Saturday, April 03, 2010

Please rearrange: "! are BRAINS coming eat They to your"

I apologise that this almost Unity-length post has taken quite some time but I have been busy with other things - even some work and the project has increased in scale pretty much every time I found myself in the shower or with other musing to do.

Billy, from Paisley, is a 9/11 truther.  And a 7/7 truther.  Who first came to our attention Under the Rose, where I had the temerity to suggest that the legal justification for the war in Afghanistan was reasonably strong, especially compared to Iraq and the Balkans.  He has previously been featured chez moi.  Then, I did promise a longer post about 9/11, both in the article and in the reply to Walrus's correction of my typo so here it is.

Billy believes, as far as I can tell and I welcome corrections, the following:
  • There is a huge conspiracy to hide the fact that the US government carried out 9/11.  We know this because ...
    • The videos are fake because it is "against Newton's Laws" for an aluminium aircraft to go through the steel / concrete / glass structure of the towers.
    • The planes "melted" into the towers.
    • No bits of the planes or the towers are seen falling off as the plane goes in.
  • That the towers were destroyed with "Star Wars" direct energy weapons because ...
    • The towers hit the ground with only the "force of a jackhammer".
    • Steel would not have melted in the temperature produced by jet fuel so the towers must have remained up (as the steel formed the structural framework.)
    • The Twin Towers collapsed at free-fall speed "against the laws of physics".
    • The earth's magnetic field dipped at "the exact moment each building collapsed".
    • There's lots of material missing.
    • Vehicles caught fire "miles away".
  • That this is all 'proven' by the law suits filed against NIST and others by other truthers (two of whom have PhDs.)
I will try to deal with most of these.

Refutation Point 1: the conspiracy - this is the weakest rebuttal of the lot (at least, in scientific terms).

Conspiracies are possible - tightly held or kept from direct public interest the truth may never come out.  If the CIA & the Mafia had John F Kennedy killed (they almost certainly didn't) this could have been done with one shooter and the people ordering him to do it - half a dozen who knew the details.  However, this event directly killed 3000 people, including members of the US military, law enforcement and rescue services, and has led to wars involving the deaths of thousands of others (UK losses alone in Iraq and Afghanistan are currently 458, and US casualties stand at 5419 - with much higher casualty figures amongst the Iraqi Army militias, Taliban and, unfortunately, civilians - many of the latter being killed by the guerillas rather than by the coalition military).  If this were a conspiracy, the number of people needing to be co-opted in to it is huge:
  • The people who developed the weapons.
  • The people who deployed the weapons.
  • The people who faked the movies.
  • The people who were actually in Manhattan that morning.
  • The airlines.
  • Depending what you actually think happened to the planes - the people on them or, if you've had them killed, the people who killed them.  And the people who destroyed the planes or have hidden them somewhere.
  • Air traffic control.
  • The news organisations (no friends, except Fox, of Bush.)
A conspiracy of that size, with the public adulation and Pulitzer award to be gained from the 'true story" has no chance of surviving the 8 years this one has.

Refutation Point 2 - Hitting the fork.

Most of this was covered in the previous post but, as there are clearly some things still remaining for dispute, I'll have another try.

You seem to maintain that "according to the laws of physics" the airplanes should have gone 'splat' and crushed against the outside of the Towers.  I suggest that the forces involved in decelerating a 130 tonne plane from 300 knots plus to rest are sufficient to deform steel.  Anyway, let's assume they aren't.

Think of the outer wall of the Towers as a very long fork.  You maintain that there is no way that an aircraft can go through it.  Okay - a three stage process for understanding.
  • Take some mashed potato and push the fork down on it - it squeezes through easily.
  • Take some cooked potato - baked, boiled or roast - and push the fork down on it - it takes a tiny bit of effort but it squeezes through.
  • Take a raw potato - push again with the fork - you get considerable resistance but, look - it goes through (and the resistance appears to decrease once you get a bit of speed up.)
Even if the huge forces involved in decelerating a 767 to a halt within 64m (we both agree, if for wholly different reasons, that no significant fraction of either aircraft1 went straight through the towers) were insufficient to stress the outer steel past the point of plastic deformation, most of the aircraft would have gone in.  Which takes us to our next point.

Refutation Point 3 - Nothing fell off (remember here we are talking only about why the videos must be fake - some assumptions and simplifications that don't correlate too well with reality can be taken).

Let's assume that the planes were doing about 300 knots - less than half their maximum speed (and slower is better for you - I am being very generous here - AA11 was estimated as doing 710km/h, UA175 870 - 500 or 615 knots.)  They were 48.5m long.  300 knots is just over 150 m.s-1.   So, assuming your "melting" implies no slowing in velocity, any bit falling off would have on the order of a third of a second of nearly-but-not-quite free fall (in fact, air resistance would be so low at starting speeds, that 'free fall' is an excellent approximation).  So, some simple calculations, x=g.t2/2, gives you a total distance fallen of just over 54 centimetres.  In your grainyout of focus 720 * 480 stills, that gives you a maximum displacement of 4 pixels.  Now, you're not going to spot that easily, are you?

Updated: Of course, that's not a particularly accurate calculation - I haven't allowed for the fact that the plane is not flying at right angles to the tower in the shot, so the projected length of the wingspan is less than the actual 47.6m (which I incorrectly asserted would reduce the pixel per metre count - see people can admit mistakes) - so a more accurate calculation, using the velocity of AA11 (good for me), assuming it reduces by half during the collision (bad for me but is on the right order as we know that after outer, inner, outer little debris exited) and allowing 30% for the angle (bad for me again) - we get 2 pixels but, hey, what's a couple of pixels between friends?

Of course, if you actually agreed with the real world and the planes did actually hit the tower, you can extend the period of time between the nose and the tail hitting the outer wall.  Of course, you then have to take in to account that momentum will carry nearly all debris from the impact into the tower through the hole that the plane has carved but, by that time, you've agreed with me!

Refutation Point 4 - Jackrabbits and falling buildings.

500,000 tonnes per tower seems to be an accepted (if startlingly round) number for the weight of each tower.  Okay, for Charles' sake, lets do some more kinetic energy calculations.

The maximum possible impact for each tower would be if an ideal point mass, of 500000 tonnes, hit the ground having free-fallen from half the height of the tower.  Debris falling free, energy taken up in overcoming structural strength, air resistance (in fact any effect which absorbed kinetic energy), even an extended duration impact would all reduce this but, let's go with the ideal, O-grade physics case.  Ek = Eg = mgh.  h = 207m, therefore Ek = 1.02TJ.  Now, converting that to the Richter scale is not easy - websites give me anywhere between 3.7 and 4.8.  While I hate to reference the WikiMonster, it says that is about 10% more than an Atlas rocket at take off.

Remember, that is the maximum possible impact - so, lets move that to the bottom of the scale and call it 3.7 Richter.  That's on the "hundreds per day" world-wide.  Less than (or roughly equivalent to) the Kursk explosion - 7 warheads, 4.2 Richter.  Not actually a huge amount for half a million tonnes.

9:58:59 A.M. EDT

With no warning that could be discerned in WTC 1, WTC 2 collapsed. The shudder as the more than 250,000 tons of steel, concrete, and furnishings hit the ground was felt well beyond the site. Seismic sensors located 100 miles away recorded the time and intensity of the event.

Interestingly, the impact energy of a commercial jackhammer appears to be in the 40 to 60J range.  I used to be able to punch harder than that so I call hyperbole.

Refutation Point 5 - Steel would not have melted due to heating from Jet-A fires.

You are completely correct in your statement and completely wrong in the results you draw from it.  For a start, the Jet-A could have merely ignited other fuels in the building with higher burning temperatures - you can get up to 2000°C with a carbon fire in air - but that didn't happen.

Unfortunately, steel weakens with heat - quite considerably.  At the 650°C level the experts expect the fires in the towers reached, this would have about halved the strength of the structural members2.  This was enough.

In WTC 1, the fires weakened the core columns and caused the floors on the south side of the building to sag. The floors pulled the heated south perimeter columns inward, reducing their capacity to support the building above. Their neighboring columns quickly became overloaded as columns on the south wall buckled. The top section of the building tilted to the south and began its descent. The time from aircraft impact to collapse initiation was largely determined by how long it took for the fires to weaken the building core and to reach the south side of the building and weaken the perimeter columns and floors.

In WTC 2, the core was damaged severely at the southeast corner and was restrained by the east and south walls via the hat truss and the floors. The steady burning fires on the east side of the building caused the floors there to sag. The floors pulled the heated east perimeter columns inward, reducing their capacity to support the building above. Their neighboring columns quickly became overloaded as columns on the east wall buckled. The top section of the building tilted to the east and to the south and began its descent. The time from aircraft impact to collapse initiation was largely determined by the time for the fires to weaken the perimeter columns and floor assemblies on the east and the south sides of the building.

WTC 2 collapsed more quickly than WTC 1 because there was more aircraft damage to the building core, including one of the heavily loaded corner columns, and there were early and persistent fires on the east side of the building, where the aircraft had extensively dislodged insulation from the structural steel.

Refutation Point 6 - Freefall.

This is simply erroneous.  A pure free fall collapse would have taken no more than 8 seconds.  The towers collapsed in around 10 seconds.

Refutation Point 7 - Cars catching fire miles away.

I would go and have a word with your old geography teacher if I was you.  FDR Drive is 1 km from the WTC site and the pictures from the car park at the "North-West corner of Vesey and West Streets" - that is less than a couple of hundred feet.  Anyway, there is a simple process to explain burnt cars and intact sheets of paper - dust and slightly larger particles fall to ground with the main structure of the towers, heating up as they go (gravitational potential energy into kinetic energy and heat) and then spreads out causing fires (and, if you look at some of the photos - covering things in very directional dust.)  Paper, on the other hand, that which fell free of the towers takes some considerable time to fall, losing any heat gain to the atmosphere and reaching the ground after the dust has cooled (some would fall in to any fires still burning but if you've ever tried to burn papers in a bonfire, you'll know how much escapes.)

Refutation Point 8 - What "direct energy weapons"?

This was covered, somewhat in one of my comments on Sub-Rosa's blog - basically, although we do have low power laser weapons, and high power lasers and charged particle beams, we don't have now weapons capable of putting out enough power, never mind 8-odd years ago.  I wish to raise the following additional points:
  • The whole thing started at 8.45 or 8.46 EDT, depending on your source.  The North Tower collapsed at 10:28 EDT.  How do you explain the this lag?  
  • If it was high-power beam weapons, where are the plasma trails?  Either a laser or a CPB of sufficient power operating in atmosphere will affect the air it travels through, ionising it. This is visible, regardless of whether the beam itself is in the visible spectrum (c.f the aurora borealis - you can't see the solar wind - you can see the results of the electron settling.)  The wider problem in laser weapons is known as "blooming" and is why the "Star Wars" lasers you mentioned were space-based or on the front of Jumbos.  The effect is similar to the sudden phase transition of the early universe from opaque plasma to transparent gas that, after much red-shifting, gives us the "Cosmic Microwave Background" or, more obviously, is why the surface of the sun glows at visible frequencies.
  • Direct energy beams are not Star-Trek phasers (or Klingon Disruptors) - they merely transfer energy from one point in space to another.  So, assuming the high power, they would have punched very small holes through a target.  They might have been swung to cut but this would not have bent or distorted the steel (laser cuts through metal look almost polished) and would have caused the conventional collapse of the buildings you deny rather than "turned the Twin Towers to dust".
  • Update point: Antimatter.  While anti-matter weapons are a theoretical godsend to the conspiracy minded, there are three critical point to mention.  
    • Firstly, there ain't enough of it about, especially not in 2001 (and, for once, the USA is not the technological lead in such matters.)  
    • Secondly, if you did have a matter / antimatter annihilation event in the twin towers , the energy release would have done far more dramatic things than a bit of concrete to dust conversation.  Think small to large thermo-nuclear bomb and, whatever you think happened on 9/11, that certainly wasn't it.) 
    • Finally, there is a similar delivery problem to the beam weapon - only this is worse.  A beam of antimatter would have mutually annihilated the atmosphere on the way - with the massive energy releases from the above point - which didn't happen.
Refutation Point 9 - Lawsuits.

There are lots of civil lawsuits in the USA.  Many of them are worthless or even actively harmful to society (SCO versus anybody), many fail.  Also, you need to have, to place a civil suit, something called 'standing'.  In the UK, there is an equivalent, albeit less formalised concept - you must be able to show that some damage was done to you.  You cannot sue on behalf of somebody else.  And, in most cases, a simple untruth, without damage, is not actionable.

However, what about a quote from US Law making it clear that, erroneous or not, the NIST report is not actionable:
No part of any report resulting from a NIST investigation into a structural failure or from an investigation under the National Construction Safety Team Act may be used in any suit or action for damages arising out of any matter mentioned in such report (15 USC 281a; as amended by P.L. 107-231).

My culpability?

Which am I? One of "the ones who are too lazy to look at the facts as presented by Dr Wood", or "the ones who are trying to cover up the truth", as you so reasonably put it?

There will be updates ...

1. Two wheels from AA11's main-left landing gear were found outside of the WTC1 footprint - one embedded in an exterior column panel was found 700ft or so south on Cedar Street; another wheel was found a similar distance further south.

2. "supports the commonly held rule of thumb that the yield strength [of structural steel] at 538°C is about one-half that at room temperature."

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