Sunday, April 20, 2008

Fwd: Fourteen Points of Agreement with Official Government Reports on the World Trade Center Destruction

From: The Open Civil Engineering Journal, 2008, 2, 35-40
Fourteen Points of Agreement with Official Government Reports on the
World Trade Center Destruction
Steven E. Jones, Frank M. Legge, Kevin R. Ryan, Anthony F. Szamboti,
and James R. Gourley

Abstract: Reports by FEMA and NIST lay out the official account of
the destruction of the World Trade Center on 9/11/2001. In this
Letter, we wish to set a foundation for productive discussion and
understanding by focusing on those areas where we find common ground
with FEMA and NIST, while at the same time countering several popular
myths about the WTC collapses.

The paper is here:
http://www.bentham.org/open/index.htm

(our paper is listed on top
at the moment, the most recently entered paper); or go here:
http://www.bentham.org/open/tociej/openaccess2.htm

(Click on "year 2008" then scroll down to the paper and click on
it.)
INTRODUCTION
On September 11, 2001, the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center
(WTC) were hit by airplanes. Total destruction of these high-rises at
near free-fall speeds ensued within two hours, and another high-rise
which was not hit by a plane (WTC 7) collapsed about seven hours
later at 5:20 p.m.
The US Congress laid out the charge specifically to the National
Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to "Determine why and
how WTC 1 and WTC 2 collapsed following the initial impacts of the
aircraft and why and how WTC 7 collapsed".1 The Federal Emergency
Management Agency (FEMA) was acting with a similar motivation in
their earlier study of these tragic collapses.2 NIST and FEMA were
not charged with finding out how fire was the specific agent of
collapse, yet both evidently took that limited approach while leaving
open a number of unanswered questions. Our goal here is to set a
foundation for scientific discussion by enumerating those areas where
we find agreement with NIST and FEMA. Understanding the mechanisms
that led to the destruction of the World Trade Center will enable
scientists and engineers to provide a safer environment for people
using similar buildings and benefit firefighters who risk their lives
trying to save others.
DISCUSSION
1. WTC 7 Collapse Issue
FEMA: "The specifics of the fires in WTC 7 and how they caused the
building to collapse remain unknown at this time. Although the total
diesel fuel on the premises contained massive potential energy, the
best hypothesis has only a low probability of occurrence. Further
research, investigation, and analyses are needed to resolve this
issue".2
FEMA analyzed the remarkable collapse of WTC building 7, the 47-
story skyscraper that, even though it was not hit by a plane,
collapsed about seven hours after the second Tower collapse. We
certainly agree that FEMA's best firebased hypothesis "has only a low
probability of occurrence." NIST's final report on WTC 7 has been
long delayed and is eagerly awaited.3 Apparently it is difficult to
fully explain the complete and rapid collapse of WTC 7 with a fire-
based hypothesis alone.
2. Withstanding Jet Impact
FEMA: "The WTC towers had been designed to withstand the accidental
impact of a Boeing 707 seeking to land at a nearby airport…" 2
NIST: "Both WTC 1 and WTC 2 were stable after the aircraft impact,
standing for 102 min and 56 min, respectively. The global analyses
with structural impact damage showed that both towers had
considerable reserve capacity".4
Yes, we agree, as do previously published reports: "The 110-story
towers of the World Trade Center were designed to withstand as a
whole the forces caused by a horizontal impact of a large commercial
aircraft. So why did a total collapse occur?"5
John Skilling, a leading structural engineer for the WTC Towers, was
interviewed in 1993 just after a bomb in a truck went off in the
North Tower:

"We looked at every possible thing we could think of that could
happen to the buildings, even to the extent of an airplane hitting
the side," said John Skilling, head structural engineer…. Concerned
because of a case where an airplane hit the Empire State Building
[which did not collapse], Skilling's people did an analysis that
showed the towers would withstand the impact of a Boeing 707.
"Our analysis indicated the biggest problem would be the fact that
all the fuel (from the airplane) would dump into the building. There
would be a horrendous fire. A lot of people would be killed," he
said. "The building structure would still be there."
Skilling - a recognized expert in tall buildings - doesn't think a
single 200-pound car bomb would topple or do major structural damage
to a Trade Center tower. The supporting columns are closely spaced
and even if several were disabled, the others would carry the load.
…Although Skilling is not an explosives expert, he says there are
people who do know enough about building demolition to bring a
structure like the Trade Center down.
"I would imagine that if you took the top expert in that type of
work and gave him the assignment of bringing these buildings down
with explosives, I would bet that he could do it."6
Thus, Skilling's team showed that a commercial jet would not bring
down a WTC Tower, just as the Empire State Building did not collapse
when hit by an airplane, and he explained that a demolition expert
using explosives could demolish the buildings. We find we are in
agreement.
3. Pancake Theory Not Supported
NIST: "NIST's findings do not support the "pancake theory" of
collapse, which is premised on a progressive failure of the floor
systems in the WTC towers… Thus, the floors did not fail
progressively to cause a pancaking phenomenon".3
Agreed: the "pancake theory of collapse" is incorrect and should be
rejected. This theory of collapse was proposed by the earlier FEMA
report and promoted in the documentary "Why the Towers Fell" produced
by NOVA.7 The "pancake theory of collapse" is strongly promoted in a
Popular Mechanics article along with a number of other discredited
ideas.8, 9 We, on the other hand, agree with NIST that the "pancake
theory" is not scientifically tenable and ought to be set aside in
serious discussions regarding the destruction of the WTC Towers and
WTC 7.
4. Massive Core Columns
NIST: "As stated above, the core columns were designed to support
approximately 50% of the gravity loads".4 "The hat-truss tied the
core to the perimeter walls of the towers, and thus allowed the
building to withstand the effects of the aircraft impact and
subsequent fires for a much longer time—enabling large numbers of
building occupants to evacuate safely".10
"Pacific Car and Foundry of Seattle, Washington, fabricated the
closely spaced exterior wall column panels that gave the buildings
their instantly recognizable shape. Stanray Pacific of Los Angeles,
Cal, fabricated the enormous box and wide-flange columns that made up
the core… The core of the building, which carried primarily gravity
loads, was made up of a mixture of massive box columns made from
three-story long plates, and heavy rolled wide-flange shapes." "The
core columns were designed to carry the building gravity loads and
were loaded to approximately 50% of their capacity before the
aircraft impact.... the exterior columns were loaded to only
approximately 20% of their capacity before the aircraft impact".11
We totally agree that the WTC Towers included "massive"
interconnected steel columns in the cores of the buildings, in
addition to the columns in the outside walls. The central core
columns bore much of the gravity loads so the Towers were clearly NOT
hollow. Yet the false notion that the Towers were "hollow tubes" with
the floors supported just by the perimeter columns seems to have
gained wide acceptance. For example, an emeritus structural
engineering professor asserted, "The structural design of the towers
was unique in that the supporting steel structure consisted of
closely spaced columns in the walls of all four sides. The resulting
structure was similar to a tube…".12
The fact is the Towers were constructed with a substantial load-
supporting core structure as well as perimeter columns – and on this
point we agree with NIST in dispelling false popular notions.
The fact is the Towers were constructed with a substantial load-
supporting core structure as well as perimeter columns – and on this
point we agree with NIST in dispelling false popular notions.
5. Essentially in Free Fall
NIST: [Question:] "How could the WTC towers collapse in only 11
seconds (WTC 1) and 9 seconds (WTC 2) — speeds that approximate that
of a ball dropped from similar height in a vacuum (with no air
resistance)?" [Answer:] …As documented in Section 6.14.4 of NIST
NCSTAR 1, these collapse times show that: "… the structure below the
level of collapse initiation offered minimal resistance to the
falling building mass at and above the impact zone. The potential
energy released by the downward movement of the large building mass
far exceeded the capacity of the intact structure below to absorb
that energy through energy of deformation. Since the stories below
the level of collapse initiation provided little resistance to the
tremendous energy released by the falling building mass, the building
section above came down essentially in free fall, as seen in videos".3
We agree with some of this, that the building "came down essentially
in free fall, as seen in videos." This is an important starting
point. (Because of obscuring dust clouds, it is difficult to
determine the exact fall times, but the statement that the
buildings "came down essentially in free fall" seems correct when
accelerations are viewed, for the WTC Towers and also for WTC 7.)13,
14 Further, we agree with NIST that "the stories below the level of
collapse initiation provided little resistance" to the fall – but we
ask – how could that be? NIST mentions "energy of deformation" which
for the huge core columns in the Towers would be considerable, and
they need to be quantitative about it (which they were not) in order
to claim that the "intact structure" below would not significantly
slow the motion.
Beyond that, NIST evidently neglects a fundamental law of physics in
glibly treating the remarkable "free fall" collapse of each Tower,
namely, the Law of Conservation of Momentum. This law of physics
means that the hundreds of thousands of tons of material in the way
must slow the upper part of the building because of its mass,
independent of deformation which can only slow the fall even more.
(Energy and Momentum must both be conserved.)
Published papers have argued that this negligence by NIST (leaving
the near-free-fall speeds unexplained) is a major flaw in their
analysis.13, 14 NIST ignores the possibility of controlled
demolitions, which achieve complete building collapses in near free-
fall times by moving the material out of the way using explosives.
So, there is an alternative explanation that fits the data without
violating basic laws of physics. We should be able to agree from
observing the near-free-fall destruction that this is characteristic
of controlled demolitions and, therefore, that controlled demolition
is one way to achieve complete collapse at near free-fall speed. Then
we are keen to look at NIST's calculations of how they explain near-
free-fall collapse rates without explosives.
We await an explanation from NIST which satisfies Conservation of
Momentum and Energy for the rapid and complete destruction of all
three WTC skyscrapers on 9/11, or a discussion of alternative
hypotheses that are consistent with momentum and energy conservation
in these near-free-fall events.
6. Fire Endurance Tests, No Failure
NIST: "NIST contracted with Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. to
conduct tests to obtain information on the fire endurance of trusses
like those in the WTC towers…. All four test specimens sustained the
maximum design load for approximately 2 hours without collapsing… The
Investigation Team was cautious about using these results directly in
the formulation of collapse hypotheses. In addition to the scaling
issues raised by the test results, the fires in the towers on
September 11, and the resulting exposure of the floor systems, were
substantially different from the conditions in the test furnaces.
Nonetheless, the [empirical test] results established that this type
of assembly was capable of sustaining a large gravity load, without
collapsing, for a substantial period of time relative to the duration
of the fires in any given location on September 11".4
We agree that NIST had actual fire tests completed and that all
four "trusses like those in the WTC towers" survived the fire-
endurance testing "without collapsing." We also agree that "the fires
in the towers on September 11 … were substantially different from the
conditions in the test furnaces;" the test furnaces were hotter and
burned longer. NIST may wish to perform a series of different tests
in an endeavor to discover some other hypothesis for collapse
initiation. As it stands, however, we have no physical evidence
supporting the concept of total collapse due to fire from real fire-
endurance tests. On the contrary, these real-life tests indicate that
the buildings should not have completely collapsed. In addition, we
have hundreds of cases of fires in tall steel-frame buildings and
complete collapse has never occurred.

But experts said no building like it [WTC7], a modern, steel-
reinforced high-rise, had ever collapsed because of an uncontrolled
fire, and engineers have been trying to figure out exactly what
happened and whether they should be worried about other buildings
like it around the country…. Although the fireproofing was intended
to withstand ordinary fires for at least two hours, experts said
buildings the size of 7 World Trade Center that are treated with such
coatings have never collapsed in a fire of any duration. Most of
three other buildings in the complex, 4, 5 and 6 World Trade, stood
despite suffering damage of all kinds, including fire.15 Fire
engineering expert Norman Glover agrees:

Almost all large buildings will be the location for
a major fire in their useful life. No major high-rise building has
ever collapsed from fire… The WTC [itself] was the location for such
a fire in 1975; however, the building survived with minor damage and
was repaired and returned to service.16 Yet three such high-rise
buildings (WTC 1, 2 and 7) completely collapsed on a single day,
9/11/2001, and could not be returned to service. There is much left
to learn here.
7. Fires of Short Duration
NIST: "The initial jet fuel fires themselves lasted at most a few
minutes".4 "At any given location, the duration of [air, not steel]
temperatures near 1,000 °C was about 15 min to 20 min. The rest of
the time, the calculated temperatures were near 500 °C or below".4
We agree. But then, given that the fires were brief and patchy, how
did both towers experience sudden-onset failure of structural steel
over a broad area in each tower and how could the collapses of all
three WTC high-rises have been so symmetrical and complete?13, 14, 17
We seek discussion on these points.
8. WTC Fires Did Not Melt Steel
NIST: "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)".3
Agreed. We also find agreement with Prof. Thomas Eagar on this point:

The fire is the most misunderstood part of the
WTC collapse. Even today, the media report (and many scientists
believe) that the steel melted. It is argued that the jet fuel burns
very hot, especially with so much fuel present. This is not true....
The temperature of the fire at the WTC was not unusual, and it was
most definitely not capable of melting steel.18 We are in remarkable
agreement, then: the WTC fires were not capable of melting steel. Of
course, NIST then may have trouble explaining the molten material
flowing out of the South Tower just before its collapse, as well as
evidence for temperatures much higher than NIST's reported 1,100 °
C.13 We offer to discuss explanations for the observed high
temperatures.
9. Destruction of WTC Steel Evidence
NIST: "NIST possesses 236 structural steel elements from the World
Trade Center (WTC) buildings. These pieces represent a small fraction
of the enormous amount of steel examined at the various recovery
yards where the debris was sent as the WTC site was cleared. It is
estimated that roughly 0.25 percent to 0.5 percent of the 200,000
tons of steel used in the construction of the two towers was
recovered." "The lack of WTC 7 steel precludes tests on actual
material from the structure…".1
Thus, only a tiny fraction of steel was analyzed from the WTC
Towers, and none of the WTC 7 steel was analyzed by NIST. What
happened to the rest of the steel from the crime scene?

For more than three months, structural steel from the World Trade
Center has been and continues to be cut up and sold for scrap.
Crucial evidence that could answer many questions about high-rise
building design practices and performance under fire conditions is on
the slow boat to China, perhaps never to be seen again in America
until you buy your next car. Such destruction of evidence shows the
astounding ignorance of government officials to the value of a
thorough, scientific investigation of the largest fire-induced
collapse in world history. I have combed through our national
standard for fire investigation, NFPA 921, but nowhere in it does one
find an exemption allowing the destruction of evidence for buildings
over 10 stories tall.19
And although only a small fraction of the steel was saved for
testing, it is clear that an "enormous amount" of the WTC steel was
examined either for or by NIST, and the samples selected were chosen
for their identified importance to the NIST investigation.20
We agree that only a "small fraction of the enormous amount of
steel" from the Towers was spared and the rest was rapidly recycled.
The destruction of about 99% of the steel, evidence from a crime
scene, was suspicious and probably illegal, hopefully we can agree to
that.
10. Unusual Bright Flame and Glowing Liquid (WTC 2)
NIST: "An unusual flame is visible within this fire. In the upper
photograph {Fig 9-44} a very bright flame, as opposed to the typical
yellow or orange surrounding flames, which is generating a plume of
white smoke, stands out".4
"NIST reported (NCSTAR 1-5A) that just before 9:52 a.m., a bright
spot appeared at the top of a window on the 80th floor of WTC 2, four
windows removed from the east edge on the north face, followed by the
flow of a glowing liquid. This flow lasted approximately four seconds
before subsiding. Many such liquid flows were observed from near this
location in the seven minutes leading up to the collapse of this
tower".3
We agree and congratulate NIST for including these observations of
an "unusual flame... which is generating a plume of white smoke"
4 "followed by the flow of a glowing liquid" having "an orange glow"
[3]. With regard to the "very bright flame… which is generating a
plume of white smoke", NIST effectively rules out burning aluminum,
because "Aluminum is not expected to ignite at normal fire
temperatures…".3
Again, we agree.
The origins of this very bright flame and of the associated flow of
an orange-glowing liquid remain open questions in the NIST report.
NIST opened a very appropriate line of investigation by publishing
these significant clues from the data, 3, 4 providing an important
starting point for further discussion which we seek.
11. High-Temperature Steel Attack, Sulfidation
FEMA (based on work by a Worchester Polytechnic Institute
investigative team): "Sample 1 (From WTC 7)… Evidence of a severe
high temperature corrosion attack on the steel, including oxidation
and sulfidation with subsequent intergranular melting, was readily
visible in the near-surface microstructure…. Sample 2 (From WTC 1 or
WTC 2)… The thinning of the steel occurred by high temperature
corrosion due to a combination of oxidation and sulfidation. …The
severe corrosion and subsequent erosion of Samples 1 and 2 are a very
unusual event. No clear explanation for the source of the sulfur has
been identified… A detailed study into the mechanisms of this
phenomenon is needed…"2
We agree that the physical evidence for "severe high temperature
corrosion attack" involving sulfur is compelling. Here we have
grounds for an interesting discussion: How were "severe high
temperatures" reached in the WTC buildings? What is the source of the
sulfur that attacked the steel in these buildings? The answers to
these questions may help us find the explanation for the "total
collapse" of the Towers and WTC 7 that we are all looking for.
The WPI researchers published their results2, 21 and called for "a
detailed study" of this "high-temperature" "oxidation and
sulfidation" phenomenon. Yet the results were unfortunately ignored
by NIST in their subsequent reports on the Towers' destruction.3, 4
Their failure to respond to this documented anomaly is a striking
phenomenon in itself. Perhaps NIST will explain and correct this
oversight by considering the high-temperature sulfidation data in
their long overdue report on the collapse of WTC 7. The existence of
severe high temperatures in the WTC destruction is by now very well
established.22 It appears that NIST has inadvertently overlooked this
evidence and we offer to investigate the matter with them, in pursuit
of understanding and security.
12. Computer Modeling and Visualizations
NIST: "The more severe case (which became Case B for WTC 1 and Case
D for WTC 2) was used for the global analysis of each tower. Complete
sets of simulations were then performed for Cases B and D. To the
extent that the simulations deviated from the photographic evidence
or eyewitness reports [e.g., complete collapse occurred], the
investigators adjusted the input, but only within the range of
physical reality. Thus, for instance…the pulling forces on the
perimeter columns by the sagging floors were adjusted...4 "The
primary role of the floors in the collapse of the towers was to
provide inward pull forces that induced inward bowing of perimeter
columns.4 "The results were a simulation of the structural
deterioration of each tower from the time of aircraft impact to the
time at which the building became unstable, i.e., was poised for
collapse…4
We agree that NIST resorted to complex computer simulations and no
doubt "adjusted the input" to account for the Towers' destruction,
after the fire-endurance physical tests did not support their
preordained collapse theory.
But the end result of such tweaked computer models, which were
provided without visualizations and without sufficient detail for
others to validate them, is hardly compelling. An article in the
journal New Civil Engineer states:

World Trade Center disaster investigators [at NIST] are refusing to
show computer visualisations of the collapse of the Twin Towers
despite calls from leading structural and fire engineers, NCE has
learned. Visualisations of collapse mechanisms are routinely used to
validate the type of finite element analysis model used by the [NIST]
investigators. …A leading US structural engineer said NIST had
obviously devoted enormous resources to the development of the impact
and fire models. "By comparison the global structural model is not as
sophisticated," he said. "The software used [by NIST] has been pushed
to new limits, and there have been a lot of simplifications,
extrapolations and judgment calls".23 Further detailed comments on
the NIST computer simulations are provided by Eric Douglas.24
We would like to discuss the computer modeling and extrapolations
made by NIST and the need for visualizations using numerical and
graphical tools to scrutinize and validate the finite-element
analysis.
13. Total Collapse Explanation Lacking
NIST: "This letter is in response to your April 12, 2007 request for
correction… we are unable to provide a full explanation of the total
collapse".25
This admission by NIST after publishing some 10,000 pages on the
collapse of the Towers shows admirable candor, yet may come as a bit
of a shock to interested parties including Congress, which
commissioned NIST to find a full explanation.
We agree that NIST so far has not provided a full explanation for
the total collapse. Indeed they take care to explain that their
report stops short of the collapse, only taking the investigation up
to the point where each Tower "was poised for collapse".4 We offer to
help find that elusive "full explanation of the total collapse" of
the WTC Towers which killed so many innocent people, in the hope that
it does not happen again. We have a few ideas and can back these up
with experimental data.13, 22 Our interest is in physical evidence
and analysis leading to a full understanding of the destruction of
the WTC.
14. Search for Explosive or Thermite Residues
From a NIST FAQ: [Question: ] "Did the NIST investigation look for
evidence of the WTC towers being brought down by controlled
demolition? Was the steel tested for explosives or thermite residues?
The combination of thermite and sulfur (called thermate) "slices
through steel like a hot knife through butter." [Answer: ] NIST did
not test for the residue of these compounds in the steel".3
We agree; there is no evidence that NIST tested for residues of
thermite or explosives. This is another remarkable admission. Probing
for residues from pyrotechnic materials including thermite in
particular, is specified in fire and explosion investigations by the
NFPA 921 code:

Unusual residues might remain from the initial fuel. Those residues
could arise from thermite, magnesium, or other pyrotechnic
materials.26 Traces of thermite in residues (solidified slag, dust,
etc.)
would tell us a great deal about the crime and the cause of
thousands of injuries and deaths. This is standard procedure for fire
and explosion investigations. Perhaps NIST will explain why they have
not looked for these residues? The code specifies that fire-scene
investigators must be prepared to justify an exclusion.26
NIST has been asked about this important issue recently, by
investigative reporter Jennifer Abel:

Abel: "..what about that letter where NIST said it didn't look for
evidence of explosives?" Neuman [spokesperson at NIST, listed on the
WTC report]: "Right, because there was no evidence of that." Abel:
But how can you know there's no evidence if you don't look for it
first? Neuman: "If you're looking for something that isn't there,
you're wasting your time... and the taxpayers' money.".27 The evident
evasiveness of this answer might be humorous if not for the fact that
NIST's approach here affects the lives of so many innocent people. We
do not think that looking for thermite or other residues specified in
the NFPA 921 code is "wasting your time." We may be able to help out
here as well, for we have looked for such residues in the WTC remains
using state-of-the-art analytical methods, especially in the
voluminous toxic dust that was produced as the buildings fell and
killed thousands of people, and the evidence for thermite use is
mounting.13, 22
CONCLUSIONS
We have enumerated fourteen areas where we are in agreement with
FEMA and NIST in their investigations of the tragic and shocking
destruction of the World Trade Center. We agree that the Towers fell
at near free-fall speed and that is an important starting point. We
agree that several popular myths have been shown to be wrong, such as
the idea that steel in the buildings melted due to the fires, or that
the Towers were hollow tubes, or that floors "pancaked" to account
for total Tower collapses. We agree that the collapse of the 47-story
WTC 7 (which was not hit by a jet) is hard to explain from the point
of view of a fire-induced mechanism and that NIST has refused (so
far) to look for residues of explosives.3, 22, 27 Our investigative
team would like to build from this foundation and correspond with the
NIST investigation team, especially since they have candidly conceded
(in a reply to some of us in September 2007):

"…we are unable to provide a full explanation of the total
collapse".25 We are offering to discuss these matters in a civil
manner as a matter of scientific and engineering courtesy and civic
duty. The lives of thousands of people may very well depend on it.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Many thanks for useful discussions with Jim Hoffman, Dr. Gregory
Jenkins, Dr. Jeffrey Farrer, Prof. Kenneth Kuttler, Prof. David R.
Griffin, Gregg Roberts, Brad Larsen, Gordon Ross, Prof. David
Griscom, Prof. Graeme MacQueen, and researchers at AE911Truth.org and
STJ911.org.

---------------------------------
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Management Agency, May 2002.
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