Steven Jones: Revisiting 9/11/2001—Applying the Scientific Method
In this paper I focus on the application of the scientific method to the study of what really happened on 9/11/2001, particularly in the destruction of the World Trade Center buildings. There is something here to look at in depth: this is serious business. It is not just “nutty fringe science” or “conspiracy theory” that can be rejected without even considering the data. There is need for scientific scrutiny as I hope to demonstrate in this paper. In fact my colleagues and I now feel that we have sufficient data to conclude that the collisions of jets with the two Towers are NOT sufficient to explain the complete and rapid collapses of both Towers and WTC 7. We conclude that the evidence is compelling that the destruction of the WTC buildings involved planted cutter charges (such as explosives and incendiaries). We will consider this evidence.
[....]Louis Alvarez set that example of not being afraid to voice unpopular hypotheses and then to proceed with experiments and encouraging others to do experiments to get an answer. That’s what we do in science, whether it’s popular or not. The idea of science is free inquiry, free speech and experiments to determine what is correct, what’s true. It is really not a matter of what is popular at any given time.
The Scientific Method
Consider the scientific method as it applies to the study of the events surrounding September 11, 2001. First we gather observations. Everybody has seen the collapse of the Towers. That’s just the first observation: the Towers did not topple over—they were completely destroyed. And then we add that several hours later, at 5:20 pm the same day, World Trade Center 7 collapsed. This was a 47-story skyscraper that was never hit by a jet, yet it collapsed straight down on the same day. Then we can time how fast the buildings collapse. The total time for the Towers collapse turns out to be around 10-14 seconds; for WTC 7 the fall time of the southwest corner is (6.5 +- 0.2) seconds. Many more interesting observations were witnessed that day and recorded including orange flowing material pouring out of the south tower minutes before the collapse. Dust and debris which were gathered for later analysis contain valuable information which we can observe and analyze. All these observations constitute hard physical facts and evidence.
[....]The Official Conspiracy Theory
In the case of 9/11, a model of reality was immediately presented without requiring anyone to do much thinking or work. This alone should make scientists skeptical of the official “theory.” Everyone was told that nineteen hijackers crashing planes into two towers caused the total collapse of three sky scrapers. Richard Cheney, shortly before the attack on Iraq, laid out the official theory:
All of that [the US military role of the 20th century] changed on September 11th… We saw on 9/11 nineteen men hijack aircraft with airline tickets and box cutters and killed more than 3,000 Americans in a couple of hours.
Is this the full story? Where were the famous US air defenses that day? Why do so many uncritically accept the “9/11 official story” that a few hijackers in each of four planes overpowered well-trained airline pilots using box-cutters who subsequently brought down three World Trade Center skyscrapers and damaged the Pentagon without being intercepted by a single military jet?
The rapid, symmetrical collapse of WTC 7
Consider the collapse of building seven, a 47-story skyscraper in the WTC complex which was never hit by a plane. We can learn a lot by measuring the time for descent of the southwest corner of the roof as it begins its steady drop to the ground. A simple way to perform this measurement yourself is to use a stopwatch and time the descent of the southwest corner of the roof from several different perspectives. Videos can be found at wtc7.net. Some activity in the central area of the building can be seen since a kink appears. Shortly after, the southwest corner of the roof begins a steady fall to the ground. The time has been measured to be (6.5 +- 0.2) seconds. (Below: WTC 7 before 9/11, and on the afternoon of 9/11/2001 after the collapse of the WTC Towers (WTC 7 still standing, right).)
Personally, when I first saw these videos at http://www.wtc7.net/ and noticed the straight-down symmetrical collapse of this building, my curiosity was roused as a scientist. Of course, you should observe the collapse yourself and consider if the rapid collapse of the building does not look a bit strange and worth further scrutiny.
Is 6.5 seconds a reasonable collapse time? For comparison, consider how fast a brick dropped from the corner of the roof would fall. How long does it take the brick to hit the ground? The answer is 6.0 seconds (and that’s in a vacuum). The roof fell at very nearly free-fall speed! How is this possible? There’s a lot of steel and concrete between the roof and the ground so the rapid fall immediately raises questions. After all, in science, we must consider conservation of momentum, a fundamental law of physics. I do like to teach physics, and conservation of momentum is one of my favorite topics.
We do have some structural engineers who are speaking out about the collapses of these buildings. For example, Joseph Phelps is on the editorial board for the Journal of 9/11 Studies. He said “the airplane couldn’t cause this… Something is cutting the columns, it’s called controlled demolition.” And two structural professors in Switzerland are quoted in the newspaper there. There is the reference Tages-Anzeiger, September 9, 2006. Prof. Hugo Bachmann stated:
“In my opinion WTC7 was with the utmost probability brought down by controlled demolition done by experts.”
We have a Scholars for 9/11 Truth and Justice group which you can find at http://www.stj911.org/. In fact you can join us, and I hope you consider doing so. The group now has over 350 members, many of whom are academics and engineers, professionals and scholars. We continue to study these data that I’m describing today.
A group (including me) extended an invitation to NIST to sit down with them and debate, we had a certain time and place. They declined. And we said “you name the time and place and we’ll sit down and talk” and they replied, paraphrasing: “a change in venue, a change in time, will not change our decision.” Most unfortunate.
Fall times for the WTC Towers
The collapse time of the South Tower was stated to be 10 seconds in the 9/11 Commission Report (p. 322). The free fall time of a brick dropped from the roof of the tower, which is 1368 feet high, would be 9.2 seconds. The NIST final report avoids all issues that occur after the tower is “poised for collapse”, including the remarkably short collapse time. By ignoring all observations that occur after the towers are “poised to collapse.” NIST inherently ignores molten metal evidence, collapse features which are not well described by the hypothesized failure mode, and most of the forensic evidence contained in the rubble, dust, and aerosols which were collected in the days and months after the collapses. Clearly, NIST is ignoring a lot of data, and that is not good science.
From experience you know that if you hit something stationary (like another car) while driving it will slow you down, right? This slowing from collisions is due to conservation of momentum and energy. Now which one of these blocks is going to fall faster? The one falling in air or the one falling onto the remaining 94 floors? Of course, the block falling in air is going to fall a lot faster! When you go through the calculation, which Ken Kuttler did, it takes a lot longer just because of conservation of momentum and energy. Ken’s calculations show numbers over 25 seconds for the complete collapse of Tower 1. That is a lot longer than free fall, and longer than the observed destruction of either Tower. If you add into the calculation a reasonable safety factor, Kuttler then concludes that WTC 1 would not have continued to complete collapse at all. This result agrees with Gordon Ross who says the initial collapse will actually STOP.
I want to emphasize that the NIST report could be called the official “pre-collapse theory.” Unbelievably, they explicitly state, “it does not actually include the structural behavior of the tower after the conditions for collapse initiation were reached.”, and “the results were a simulation of the structural deterioration of each tower from the time of aircraft impact to the time at which the building became unstable, i.e., was poised for collapse.” For twenty million dollars, one would think that NIST could have carried the collapse analysis 15 seconds further.
Now we’ll move on to the subject of molten material pouring out of the south tower before the collapse. If you look at this, you see yellow and orange material coming out of floor 80; you can see metal flowing out of the third and fourth windows over, of the North face, the north east corner or Tower 2.
The World Trade Center Dust and the Message of its Iron-rich Microspheres
The provenience of the dust sample used in my study is from an apartment at 113 Cedar St. in New York City. This fourth-floor apartment was the residence of Janette MacKinlay, and was approximately 100 meters or so from the closest Tower, the South Tower. During the collapse of the South Tower on 9/11/2001, the windows of this apartment broke and the apartment was flooded with dust. About a week later, she re-entered the apartment and began clean-up and preserved some of the dust in her apartment.
I collected iron-rich particles in the dust by pulling a magnet across the outside of a plastic bag containing the dust, pulling upwards to the top the magnetic material and pulling this aside for further analysis. These magnetic particles were, as one might expect, rich in iron. There was a surprising amount of this iron-rich material. Although others have reported the presence of iron-rich particles in the dust41, I was surprised to find the abundance of spherical particles in this iron-rich component some of which were considerably larger than previously reported. It was exciting to me to find for the first time iron-rich spheres up to about 1.5 mm in diameter in a 32.1-gram sample of dust.
Iron melts at 1538oC, so the presence of these numerous iron-rich spheres implies a very high temperature. Too hot in fact for the fires in the WTC buildings since jet fuel (kerosene), paper and wood furniture – and other office materials – cannot reach the temperatures needed to melt iron or steel. (Remember the wood-burning stove…)
In the thermite/thermate reaction, many molten droplets are typically produced, which form spheres upon cooling in air. They are mostly metallic iron mixed with such other elements which were present in the thermite-analog used. For example, using a mixture of aluminum powder, iron and sulfur, we find small spheres are produced in the thermate reaction. The spheres from the thermite reaction are observed (using X-EDS methods) to contain strong peaks for aluminum and iron, and for “thermate”; sulfur is also prominent. (Note that the iron-aluminum-sulfur spheres from MacKinlay’s apartment contained very low calcium, so the sulfur is evidently not from gypsum, a common building material). Thus we have chemical signatures for thermite variants, and we will compare the composition of the thermite-generated spheres with the spheres found abundantly in the WTC dust.
Other studies of the WTC dust, such as the USGS survey of and the R. J. Lee study also noted the presence of metallic spheres in the WTC dust, even iron-rich spherules.50 However, the origin of these iron-rich microspheres remained a mystery in earlier studies, which did not present any interpretation that includes the hypothesis that thermite-analogs might have been used in the destruction of the WTC skyscrapers and in the concomitant production of iron-rich spheres, nor did they report the iron-aluminum-sulfur combination in the spheres which our team has observed.
I will simply say in this paper that iron-aluminum rich spheres are seen in both the WTC dust and in spherules produced in thermite-control reactions. Details of the spherules and comparisons are beyond the scope of this paper but are available to me and our team of researchers, and will appear in a forthcoming paper. We consider the information borne by these previously-molten microspheres found in large numbers in the WTC dust, for they tell us much about what took place that remarkable day in history.
In closing, I wish to emphasize that there are now many capable individuals who are contributing to the quest for the truth about what happened on 9/11/01 and the possibility of insider involvement. For example, there are already over thirty-five peer-reviewed papers at the Journalof911Studies.com.
I wish to add my conviction that 9/11 researchers must not assume a defensive posture, supposing that we are just victims in a brutal chess game. Rather, we can increase awareness of the many lines of evidence that together imply that the 9/11 events involve much more than we have been told by the US government or by the media. Many of us sense a higher Source guiding our research and peace efforts.
I am confident that by working together and seeking the facts with determination, we will succeed in finding out the truth about 9/11. If we act before the next series of restrictions on our liberties, we should be able to achieve justice and peace as well.