How to Knock Down a Skyscraper
It’s really not that hard. That’s what nobody wants discussed, not Uncle Sam or the 9/11 alleged truth movement. Not when a big jet nearly full of fuel crashes into one at close to top speed and explodes against part of the main supporting structure. Not when steel beams fall hundreds of feet and crash into the side of a flimsy skyscraper across the way that burns fiercely and finally collapses into a heap of rubble. All this talk about the fires? The official story says fire primarily caused the collapses, which the alleged debunkers claim is impossible. In the absence of the peculiar cause of those fires, maybe so. How convenient is it to discount the crash impact, absorbed in a fraction of a second against the central columns of the Twin Towers? Those buildings were crippled by those explosive impacts, but might have survived for repair if it were not for the fires, which precipitated their collapse near the point of impact, where the supporting beams were relatively flimsy, not being expected to support as much weight as those at less lofty heights.
I listened carefully to the special series Gary Null did on how the buildings were done in. I’ve been deliberately avoiding the controversy, because I think there ought to be an independent investigation, but not along the lines the Truthers demand, which looks like a dead end and waste of precious time to me. Their theory in a nutshell is, the buildings must have been expertly demolished with explosives surreptitiously planted earlier by operatives paid off by traitors in power. Professor Steven Jones has fingered some nano-thermite the military had in the works. Occam’s Razor is useful here, the maxim that if a simpler explanation can account for something, it’s more likely than a more complicated explanation. I didn’t hear any accounting for the tons of unexploded nano-thermite Jones claims litters the rubble. How did it manage to survive unexploded? Does he mean to say this high-tech super explosive was so inefficiently detonated, tons of it didn’t explode and are to be found everywhere in the debris? What exactly did he find constituting evidence of nano-thermite? I heard no hard evidence for anything, except as is generally known, Uncle Sam has things to hide, what else is new? But that seems the rule for that 9/11 Truth movement. I’d think the Bush crowd covered their asses for incompetence and intelligence screwups, and kept the involvement of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan out of the news so they could punish Afghanistan for not agreeing to a deal for an important pipeline. Now the old Soviet mineral studies are making news, which US officials suddenly revealed, saying the country is a treasure trove of valuable minerals. There’s plenty of shenanigans to investigate, but there’s really no case that the whole disaster was planned and executed by the powers that be to stage a coup, i.e. an inside job. What took the cake for me so far in my research was the feeble attempt at debunking by Kevin Ryan of 911 Review, Manuel Garcia Sees Physics That Don’t Exist, of Manuel Garcia’s series of explanations of how the buildings came down on CounterPunch, which did a special report.
CounterPunch Special Report: Debunking the Myths of 9/11
Alexander Cockburn here assembles his two prime commentaries in a final, expanded essay, “The 9/11 Conspiracists and the Decline of the Left.”
Manuel Garcia Jr, physicist and engineer, presents his three separate reports, undertaken for CounterPunch.
Part One is his report on the Physics of 9/11..
Part Two (published here for the first time) is his report on the Thermodynamics of 9/11.
Part Three, Dark Fire, is his report on the collapse of the World Trade Center’s Building 7.
JoAnn Wypijewski wrote her essay “Conversations at Ground Zero” after a day spent with people at the site on 9/11/2006.
Garcia did a follow-up on Building 7, Thermal Expansion Downed WTC 7:
The Big Heat after NIST issued its report in August 2008. I recommend these articles to anyone who believes that Bush or his cronies had to be masterminding behind the scenes. In a way, since our politicians serve as inspiration to fight the empire they represent, in the name of all of us despite whatever each individual has to say about it, our leaders and their policies are chiefly responsible for what they call terrorism. The war on terror was old news, but it took on a much more public phase after these spectacular instances of blowback. Obama had his chance to redeem this nation, and deserve his Nobel Peace Prize, but his attacks on Pakistan are living up to his campaign war whooping, and now the heat is on in Afghanistan, with a surge of violence in Iraq postponing those withdrawal plans. But this post isn’t about foreign policy, and I’m just a skeptic about that, no kind of expert. I am, nonetheless, a scientist, not some lay person speculating on towers collapsing by some weird physics so hard to understand, there had to be some kind of thermite. Oxidized aluminum in an event of that magnitude, I’m supposed to believe required tons of thermite? Show me pools of molten metal, I’ll say that can happen when combining superheated gases under extreme pressure, hot aluminum, iron, steam. Metals absorb heat, so they can get significantly hotter than air temperatures in a fire, and their crystals start losing significant structural strength long before they start melting. I hear all this talk about the air temperature of a kerosene fire, as if jet fuel was the only fuel burning in those buildings. Metals will burn if they get hot enough, or if oxidation is catalyzed. When I hear talk about what can’t happen under such circumstances, I wonder if someone is blowing smoke, playing on public faith in experts asserting the counter-intuitive scenario of collapsing skyscrapers wasn’t the result of an act of war, because rogue elements in power pulled it off to stage a coup and start an endless war on terror
I have a nose for pseudo-scientific snow jobs. I attended Caltech, but decided to transfer because its computers back then were so primitive, and I wanted to study programming. My grades were not the reason, though once I was advised by a graduate General Relativity professor I was in danger of failing his course. I was a junior missing several prerequisites, but I wanted to study Einstein’s theories of relativity, so I took the class pass-fail and barely passed. I was not used to being out of my league. Caltech allowed that option, and gave out A+ grades then. I know, I got a few in math classes. But I digress, don’t mean to brag, but I’m making a point. I’m not easy to snow about physics, I’ll put it that way.
For a crowd screaming about ad hominem attacks, Kevin Ryan can dish it out with the worst of them. He can’t really refute the physics, so he ridicules Garcia as a government stooge twisting his joints, making up paradoxical yarns to explain the inexplicable, “spooky action at a distance,” “only imaginative conjecture at best.” I guess ridiculing someone as a stooge excuses one from the task of actually disproving his theories, which Ryan didn’t bother to attempt, though he thinks he did a bang up job, no doubt. He disproved his limited understanding of what Garcia tried to explain, like anyone who has no argument makes up and knocks down a straw man.
From the research of Steven Jones, we know that the thermite reaction likely played a role in bringing the towers down, and it would not be surprising if technology developed by LLNL was involved. Could that be why Manuel Garcia is so intent on seeing Physics that don’t exist, in order to avoid seeing links to technology developed by his employer?
These skyscrapers actually exhibit quantum behavior, as large multi-floor sections go from rest to a speed of 16 mph instantaneously!
If it was not already clear that Garcia never read NIST’s WTC report, we might think that he got his quantum leaps from them.
Garcia’s analysis of the WTC thermodynamics then begins with the removal of all of the fireproofing from all the steel, an unsupported assumption at best.
Did Ryan read what I read? All this grossly distorts Garcia’s work, straw man argument at best, and Ryan should know it. He surely knows about the law of conservation of momentum? What in a skyscraper is going to stop a gigantic sledgehammer crashing down with steadily increasing weight and speed? The ground, nothing else. If Ryan is a respected journalist in the Truther movement, I wonder why, if he is so bold as to engage in such “sloppy dishonesty,” which he blithely tags on Garcia. What else can I call deliberate misrepresentation in the name of science and truth? His piece is full of it. I could go on for pages about the differences between what Garcia says and what Ryan says Garcia says. For example, instantaneous and all have precise meanings in physics, and Ryan deliberately misuses them. The physics Garcia lays out is not mysterious or convoluted, unless one believes it was an inside job. Occam’s Razor tells me the Truthers have somehow managed to outdo the government, concocting theories even more unbelievable than Uncle Sam. I can understand the desire to believe the worst about the Bush gang, but I don’t even think they were unusual. Our political system reeks of corruption, dishonest dealing, power madness, hypocrisy, doublespeak, CYA, then, now, as usual. This is kind of an open secret; one overused euphemism is spin control.
Ryan makes a big deal about the lack of sufficient energy to cause that kind of damage, like knocking fire shielding off the central beams, claiming the available energy was much less than Garcia and NIST estimated. It’s not the total energy that matters, it’s the power applied to the area of impact, which for the duration of that sudden sharp change of momentum those beams had to absorb was considerable. Momentum is conserved, which means any loss of momentum by one mass has to be made up by disruption in another mass(es). That implies huge shock waves that would go all the way down to the bottom, triggering secondary waves and possibly explosions of generators. After burning for awhile, I don’t think it’s mysterious that somewhere support gave way in the area around the impact, starting the avalanche that collapsed the building in on itself.
It could be very distressing for some of these rebel leaders to realize that instead of “muckraking with a radical attitude” they have spent years meekly bolstering the status quo.
That’s Ryan blasting Alexander Cockburn and company, for publishing Garcia on CounterPunch. Maybe he ought to look in the mirror before lashing out. That’s tame compared to the hate mail Cockburn received attacking him for his position. I don’t agree with anyone on everything, not even Cockburn or Null, but Cockburn doesn’t deserve that, even though he is skeptical global warming is such a big problem. I think his point is it’s at most only one of many ecological crises looming created by industrial and military practices ignoring predictably dire consequences of their profit or destructive power over all mentality. It shames me as a scientist that scientists support these practices; they have the power to put a stop to all these abuses of science which that support makes possible. Just grow a backbone or conscience and call it out, colleagues. Some are, like Gary Null and other whistleblowing journalists and scientists, but they struggle to get some truth out while the mass media pumps out mainstream reassurances to trust the experts, they’re making such marvelous progress, everything is under control, not to panic or listen to fearmongers or quacks.
I can smell a snow job even if I can’t prove it, and I smell a rat in many sides of this sideshow. Maybe most amazing statement I heard on the Gary Null special was by San Francisco Bay Area architect, Richard Gage, founder of Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, comparing the relatively few floors with lighter supporting beams that initially collapsed above the impact to a Volkswagen crushing the Mack truck of 80,000 tons of solidly welded supporting beams below! What a misleading comparison. The mass of over ten floors moving at speed crashing into each weakened floor below? Which is the Mack truck, I’m puzzling? Especially since the gigantic wrecking ball kept getting heavier and moving faster all the while! Those floors broke off like toothpicks in rapid succession, probably made loud cracking sounds, not unlike explosions? Strong air pressure variations would have created all kinds of weird effects. Gage also claimed the upper floors disintegrated, so there wasn’t anything left to knock down the lower floors, must have been explosives! Where did they go? Where was he looking? There couldn’t have been much besides dust around the impact zone once it fell through, and it would be hard for any camera to track the mass crashing down ever faster. It’s hazardous to conclude much about the internal dynamics from views from the outside.
Richard Gage said 80,000 tons of structural steel would be the path of most resistance. Those tons weren’t standing together as a solid mass, but were supporting the entire building, a chain of welded beams under unimaginable loads and shearing strain. The path of least resistance was down. That’s the nature of gravity. There was some resistance, and some beams bounced or were thrown off to the side. Probably mostly the first few floors could resist milliseconds longer than the rest, but two-thirds is not near free fall acceleration, a peculiar exaggeration for a crowd saying there could be no resistance at all, so planted explosives had to clear the way. This professional architect made that claim, that the twin towers collapsed at about two-thirds of free-fall acceleration, so tightly synchronized explosives had to clear the way. Yet there was tons of unexploded super high tech top secret military nano thermite littering the debris? How well did that synchronizing go? Maybe it went just poorly enough to explain that missing third of free fall acceleration? If the way down was really cleared, that’s a big force factor missing, a good deal more than could be attributed to air resistance. I’m highly skeptical of these claims. Gage also exaggerated the melting temperature of iron, saying it was twice the temperature of the fire. Maybe he meant to say Fahrenheit, but he said iron melts at 3000 degrees Centigrade, which is nearly double 1535 degrees, almost 2800 degrees Fahrenheit. He misspoke, maybe. Otherwise that’s another peculiar exaggeration, though I haven’t heard of that mistake elsewhere, and Truthers usually say the fire was much cooler than 1000 Centigrade, which is plenty hot enough to weaken steel into putty and less than Gage’s calculation. Regardless, even at 600 degrees steel loses about half its strength (see graph).
The avalanche theory is ridiculous, Gage says. That’s ridiculous. There might have been significant resistance in the first few floors, but the speed increase of falling is nearly constant. Air resistance increases with speed, but the resistance of each floor had to decrease, until the bottom had to absorb all that energy, creating who knows what kind of hell. Not like a solar furnace, but could have melted anything, including metals. Some metals melt much cooler than others; tin and lead are used for soldering for that reason, besides being relatively cheap.
The point being, there was no Mack truck to provide resistance. The floors were punched out, becoming part of the sledgehammer, one by one; they couldn’t support each other. A building is more like a chain of supporting mechanisms, as strong as its weakest link, than a solid block. Skyscrapers have some redundancy and reinforcement, but not to stand up to those kind of shearing forces. I hear the towers were designed to withstand the impact of a plane crash. What kind of crash, accidental or deliberate? The initial impacts, and the heavy unbalanced load caused by the hole in the side and listing of the center beams around the impact site, put a lot of stress on the entire structure long before the avalanche came crashing down. The NIST report concentrated on how the cascade started because once that happened, the outcome was set; the path of least resistance was straight down. Where’s the mystery about that? This magical collapse was just a foregone conclusion once the fire finished the job the impact started. No further explosions were necessary to knock down those towers. This mythmaking isn’t helping anyone but the powers that be. What a useful distraction from real issues. Sure I could be wrong, but Gary Null has been exploited before by people using him to promote their own agendas, or steal from him. He’s a remarkable scientist and investigative journalist, but may be too idealistic about people who claim the progressive mantle. He’s skeptical of some such people, but others seem to get undeserved trust, in my opinion. I challenge Gary Null to allow me to defend my theories on his show. If there’s trouble finding a scientist to debate with the Truthers, I’ll do it. I don’t have much time, but I’ll find some for that. I agree with the idea of having an independent investigation, but why stop with what went wrong on 9/11/01? By the way, Manuel Garcia and most independent journalists support an independent investigation as well, regardless of their opinions on the involvement of Bush and his gang.
Another oddity is Truther hero Professor David Ray Griffin making a big deal of claiming cell phones couldn’t have been transmitting panic calls from 30,000 feet. I doubt there would’ve been panic until the planes had descended quite a ways, enough for passengers to realize something terribly wrong was going on. I’m not sure how close to the ground cell phones had to be in those days, but the panic calls probably weren’t made anywhere near cruising altitude.
What I especially find puzzling is how Truthers rationalize the jihad against the United States. Do they believe that’s all Bush’s fault? That predates Bush, and sure as hell wasn’t caused by his reaction to 9/11. Is this a partisan witch hunt, or what? Why is such an attack from extremist Muslims hard to believe? Gary Null hasn’t gone that far; he got convinced the towers couldn’t have been knocked down by the airplane crashes, so someone high up must have known what was in the works and made sure the buildings did come down. Chaos theory was in full swing, along with Murphy’s law. The towers were doomed when their central columns were slammed; it was only a matter of time before the relatively flimsy supporting beams up there lost too much strength, bringing all the floors above the impact to bear on the floor just below. That explains why all that material seemed to disappear; it was partially pulverized by that impact, and everything besides clouds of dust battered the rest of the building down, floor by floor. Where’s the mystery?