Demolitions were neither necessary nor sufficient to bring down the World Trade Center

Demolitions were neither necessary nor sufficient to bring down the World Trade Center

 

The main beneficiary of erroneous stories about 9/11 is George W. Bush–as this administration clearly recognizes, since it has resisted at every step of the way every investigation of every aspect of the plotting behind the attacks.

Former National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice

It has not resisted–if you notice–the circulation of obviously bogus narratives, the assertion that no plane hit the Pentagon or that the World Trade Center was brought down by demolitions. Disinformation and misinformation discredit and impede genuine investigating. Without going at this point into whether some “conspiracy theorists” may be getting a little quiet help from people close to the administration, it is still necessary to keep informing the public that there was no good reason for these stories to get off the ground in the first place.

Let’s take the slightly more colorable story of the World Trade Center.

(Note: some of the wilder narratives could be corrected by the release of documents in ongoing litigation about the WTC, but the administration opposes any release. One factor may be that major insurance carriers stand to be affected by the litigation, including the company with which the president’s brother is associated.) A typical assertion is that no fire “from jet fuel” is hot enough to “melt steel.”

HCC

 

Okay, let’s start there. One operable term is the chemical term “thermite,” defined as either the reaction of aluminum and iron oxide, or the combination of two such materials. A thermite reaction produces fires so hot as to be capable of burning almost all building materials and certainly capable of softening steel. That’s why this reaction is used in grenades and why construction workers avoid boring aluminum machinery through rusting steel layers, while morons who think they want to make a bomb at home are eager to experiment with same.

A go-to tech expert provides a layman-comprehensible explanation:

“ . . . Thermite reactions are usually powdered iron (rust? not sure) and powdered aluminum. Piling rusty steel wool in an aluminum pot won’t do. In fact, the fineness of the powder determines how fast the reaction goes (the finer and more thouroughly mixed, the faster and thus hotter.) BTW, this is the same reaction in disposable hand-warmers available for a buck each at your local outdoors store (coarse powder hence slow reaction hence warm hands not pants on fire.)

. . . I think the conventional wisdom (per engineering studies released about a year after the disaster) is correct (as far as anyone knows) and goes like this:

Building fires traditionally burn hotter than 900 F, which is roughly the temperature that steel softens. (It’s not necessary that the framework melt, just that it start to droop.) This is true in wood structure fires and in most offices, since almost everything in an office burns (carpets, paneling, laminates, paper etc; not sheetrock, glass, steel cabinets, etc). Of course adding an almost-full load of kerosene (which is basically what jet fuel is) makes a faster & hotter fire.

Structural steel is ALWAYS insulated to increase the time before it starts to droop. This increases the chance of (a) extinguishing the fire or (b) evacuating occupants before structural failure. I’m sure you’re aware of published rumors that the insulation was inadequate, due to crooked inspections during construction. That seems unlikely to me; life safety issues aren’t nearly as malleable as other codes, but it is New York: go figure.

In any case, the insulation only slows the heat flow (rate of heating), and if a hot fire is continued long enough the steel will lose its structural integrity. The process that apparently no one anticipated (designers, fire consultants, bin laden, tom clancy) was the so-called “pancaking”, that is, after the first few floors collapsed, the whole mass of rubble fell ten to twelve feet, and had enough momentum when it hit the next floor that the floor structure (poured concrete on steel pans attached to the central and peripheral pillars) stripped away from the supporting pillars, and added to the downard mass. (The internal pillars also crumpled due to uneven stresses as the whole mess fell.) I’ve seen videos, supposedly at real-time speed, in which the mass of rubble was not in free-fall, but was hesitating a moment at each floor; the apparent time for each floor to collapse was remarkably similar for the different floors on the way down.

. . . The fact it took a half hour or so for each building to collapse argues against explosives as a cause. The terrorists were just trying to burn up a few floors, and got an outcome far beyond their wildest dreams.

. . . Please continue to pound the neocon reich. How can the sane republicans be encouraged, against the elephantine herd instinct, to support fiscal responsibility, limited government, the rule of law instead of the Fuererprinzip, etc? That’s where political bogs should be going – uniting right-minded Americans from both sides of the aisle in defending our heritage of freedon. (Cue the Sousa, fireworks, angel chorus)

Happy Independence Day!  God Bless America!”

Two quick comments here, to highlight.

One:

As the informant recaps with clarity, it is not necessary for steel to “melt” to collapse. Softening and bending would suffice. We’re talking about skyscrapers.

Two:

This informant, like experts including Professor Astaneh at the University of California, surmises that the tiered team of skyjackers may well not have predicted accurately.

Possibly they thought they would topple the towers, Babel-like, onto the U.S. Stock Market, a magnified real-life enactment of old B-movie posters of biblical destruction.

However, it seems likely that at least some of their backers knew better–including whoever timed the attacks, before the towers were fully loaded up with employees for the day. (‘Controlled’ yes, in some sense; ‘demolitions’ no.) It might be added that indications of thermite reactions were indeed found in the debris; it would have been impossible to bore a 757 into a steel-laden skyscraper without producing thermite reactions. Presumably more would have been found, but Mayor Giuliani, Gov. Pataki, and Bernard Kerik marshaled a precipitant disposal of the World Trade Center materials possibly including the ‘black boxes’ from the two planes.

Giuliani

Note to journalists at the New York Times and elsewhere: current attacks on the New York Times are not attacks on revealing information; they’re attacks on information. This White House is not opposed to leaks; it is opposed to investigation. But the story of White House ‘supervision’ of financial surveillance via a major contractor and lobbying firm, Booz Allen Hamilton, has to wait. For now, it is important to point out that this White House also benefits from ignorance that cannot distinguish between a chemical reaction and a ‘bomb.’

 

[This article, deleted by the system among hundreds of articles and blog posts in summer 2011, is re-posted using archives and Word files.]

This entry was posted in Blog, Featured. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *