Science Behind the Theory: An Inside Job


November 25, 2007

Science Behind the Theory: An Inside Job

By Stephen Demetriou

There has been peer-reviewed scientific research in the past couple of years that has provided significant support to the arguments of the 911 Truth Movement. First though, as there is a vocal minority[1] that resorts to the misleading charge that the movement’s cause is in pursuit of a far-fetched conspiracy, and it’s membership,[2] (and here,[3]) is comprised of nothing but conspiracy theorists, consider what a conspiracy theory actually is. When two or more individuals sit down and contrive to plot out some action, you have what is properly called a conspiracy. The investigators who set about to discover the plot and with the available evidence explain it, are indeed conspiracy theorists formulating a conspiracy theory. This is true in detective work; it is true in prosecutorial work.

The official hypothesis of the events of 9/11, that 19 amateur pilots penetrated the most heavily surveiled and fortified real estate on the planet, with no interference for a period of up to 90 minutes, and then crashed those planes into three separate buildings is itself a conspiracy theory. The official telling of the tale, as by the 9/11 Commission, the NIST and FEMA studies, and then popularly supported by a PBS NOVA episode, a History Channel documentary, and the Popular Mechanic’s report is a well-distributed, albeit faulty, explanation of a terrorist conspiracy and its effects, by the official conspiracy theorists and their supporters. In that telling, after the planes crashed, fire weakened steel members of the Twin Towers leading to the total disintegration of two 110-story steel framed buildings into seven-floor piles of rubble. This is the basic structure of the official conspiracy theory.

The 911 Truth Movement is presenting an alternative conspiracy theory, which we believe makes better use of evidence held in common with other observers and researchers but ignored in the official accounts:

Flowing, molten steel in the basements of the three buildings, for at least 100 days after the event…

Explosives residue signatures in micro-spheres of iron-rich particles from millimeter size down to micron size found in multiple dust samples from around the site…

The lack of a sufficient fuel source to thermodynamically explain the temperatures necessary to form molten iron…

Sulfidation of steel columns, as is indicative of the explosive residues that are found in fire investigations[4] where explosives are suspected.

The official investigations have not examined all of these observed phenomena and have offered no explanation to how and why they are found. Their conclusions do not include this evidence, and in my opinion forces their conspiracy theory to be thought of as incomplete. The official theory leaves out of its explanation significant observed phenomena, as if they simply didn’t happen. In the cases where the phenomena are mentioned, it is unexplained, or said to require more investigation, with which we agree. The truth movement suggests that the use of this observable evidence leads in a very natural way to consider explosives in the destruction of the towers, and more investigation is needed with this in mind.

Scientific analysis is being done on samples of World Trade Center steel and dust recovered from the site. Through scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and x-ray energy dispersive spectroscopy (X-EDS) samples of WTC steel and iron-rich dust samples collected from the surrounding destruction zone show some surprising results.

The presence of spherules of iron in multiple dust samples is indicative of molten iron widely dispersed. This is important because the official NIST investigators acknowledged there is no evidence to support that the steel columns in any way melted. They said in a 2006 Factsheet: “In no instance did NIST report that steel in the WTC towers melted due to the fires. The melting point of steel is about 1,500 degrees Celsius (2,800 degrees Fahrenheit). Normal building fires and hydrocarbon (e.g., jet fuel) fires generate temperatures up to about 1,100 degrees Celsius (2,000 degrees Fahrenheit). NIST reported maximum upper layer air temperatures of about 1,000 degrees Celsius (1,800 degrees Fahrenheit) in the WTC towers (for example, see NCSTAR 1, Figure 6-36).”

But why are “microspheres” of iron significant? Surface tension naturally determines the spherical shape of a liquid suspended in air. Given that spherical-shaped iron particles are found in the dust, and molten iron is subject to surface tension, it is easy to suggest that the spheres were once in a molten form suspended in air. No other phenomenon can plausibly explain that particular shape in this circumstance. An analysis[5] by the United States Geological Service (USGS) found iron-rich spheres in dust produced during the destruction of the towers. See also this.[6]

Analysis of the spheres using X-EDS methods, the same methods used by materials scientists[7] in their analysis in arson investigations, found iron-aluminum-sulfur combinations in the spheres, which is consistent with the use of sulfur-enhanced thermite, or thermate. Steven Jones, a PhD physicist formerly of Brigham Young University, says of the composition:[8] “Given the mix of trace metals present in anomalously high concentrations in the WTC dust such as zinc, copper and manganese and barium, the formation of iron-aluminum-rich spherules, I have argued that significant aluminothermic reactions occurred, with likely ingredients to include powders of aluminum, iron oxide, copper oxide, zinc nitrate, sulfur, and potassium permanganate. We are learning more by studying the iron-rich spheres found in the WTC dust.”

Another supportive finding for the truth movement’s suggestion explosives were used in the destruction of the buildings is the observation of flowing molten steel in the basements of WTC 1, 2, and 7. (WTC 7 is a special[9] case, having dropped straight down into its own footprint at near free fall speed, as did the others, after not being hit by a plane, and suffering considerably less damage to its structure than its neighbors WTC 4[10] and 5. The hulking steel frames of these buildings survived without collapse, and required demolition even after sustaining heavy damage and intense, engulfing fires.) Many[11] people involved saw the flowing steel in the basements while in the recovery effort and the clean up. It persisted for at least 100 days. The heat signature was recorded by satellite-based thermography[12], (and here[13]). What sort of temperatures are needed to create molten steel, and how would such a thing happen in not one, but three, generalized locations?

As mentioned above, iron melts at about 1500C. Not only does iron require a large heat source to become molten, the source must be sufficiently hot, for a long enough period, to overcome the thermal conductive properties of iron. Iron conducts heat energy quite well, efficiently drawing heat away from the area being heated to cooler parts. An energy source must continue to add energy to the metal as the heat is conducted away from the concentration of heat for the iron to melt. The amount of heat necessary to melt a quantity of iron to a molten flow must either be hot enough for a protracted and steady heating, or the heat source must be very intense, with excess heat sufficient to easily overcome the iron’s conductive properties and melt the iron.

This type of energy is neither explained by any of the official investigations, nor supported by the observed event of destruction under the assumption the official explanation is correct. In this line of reasoning, gravity caused the disintegration of the buildings, after fire damaged the supports. It would have to follow that gravity somehow contained the energy[14] to spontaneously generate enough heat to melt iron in three separate collapse events, and under different circumstances in one of those three collapses. Or, if the molten iron is to be explained by residual fires that persisted after the collapses, what would the thermodynamic properties be of the fuel burned in those fires to generate temperatures hot enough to create Dante-esque[15] scenes of flowing, molten metal? Hydrocarbon fires: jet fuel, office materials, carpets, plastics, nylon burn under the most ideal, highly ventilated conditions at about 650C. Air temperatures under blast-ventilation conditions can attain 1100C, but this is difficult to sustain, especially under a smoldering pile of rubble, or in the extremely smoky, sooty, dispersed fires seen before the complete destruction.

The intensity of the molten pools were such that according to the US Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories, “Approximately three million gallons of water were hosed on site in the fire-fighting efforts, and 1 million gallons fell as rainwater, between 9/11 and 9/21…” and all this water still failed to extinguish the basement fires. This was simply the ten-day window in which they looked. The spraying down of the pile persisted for months.

This type of energy is not explained by gravity, or by residual hydrocarbon fires, and is unusual in light of the amount of water dumped on the fires. It is, however, plausibly explained by the use of high-energy explosives[16], capable of igniting exothermic reactions[17] in materials in the rubble that are both hot enough to melt iron and are self-sustaining for a period of time. Thermate-like explosives contain their own source of oxygen[18] and cannot be put out with water. The observable, scientific evidence suggests a strong possibility explosives[19] were involved in the destruction of the World Trade Center towers. The 9/11 Truth movement believes the evidence is strong enough to warrant a well-funded, independent, impartial investigation designed to include this hypothesis in its analysis.


Authors Bio: Freelance photographer and writer living in Maine.