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(deseret news)   Physics professor thinks thermite was present in WTC collapse, gives interesting reasons   (deseretnews.com) divider line
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35061 clicks; posted to Main » and Fandom » on 12 Apr 2006 at 11:45 AM (16 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook



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2006-04-12 3:12:44 AM  
I've seen a lot of conspiracy theories about the WTC collapse debunked, but can anyone find any flaws in what this guy says about the evidence for thermite and sulfur?
 
2006-04-12 3:18:15 AM  
omg totally
 
2006-04-12 3:25:18 AM  
I sure wish they hadn't sold off the steel to the Chinese so immediately.
 
2006-04-12 3:29:14 AM  
There sure seemed to be a big hurry to dispose of the building remains in a way that precluded further scientific examination.
"We don't need to examine your steenkin' theories"
 
2006-04-12 3:32:31 AM  
can anyone find any flaws in what this guy says about the evidence for thermite and sulfur?

Sure. He is basically saying "that video and those photos could be pictures of thermite melting structural steel". For this to be useful, he would need to say something like "thermite was absolutely the reason this structural steel melted", with physical evidence etc. But, like jonasborg said, no such evidence exists anymore.
 
2006-04-12 3:36:47 AM  
steel eating thermites?

Now that's a great conspiracy!
 
2006-04-12 3:59:26 AM  
Pyrosx: Sure. He is basically saying "that video and those photos could be pictures of thermite melting structural steel". For this to be useful, he would need to say something like "thermite was absolutely the reason this structural steel melted", with physical evidence etc. But, like jonasborg said, no such evidence exists anymore.

Yah, but I was wondering if any physics/engineering types on TF could point out possible causes (other than thermite) for the things he mentions.
 
2006-04-12 5:24:08 AM  
Vin Diesel: Yah, but I was wondering if any physics/engineering types on TF could point out possible causes (other than thermite) for the things he mentions.

I'm not an engineering type and only 'dabble' in physics, but it has been pointed out numerous times that the impact of the planes is likely to have damaged the structural integrity of the steel. Clearly, damaged steel is much more likely to collapse, but it might not melt at a lower temperature. However, the 'yellow molten substance' in the video does not have to be steel at all. It is certainly not neccessary for the steel in the towers to have melted to explain the collapse of these towers. So all in all I find it hard to see why this 'video-evidence' (and you just know it will be some crappy lo-res home-cam shot) leads to the conclusion that thermite has been used (implying a conspiracy). The really good scientists tend to focus on what is immediately provable or probable and not construct an entire chain of reasoning on very tentative evidence.
I am going to give this professor a C- overall.
 
2006-04-12 8:00:01 AM  
Ooh. Gone green. Get your tin foil hats and asbestos suits on.
 
2006-04-12 8:22:45 AM  
Something caused pools of molten steel, Jet fuel and office furniture can't do that...

Dozens of hot spots were mapped, the hottest being in the east corner of the South Tower where a temperature of 1,377 degrees F was recorded.
This is, however, less than half as hot at the molten steel in the basement.

The fire necessary would have to dwarf this one
[image from godamonginsects.com too old to be available]
 
2006-04-12 8:28:22 AM  
IsayIsay: the conclusion that thermite has been used (implying a conspiracy).

Well, if you mean a conspiracy with US peeps, I don't see why that's necessary (there was of course a large al qaeda conspiracy)--why couldn't someone in their group have planted thermite? The WTC was huge and many thousands of people worked there and visited, and aside from the parking garages I don't remember security being that tight from the few times I stopped by.

I think I remember hearing that once a single floor collapsed in the tower, the whole thing would collapse, because no floor was designed to hold the weight of another floor (so one floor collapsing would automatically bring all of them down, unless I'm misunderstanding something). You wouldn't have to melt much of the steel or plant thermite in too many places to do that, I'd think (though someone with expertise may well correct me).

And what are alternative explanations for the sulfur in the steel and the rest of what he mentions?

I was hoping someone could point out actual reasons the guy's wrong, but tinfoil hat jokes are ok too (though they won't put much of a dent in his thermite argument).
 
2006-04-12 8:50:39 AM  
Several simple facts:

1 - The structural strength of steel is almost HALFED at 1000 degrees (about 60%).

2 - Much of the insulation was knocked off the beams at the area of impact. Fire can now directly heat the beams.

3 - The planes tore out much of the structure (giant holes in building), meaning the remaining beams carry MUCH more of the load of the building above. Twice the load, half the strength. Each beam that fails causes the remaing load to be distributed to the beams still there, increasing their load to increase still further.

4 - There was an intense fuel started fire which had lots of other stuff to burn. Those offices were full of desks (many wooden), and HUGE amounts of office supplies (computer paper, copier paper, and lots of files, etc).
(Visit a lawyers office, brokerage firm, or accountants and tell me how many files they keep around)

I think the fuel from the wings traveled through the offices soaking into what it could, and what was left over sprayed out the far side of the building. All of that paper and wood is gonna burn. Weakened beams holding twice their normal load finally gave up. The collapse of a beam brings too much of a load on others on that floor and they fail. The floor falls to the one below carrying the weight of the building above. The floor below can't stop that load after it's accelerated through a fall of 15 feet. Chain reaction each floor piles onto the one below causing it to fail, etc.

Now we have the setup, carefully watch the collapse on video. Pay particular attention to the windows of the buildings.

Note the collapse starts at the impact floor and progresses downward. Windows below NEVER move until the collapse has dropped to their level. This is proof there were not bombs starting the collapse from below.

Since the collapse started at the crash floors does that mean that the terror pilots were so accurate that they could hit the exact floor with the bomb?

Or does it mean every floor had a bomb and they set off the right one?

In both cases the bomb theory is unecessarly complex and simply isn't required.

Large heavy plane with lots of fuel, office supply fed fire, no insulation on steel. Twice the load on half the steel and then weaken that steel in a fire.

Do the math.
 
2006-04-12 8:59:21 AM  
aecarol: In both cases the bomb theory is unecessarly complex and simply isn't required.

Except it's the only theory going to explain the sulfur and the pools of molten steel.
 
2006-04-12 9:01:26 AM  
BTW, I thought he meant thermite simply as a heat source and not as a bomb
 
2006-04-12 9:06:55 AM  
aecarol - well thought out. I never watched the videos that closely but I just might in the future.
 
2006-04-12 9:15:09 AM  
with all the extra stuff from the plane, and office furniture in there, any number of things could have been the yellow substance. you take a piece of sheet metal, heat it with a good lighter and it will turn bright red, a jet fuel fire can easily melt thinner gage steel.
 
2006-04-12 9:18:14 AM  
Thank you for the excellent post, aecarol. Even if thermite was present, it wasn't necessary to bring the towers down and it almost certainly wasn't the cause.
 
2006-04-12 9:19:34 AM  
Here's the prof's actual article, detailing his reasons
 
2006-04-12 9:22:49 AM  
BigTuna: Even if thermite was present, it wasn't necessary to bring the towers down and it almost certainly wasn't the cause.

No argument with that
 
2006-04-12 9:28:15 AM  
aecarol: Since the collapse started at the crash floors does that mean that the terror pilots were so accurate that they could hit the exact floor with the bomb?

From the full-length article I just linked:

Firefighter Edward Cachia independently reported:

[We] thought there was like an internal detonation, explosives, because it went in succession, boom, boom, boom, boom, and then the tower came down...It actually gave at a lower floor, not the floor where the plane hit. (Dwyer, 2005; emphasis added.)
 
2006-04-12 9:32:46 AM  
Vin Diesel

That professor makes a few good points but unfortunately they're buried between mountains of nuttiness. I'm intrigued by his observations of WTC7 and its eventual collapse. But the entire point #4 is bogus - skyscrapers would collapse due to fire all the time were it not for strict sprinkler regulations (or, alternately, if large commercial airliners regularly severed the risers that supply the sprinklers).
 
2006-04-12 9:39:28 AM  
BigTuna: But the entire point #4 is bogus - skyscrapers would collapse due to fire all the time were it not for strict sprinkler regulations (or, alternately, if large commercial airliners regularly severed the risers that supply the sprinklers).

I'll take your word for it--it sounds reasonable.

What else did he say that seemed nutty?
 
2006-04-12 9:54:03 AM  
IsayIsay: So all in all I find it hard to see why this 'video-evidence' (and you just know it will be some crappy lo-res home-cam shot)

It was clearer than I expected, even on google video. Here's the vid link from his article.
 
2006-04-12 10:13:39 AM  
Yeah, I can see there being thermite--as a matter of fact, I'd be surprised if there WASN'T thermite.

You have an aluminum airplane into a steel building.

Al + Fe2O3 => Thermite

Q.E.D.

/Will people cut out this WTC shiat? Who the hell cares anymore? We're about to nuke Iran. I think that that's a bit more imporatant than some whack-job conspiracy-theorist.
 
2006-04-12 10:27:14 AM  
oh no, not again. this guy may be sincere and have his facts straight, but that doesn't put him in the same area code as the truth.

First, he said, video showed a yellow, molten substance splashing off the side of the south Trade Tower about 50 minutes after an airplane hit it and a few minutes before it collapsed.

evidence based on the color of a metal in a video? no

Second, he cited video pictures showing white ash rising from the south tower near the dripping, liquefied metal. When thermite burns, Jones said, it releases aluminum-oxide ash.

again, using video to determine what a chemical might be? no

And even though WTC 7 was not connected to the Trade Towers in fact, there was another building between it and the towers and even though it was never hit by a plane, it collapsed. That suggests, he said, that it came down because a thermite fire caused its structural steel to fail.

no it doesn't. WTC7 was substantially damaged by 25 percent or more from falling debris and then a raging fire for hours weakend some trusses and it collapsed. see the fema report

he doesn't like to speculate about who might have entered the buildings and placed thermite and sulfur. But he said 10 to 20 people "in the know," plus other people who didn't know what they were doing but did what they were told,

he doesn't like to speculate, but he thinks it was a conspiracy to commit the worst crime of mass murder in American history, that not one of these murderers ever talked or slipped up at all, and none of the thousands of people in the building or the maintenance crew noticed large demolition charges on beams?

planes hit the towers and they collapsed. it happened. join the world of the rational and accept that terrible, and unique, things sometimes just happen.
 
2006-04-12 10:27:54 AM  
Vin Diesel: What else did he say that seemed nutty?

#5 Horizontal puffs of smoke and debris are observed emerging from WTC-7 on upper floors, in regular sequence, just as the building starts to collapse. (The reader may wish to view the close-up video clip again.) The upper floors have evidently not moved relative to one another yet, from what one can observe from the videos.

Simple explanation: Failure of the columns at the base causing the first floors to fall, causing the column on the floor above it to fail, causing the floor above it to fail, etc. in a falling-domino sequence. No need for timed explosives.

In addition, the timing between the puffs is less than 0.2 seconds so air-expulsion due to collapsing floors (see Chertoff, 2005) is evidently excluded. Free-fall time for a floor to fall down to the next floor is significantly longer than 0.2 seconds: the equation for free fall, y = gt2, yields a little over 0.6 seconds, as this is near the initiation of the collapse.

Drop a cafeteria tray on a dusty floor. You'll see that the puff of dust does not last the whole duration of the fall of th tray, but only when the tray is very close to the ground. His argument that the puffs should last for the whole duration of the floors falling does not hold up.
 
2006-04-12 10:34:14 AM  
albo: see the fema report

Since the conspiracy theorists reject the FEMA report, using it as an argument won't be very effective.
 
2006-04-12 10:34:16 AM  
Flab: Drop a cafeteria tray on a dusty floor. You'll see that the puff of dust does not last the whole duration of the fall of th tray, but only when the tray is very close to the ground. His argument that the puffs should last for the whole duration of the floors falling does not hold up.

I'm not completely clear on this, but wouldn't a better analogy be to drop a tray about a foot, down a dusty-air-filled tube the exact size and shape of the tray with holes to let out air as the tray falls? In which case wouldn't dust come out for the duration of the fall, as the tray compresses the air in the tube and forces dusty air out of the holes?
 
2006-04-12 10:36:45 AM  
Flab: Since the conspiracy theorists reject the FEMA report, using it as an argument won't be very effective.

Citing specific and effective rebuttals to this prof's arguments would work, I think. What do conspiracy theorists reject about the FEMA report (other than the sterling reputation of FEMA)? Is that the one that the firefighter's professional journal called a "half-baked farce" or was that a different report?

/I only check in on this stuff every so often, not up on all the kinks
 
2006-04-12 10:37:53 AM  
Since the conspiracy theorists reject the FEMA report,

yeah, they reject the facts and logic that won't lead them to the conclusion they've already reached. it's almost like asking someone to give up religious beliefs.
 
2006-04-12 10:41:03 AM  
albo: yeah, they reject the facts and logic that won't lead them to the conclusion they've already reached. it's almost like asking someone to give up religious beliefs.

Assuming the conspiracy theorists are wrong, wouldn't it be more intellectually honest and effective to present actual rebuttals rather than ad hominem attacks?

Some of google's great defs of ad hominem:

# A fallacy that attacks the person rather than dealing with the real issue in dispute.

# an argument "against the man" or person. This is a device employed to attack not the issues but rather the one you are arguing with, especially on a personal level or basis. It is usually employed by those whose arguments are weak.

# when people can't find fault with an argument, they sometimes attack the arguer, substituting irrelevant assertions about that person's character for an analysis of the argument itself.
 
2006-04-12 10:41:43 AM  
You can spray for those, you know.
 
2006-04-12 10:43:43 AM  
wouldn't it be more intellectually honest and effective to present actual rebuttals rather than ad hominem attacks?

i do that all the time. i'm on all of these 9/11 threads trying to correct the ignorance and conspiracies. i'm sorry you think it's ad hominem, but it's just the same stuff is showing up all the time and none of these folks seem to want to accept any of the evidence. it's willful ignorance
 
2006-04-12 10:52:43 AM  
Vin Diesel: wouldn't a better analogy be...

That analogy assumes the whole floor fell at the same time. I don't know if WTC7's floors were in panels, like WTC1's and WTC2's, but even as Prof Jones says, it doesn't look from the video that the whole floors moved at once.

Re: FEMA report.
I'm not going to put words into their mouths, but from previous threads, any official document is viewed suspiciously.

FEMA report in question.
 
2006-04-12 10:54:38 AM  
albo: i do that all the time. i'm on all of these 9/11 threads trying to correct the ignorance and conspiracies. i'm sorry you think it's ad hominem, but it's just the same stuff is showing up all the time and none of these folks seem to want to accept any of the evidence. it's willful ignorance

I believe you, but I am actually interested in hearing stuff disproved. Some engineer last year on TF gave a good rebuttal to the "the floors fell too fast" argument, though I'm damned if I can remember details.

I do think a conspiracy or charges in the buildings would complicate things, and the least complicated explanation that covers the known facts (and doesn't need to fudge details to work) has my vote.. whatever that explanation turns out to be. Sulfurized thermite in whatever form would at least clear up a few mysteries about the sulfur, high temperatures and molten metal.
 
2006-04-12 10:59:53 AM  
I believe you, but I am actually interested in hearing stuff disproved

that's fine, and i'm not the engineer guy for that. i focus more on the absurdity aspect. but we do have folks who can answer the tech questions, and i hope they show up.

but for this guy, the fact that he departs from just the science of finding something and brings up the concept of charges being planted implies a greater conspiracy of unbelievealbe proportions (US/al-qaeda cooperation to kill citizens??) and a whole other chain of events that would have to happen, and it's just absurd.
 
2006-04-12 11:09:02 AM  
albo: and i hope they show up.

Not a civil engineer, but I'm here.
 
2006-04-12 11:15:07 AM  
Not a civil engineer, but I'm here.

and a canuck, i see. so at least you can't be accused of being part of the conspiracy. cool
 
2006-04-12 11:18:40 AM  
albo: and a canuck, i see. so at least you can't be accused of being part of the conspiracy.

That's what I want them to think.
 
2006-04-12 11:48:25 AM  
[image from img131.imageshack.us too old to be available]

Well blow me down!
 
2006-04-12 11:49:07 AM  
ALBO PLEASE

I want to say that the level of people who are trying to get the word out about the 9/11 truth movement are well intentioned but they don't know very much. As a person who researched the topic heavily, I'd like to talk to you about it.

First off, Building 7 couldn't have collapsed from fire alone, no building in the history of the world has collapsed from fire.

I'm not trolling, I like that you know your stuff ALBO and I'd like to talk
 
2006-04-12 11:50:22 AM  
[image from arete-eci.com too old to be available]

Read the interview with the MIT professor of engineering. He explains the collapse and the properties of steel when exposed to heat (even if not melting, it makes a huge difference). I will post a link when I get home later today.
 
2006-04-12 11:50:38 AM  
Summon Beartoy?
 
2006-04-12 11:50:58 AM  
Noone's explained to me, simply, how a plane engine can roll uphill for a couple of miles and remain intact.

I saw a map of the debris field. shiat doesn't just pop up in the air after a crash then fall down again.
 
2006-04-12 11:51:22 AM  
A Brigham Young University physicist

Kinda seems like a contradiction... like A Roman Catholic scientist.
 
2006-04-12 11:52:03 AM  
[image from images.amazon.com too old to be available]
 
2006-04-12 11:52:30 AM  
it was the butler in the pantry with teh candlestick
 
2006-04-12 11:53:22 AM  
Why did people think the Sun went round the Earth?
Because that's what it looked like.

"It looks like" is not science.
 
2006-04-12 11:54:43 AM  
JEWWWWWS!
 
2006-04-12 11:55:38 AM  
Also what about all the stocks that were sold short?

I tend to remember a blurb from a finance friend about investigations into the selling of amex, and some others the day before.

That story was quashed. You can tell by looking at the daily volume graphs of stocks, it's not that hard to do even with yahoo finance.
 
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