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Responses to questions regarding thermite, nanothermite and conventional explosives used in the WTC destruction.

Here I field questions that come to me fairly often, to help get the facts out and to counter misrepresentations and misunderstandings. I expect to make edits for a while and welcome comments.

1. Can nanothermites (also called superthermites) be explosive?

The definition of “explosive” can lead to endless debates. Is a flash of light required? Is a loud sound required? How loud? What rate of energy generation is required for a material to be called an explosive? Where is the line between low explosives and high explosives?
Rather than getting mired into ad nauseum debates, I will use the term “explosive” in conjunction with superthermites/nanothermites IF the national defense laboratories which developed these materials use the term. Here we go.

"Researchers can greatly increase the power of weapons by adding materials known as superthermites that combine nanometals such as nanoaluminum with metal oxides such as iron oxide, according to Steven Son, a project leader in the Explosives Science and Technology group at Los Alamos. "The advantage (of using nanometals) is in how fast you can get their energy out," Son says. Son says that the chemical reactions of superthermites are faster and therefore release greater amounts of energy more rapidly... Son, who has been working on nanoenergetics for more than three years, says that scientists can engineer nanoaluminum powders with different particle sizes to vary the energy release rates. This enables the material to be used in many applications, including underwater explosive devices... However, researchers aren't permitted to discuss what practical military applications may come from this research." {Gartner, John (2005). "Military Reloads with Nanotech," Technology Review, January 21, 2005; }

I wish to emphasize that nanothermites can be “engineered” or tailored to burn more slowly or more quickly, even as “explosive devices” as the above article from Los Alamos National Laboratory states clearly.

Next a reference to “explosives” based on nanocomposites involving aluminum and iron oxide from the large US Defense Laboratory at Livermore, California:

“We have developed a new method of making nanostructured energetic materials, specifically explosives,
propellants, and pyrotechnics, using sol-gel chemistry. A novel sol-gel approach has proven successful in
preparing metal oxide/silicon oxide nanocomposites in which the metal oxide is the major component. By
introducing a fuel metal, such as aluminum, into the metal oxide/silicon oxide matrix, energetic materials
based on thermite reactions can be fabricated. Two of the metal oxides are tungsten trioxide and iron(III)
oxide, both of which are of interest in the field of energetic materials. In addition, due to the large
availability of organically functionalized silanes, the silicon oxide phase can be used as a unique way of
introducing organic additives into the bulk metal oxide materials. These organic additives can cause the
generation of gas upon ignition of the materials, therefore resulting in a composite material that can
perform pressure/volume work. Furthermore, the desired organic functionality is well dispersed
throughout the composite material on the nanoscale with the other components, and is therefore subject to
the same increased reaction kinetics. The resulting nanoscale distribution of all the ingredients displays
energetic properties not seen in its microscale counterparts due to the expected increase of mass transport
rates between the reactants. The synthesis and characterization of iron(III) oxide/organosilicon oxide
nanocomposites and their performance as energetic materials will be discussed.”
(Clapsaddle BJ, Zhao L, Gash AE, et al. Synthesis and characterization of mixed metal oxide nanocomposite energetic materials. UCRL-PROC- 204118, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory: Livermore, Ca; 12 May 2004)

Note in particular that Dr. Clapsaddle states that nano-thermite with organics can indeed perform pressure/volume work, key to their explosive capabilities. I understand that the organics are part of the production process and integral components of these types of nanothermites. One final corroborating quote from the same author:

“We have previously prepared pyrotechnic and explosive composites based on thermite reactions whose fuel and oxidizer constituents are intimately mixed on the nanometer-sized scale […]”
B. J. Clapsaddle et al., “Formulation and Performance of Novel Energetic Nanocomposites and Gas Generators Prepared by Sol-Gel Methods,” 2005.

2. What is the difference between ordinary thermite and nano-thermite?

There are major differences, although the basic thermitic reaction is involved in each:
Aluminum powder + Iron-oxide powder → (ignited) → Aluminum-oxide + Molten Iron

Enormous energy is released as molten iron is formed, and this typically ends up either as flowing molten metal or, if ejected into the air, as metallic-iron spheres (which are found in the WTC dust in great abundance: Jones SE, Farrer J, Jenkins GS, et al. Extremely high temperatures during the World Trade Center destruction. J 9/11 Studies 2008; 19: 1-11. ).
Technical point: other fuels can be substituted for aluminum, and other oxidizers for iron-oxide.
Here's a summary of major differences:

Starts with larger particles of aluminum and iron-oxide (bigger than about 100 nanometers)
Incendiary (non-explosive)
Sulfur added (typically called thermate) forms a eutectic with molten iron product, staying liquid at lower temperatures (red-orange-hot) when ordinary iron and steel would be solid

Starts with particles of aluminum and iron-oxide smaller than about 100 nanometers; hence “nano”
Often mixed with organic material so as to generate gas
Can be tailored to be explosive (see point 1 above), or used as a trigger material --for explosives used for demolitions.

Recent experiments by Jon Cole demonstrate that thermite with sulfur added (“thermate”) can indeed cut through steel and do pressure-volume work; sulfur makes a huge difference (as I also pointed out in my first 9/11-research paper)! Very exciting work, especially starting around the 11-minute mark: .

3. Are you now saying that nanothermite was used instead of thermate, or was the only explosive material in the operations?

No, never said that. On the contrary, I have consistently noted that more conventional explosives may very well have also been used in the destruction of the WTC skyscrapers. And the presence of orange-colored molten metal flowing from the South Tower just minutes before its complete fall along with a bright white fire (both admitted by NIST) strongly indicates the presence of pyrotechnic thermite plus sulfur. (Thermite when ignites generates white-hot molten iron; sulfur keeps the iron liquid to lower orange-hot temperatures and allows the liquid iron to attack steel much more vigorously.)

In recorded remarks given publicly in Australia, I noted that a Dept. of Defense journal Amptiac showed the use of nanointermetallic material such as nanothermite as a fuse or initiator, in conjunction with a shaped charge of more conventional explosive. {Miziolek AW. Nanoenergetics: an emerging technology area of national importance. Amptiac Q 2002; 6(1): 43-48.} {See also my videotaped presentation here: .}
Consistent with this, a publication from Los Alamos National Lab noted that “superthermite... applications include triggering explosives for... demolition” {}. I personally think that this triggering is the most likely reason for the presence of the red thermitic material observed in the WTC dust; but further investigation with subpoena power would be needed to verify this point.

4. Do you agree that “ Jones is putting "superthermite" in the same category of explosiveness as HMX and RDX” as claimed by Mark Hightower? (Email to Jones and numerous others from Mark Hightower, 8 May 2011).

No, I do not. While the Los Alamos developers note that superthermite can be tailored for use in “explosive devices” as cited above, specifics are not given, evidently because of “military” applications.

5. Could the red nano-thermitic material found in the WTC dust have been the result of clean-up operations after 9/11?

No. As noted in our peer-reviewed paper on the discovery of this material in the WTC dust, a sample was collected on 9/11 about ten minutes after the destruction of the second tower, long before clean-up operations began.
“The earliest-collected sample came from Mr. Frank Delessio who, according to his videotaped testimony [17], was on the Manhattan side of the Brooklyn Bridge about the time the second tower, the North Tower, fell to the ground. He saw the tower fall and was enveloped by the resulting thick dust which settled throughout the area. He swept a handful of the dust from a rail on the pedestrian walkway near the end of the bridge, about ten minutes after the fall of the North Tower. He then went to visit his friend, Mr. Tom Breidenbach, carrying the dust in his hand, and the two of them discussed the dust and decided to save it in a plastic bag. On 11/15/2007, Breidenbach sent a portion of this dust to Dr. Jones for analysis. Breidenbach has also recorded his testimony about the collection of this dust sample on video- tape [17]. Thus, the Delessio/Breidenbach sample was col- lected about ten minutes after the second tower collapsed. It was, therefore, definitely not contaminated by the steel- cutting or clean-up operations at Ground Zero, which began later.” {}

6. Could the red nano-thermitic material found in the WTC dust have been the result of iron oxide from the building combining with aluminum from the building, during the collapses?
You left out the significant presence of organic material found in the red chips – where did that come from? Not so easy. You also need to explain how the aluminum can end up on 40-nanometer thin platelets as observed in our electron-microscope studies of the material from the WTC dust. Get serious. The observed mix has nano-components which do not organize themselves into a highly active form (including organics) from larger objects in violation of the laws of physics. (Needless to say, I disagree with Judy Wood's explanation; see several related papers in the Journalof911Studies, e.g.,

7. Could the red nano-thermitic material found in the WTC dust have been primer paint used on the WTC?

No. We obtained asample of primer paint from a 9/11 monument at Clarkson College in New York with the help of a colleague there, and the paint proved to have a distinctly different chemical composition from that observed in the red/gray chips. In particular, the primer paint used on the WTC shows significant zinc content, absent when the interior of a red-material sample is exposed (see our paper {} and Australia talk, ). See attached XEDX graphs showing distinct elemental contents of the red chips and the primer paint (both from the WTC). Even under a good optical microscope, one can see the difference between the primer paint and the red/gray chips; see for example, recent photomicrographs by Jon Cole. While both are present in the WTC dust, the primer paint is rather flexible and non-glossy whereas the red thermitic material is rigid and rather brittle and glossy under white light illumination. It is the observed brittleness that evidently led to the fracturing of the red material into small fragments during the destruction of the buildings.
Further, after soaking in MEK, the red/gray chips (still wet with MEK) remained very hard, easy to pick up with forceps without deforming.  OTOH, primer paint chips became very flexible and limp after soaking and still wet with MEK.  There can be no mistaking the distinction.

5. Figure 14 in your paper shows zinc. Doesn't this mean that this sample (which later was soaked in MEK) was a primer-paint sample?

  It is unfortunate that we did not first fracture the chip which was later soaked in MEK and measure the fresh surface -- a procedure we followed (thanks to Dr. Jeff Farrer) on the FOUR chips thoroughly analyzed in the paper.  I am certain that if we had done this, there would have been no zinc on the inside of the chip-later-soaked, because after soaking there was NO ZINC (as we showed in our paper, Figures 16, 17 and 18).  Clearly, soaking and agitating in MEK removed surface contamination.  The Zn seen in Figure 14 was before soaking, as we said in the paper, and was very likely due to surface contamination, but we could have stated that more clearly.   A lot of Zn was present in the dust (a fact recorded also in the USGS data set for the WTC dust).  The fact that no Zinc or Ca show up in the XEDS spectra post-MEK, Figs 16, 17 and 18 is crucially important as demonstration that this is NOT primer paint.

6. What is the main evidence you have that the red material undergoes a thermitic reaction when ignited?

I would say the main evidence is the formation of reduced-iron spheres in the ash as the red material is heated to ignition, as described in some detail in our paper.
“That thermitic reactions from the red/gray chips have indeed occurred in the DSC (rising temperature method of ignition) is confirmed by the combined observation of 1) highly energetic reactions occurring at approximately
430 ̊C, 2) iron-rich sphere formation so that the product must have been sufficiently hot to be molten (over 1400 ̊C for iron and iron oxide), 3) spheres, spheroids and non- spheroidal residues in which the iron content exceeds the oxygen content. Significant elemental iron is now present as expected from the thermitic reduction-oxidation reaction of aluminum and iron oxide.
The evidence for active, highly energetic thermitic material in the WTC dust is compelling.”
While the reaction of the red material is highly exothermic, as shown in Figure 29 in our paper, the behavior on ignition after years of air-exposure does not allow us to call the material "high explosive" and I would not use that term in describing it.

7. What would be the motivation to place pyrotechnic material in the Towers and WTC 7 so as to cause the observed accelerated fall of these skyscrapers? Who would do such a thing?

These questions go beyond what we can learn by direct scientific methods such as use of electron-microscopy coupled with EDX probing and analysis of the accelerated fall of these buildings. We have done our part as scientists and engineers to demonstrate holes in the “official 9/11 story”, that no explosives were also involved that day. We believe that to get answers to the “who” and “why” questions will require a determined investigation with subpoena power. It is the same in most criminal cases where the evidence is not destroyed – scientific/forensic study is followed by a criminal investigation and trial.
The presence of pyrotechnic material in the WTC dust – along with other compelling evidences such as the free-fall acceleration of WTC7 – means that such an investigation and trial are necessary in order for justice to be served. The rubble of WTC7 was observed in a rubble pile on the footprint of the building; classic controlled-demolition style -- certainly not "dustified". Pushed by a few of us, NIST finally admits that WTC 7 fell with “free-fall acceleration” for over 100 feet, which requires that hundreds of tons of steel and concrete had to be moved out of the way via explosives.

PrimerCfRed.png664.87 KB

Scientific method on this needs to re-awaken the world..

Thanks for more insight on the study of the nano-thermite samples, principles on its manipulation for a classified grade explosive, and other observations. This and [Bad link] needs to be distributed to help us unite behind a scientific and criminal inquiry on what the evidence tells us on what happened on September 11, 2001. I will update this for Flyby News' resource page on this topic: New 9/11 Investigation vs New World Order, Thank you Professor Jones.

Presence Of Materials In NYC Subject To State Environmental Laws

While the “Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth” and “Remember Building 7” organizations are pursuing investigations of the suspect collapses of the World Trade Center buildings, another potential “back door” means of obtaining an investigation into the origins of the nano-thermite evidence contained within the World Trade Center dust samples and which seems to be within the scope of the “NYCCAN” organization’s mission, might be to seek having New York state environmental laws applied to its presence within the World Trade Center. The dust and all of its contents can be definitively tied the World Trade Center buildings. It can therefore be simply and effectively argued that evidence implies that these hazardous nano-thermitic materials were unlawfully present within the World Trade Center towers in violation of environmental laws or other laws, without having to bear the burden of proof that they were present in order to demolish the buildings (even though they apparently were) and having to overcome the potential official resistance to this view. It could be plausibly posited, that these nano-thermitic incendiaries contributed to the fires already present in both buildings and therefore potentially contributed to a loss of life and that discovering why they were present would be in the public interest.

Consider the following contained with the website of the New York State Attorney General’s office:

"Human health and the environment can be endangered by a variety of unlawful activities, such as the illegal use or disposal of hazardous or toxic chemicals or materials. ... The Environmental Protection Bureau of the Attorney General's office seeks to prevent or remedy harm to the environment and violations of the State's environmental laws. If you are aware of any activities or conditions which may violate environmental laws or significantly impact the environment adversely, we would like to hear from you."

"... scientists can engineer nanoaluminum powders with different particle sizes to vary the energy release rates. This enables the material to be used in many applications, including underwater explosive devices..., However, researchers aren't permitted to discuss what practical military applications may come from this research." {Gartner, John (2005). "Military Reloads with Nanotech," Technology Review, January 21, 2005; }"

Indeed, it has been difficult thus far to obtain FOIA records from agencies known to be researching and developing nano-scale energetic materials, regarding their military applications.

Excellent point, Aidan.

"The dust and all of its contents can be definitively tied the World Trade Center buildings. It can therefore be simply and effectively argued that evidence implies that these hazardous nano-thermitic materials were unlawfully present within the World Trade Center towers in violation of environmental laws or other laws, without having to bear the burden of proof that they were present in order to demolish the buildings (even though they apparently were) and having to overcome the potential official resistance to this view. It could be plausibly posited, that these nano-thermitic incendiaries contributed to the fires already present in both buildings and therefore potentially contributed to a loss of life and that discovering why they were present would be in the public interest."

You're welcome, Jonathan. Very glad

very glad that some appreciate the scientific method and the quest for both truth and JUSTICE.
Thanks, Jonathan.
This battle can be discouraging at times. (See blog on Ventura/Alex)
(Intended as a reply to Jonathan's comment.)

looking for blog and science-justice issue

If we are ever to have a fair-minded democracy, honoring scientific principles is a must.. For that is the only way to achieve real justice. We must determine what is true by observation and communication of what is, not what our bias wants us to believe. Your leadership in this field of truth and physics helps me get through a lot of discouraging times. Thank You. And can you post the URL for me to find your blog. I hope you will try to send it to Jesse. He certainly has the courage and I believe the sincerity to overcome his being taken by a plainly speculative viewpoint regarding the WTC demolition-explosion take-down.

Justice via Science --

good points, again, Jonathan.

I think you're referring to this article:

Hope that helps. Go ahead and modify as you wish.

PS -- in section, you will find several well-researched papers that address the "energy-beam" and "no-planes-hit-Towers" notions promoted by Judy Wood.

Solar Funnel Cooker Youtube presentation by DrJones

Off topic, but of interest to some perhaps:

How to make and use the solar funnel cooker (which family and students helped me develop)

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 2 talks about using the solar funnel as a REFRIGERATOR at night. I also show a simple box- charcoal briquet oven at the end.

Have you tested for conventional explosives?

>>>>Are you now saying that nanothermite was used instead of thermate, or was the only explosive material in the operation?

Dr. Jones: "No, never said that. On the contrary, I have consisently noted that more conventional explosives may very well have also been used in the destruction of the WTC skyscrapers."

Have you tested for conventional explosives, Dr. Jones?

Isn't there a lab test for a whole panel of conventional explosives that we can do? Many people have assumed that conventionals were already tested for and ruled out, but my understanding is that they were never even tested for.

So who's going to do the legwork?

Let me put it this way -- there must be a way, yes, to test for conventional explosives (without TAGGANTS, we must assume they're not stupid) -- and I would like to hear of a lab that can do this. So we have WTC dust and debris -- the stuff actually has fairly large chunks of concrete and glass and rock-wool in it (NOT "dustified" as some erroneously claim, who have evidently never held/beheld the actual "dust" as I have). In it there may be, I expect, small fragments of unexploded conventional explosive (without taggants).

So you tell me -- how do we proceed? And I'm not playing with you. What lab can take the dust/debris and sort it in such a way as to find these low-concentration fragments of unexploded conventional explosive (without taggants)?

With the red/gray chips and iron-rich spheres, we were "lucky" in that these were attracted by a strong magnet, and I was able to concentrate them fairly easily. Then I had access to scanning-electron microscopes with attached XEDS equipment -- and we nailed it and published our results.

Such equipment will however NOT find fragments of organic conventional explosives (do I need to explain why not?).

So you tell me -- how do we proceed?

Prof Jones

I have a different question:

Have you ever attempted carbon-dating the nanothermite, since the chips contain carbon?

I've had BETA Analytic labs do

C-14 dating for me before, good lab. Here's a sample report and you'll likely see the problem:

The date is given with an error bar of +/- 40 years, for an object 720 years old. Now they may be able to get that down to +/- 10 years for a modern object, but that's not good enough (is it?) That would mean, say 1995 +/- 10 years. Would that do us any good?

But call them (link above for starters) -- maybe their methods have improved since I worked with them. (I'd be very surprised if they could get the error bar down below +/- 5 years.) And ask the cost while you're at it. I'm curious what they're charging these days for AMS.

Thanks for the response

Too bad... I had hoped this would give us some handle on the 'when' besides the 'who'. Regardless of the error margin though, you don't want a result? Maybe you could compare such a result with other carbon-containing WTC construction materials to see if there's any correlation, and thus simply establish that these materials are 'newer'? Maybe a fundraiser could be organized on 911blogger..

How about the rate of decline in the integrity Al - Fe2O3 - C structure? Harrit has alluded to the chips degenerating over time. Perhaps this degeneration could be transformed into some kind of model with polynomial regression, thereby enabling you & your peers to trace the graph back to t=0? Just some wild thoughts, which perhaps make little sense, but I wanted to share them nonetheless, otherwise it never gets mentioned.

A lttle primer on C-14 dating...

may be in order. As long as a plant or animal is LIVING, it takes in CARBON from the environment -- the air, grass, etc. The air has a steady supply of C-14 (produced by cosmic rays). When the living thing dies, it stops taking in "fresh" radioactive carbon-14, and the clock begins. (C-14 begins to decay with a known half-life, allowing for dating the matter.)

But the carbon in the red material would be from some chemicals "on the shelf" -- this is not the same as dating a plant or animal that has died. For example, how long has the chemical sat on the shelf in a bottle? etc.

I don't see how C-14 dating will help us here, the more I think about it.

But -- keep thinking creatively!

A remark

Because it bothers me: when I typed: Al - Fe2O3 - C, I used the wrong HTML tags resulting in the numbers being in the wrong position, superscript instead of subscript. I obviously meant subscript.

C-14 only works for organic manterial between 50-55,000 yrs

Although the nanothermitic material is probably best datable by its technological stamp--that is, what labs were making this stuff back in 2001? Kevin Ryan has done some revealing work in this area, as you are probably aware.

There's also the question of why large amounts of the raw materials in question could remain undocumented. I mean, if LLNL was indeed involved in the manufacture of large quantities of this (or similar materials), then there MUST be a paper trail.

But then, LLNL has a long history of being part of the DOD's black budget weapons laboratory, so it would require some exceptional sleuthing to pull an invoice from them or their partners. It would be worthwhile for someone living in the CA area, who has the time and inclination to examine LLNL's manufacturing partners or consultants in manufacturing nano-scale metal oxides.

EPA- Method- 8330A

Alpha Analytical labs can do both the EPA-Method-8330 and EPA-Method-8330A that could test for an array of conventional explosives. Only cost about $216 per sample. According to a Chemical Engineer who you are familiar with.

I sent you an email with more information to your:

R.L. (Robert McGee)

Great follow-up effort, Robert, and much appreciated.

Wonderful news. Count me in -- I'd love to see this analysis done for an array of conventional explosives. Does he have enough dust sample?

Sample Quantity

How much is required to do these tests?

I have access to over an ounce of white dust taken from the interior of a core column that NIST removed a "coupon" from.

The FBI lab

can do it. But before asking them, everyone should be aware of the strange case of the FBI's best explosive expert, Frederic Whitehurst, in the investigation of the 1993 WTC bombing
(sorry there is no better link!)

Maybe it's logical to ask him, as he has the ability to examine it and with his personal story no reason why he shouldn't do it.


a set of test results, (from a conventional demolition site) with a very detailed listing of compounds. What would one look for to indicate the presence of explosives other than nanothermite?

Does the presence of PAH's (polyaromatic hydrocarbons?) indicate anything of importance?

How about a statement such as "extraordinary concentrations of pyrogenic PAH's"?

Thank you very much

Please see discussion above --

to see where this is heading now, with further analyses. Thanks. Steve


ProfJones, I recently found this quote in an article called: "The science of blowing things up. " edition 4/2011, page 57, "Welt der Wunder", Germany, (World of Miracles)

"But the next stage of detonation evolution is announced. Admixed nanoparticles of aluminum and iron oxide to enhance this explosion 'you would run 1,000 times faster, 'says the explosives expert. 'That would be our masterpiece'.. "

As quoted by an interview with David E. Chavez, Los Alamos National Laboratory

Excellent quote, Sitting-Bull...

Is the quote in English or German in the text?
Thanks for all you do.

German language of course

here is the original qoute

"Die Wissenschaft vom in die Luft sprengen".

"Doch die nächste Stufe der Detonations-Evolution kündigt sich schon an: Beigemischte Nanopartikel aus Aluminium und Eisenoxid sollen diese Explosion verstärken. 'Sie würde 1000-mal schneller ablaufen', sagt der Sprengmeister. 'Das würde unser Meisterstück'." [sagt David E. Chavez ]

I try to organize a scan!

Some Questions

Recently, this statement was posted on Sibel Edmond's site under a Boiling Frog's Post Podcast, interviewing Paul Craig Roberts, post:

"The authors of the nano-thermite paper should pay an independent company like RJ Lee to verify the findings of their paper."

I'm wondering if you could address that statement:
Could this be done?
How much might it cost?
Do you agree that this would be an important confirmation/verification of your work, adding to the fact that no one has responded with another paper?

Sorry if this has been addressed elsewhere.

Thanks in advance for your response.


Does anyone else know if this statement/suggestion has been addressed elsewhere?


There is independent research taking place

to verify the findings by at least two other scientists (last I heard, anyway).

They are doing it at their own expense and plan on publishing peer-reviewed papers of their findings.

I know of no paid research from a large, corporate laboratory.

I'm sure it would be prohibitively expensive, even if such a large, corporate lab were to take on this work, which I think highly unlikely (please see Marie-Paule Pileni ).

I hope that answers your question.

Not really, but thanks

If we knew if they (a large, respected, corporate lab) would try to verify the existence of a material in some dust, and how much it would cost, we would know what kind of fundraising effort it would take.

If we knew they wouldn't - well that would be an answer to people who make this kind of suggestion/statement.

Thanks for the reply though.

Zica -

Feel free to make inquiries on this and please report back what you find.

Might I suggest trying some labs outside of the continental United States, perhaps some in Germany.

You're very welcome, sorry for the less-than-satisfactory answer.

Be well.