Journal of 9/11 Studies: Steven Jones and Leslie Robertson Interview Examined

Steven Jones, professor of physics, and Leslie Robertson, a structural engineer on the World Trade Center project, discuss the 9/11 collapses

Journal of 9/11 Studies

Note: This Journal entry by Gregg Roberts, associate editor of has been updated after some additional feedback by Arabesque.

On Oct 26th, 2006, KGNU Radio in Denver Colorado hosted a discussion between Steven Jones, then a professor of physics at BYU, and Leslie Robertson, an engineer involved in the original World Trade Center project, regarding the destruction of the World Trade Center towers on 9/11/01. The radio discussion was one part of a successful outreach effort for two 9/11 events that weekend in Denver and Boulder by the Colorado 9/11 Visibility group, including an article in the (Boulder) Daily Camera ( and a front page article in the Denver Post ( Annotated by Gregg Roberts, Associate Editor of 911Research


GR = Gregg Roberts

LR = Leslie Robertson

LR: The project was designed for the impact of a, what we call a low-flying, slow-flying Boeing 707, that was the largest aircraft of its time, actually the intercontinental version. We envisioned it much as was the case for the aircraft that struck the Empire State Building in the Second World War, the same condition, lost in the fog, i.e. an accidental impact of an aircraft into the building. It was not designed for high-speed impact from the jets that actually hit it.

GR: GR: Robertson should know that his statement about the 707 is not true. According to John Skilling, speaking after the basement bombing in 1993, “The buildings have been investigated and found to be safe in an assumed collision with a large jet airliner (Boeing 707 – DC 8) traveling at 600 miles per hour. Analysis indicates that such collision would result in only local damage which could not cause collapse or substantial damage to the building and would not endanger the lives and safety of occupants not in the immediate area of impact…. There would be a horrendous fire [but] the building structure would still be there.”8


HOST: Why did it fall so straight down?

ROBERTSON: Well, that's kind of the nature of that kind of failure.

GR: This statement is reminiscent of the pre-scientific Aristotle: "It's in the nature of things to fall.” Throughout this response (continued below) Robertson says “uh” and makes other stuttering sounds and false starts more than in any other statement during the show. He misspeaks, saying that burning a sofa creates smoke capacity.

Robertson offers no examples of “that kind of failure” of which he speaks so confidently.


LR: There’s no question that they would collapse. It would have been outside of [NIST’s] charge, as I understand it, at least, to have continued on.

GR: This follows in the footsteps of the Nuremberg defense: They were only following orders. The main difference is that Robertson implies that he is perfectly satisfied with the orders!


ROBERTSON: The next thing is, we talk about the molten metal, now, I, we, have not done any chemical analysis of what was there—

GR: FEMA did analyze two structural members that exhibited “unusual erosion patterns,” indicating “a severe high temperature corrosion attack on the steel, including oxidation and sulfidation with subsequent intragranular melting.”55 That is a pretty good description of what sulfur-enhanced thermite (thermate) would do to steel that was too far from the thermite to actually cut all the way through it.

To its credit, the New York Times reported this finding as “perhaps the greatest mystery yet uncovered in the investigation.”

To its discredit, NIST’s FAQ called molten steel "irrelevant to the investigation.”

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