Debunking Popular Mechanics' anti-9/11 Truth Propaganda
In 2010 I worked with AE911Truth Engineer Jonathan Cole to develop concepts for a series of "9/11 Experiment" videos, which successfully debunked many of the hypotheses put forward by National Geographic and Popular Mechanics. Here are my two personal favorites:
Can Sulfur from Dry-wall Gyspum form a corrosive eutectic?
Expert Vs. Expert: Comparing expert opinions on 9/11. See who keep needing to change their story.
Debunking Popular Mechanics
If you thought Popular Mechanics' updated 2011 book refuted the so-called "conspiracy theories" about 9/11, think again.
A decade has passed since the tragic events of September 11, 2001, and many people feel that we have still not had a real investigation into what really happened that day. Many believe that the investigations into the destruction of the three WTC skyscrapers by the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) were either fraudulent or incomplete, and have joined the 1600+ architects and engineers at AE911Truth in calling for a real, independent investigation into the attacks. However, Popular Mechanics (PM) has been the primary cheerleader in the mainstream media in defense of the NIST reports ever since its book, Debunking 9/11 Myths: Why Conspiracy Theories Can?t Stand Up To the Facts, was published in 2006.
This report demonstrates that PM has still not adequately explained the numerous anomalies surrounding the collapse of these three buildings that prove they were destroyed with explosives.
Though Reynolds and a handful of other skeptics cite academic credentials to lend credence to their views, not one of the leading conspiracy theorists has a background in engineering, construction, or related fields. (pg. 28-29)
This statement is by far one of the most remarkable passages in PM's book. One need only look at what most consider the lead organization in the 9/11truth community, Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth, to see that there are currently over 1600 professional architects and engineers with backgrounds in engineering, architecture and building construction who question the destruction of the three WTC high-rise buildings. How can PM possibly have omitted over a thousand experts who agree that the Twin Towers and WTC7 were brought down with explosives? In PM's entire 216 page book, there is not a single mention made of AE911Truth or its founder, architect Richard Gage, AIA.
When one looks back at their 2006 book, we can see that this exact same statement appears on the exact same pages.
1.1 The Empire State Building Accident
?The towers withstood the initial impact of the aircraft? the buildings had more than 1,000 times the mass of the aircraft? This ability to withstand the initial impact is hardly surprising.? - Eagar and Musso, JOM, 53 (12) (2001), pp. 8-11
PM next quotes WTC assistant structural engineer Leslie Robertson as stating that the Towers were only designed to take the impact of a Boeing 707, but did not take into consideration the fires that would be produced by the jet fuel.
"We looked at every possible thing we could think of that could happen to the buildings, even to the extent of an airplane hitting the side? Our analysis indicated the biggest problem would be the fact that all the fuel (from the airplane) would dump into the building. There would be a horrendous fire. A lot of people would be killed. [But] the building structure would still be there."ii
Although PM mentions John Skilling briefly in their book, they make no mention of this statement. Apparently, PM felt no need to quote the lead WTC engineer on his views about the structural stability of the Towers.
Although viewpoints differ in the 9/11 Truth movementiv regarding the cause of these explosions, some features of the lobby damage indicate that they were not due to a fireball explosion from the jet fuel. For example, the white marble walls show no signs of being exposed to fire, and the plants next to the blown out windows show no signs of burning either.
i Quoted from: City in the Sky: The Rise and Fall of the World Trade Center by James Glanz and Eric Lipton, pg. 134-136
Plane Impacts, Fire Damage & Melted Steel
Editor's note: This is Part 2 (see Part 1) of an extensive report by researcher Adam Taylor that exposes the fallacies and flaws in the arguments made by Popular Mechanics (PM) in the latest edition of Debunking 9/11 Myths. We encourage you to submit your own reviews of the book at Amazon.com and other places where it is sold.
(Quotes from Popular Mechanics? book are shown in red and with page numbers.)
[NIST's] test for fireproofing loss, never inserted in the draft reports, involved shooting a total of fifteen rounds from a shotgun at non-representative [structural steel] samples? it's not hard to see that these tests actually disproved their findings. One reason is that there is no evidence that a Boeing 767 could transform into any number of shotgun blasts. Nearly 100,000 blasts would be needed based on NIST's own damage estimates, and these would have to be directed in a very symmetrical fashion to strip the columns and floors from all sides. However, it is much more likely that the aircraft debris was a distribution of sizes from very large chunks to a few smaller ones, and that it was directed asymmetrically.2
Ryan's assertion that ??aircraft debris was a distribution of sizes from very large chunks to a few smaller ones? is well grounded, as photographs show that large portions of the planes exited the Towers, and eyewitnesses who escaped from the Towers reported seeing intact portions of the plane in the building.3
Conspiracy theorists point to other high-rise fires, such as the one in 1991 at the 38-story Meridian Plaza hotel in Philadelphia, as proof that fire alone cannot bring down a skyscraper. And, in a sense, they are right: Fire alone did not bring down the towers. (pg. 40)
It is important to note that the term ?conspiracy theorists? is a derogatory term used here to discredit the forensic evidence of controlled demolition brought forward by technical professionals. The experts at AE911Truth do not speculate on possible theories regarding who brought down the WTC skyscrapers.
But PM notes other issues regarding the Towers? collapses, quoting structural engineer Jon Magnusson as saying:
[T]he impact struck out sprinklers and fireproofing, and the fire elevated the temperature of steel. Then you start to weaken the steel by heating it up. (pg. 40)
As we have already seen, NIST has not provided evidence that demonstrates that the fires were hot enough to cause structural failure and collapse ? nor that the fireproofing was widely dislodged. As for the sprinklers being ?knocked out?, NIST doubts that the sprinklers would have done much to fight the fires.8
When we?re talking about the debris pile and the insulating effect, the fires down there are completely different than the factors [affecting the steel] in the building. (pg. 41)
However, the idea that the molten metal could have somehow formed in the debris afterwards is actually addressed in Jones? paper:
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.11
PM provides no technical analysis in their book to show that the fires could have become hot enough to melt steel in the debris piles. The temperatures that existed in the debris piles were vastly hotter than what any sort of natural fire could have produced. In fact, the temperatures were evidently high enough:
The photographs shown to support melting steel are, to me, either unconvincing? or show materials that appear to be other than steel. One of these photos appears to me to be mostly of glass with unmelted steel rods in it. Glass melts at much lower temperatures than steel. (pg. 41)
First off, it is not clear from this statement which photograph Alan Pense is referring to. However, he is likely referring to the popular ?crane shot.?
Second, we have already seen that there were metals that were either melted or evaporated at temperatures well above the melting point of steel and iron. Third, even if the crane photo did show molten glass, it would still need to have been heated to extremely high temperatures, since glass does not begin to give off any visible light until it approaches temperatures of 2240 ºF.15
16A detailed explanation of aluminothermic technology is given here:
Collapse Times of the Twin Towers
Editor's note: This is Part 3 (see Part 2) of an extensive report by 9/11 researcher Adam Taylor that exposes the fallacies and flaws in the arguments made by the editors of Popular Mechanics (PM) in the latest edition of Debunking 9/11 Myths. We encourage you to submit your own reviews of the book at Amazon.com and other places where it is sold.
(Quotes from Popular Mechanics? book are shown in red and with page numbers.)
In Popular Mechanics? next section, they discuss the rate at which the Twin Towers were destroyed. PM begins by correctly pointing out that it is difficult to determine exactly how long it took each Tower to collapse, being that much of the destruction was blocked from view by the huge clouds of pulverized debris. However, it is quite evident that PM has again misrepresented the characteristics of the buildings? destruction.
The collapse of the three WTC buildings would seem to defy the laws of mechanics, conservation of energy and known structural failure behavior. The case for the destruction of the three WTC buildings by means of "controlled demolition" is overwhelming. -Claude Robert Briscoe, civil engineer with 45+ years of experience1
PM chose to omit opinions such as these from credentialed experts, preferring to only quote only those engineers who support their overall premise.
The photograph by Aman Zafar (below), previously shown and commented upon, appears to show the lower core structure still upright after the floors and perimeter columns had collapsed to ground level. However, this is not the full story. Muhammad's analysis shows that the remaining core was too narrow to be the entire core, and was in fact, the inner 23 core columns. The 24 core columns which made up the outer perimeter of the core structure and to which the floors were connected are clearly absent from the photograph. Thus we can see that the outer core columns fell in the early stages of the collapse along with the floors and perimeter walls. For this to happen, the bracing which attaches these outer core columns, both to each other and to the inner core columns, would have to be severed and each column broken into sections.5
PM claims that ?professors and investigators contend it's not surprising that [the Towers?] collapse-time estimates are close to would-be free-fall results? (pg. 44), and then proceeds to quote several of these said people. One of the people is MIT professor Dr. Thomas Eagar, who said it was not surprising that each Tower collapsed in ten seconds. PM writes:
[Eager's] analysis explains that as exterior columns bowed and joists on the most heavily burned floors gave way, the mass of the collapsing floors created a cascade of failures. (pg. 44)
This first thing that should be noted about PM's citation of Dr. Eagar is that his analysis actually contradicts NIST's analysis of the Towers? collapses. PM cites Dr. Eagar's paper, Why Did the World Trade Center Collapse? Science, Engineering, and Speculation, but when one actually reads what he wrote it is apparent that his analysis doesn?t promote NIST's theory of collapse at all. In his paper, Dr. Eagar writes:
As the joists on one or two of the most heavily burned floors gave way and the outer box columns began to bow outward, the floors above them also fell.6
Whereas NIST told us that the exterior columns bowed inward, Dr. Eagar's paper asserts that the exterior columns bowed outward. By not quoting this section of his paper correctly, PM gives the impression that Dr. Eagar's analysis is in total agreement with the NIST investigators (though Eagar's paper currently provides a link to another article in the Journal of the Minerals, Metals and Materials Society that promotes NIST's theory7). Instead, PM proceeds to directly quote from Eagar's paper:
The floor below (with its 1,300 ton design capacity) could not support the roughly 45,000 tons of ten floors (or more) above crashing down on these angle clips. This started the domino effect that caused the buildings to collapse within ten seconds, hitting bottom with an estimated speed of 200 km per hour.8
However, this analysis is flawed by the fact that actual measurements of the collapse of the Towers show that the upper sections of the Towers never exerted massive forces on the lower sections, due to the fact that the upper sections accelerated through the lower section. As physicist David Chandler has shown, the upper section of the North Tower fell into the lower section, and not only did it not slow down, it sped up.9 Hence, there was no dynamic load being exerted on the lower section to cause it to collapse.
PM's citation of Sault's comments highlights their obvious ploy to cherry-pick supporters of the 9/11 Truth movement to quote. Although a direct source for this quote is not provided (like most of the 9/11 Truth advocates quoted by PM), this statement is found not on the website PM provides, but on an obscure website. Sault is only commenting on a blog post about Keith Seffen.11 The fact that PM quotes from such an obscure source reveals their determination to portray anyone who questions the WTC collapses as a ?crazy conspiracy theorist?. On the contrary, the study of the destruction of the Twin Towers entered the realm of laboratory research years ago with published articles in scientific and academic journals.
Evidently, PM's writers and investigative journalists somehow missed an article written by Dr. Crockett Grabbe which refutes the arguments made in Seffen's questionable paper even though Grabbe's article was published in the very same journal as Dr. Seffen's paper.12 Though PM touts Dr. Seffen and his paper as providing excellent analysis of the WTC collapses, there is no mention of Grabbe's peer-reviewed response, even though Grabbe is a credentialed scientist. Instead, PM chose to cite an inflammatory remark on an obscure internet site.
Since the stories below the level of collapse initiation provided little resistance to the tremendous energy released by the falling building mass, the building section above came down essentially in free fall, as seen in videos. As the stories below sequentially failed, the falling mass increases, further increasing the demand of the floors below, which were unable to arrest the moving mass.14
PM also quotes from NIST's FAQ on the WTC collapses:
NIST estimated the elapsed times for the first exterior panels to strike the ground after the collapse initiated in each of the towers to be approximately 11 seconds for WTC 1 and approximately 9 seconds for WTC 2? Neither the duration of the seismic records nor video evidence (due to obstruction of view caused by debris clouds) are reliable indicators of the total time it took for each building to collapse completely.15
However, engineer and 9/11 researcher Jim Hoffman addressed both of NIST's assertions. In regards to the first point, Hoffman writes:
This does not explain either why the structure below failed to arrest the falling mass or how the structure failed to appreciably slow the falling mass. As in the preceding paragraphs, NIST begs these questions using a kind of circular argument: The towers fell rapidly because the stories below could not resist the tremendous energy of the falling mass. Videos clearly show that the upper section fell essentially in free-fall. Therefore the structures below offered minimal resistance to and were destroyed by the falling mass. The argument pre-supposes the conclusion that the force that overcame the resistance of the structures below was the falling mass, not some other force such as energy of explosives.16
As for the second point, Hoffman writes:
While citing several experts who support their assertion that the collapse rates of the Towers were nothing unusual, PM failed to acknowledge numerous other experts who say that the collapse rates clearly violated the laws of physics. The rate in which the Towers came down cannot be explained by the combined effects of fire and gravity.
Twin Towers Evidence Blows Away Fire Theory by James Smith
[In Part 4 of this monthly series, Taylor challenges Popular Mechanics? misleading claims regarding the violent ejections of dust and building materials during the collapse of the Twin Towers. Look for Part 4 in the May edition of the Blueprint newsletter. For Part 2 click here]
1Quoted from: http://www2.ae911truth.org/profile.php?uid=998501
Part 4: Puffs of Dust
The next section of PM's book deals with one of the more direct pieces of evidence of demolition for the Towers ? the isolated ejections of dust and debris from the Towers during the collapses. Like most of its arguments, PM's challenge to this evidence of demolition is extremely weak and was previously refuted by experts at AE911Truth and elsewhere.
PM's case against the ejections begins with a discussion of how the Towers were designed. As noted by PM, ?Like the vast majority of office buildings, the Twin Towers were mostly air.? (pg. 48) PM intended this assertion to support the idea that... the ejections were caused by built-up air pressure. Although it is true that the Towers, like most buildings, were mostly air by volume, the air was not pressurized, as noted by Kevin Ryan:
In other words, the Towers were not like fully inflated balloons, ready to burst the moment one of their windows was punctured.
PM also quotes Dr. Shyam Sunder of NIST: ?When you have a significant portion of the floor collapsing, it's going to shoot air and concrete dust out the window.? (pg. 48)
The problem with this assertion is that the material contained within the squibs is not merely dust, but also pulverized building material. As noted by Dr. Crockett Grabbe:
Indeed, videos and photographs confirm this.
PM's entire characterization of these ejections as ?puffs of dust? is inaccurate and misleading. The material shooting out clearly is made up of pulverized bits of matter that are solid and not merely just puffs of dust and smoke, as they would like us to believe.
PM then goes on to claim that it is the members of the 9/11 Truth movement who have mischaracterized the collapse of the World Trade Center. PM quotes Dr. Crockett Grabbe as saying, ?There is strong evidence for controlled demolition causing the collapses instead of fires from the planes ? but virtually none of the pancake theory of collapse.? From this PM claims that Dr. Grabbe misstated a crucial point, which is that NIST investigated only what caused the collapse of the towers, not the mechanism of the collapse. PM also claims that NIST never suggested that the Twin Towers began to collapse due to pancaking floors. Although PM cites Dr. Grabbe's website, SeaLane.org, it does not cite the source within the website, which is an article titled Response to NIST on Controlled Demolition Investigation Failure.[iii] In this article, Dr. Grabbe criticized NIST for not examining the entire collapse and the possibility of demolition. Whereas PM acts as if NIST's omission was normal, Dr. Grabbe demonstrates there are numerous reasons NIST should have examined the entire collapses, including:
Again, these facts would have become apparent to the reader had PM cited the article instead of just Dr. Grabbe's website.
PM also tries to discredit researcher and chemist Kevin Ryan, who said that NIST contradicted PM's earlier arguments:
Conspiracy theorists promptly leveled accusations that the agency had backtracked. ?It is gratifying that NIST finally admits their findings do not support the ?Pancake Theory? of collapse,? wrote Kevin Ryan at http://stj911.org. ?Note that this is in direct contradiction to Shyam Sunder's comments reported by Popular Mechanics Magazine.? (pg. 49)
PM then claims that Kevin Ryan ?did not read NIST's work carefully,? (pg. 49) saying that NIST did report pancaking of floors in NCSTAR 1-3, but not that pancaking initiated the collapse. Again, PM provides no direct source within the website for these quotes (which actually come from an article titled Responses to NIST's FAQ). Both Kevin Ryan and Dr. Grabbe have written other articles about the ejections of dust and debris from the Towers, but PM chooses to quote from articles not primarily about the ejections. This is clearly more evidence of NIST's cherry-picking. Both articles about the ejections provide extremely strong arguments against the idea that the ejections are merely being caused by air pressure.
Kevin Ryan's points:
Likewise, Dr. Grabbe's analysis of the squibs highlights their explosive characteristics:
Why didn?t PM address any of these arguments provided by these experts? Why did PM choose to simply pick what appear to be random quotes that are not discussing the main subject of PM's chapter?
PM omitted any mention of the 1,700+ architects and engineers who have signed on to a petition at AE911Truth demanding a new scientific investigation of the towers? destruction. They are now represented by 43 technical and building professionals who appear in the new documentary film, 9/11: Explosive Evidence ? Experts Speak Out, which lays out the incontrovertible evidence for the explosive nature of these high-speed ejections. The speeds of these ejections of pulverized building materials have been calculated at 160 to 200 feet per second.
PM then proceeds to cite the opinions of demolition experts regarding the ejections. One of the people cited is Mark Loizeaux, president of Controlled Demolition, Inc., whom PM quotes as saying that 9/11 Truth experts are wrong about their interpretation of the ejections.
?If you look at any building that is imploded, the explosives are primarily placed on the ground floor and the basement,? Loizeaux stated. ?Why? Because you want to remove the columns when you have the majority of that stored potential energy above where you?re taking the columns out. You want to release as much energy as possible. If you look at the collapse of the structures, they start collapsing up where the planes hit. They don?t start collapsing down below.? Loizeaux said even if explosives have been placed on the upper floors they would have generated significantly more dust and debris than mere ?puffs.? (pg. 51)
Loizeaux's argument contains two premises, that (a) demolitions are always started at the bottom of a structure, and (b) explosives would have created far more dust and debris had they been placed at the top. His first premise is simply wrong, as demolitions can be started anywhere in a structure with the right amount and placement of explosives. And the demolitions of the Towers would need to start near where the planes impacted, as explained by researcher Jim Hoffman:
[A]s part of a psychological operation, the controlled demolition of the Twin Towers would be designed to support a false narrative of events (that the plane crashes caused the collapses), so of course the events were engineered to have the destruction start around the crash zones.[v]
As for his second point, that the explosives would have produced far more dust and debris than mere puffs, one has to wonder if Loizeaux has even seen any videos or photos of the Towers? collapses.
Despite Loizeaux's claims to the contrary, demolitions can be started anywhere in a building where they may be necessary.[vi] But PM then proceeds to quote Loizeaux as saying that ?the explosives configuration manufacturing technology [to bring down those buildings] does not exist.? (pg. 51) According to Loizeaux, the biggest commercially available charges will not cut through steel columns more than three inches thick. However, there are two problems with Loizeaux's argument. First, AE911Truth proposed that the explosives may have actually been used to attack the weld connections of the Tower columns, not the columns themselves. As AE911Truth writes,
Many of the core box columns found in the WTC rubble had concave sides. Most were broken straight across at the weld points. Often, one side of the column's welds [was found to have been] deeply oxidized and even torn away. Explosions ripping across the weld points, as explained by Gordon Ross, offer an explosive hypothesis that demonstrates a mechanism with results resembling observations in the WTC rubble.[vii]
The weld connections would not have required as much explosive force to break them. However, even if the columns were directly attacked by the explosives, we should question how factual Loizeaux's claims are concerning the cutting power of cutter charges. As early as 1997, the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory developed shaped charges that were able to penetrate 3.4 meters [approx. 134 inches] of high-strength armor steel.[viii] Clearly Loizeaux's claims are contradicted by this fact alone. And of course, one of the primary types of explosives posited as being used to destroy the Towers is nanothermite, another technology Loizeaux claims doesn?t exist.[ix]
In PM's next attempt to discredit the 9/11 Truth movement, the writers cite Dr. Zdenek Ba?ant to rebut claims made by Dr. Steven Jones. Although PM's intention in citing Ba?ant is to further the theory that the Towers collapsed from natural forces, parts of Bazant's claims actually contradict PM's earlier arguments, as summarized by David Ray Griffin:
Our authors also unwittingly contradict NIST in their discussion of Zdenek Ba?ant, whom they had asked about a criticism, made by Jones, of a paper Ba?ant had co-authored with Yong Zhou on why the WTC buildings collapsed. Jones had argued that this paper was fatally flawed by its assumption that the steel columns were exposed to temperatures above 800°C (1,472°F). In his reply, Bazant said: ?Today [it] is clear that the temperatures were much lower.? He even suggested that they may have been ?less than 400°C.? Ba?ant went on to claim that this difference was unimportant for his analysis. Be that as it may, it involves a huge contradiction with NIST's analysis (as distinct from its empirical data), according to which steel was exposed to fires of 1,000°C (1,800°F). Bazant's statements ? that the fire may have been less than 400°C ? also contradicts the impression, which PM tries to create, that some of the steel was heated to up to 980°C (1,800°F). Did PM's right hand not know what its left hand was doing?[x]
Griffin also addresses the claims that New Mexico Tech professor Van Romero was misquoted about saying the Towers looked as if they were brought down via demolition:
If the PM authors [had] been honest reporters, they would have pointed out that, in the first Albuquerque Journal story written by Olivier Uyttebrouck, Romero was quoted as having said: ?My opinion is, based on the videotapes, that after the airplanes hit the World Trade Center there were some explosive devices inside the buildings that caused the towers to collapse.? Also, saying that the collapse of the buildings were ?too methodical? to be the chance result of the airplane impacts, Romero added: ?It would be difficult for something from the plane to trigger an event like that.? Romero was hardly misquoted.[xi]
PM finishes up this section by claiming that Loizeaux has been accused of being part of the conspiracy to destroy the Towers. However, they provide not a single example of anyone who has actually said this. Certainly no prominent member of the 9/11 Truth movement has made this accusation. This is clearly another attempt on PM's part to play on the emotions of its readers.
[i] Quoted from: High Velocity Bursts of Debris From Point-Like Sources in the WTC Towers, by Kevin Ryan, pg. 4 http://www.journalof911studies.com/volume/2007/Ryan_HVBD.pdf
[iii] That article can be read here: http://www.sealane.org/writings/NISTresp2.html
[iv] Quoted from: http://911research.wtc7.net/reviews/nist/WTC_FAQ_reply.html
Editor's note: This is Part 5 (see Part 4) of an extensive report by 9/11 researcher Adam Taylor that exposes the fallacies and flaws in the arguments made by the editors of Popular Mechanics (PM) in the latest edition of Debunking 9/11 Myths. We encourage you to submit your own reviews of the book at Amazon.com and other places where it is sold.
The next section of PM's book deals with another subject not previously dealt with in the 2006 edition: the nanothermite discovered in dust samples from the World Trade Center. PM's stated objective of the updated book is to debunk ?the most common speculation about free-fall times, ?nanothermite,? and other aspects of the Twin Towers? collapses?,? (pg. xxii). However, PM's section regarding nanothermite utterly fails to do this ? not because it presents weak scientific arguments, but because it provides virtually no scientific arguments at all.
Molten Metal Flowing from the South Tower
PM's only scientific criticism of claims made by individuals in the 9/11 Truth movement in regards to thermite applies to the spout of molten metal seen coming from the 81st floor of the South Tower, which some have cited as evidence of a thermite-based demolition for the Towers. In spite of photographs and numerous eyewitness accounts of molten steel/iron and concrete, PM chooses to address only this one example. PM's explanation for this is simply that the material is molten aluminum, a claim echoed by other defenders of the official narrative. It is also a claim that has been thoroughly refuted. PM cites NIST as saying that the material may have been molten aluminum, but individuals such as Dr. Steven Jones have demonstrated ? by experiment ? that, in daylight conditions, molten aluminum appears silvery and does not glow brightly like the metal seen coming from the South Tower.[i]
Some still may argue that the material was molten aluminum and that it was heated to high enough temperatures to get it to glow that brightly. Below is a chart showing temperature-dependent colors of metals.
At about 980ºC (1800ºF), most metals begin to glow ?light orange.? PM asserts throughout the book that this is how hot the fires could have been in the Towers. However, we previously noted that NIST has no evidence that the fires did reach these temperatures in the buildings. However, even if we accept that the fires did reach those temperature levels, the material still could not have been aluminum because of how long it was heated. As explained by physicist Jerry Lobdill:
The problem with concluding that the liquid flowing from the tower's 82nd floor could have been aluminum? is that the liquid in the tower was not confined in a container so that more heat could be applied to raise the temperature of the liquid above its melting point. Instead, as soon as the metal liquefied it flowed away from the heat source under the force of gravity. Therefore, the color of the liquid flowing from the 82nd floor [indicated that it] was at approximately the melting point of the metal. And therefore, it was molten iron from steel.[ii]
Perhaps the most important reason why the material could not have been molten aluminum is that the material actually became white hot. Regardless of what kind of material was glowing, nobody has explained what would have heated it to over 2000ºF to get it to glow that brightly.
In addition, there is simply little chance the material could have been molten aluminum, based on the fact that the material glowed for as long as it did. As Dr. Jones summarizes:
[F]alling 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? falling liquid aluminum [in bright daylight] will appear silvery-gray.[iii]
While molten aluminum can be ruled out because of the reasons stated above, there is a known substance that easily could account for the observations: thermate, which is thermite with added sulfur. The thermite reaction produces temperatures in the white-hot range up to 4500°F, and the added sulfur lowers the melting point of iron significantly.
Accidental Thermite Reactions?
PM also cites Richard Fruehan, professor of metallurgical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University:
The thermite reaction could have occurred with aluminum metal and any oxide that happens to be near it. Or oxygen could react with aluminum as well. There was a lot of aluminum in the building itself?the windows, etc., plus the airplane's aluminum. That could have caused a thermite reaction and produced a small amount of molten iron. (pg. 57)
First, for molten iron to be produced, aluminum would have to interact with iron oxide, not just with ?any oxide that happens to be near it,? as Fruehan suggests. Regardless, his entire premise is not just unlikely, but impossible. First, Fruehan's theory would require that random chaotic events?the impact of the planes, the ensuing fires, and the collapses?were able to create not just thermite, but a highly advanced, weaponized version of it, in order to account for the high-tech nano-thermite composite material that was discovered in WTC dust samples. It would be quite interesting if any defender of the official 9/11 story were able to show that a chaotic event like the WTC disaster could create highly engineered, multilayered, nanothermite-composite materials. Secondly, any accidental thermite reactions would not have happened at a large scale and at all relevant points. Mechanical engineer Gordon Ross notes:
[I]f I leave margarine, flour, sugar and fruit in a cupboard, when I next open the cupboard I will not find a fruit crumble. Some mechanism is required to convert the ingredients. Similarly, if I take these same ingredients, set them alight and throw them out the window, I still will not get my fruit crumble. The mechanism must have some order? What we are being asked to swallow in place of our absent fruit crumble, is that the tonnes of aluminum aircraft parts were powderised upon impact, thoroughly mixed with tonnes of rust from the towers? steel superstructure in exactly the required proportion to form tonnes of thermite, which then hung around for about an hour before distributing itself to key structural points throughout the tower, then igniting in a complex sequence to cause the towers? collapse. It is granted that a good imagination is a requirement for a good scientist, but this just abuses the privilege. Perhaps the name for this natural thermite should instead be intelligent thermite, or intelligent malevolent thermite.[iv]
Similarly, as noted by Jim Hoffman:
The pyrotechnics, found in nearly all dust samples studied to date? [are] nano-engineered material with thermitic constituents. Such materials are not spontaneously manufactured by melting airplanes or any other such event ? they are the product of high-tech manufacturing likely extant only since the 1990s.[v]
Thirdly, until some type of experiment is presented to show that natural thermite reactions were at all likely at the WTC site, the assumption of natural thermite reactions at the WTC is simply not valid. In fact, experiments have addressed the possibility of accidental thermite reactions under conditions that mirror both airplane impacts into steel buildings and fires in steel buildings. These experiments, performed in 2002, indicate that accidental thermite reactions could not have taken place.[vi]
PM once again quotes Alan Pense, this time saying that he doesn?t ?know of anyone else who thinks thermite reactions on steel columns could have done that.? (pg. 58) However, it is evident that both Pense and PM have not adequately researched the past usage of thermite. This may be understandable for Professor Pense, but it is not for PM. Its October 1935 issue reported that the Skyride Towers (two 628-foot-tall steel structures) were demolished, and one of them was demolished using thermite placed on the bottom steel legs.
In addition, the steel-framed roof of the German Reichstag, which survived arson in 1933 and Allied bombardment during World War II, was felled by thermite charges in 1954.[vii]
These two incidents demonstrate not only that even ordinary commercial thermite can be used to demolish steel structures, but that advances in thermite over subsequent years would obviously permit greater efficiency in demolishing structures. Civil engineer Jon Cole, a supporter of AE911Truth, has also clearly demonstrated that thermite can be used to cut though steel beams.[viii]
In the face of strong evidence of thermite being used to demolish the Towers, PM simply parrots NIST's claim that it is unlikely that large amounts of thermite could have been covertly placed within the buildings. This makes no sense, especially since thermite was discovered in the debris. It is a fallacy that could be called an argument of infeasibility, relying on unsubstantiated assumptions about the resources available to any possible group that planned and executed the attack.
The Nanothermite Paper
Up to this point, PM has only addressed ordinary thermite. PM next addresses the nanothermite discovered in the dust. These results were published in the Bentham Open Chemical Physics Journal in an article titled ?Active Thermitic Material Discovered in Dust from the 9/11 World Trade Center Catastrophe.? PM provides no scientific rebuttal to the paper whatsoever, but attempts what many ?debunkers? have attempted in the past when pressed for any scientific criticisms of the Active Thermitic Materials (ATM) paper: smear and discredit it.
PM argues for two reasons why Bentham Open's published research should be discredited: that a hoax paper was submitted to the same journal and was accepted, and that the editor-in-chief of the Journal resigned after the nanothermite paper was published. However, both assertions proved to be red herrings.
First, the hoax paper, submitted to Bentham Open by PhD students, was in fact never published by Bentham. The editors explained that the paper was accepted in order to find the true identity of the author.[ix] As PM itself notes, even the PhD student who submitted the hoax paper said that ?we cannot conclude that Bentham Science journals practice no peer review, only that it is inconsistently applied.? (pg. 59) As noted by Eric Larson:
[T]he problem has only been documented at a SINGLE journal among the hundreds published by Bentham ? as Scholarly Kitchen notes, another Bentham journal rejected the hoax paper for publication. They say this incident only proves the peer-reviewed process is applied inconsistently.[x] [emphasis added]
Second, regarding Marie-Paule Pileni, the editor-in-chief who resigned from her post after the nanothermite paper was published, PM writes:
She immediately resigned her position at the chemical physics publication. ?They have printed the article without my permission,? she explained to the news site, according to a translation. ?I cannot accept that this topic is published in my journal. The article has nothing to do with physical chemistry or chemical physics, and I could well believe that there is a political viewpoint behind its publication. If anyone had asked me, I would say that the article should never have been published in this journal. Period.? (pg. 59-60)
Note that Ms. Pileni's objection to the paper?much like PM's treatment ? lacks any scientific arguments at all. In addition, her entire objection is problematic for several reasons:
However, as Erik Larson points out:
[H]ow can the ?editor-in-chief? be unaware? Was she simply trading her name for a title and a paycheck, and paying no attention to what was being published at her journal?[xi]
Moreover, what most people in a position of authority would do if their subordinates went around them, would be to fire the subordinates, or protest to the publisher ?not resign, themselves.
In an interview with Gregg Roberts, a 9/11researcher and one of the authors of the nanothermite paper, had this to say regarding Pileni's statements:
This last criticism is perhaps the only valid criticism Pileni makes. The paper in no way advances the frontiers of the science of chemical physics, so in that sense, she is correct. However, the paper does describe an application of the principles of chemical physics to identifying the composition of a specific set of samples.
Obviously, as the authors of the paper, we had our reasons for submitting their article to this particular journal: (1) No one would have to pay to read the article since it is an open access journal. (2) The editors were willing to run a 25-page article, which is extremely long for a scientific paper. (3) The editors and the reviewers at their disposal could be expected to have the expertise necessary to evaluate whether the principles of chemical physics and the instruments used in the study were used appropriately to make the inferences that were reported. (4) Anyone familiar with efforts to publish evidence that contradicts the official story of 9/11 is also familiar with "political viewpoints" that prevent publication. A record of the rejections of papers or articles is not published or discussed in the publications responsible for the rejections.
This point is not mentioned in PM's book ? and likely for good reason. Although Ms. Pileni claims the topic of the paper was outside her field of expertise, a review of her past work shows she in fact has an extensive background in these very fields. As summarized by Dr. Niels Harrit:
After resigning, she did not criticize our paper. Rather, she said that she could not read and evaluate it because, she claimed, it lies outside the areas of her expertise. But that is not true, as shown by information contained on her own website (http://www.sri.jussieu.fr/pileni.htm).
Her List of Publications reveals that Professor Pileni has published hundreds of articles in the field of nanoscience and nanotechnology. She is, in fact, recognized as one of the leaders in the field. Her statement about her ?major advanced research? points out that, already by 2003, she was ?the 25th highest cited scientist on nanotechnology? (http://www.sri.jussieu.fr/pileni.htm).
Since the late 1980s, moreover, she has served as a consultant for the French Army and other military institutions. From 1990 to 1994, for example, she served as a consultant for the Société Nationale des Poudres et Explosifs (National Society for Powders and Explosives).
She could, therefore, have easily read our paper, and she surely did. But by denying that she had read it, she avoided the question that would have inevitably been put to her: ?What do you think of it?? [xiii]
Ms. Pileni's story simply doesn?t add up. She very well could have (and likely did) read the paper, but chose not to provide any meaningful criticism of its content. Her tactics are essentially the same as PM's, which chooses to engage in merely smearing the ATM paper rather trying to deal with the scientific evidence presented in it.
It seems PM has failed to live up to the promises made about its new book.
Part 6: Seismic Spikes
Editor's note: This is Part 6 (see Part 5) of an extensive report by 9/11 researcher Adam Taylor that exposes the fallacies and flaws in the arguments made by the editors of Popular Mechanics (PM) in the latest edition of Debunking 9/11 Myths. We encourage you to submit your own reviews of the book at Amazon.com and other places where it is sold.
(Quotes from Popular Mechanics? book are shown in red and with page numbers.)
The final section of PM?s chapter on the Twin Towers addresses a theory that is not widely believed among members of the 9/11 Truth movement: that large seismic spikes indicative of explosions occurred before the Towers collapsed. As PM explains:
On www.whatreallyhappened.com, the Web site references a graph showing the readings over a 30-minute span. Measured over such a long time period, the collapses do appear as sudden, momentary spikes. But when shown on a more detailed graph covering a 40-second span, it is clear there was sustained seismic activity for the duration of the collapses. (pg. 62)
PM?s assessment corroborates the findings of the Lamont-Boherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University.[i] However, the point that there was not just one sudden seismic spike at Ground Zero has been noted by other supporters of the 9/11 Truth movement as well.[ii]
In refuting a claim made by very few members of the movement, PM also refutes an argument that several other defenders of the official 9/11 story have made: that any explosives used on 9/11 would have been detected by seismographs. As PM writes (quoting seismologist Arthur Lerner-Lam):
?Demolitions are typically very small explosions,? Lerner-Lam says. ?And, you wouldn?t record them anyway because they?d typically be aboveground, and too small to observe.? (pg. 63)
This admission in PM's book is noteworthy, as several ?debunkers? have in fact argued that the absence of seismic spikes indicates that the Towers were not demolished with explosives.
9/11 researcher Jim Hoffman has confirmed that seismographs do not always record explosions from demolitions:
[This] assertion contrasts with this description of the Aladdin Hotel demolition:
But with the charges positioned aboveground instead of within the earth ... the Aladdin implosion didn?t even register on the nearby seismograph at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, according to geology professor Dave Weide.
Clearly, a demolition's seismic signature, like its other aspects, is a function of its design. Staggering the detonation of hundreds of charges over time would minimize explosives-induced ground vibrations, which would probably be eclipsed in any case by the relief of strain as tens of thousands of tons of the Towers? upper sections were severed from their bases, and by the much larger vibrations caused by rubble hitting the ground.[iii]
Although it is debatable whether or not the seismic readings from 9/11 indicate that explosives were used,[iv] it is evident that seismic spikes do not always occur in a demolition. Therefore, PM's final chapter on the Twin Towers does not contradict the 9/11 Truth movement's case for controlled demolition.
[In Part 7 of this monthly series, Taylor refutes the arguments made by Popular Mechanics about the destruction of WTC Building 7. Look for Part 7 in the October edition of the Blueprint newsletter.]
[i] ?Seismic Waves Generated by Aircraft Impacts and Building Collapses at World Trade Center, New York City.?; http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/LCSN/Eq/20010911_WTC/WTC_LDEO_KIM.pdf ; by scientists of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, Palisades, N.Y.
[iii] Quoted from: http://911research.wtc7.net/reviews/blanchard/index.html
[iv] This article provides analysis that shows the seismic signals may indicate the use of explosives: http://www.journalof911studies.com/volume/2009/MacQueen_EarlyEarthShake.pdf
Part 7: WTC 7 Fire and Column Failure
Editors Note: This is Part 7 (see Part 6) of an extensive report by 9/11 researcher Adam Taylor that exposes the fallacies and flaws in the arguments made by the editors of Popular Mechanics (PM) in the latest edition of their book Debunking 9/11 Myths. We encourage you to submit your own reviews of the book at Amazon.com and other places where it is sold.
(Quotes from PMs book are shown in red and with page numbers.)
The Popular Mechanics chapter regarding the mysterious collapse of WTC 7 shows itself to be no more promising than its previous chapter on the Twin Towers. PM begins this section by summarizing the history of the controversy surrounding Building 7 and the numerous investigations carried out regarding its collapse. PM correctly notes that many agencies were located in the building as tenants, including the Secret Service, Central Intelligence Agency, Department of Defense, Internal Revenue Service, Securities and Exchange Commission, and New York City?s Office of Emergency Management. i The chapter discusses the initial FEMA investigation and how, after FEMA failed to provide an explanation for Building 7s collapse, the task was then handed over to NIST. PM touts the NIST report on Building 7 as having finally proved the building was not destroyed with explosives. Contrary to PMs assertion that the reason for WTC7s collapse is less complicated and even more remarkable (pg 66) than controlled demolition, it is apparent that the cause of collapse is still demolition, and that the NIST WTC7 report utterly fails to provide a reasonable explanation of what actually caused the collapse of the building.
The first section of PMs WTC7 chapter mainly discusses the fire and damage to Building 7 and how this supposedly caused the building to collapse. Here is a summary of what NIST claims caused the collapse of WTC7:
However, each of these points in this fantastic scenario is problematic:
Certainty of impending collapse
David Ray Griffin noted in The Mysterious Collapse of WTC Seven: Why NISTs Final 911 Report is Unscientific and False: The Mysterious Collapse of WTC Seven: Why NISTs Final 9/11 Report is Unscientific and False:
WTC 7 Wreckage Pile
PM?s next section discusses the actual collapse of WTC 7 and the condition of the wreckage pile after it collapsed. It creates the impression that both of these issues can be explained by natural means rather than demolition. As we shall see, this is simply not the case, as with virtually all of PM?s arguments against demolition.
PM rehashes its previous arguments that most of the collapse of WTC 7 occurred inside the building, and was hidden from sight. They also argue that it is reasonable that Building 7 collapsed straight down instead of toppling like a tree. To support this, they cite Protec Demolition Company employee Brent Blanchard, who offers two reasons why Building 7 collapsed straight down:
After more than two seconds of free-fall acceleration, in which the building fell straight down for 100 feet (the key point presented by AE911Truth, which remains completely unaddressed by Blanchard), the upper part of WTC 7 may have had enough inertia to destroy the lower part of the building, but this free fall must be explained by Blanchard ? without the use of explosives.
The two arguments that are presented are ?red herrings?: a) there were no lateral forces to knock Building 7 over and b) the building was mostly air by volume. Both of these arguments are problematic.
If buildings that are [mostly] air ? virtually all modern office buildings ? can only collapse straight down, one has to wonder why demolition companies are paid millions of dollars to engineer straight down collapses with hundreds of carefully placed and precision-timed explosives. ii
Clearly Blanchard?s arguments fall well short of providing reasonable explanations for why Tower 7 collapsed the way it did. However, in order to further promote their case that there was nothing unusual about Building 7?s collapse, PM notes that the rubble pile was not exactly ?neat,? since nearby structures such as the Fiterman Hall and the Verizon Building were structurally damaged by debris from Building 7. While it is true there was damage to surrounding structures, this may have simply been due to the fact that WTC7 was a particularly large structure. No building the size of Building 7 had ever been demolished before, and the structures next to the building were very close.
The fact that Building 7 damaged some of the surrounding structures does not negate the notion that the building was brought down through controlled demolition. The majority of the building?s debris clearly landed in its own footprint ? a signature of controlled demolition, which fire has never accomplished in any other high-rises, though there have been many larger, hotter, and longer-lasting fires.
In fact, the FEMA report had this to say about Building 7?s debris pile:
?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. iii
PM continues to criticize the 9/11 Truth movement?s analyses of Building 7?s collapse by claiming that
NIST charted the building?s collapse as it fell 18 stories, until the roofline disappeared behind neighboring high-rises. The agency separated the visible collapsed time into three distinct sections: Stage 1, which lasted 1.75 seconds, corresponds to the initial buckling of the outside columns and the start of the north face?s descent. In Stage 2, lasting 2.25 seconds, the building?s shell fell 8 stories, or 105 feet, in a ?free fall drop.? NIST agrees that the exterior fell at gravitational acceleration during this stage, noting that ?the columns provided negligible support to the upper portion of the north face.? In Stage 3, the upper section of the building encountered resistance from the debris pile below, and it took 1.4 seconds for the northwest corner to fall 130 feet and vanish from view. ?The collapse time was approximately 40 percent longer than that of free-fall for the first 18 stories of descent, the report concluded.The detailed analysis shows that this increasing time is due primarily to stage one in which column buckling is just beginning and gradual increases in displacement and velocity were observed.(pg. 76-77)
Here we have PM finally acknowledging (after its initial public denial) that Building 7 did fall at free fall for at least a portion of its collapse. However, the writers simply dismiss this fact without any analysis. They also fail to mention that a member of the 9/11 Truth movement, physicist David Chandler, had publically embarrassed NIST into this admission in the first place with a very precise analysis. iv
Both PM and NIST claim that the buckling of the lower floors is what caused the 2.25-second period of free fall. However, this does not at all explain this anomaly of the building?s collapse, as noted by mechanical engineer Tony Szamboti, who gives several reasons why neither the Twin Towers nor Building 7 could have collapsed at the rate that they did without explosives:
The minimum resistance during buckling is a function of the plastic moment and the unsupported length of the column. In a one-story unsupported length of the Twin Tower box columns, it was approximately 25% of the yield strength of the column. For the wide-flange columns in the core it was lower, at about 14% of yield. The wide-flange core columns at the 98th floor of the North Tower had a minimum factor of safety against gravity of 3 and the perimeter box columns a minimum factor of safety against gravity of 5. The core columns would have to buckle over one story with their moment connected beams at each floor, so they would provide a minimum resistance during buckling of about 42% of their load. A case could be made that the perimeter columns initially buckled over two stories and thus their resistance would be 12.5% of yield, so they would have still provided a resistance of 65% of their load. The load split between the core and perimeter was 42% core and 58% perimeter. The resistance during buckling would thus be (0.42)(0.42) + (0.58)(0.65) = 0.55. So the resistance to the actual load during buckling would have been a minimum of about 0.55g? Additionally, WTC 7 could not come down in freefall while its columns were buckling for the reasons I showed above, and it didn?t start to tilt over until it was about 60% of the way down and well beyond that initial 8-story (100-foot) freefall. v
Thus, since the columns could not possibly have lost all of their strength from buckling, it is impossible that Building 7 could have collapsed in a natural way in free fall at any time during the collapse. This clearly implies that some sort of external force was used to remove the column strength, which could only have been explosives, in a comprehensively placed and synchronistically timed controlled demolition.
To finish up this section of their book, PM claims that Building 7 could not have been destroyed with explosives for two reasons:
Both of these arguments are seriously flawed. In regard to the first point, NIST?s simulations only cite RDX as the likely explosive that was used in the building. However, as many of the most prominent 9/11 researchers have pointed out, thermite was the most likely material used in the building, given that there was evidence for thermite found in the rubble pile (several tons of molten iron and melted steel beams that fire can?t account for) and in the WTC dust (several tons of small iron spheres that jet fuel and fires can?t account for). Also, thermite is not an explosive but a much quieter incendiary, so the cutting is done with heat rather than expanding gases. It means that fewer explosives would have to be used to bring the buildings down, making it a much quieter operation that is ideal for a covert demolition. However, as we previously saw, both PM and NIST dismissed the idea of thermite being used simply because they felt it would have been too difficult to secretly place enough thermite in the building. This is a thoroughly unscientific argument, and NIST?s dismissal of thermite purely based on this argument is groundless. A real investigation would reveal that operatives could have had access to the core columns through the elevator shafts under the guise of elevator repairs in the months prior to 9/11 for instance ? and access to perimeter columns via planned tenant vacancies ? both of which are quite well documented in the Twin Towers.
9/11 expert David Ray Griffin says, regarding this particular argument:
E]ven if NIST's argument were true, it would prove nothing. NIST?s assumption that explosives would have been focused especially on Column 79 is based solely on its own argument? that this was the critical column, the failure of which would have caused the entire building to collapse. Prior to NIST?s report, the notion that anyone planning to bring down WTC 7 would have concentrated the explosive material on this particular column had apparently not occurred to anyone. Accordingly, even if NIST?s argument here is correct ? that the windows that would have been broken if NIST?s scenario had been enacted were not broken ? it is a circular argument, based solely on NIST?s own scenario, not that of people who claimed that WTC 7 was brought down with explosives. It is thereby a strawman argument, disproving an unlikely hypothesis of its own creation that diverts attention from the more likely hypothesis proffered by critics of the official account. NIST?s argument does not, therefore, do anything to undermine the contention that the building was deliberately demolished. vi
As such, window breakage did occur in WTC7, suggesting that explosives of some type were used. As Griffin also notes:
[M]ore than one witness described windows as breaking at the time the building started to come down. Peter Demarco of the New York Daily News said: ?The building?s top row of windows popped out. Then all the windows on the thirty-ninth floor popped out. Then the thirty-eighth floor. Pop! Pop! Pop!? A New York University medical student said that ?it looked like there was a shockwave ripping through the building and the windows all busted out. NIST?s argument about window breakage is clearly bogus. vii
As for PM?s second argument, it fails for the same reason cited above, which is that NIST only posits explosives such as RDX being used (instead of thermite). Moreover, PM and NIST?s entire reasoning goes against standard investigation practices, since the sound of an explosion is not the defining factor in determining whether or not explosives were used, as noted by the NFPA 921 Guide for Fire and Explosive Investigations:
Although an explosion is almost always accompanied by the production of a loud noise, the noise itself is not an essential element in the definition of an explosion . The generation and violent escape of gases are the primary criteria of an explosion . viii
PM?s appeal to NIST was evidently a major error on PM?s part, as NIST utterly fails to show that Building 7 could not have been brought down through controlled demolition.