A while after this episode, I just popped into Book Etc on London Wall on my way home and as I was snouting through the bargain bucket I saw this:
You can’t fault these people for tenacity.
I bought a novel about two women and three children who staff a lighthouse of the Isle of Man in the 1830s.
Today Matt wrote the following guest post. It begins with an assessment of the proportion of professionals who doubt the consensus on 9/11, gives an overview of the report of one academic, and finally quotes some correspondence between a conspiracy theorist and a fire protection engineer involved in the official investigation into the collapse.
Time for the previously threatened 2nd guest blog from me, after a quick burst of commenting regarding the conspiracy theorists (on 9/11 and global warming) Flesh suggested I could produce a slightly longer piece on the 9/11 truthers. This was on the assumption that as an engineer I might have something intelligent to say!
So I started where all good research does now days and headed straight for google, without a great deal of difficulty I turned up the following blog.
This blogger seems to have made it his mission together the evidence which refutes the 9/11 nutters (sorry truthers). Now for a start this is something to bring joy to the rational engineer in me but also strengthens my faith in humanity a bit. So what does he have to say?
The front page starts with:
“Architects and Engineers
I guess a lot of you have heard about the website ae911truth where a group of individuals claim that what happened to WTC 1, 2 and 7 could not have happened. This is just a claim, because they have nothing to show for their allegation that it could not have happened the way it did. You won’t find any calculations that show how the NIST Report is wrong. On this site, you will find many structural engineers – those who actually know what they are talking about – explaining why the towers collapsed the way they did. So feel free to look at all the information I have gathered about the research done on the collapse on the towers. The research has been published in numerous engineering magazines and all over the internet on engineering sites (See the links on the right side of this site).
Only a handful of architects and engineers question the NIST Report, but they have never come up with an alternative. Although at first blush it may seem impressive that these people don’t believe the NIST Report, remember that there are 123,000 members of ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers) who do not question the NIST Report. There are also 80,000 members of AIA (American Institute of Architects) who do not question the NIST Report.
Although their field of expertise is not related to the construction of buildings – they don’t seem to have a problem with that over at AE911truth – there are also 120,000 members of ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) who do not question the NIST report. There are also 370,000 members of IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) who do not question the NIST report. There are also 40,000 members of AIChE (American Institute of Chemical Engineers) who do not question the NIST Report. There are also 35,000 members of AIAA (American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics) who do not question the NIST report. So who would you rather believe?”
To be fair this is a weak argument – I doubt he has cross-checked every member of all of these organisations against the 4000 signatories. However, even if you assume that the much heralded 4000 Architects and Engineers are members of these above mentioned professional bodies (which is by no means certain) then they make up a very small % of the professional community. For example if they are only Architects and Civil Engineers from America then they are 1.9% of those 2 institutions [4000/(123000+80000)], it isn’t even worth doing the sums for all of the professional engineering bodies as that adds on another 565,000. All in all these opening remarks seem to set out the case for ignoring the conspiracy lunatics and getting on with our lives. However, just in case I did delve a little deeper.
A brief review of the site turns up some interesting stuff in particular something that might have helped out poor old Mark Lawson when reviewing the 9/11 nutters film. Last year Dr Keith Seffen a researcher from Cambridge University published a paper refuting one of the key theories namely that the buildings must have been demolished with explosives because they fell straight down. He says it far better than I can summarise:
“The initiation part has been quantified by many people; but no one had put numbers on the progressive collapse,” Dr Seffen told the BBC News website.
Dr Seffen was able to calculate the “residual capacity” of the undamaged building: that is, simply speaking, the ability of the undamaged structure to resist or comply with collapse.
His calculations suggest the residual capacity of the north and south towers was limited, and that once the collapse was set in motion, it would take only nine seconds for the building to go down.
This is just a little longer than a free-falling coin, dropped from the top of either tower, would take to reach the ground.
The University of Cambridge engineer said his results therefore suggested progressive collapse was “a fair assumption in terms of how the building fell”.
“One thing that confounded engineers was how falling parts of the structure ploughed through undamaged building beneath and brought the towers down so quickly,” said Dr Seffen.
He added that his calculations showed this was a “very ordinary thing to happen” and that no other intervention, such as explosive charges laid inside the building, was needed to explain the behaviour of the buildings.”
Further details are available on the BBC article 9/11 Demolition Theory Challenged.
Something else I found on the site were copies of a number of papers and interviews from MIT. One in particular, The Collapse: An Engineer’s Perspective gives a reasonably simple and straight explanation of how the towers came to collapse without resorting to complicated science or engineering principles/jargon. It is very consistent with the substance of Dr Seffen explained above. I defy anyone sensible to read this and not conclude that there really is a wealth of evidence to support what we all saw on that day – Planes flying into buildings causing massive damage, huge fires and then a catastrophic collapse – it just isn’t very complicated.
Of course there are still plenty of people desperate to believe that there is a grand conspiracy to scare us all into allowing Bush and Blair to go to war. A particularly interesting exchange took place between one of the authors of an official report on the collapse (Professor Jonathan Barnett) and one of these theorists (Elias) which you can read in full on Elias’s site http://snipurl.com/3n3hq [www_aldeilis_net] but here are some parts that interested me.
You mean the numerous explosions’ testimonies were not ignored? The reports do not mention, as much as I know, these multiple testimonies. Nor were the witnesses invited to testify, as much as I understand.
You say that the collapse of the towers occurred “exactly as one expect from a fire”. Could you refer to examples of other buildings who collapsed in this way due to fire?
You say that there were no predetermined ideas. Yet the hypothesis of controlled demolition was not examined in spite of many elements which suggested this to have happened. Wouldn’t a thorough investigation look at all possibilities and attempt to verify which one fits best to the observations?
3 January 2007
Well, we did talk to eye witnesses. In our opinion the “explosions” were local events, not demolitions but rather the sound of structural failures.
As far as collapse mechanisms, these buildings were unique. There were no other built like them, how can I give you an example of another failure in identical structures? However, when one looks at structural failures in fires in unprotected steel structures (which is what we really had as the fire proofing was knocked off by the impact of the aircraft), you find exactly this kind of failure. The literature abounds with examples, take a look at the last 40 years of the NFPA journal and in almost every edition you’ll find an example.
We did meet with and talk to the number one controlled demolition man in the world; Mark Loizeaux. I don’t know where you get the idea we didn’t do these things. If you’d like, we can continue this by phone. I”m in Australia at the moment and my personal number is +61 – xxxxxxxx . As you see, I’m happy to respond.
2 January 2007
I was just speculating on the official story which is premised on the assumption that the 20+ floors including the floor where the aircraft on 9/11 hit, could by their gravitational weight pulverize the lower floors which were at about four times heavier, and all of that could be achieved at free-falling speed (which presupposes no resistance whatsoever from the lower floors) and in a symmetrical manner.
16 January 2007
Remember, its not the weight, but the momentum. The dynamic load is much greater than the static load which is why the building collapsed the way it did. Also, remember that although the columns on the lowest floors were much stronger than the ones on the upper floors, the transition from less strong at the top to strongest at the bottom occurs slowly through the height of the building. So a floor 1 % stronger than the one above needs to resist the impact of that floor plus all the load above that floor plus the momentum load.
The roughly symmetric failure (of course the top part of Tower 2 didn’t fall symmetrically), is to be expected as buildings just aren’t strong enough to fall any other way.
16 January 2007
As this exchange goes on the statements by Elias become more and more outlandish. Each time one of his questions is answered with a rational explanation something else is brought up, culminating with assertions about mysterious power outages and the ‘fact’ that there is no proof there were any hijackers – the US Government is defaming some innocent dead people apparently. In a moment of what I think is probably genius Professor Barnett tries to explain that many of the conspiracy theories and especially the one about the explosions are not required in order to support the ‘big’ theory that this was all cooked up the US government (and the Israelis with help from their lizard friends for all I know [Flesh adds: who is the conspiracy theorist? He's a former Mandate Palestinian whose parents had immigrated there from Nazi Germany. At some stage he got into anti-Zionism, left Israel in '62 and now writes - against Israel, among other things - at http://www.aldeilis.net%5D ):
Finally, I don’t see why you need to have explosives present to prove or disprove your theories. Why don’t you just assume that the buildings collapsed due to the impacts of the planes? That will not change your conspiracy theory one iota, but will eliminate the need for you to prove that explosives were in the building. You can then focus on the crux of your message instead of fighting an engineering battle that you are incorrect on.
17 January 2007
In my view this whole exchange is an object lesson in what happens when you try an engage with people whose ideas are based on belief rather than fact. Whatever evidence Professor Barnett puts there is some other unsubstantiated (lets be charitable and say part substantiated it makes no difference) or unconnected issue thrown up for him to refute. I can only salute him for the time he put in to responding to this stuff which even stretches to giving Elias his telephone number.
So what is the point of this engineer focussed rant? Well I am left thinking that if without much effort I can unearth all manner of compelling evidence/research which has common themes but has been put together by disparate organisations and people, is a conspiracy to fool us on this scale credible? I will leave you to make the decision for yourself but I know whose side I am on.