceptical of conspiracy theories.  Nevertheless, this will be published in a peer-reviewed journal, and as an academic (in the humanities), being published is a big deal to one's career.  I can't see an academic throwing his reputation away on a tin foil hat theory.  So I was curious about this and hoped people who knew far more than I did would chime in.

"Schiller sprach zu Goethe, Steck in dem Arsch die Flöte! Goethe sagte zu Schiller, Mein Arsch ist kein Triller!"
by Jeffersonian Democrat (rzg6f@virginia.edu) on Sat Nov 12th, 2005 at 06:34:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I suggest this as a starting point for further relevant academic research: http://people.csail.mit.edu/rahimi/helmet/
by asdf on Sat Nov 12th, 2005 at 07:20:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
thank you

"Schiller sprach zu Goethe, Steck in dem Arsch die Flöte! Goethe sagte zu Schiller, Mein Arsch ist kein Triller!"
by Jeffersonian Democrat (rzg6f@virginia.edu) on Sat Nov 12th, 2005 at 07:42:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ok, got the joke after I checked the link.  You got me.

"Schiller sprach zu Goethe, Steck in dem Arsch die Flöte! Goethe sagte zu Schiller, Mein Arsch ist kein Triller!"
by Jeffersonian Democrat (rzg6f@virginia.edu) on Sat Nov 12th, 2005 at 07:44:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ok asdf, let's just say you were at a conference.  How would you debunk this position set forth by this prof, tearing his arguments and claims apart?  Other than sending your colleagues to a wacko web site, how would you argue against the points that he made?  Just curious as a moderator between his arguments and yours, because you haven't sent forth your own arguments other than opinionated pooh-poohing of the argument in general?  That will not fly at any university, no matter how far out the proposing theory really is.  I'm just curious because the jury is out for me, I'm just looking for a good argument one way or the other.  So far the conspiracist uses some convincing laws of physicsto support his argument and you refer to some tin-foil hat experiment at MIT.

"Schiller sprach zu Goethe, Steck in dem Arsch die Flöte! Goethe sagte zu Schiller, Mein Arsch ist kein Triller!"
by Jeffersonian Democrat (rzg6f@virginia.edu) on Sat Nov 12th, 2005 at 08:02:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You are aware, JD, that recently someone posted a diary on DKos saying "let's kick this 9/11 conspiracy theory aruond a bit" and got such a beating in the comments that (s)he deleted their original diary and posted anotehr one apologizing for the first one.

Physics, you say?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Nov 12th, 2005 at 08:06:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I tried to state that I do not subscibe to such theories, I still do not.  Nevertheless, I tried to moderate this one argument in the hopes that someone could discredit the arguments set forth.  Unfortunately, some believe that I am spewing this theory forth, which I am not.  I was just curious as to the arguments for and against and if anyone would have an intelligent stand pro or con as this individual put forth an outlandish theory but backed it up with science.  This is what made it unusual, especially if it is to be presented in a peer-reviewed journal.  In my field, which is dog-eat-dog, you better be able to back up your arguments, so his actually surprised me.  So easy to be misunderstood on the internet.

"Schiller sprach zu Goethe, Steck in dem Arsch die Flöte! Goethe sagte zu Schiller, Mein Arsch ist kein Triller!"
by Jeffersonian Democrat (rzg6f@virginia.edu) on Sat Nov 12th, 2005 at 08:26:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
See? You're beginning to apologize just in the same way as the unfortunate DKos diarist felt compelled to (they didn't subscribe to the theory either).

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Nov 12th, 2005 at 08:40:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Definately not apologizing for my diary, just trying to moderate opposing views.  Like I said, you got me thinking - which is a good thing for me.

"Schiller sprach zu Goethe, Steck in dem Arsch die Flöte! Goethe sagte zu Schiller, Mein Arsch ist kein Triller!"
by Jeffersonian Democrat (rzg6f@virginia.edu) on Sat Nov 12th, 2005 at 09:01:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm just being facetious to prod you a little. I apologize.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Nov 12th, 2005 at 09:04:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No need to apologize, I didn't see it that way at all.  Others won't add anything substantial to debunk the theory.  Still hoping though, I love controversy!  As long as it's given in a reasoned argument, I've studied too much Kant and Hegel to settle for less.

"Schiller sprach zu Goethe, Steck in dem Arsch die Flöte! Goethe sagte zu Schiller, Mein Arsch ist kein Triller!"
by Jeffersonian Democrat (rzg6f@virginia.edu) on Sat Nov 12th, 2005 at 09:09:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Here's what the civil engineers said. Of course any conspiracy theorist worth his salt will say that since the report was sponsored by FEMA, it's bogus...
http://www.fema.gov/library/wtcstudy.shtm
by asdf on Sat Nov 12th, 2005 at 10:12:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks!  Valuable information indeed.  This was very helpful in understanding the sequence of events prior to the collapse of the two towers.

Bitsofnews.com Giving you the latest bits.
by Gjermund E Jansen (gjans1@hotmail.com) on Sat Nov 12th, 2005 at 11:31:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhaps a trip to Roswell should be next on the agenda...

asdf- I live on the Front Range too, where should we meet?  ;-)

by US Blues on Sun Nov 13th, 2005 at 10:01:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In addition to the fire the planes caused you also have to take into account the physical damage the two planes did to the buildings.  I am no expert on constructual engineering but a crash of that magnitude must have done something serious to the bearing structures of the two buildings.  

Both planes most certainly destroyed much of the supporting constructions at the impact area.  It was just a matter of time before the stories above the impact area would collapse.  Now, the total and symmetric collapse of both buildings is harder to explain.  It might perhaps have something to do with the increased acceleration of the collapse, still I am sure an engineer might come up with a plausible explanation to this.    

Bitsofnews.com Giving you the latest bits.

by Gjermund E Jansen (gjans1@hotmail.com) on Sat Nov 12th, 2005 at 06:38:59 PM EST
The central argument behind this conspiracy theory is the unlikelihood of a symmetric collapse absent well-placed, simultaneously exploding demolition charges. No sensible person would make this argument if the collapse were strikingly asymmetric.

In fact, however, if you look at the video of the first collapse, it is grossly asymmetric: As seen in this video, the chunk of the building above the fire rotates counter-clockwise as it falls, turning by about 20 degrees before it disappears into the smoke. No careful demolition was needed to produce such a sloppy result.

Now notice that it falls essentially straight down -- if you watch the base of the chunk you'll see that it moves about as far to the right as the top moves to the left. It's turning around its center, not toppling to one side from its base. Why is this? Because there is nothing pushing it strongly to one side or the other. The pillars on the right that lasted a bit longer were pushing up; this gave the chunk some angular momentum, but not much of the linear momentum needed to move it's center of gravity to one side.

After that, the falling chunk of the building smashes the lower parts straight down. Again, there is nothing to push stuff to one side or the other, so the overall collapse is nearly symmetric.

This is enough to show that the good professor isn't a very good physicist, or even a very good observer of videos of the event that he has labored to understand. Accordingly, I wouldn't place much stock in the rest of what he says, either in the alleged facts or in the analysis. Save this piece of tin foil for lining pans.

-One in a series of technical notes on political issues by Technopolitical-


Words and ideas I offer here may be used freely and without attribution.

by technopolitical on Sun Nov 13th, 2005 at 12:20:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, after going through that FEMA report the Professor seems to have got it wrong.  The stories above the point of impact clearly tilts over and collapses asymmetrically.  The guy seems to have bet his reputation on the wrong theory if this is going to published in a science journal.

Bitsofnews.com Giving you the latest bits.
by Gjermund E Jansen (gjans1@hotmail.com) on Sun Nov 13th, 2005 at 10:00:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The second tower to collapse collapses essentially in a straight line, as does WTC 7 hours later.

The section of the first tower that detaches and topples over essentially disintegrates in mid-air.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Nov 13th, 2005 at 10:30:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry,  I was of course referring to the first tower and the video showing the top stories of the building toppling over.

Bitsofnews.com Giving you the latest bits.
by Gjermund E Jansen (gjans1@hotmail.com) on Sun Nov 13th, 2005 at 10:56:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
JD- this guys thesis is consistent with ideas put forward by other engineer types who were not involved in any official report. The quick clean-up of the site does nothing to assuage suspicion. Someone above asked why the airplanes, if the "terrorists" could have simply blown-up the buildings. Well, airplane crashes are far more spectacular and create a greater environment of fear.

Then there is that bit about the passport of one of the hijackers that was found near the WTC. Steel beams melted, but someone's passport was found intact several blocks away from the site of enormous destruction. Should I cover my cranium with aluminum now?

As was rightly pointed out in the original post, a conspiracy of this magnitude would be hard to hide.

by US Blues on Sun Nov 13th, 2005 at 09:59:52 AM EST
That's my feeling too, just couldn't hide this.  Nevertheless, there are lot's of GREAT comments on this diary from science and engineer types, I've seemed to learn something...which is the point

"Schiller sprach zu Goethe, Steck in dem Arsch die Flöte! Goethe sagte zu Schiller, Mein Arsch ist kein Triller!"
by Jeffersonian Democrat (rzg6f@virginia.edu) on Mon Nov 14th, 2005 at 09:50:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's my understanding that the fires from the jet fuel ignited the enormous stores of papers in the building.  

Plastics also burned.  The temperature inside the buildings rose enough to melt the slender steel support columns, and that led to the pancaking of the towers.  

The shockwave of a building about 1/4 mile high affected neighboring structures.  The pressure pulverized almost everything into a very fine powder that hung in the air for weeks.

Forensic teams studied the surviving columns and other structural materials quite extensively, and explosives experts also surveyed and analyzed the site.

In the trial of the bombers who tried to topple the WTC in 1993 by planting explosives in a basement parking garage, it came out that their intention was to knock that tower over on its side--then it could have killed tens of thousands of people.

After the 1993 attempt the authorities failed to conduct a thorough collection of data about the WTC and used that info in a probabilistic risk assessment which would have shown that the steel in the towers could not survive an intense fire.

Moi, I don't see what the difference is whether the WTC was destroyed by bombs or by planes. An attack is an attack.  And apparently it was far more successful than Osama had ever imagined.

by Plan9 on Sun Nov 13th, 2005 at 03:19:23 PM EST
It is my understanding that kerosene, paper and plastic burn at low temperatures (relatively to the melting point of steel). Also, the smoke coming from the towers was black, indicating a sooty, oxygen-starved, low-temperature fire. No flames were visible from the outside (unlike in the case of Madrid's Windsor building). It is still possible that the fires were able to weaken the steel columns, as losing structural integrity is an entirely different business from melting. But you'd have to ask a metallurgist about that, the Handbook of Chemistry and Physics will tell you the melting point of steel, but not its compression modulus as a function of temperature. Also, the steel columns were coated in concrete, which is a good heat insulator, and the floors and ceilings were also slabs of reinforced concrete.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Nov 13th, 2005 at 03:29:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Steel can survive burning jet fuel--but only for a limited time.  The buildings collapsed 110 minutes after the collisions.

There were a lot of design flaws and skirting of building codes when the World Trade Center was built.

The steel columns were supposed to be covered with asbestos, but that was only done part way up on the South Tower.

For a good description of the flaws, and why the fire (in an enclosed space and fed in part by oxygen coming up the shafts) did ultimately cause the failure of the materials, see
http://www.civil.usyd.edu.au/wtc.shtml

While the fire would not have been hot enough to melt any of the steel, the strength of the steel drops markedly with prolonged exposure to fire, while the elastic modulus of the steel reduces (stiffness drops), increasing deflections.

Modern structures are designed to resist fire for a specific length of time. Safety features such as fire retarding materials and sprinkler systems help to contain fires, help extinguish flames, or prevent steel from being exposed to excessively high temperatures. This gives occupants time to escape and allow fire fighters to extinguish blazes, before the building is catastrophically damaged.

It is possible that the blaze, started by jet fuel and then engulfing the contents of the offices, in a highly confined area, generated fire conditions significantly more severe than those anticipated in a typical office fire. These conditions may have overcome the building's fire defences considerably faster than expected. It is likely that the water pipes that supplied the fire sprinklers were severed by the plane impact, and much of the fire protective material, designed to stop the steel from being heated and losing strength, was blown off by the blast at impact.

Eventually, the loss of strength and stiffness of the materials resulting from the fire, combined with the initial impact damage, would have caused a failure of the truss system supporting a floor, or the remaining perimeter columns, or even the internal core, or some combination. Failure of the flooring system would have subsequently allowed the perimeter columns to buckle outwards. Regardless of which of these possibilities actually occurred, it would have resulted in the complete collapse of at least one complete storey at the level of impact.

Once one storey collapsed all floors above would have begun to fall.

It's difficult for me to believe in a conspiracy, given so many competing agencies and professionals studying the collapse of the towers from all kinds of different angles--materials science, fluid dynamics, physics, etc.  There really was a pretty good consensus.

It's a little like the hypothesis about global climate change.  Slowly a body of agreed-upon facts from many different sources has accumulated, peer-reviewed papers have been published, and dissenters have made their cases.  Overall at this point the conclusion of the scientific community is that the rise in global temperature is real.  People are still arguing over the details, though.

Like any scientific hypothesis, the explanation of the collapse will no doubt evolve as more information, more angles on it, and perhaps better technology arise.
Further questioning can't hurt.  We're not talking theology here.

by Plan9 on Mon Nov 14th, 2005 at 12:26:56 PM EST
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