Inspired by David Ray Griffin’s recent web publication “Left-Leaning Despisers of the 9/11 Truth Movement: Do You Really Believe in Miracles?” (selected parts of which can be found in my previous post) I will discuss below the results of two superb scientific investigations found in the open literature:
I. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) report of flyovers of the site of the World Trade Center (WTC) five and twelve days after the 9/11/01 attacks to record Airborne Visible/Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (AVIRIS) remote sensing data (see figure above).
AVIRIS is a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) remote sensing instrument that measures upwelling spectral radiance in the visible through the infrared, specifically, for wavelengths from 0.37 to 2.5 micrometers. In response to requests from the EPA through the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), NASA flew AVIRIS on a small aircraft over lower Manhattan at mid-day on Sept. 16 and again in Sept. 23, 2001. Only the Sept. 16th results are shown in the figure above. These are false-color images, wherein the orange and yellow areas represent hot spots on the surface of the WTC debris (and the dark areas that are not water are shadows).
By use of the spectral data for the entire range of wavelengths, the USGS data analysis team was able to correct for reflected sunlight – and also determine the temperatures and sizes of hot objects smaller than the size of the pixels, which are about 6 by 6 feet. I have placed at the bottom of the figure a table of their results for hotspots A through H in degrees Centigrade.
The lower right panel of the figure is a satellite photo of the WTC taken sometime before 9/11/01, which I appended here so that the hot spots can be understood in relation to the original locations of WTC towers 1, 2, and 7. Since this picture was taken from slightly south of directly overhead, whereas the AVIRIS views were looking straight downward, comparison of the two would be difficult without a common reference frame, which I have provided here as the dashed white and red rectangles. The white rectangles mark a recognizable zone in the AVIRIS images and, for easier recognition, a red rectangle is used to highlight the exact same area on the satellite photo. In all cases, the insides these of these rectangles at the lower right corner correspond precisely the southwest and southeast walls of the prominent 1 Liberty Plaza Building seen there. By contrast, I selected the outsides of the northeast sides of these rectangles to just touch the southwest-facing fronts of the buildings across the street to the northeast of WTC 7 (labeled in red on the lower-right photo). I captured an outline of WTC 7’s asymmetric trapezoidal roof plan in this photo and then transplanted it to the upper-right AVIRIS image, where I shifted it to match WTC 7’s original footprint when viewed directly from above.
It becomes immediately obvious that the AVIRIS-determined hot spots are not only clustered around the bases of WTC 1 and WTC 2 Twin Towers, which were hit by airplanes, but also inside the footprint of WTC 7, which was not hit by an airplane, but nevertheless fell at free-fall speed for 2.5 seconds (see video) onto its own footprint late in the afternoon of 9/11/01.
One might be tempted to believe that the hot spots revealed by AVIRIS on 9/16/01 represent burning office materials. However, no identifiable fragments of office furniture were seen in the dust, only sheets of unburned paper. Nor were any macroscopic pieces of concrete found there. Each of the Twin Towers comprised about 400,000 cubic yards of concrete and about 200,000 pounds of flammables. Both the concrete and the flammables were turned to dust – as were the vast majority of human remains, some of which were found in 2006 as tiny bone splinters on the roof of the 43-story Deutsche Bank Building about 400 feet to the south of the location of the former South Tower (seen partially obscuring the red-dashed line at the bottom center of the satellite photo).
Assuming the flammables to have been 100% wooden furniture, there would have been about 250 cubic yards of sawdust blended with those 400,000 cubic yards of pulverized concrete. Just how vigorously do you expect this 1600-to-one-diluted sawdust would burn? And even wood fire in your well-ventilated fireplace would burn out in about 5 hours if you don’t add more logs.
Nevertheless, not only was something near the surface of the WTC dust still burning after 5 days, but some of those fires were exceeding the melting temperature of aluminum (660 degrees C) -- something that rarely happens in your fireplace.
These near surface fires were mostly extinguished a week later, when the second AVIRIS pass found the remotely detectable hot spots to have disappeared.
Nevertheless, deeper down into the dust something continued burning for six months, resulting in ground temperatures varying between 316 and 816 C. And frequent spraying with water and special fire-fighting foams seemed to have no effect, making it “the longest-burning structural fire in history.”
What kind of material could continue to burn without a ready supply of oxygen? And what kind of material could continue burning even when doused with water?
II. The 2009 publication in The Open Chemical Physics Journal (TOCPJ) of a fabulous paper by Harrit et al. entitled “Active Thermitic Material Discovered in Dust from the 9/11 World Trade Center Catastrophe”
Some disparagers of the 9/11 Truth movement have alleged that TOCPJ is a place on the web where anybody can buy a publication without peer review.
I know this because I was one of the referees of the Harrit et al. paper. The editors asked for my opinion. And after about two weeks of studying what the authors had written, checking relevant references, and gathering my thoughts, I finally provided my advice to authors in 12 single-spaced pages, together with my recommendation to the Editors that they publish the paper after the authors had considered my suggestions.
Still, some skeptical readers may ask how anyone can rate a scientific paper as “fabulous.” Well, I am the principal author of 109 papers (and a co-author of an additional 81) in peer-review journals. And have refereed a least 600, and possibly as many as 1000, manuscripts. So you would be right in calling me an aficionado of articles published in scientific journals. And I found absolutely nothing to criticize in the final version of the Harrit et al. paper! Apropos, twelve of my own publications have appeared in the American Institute of Physics’ Journal of Chemical Physics (an old fashioned paper journal), so it is accurate to say that chemical physics (of inorganic materials) is my main specialty.
Harrit et al. (2009) report extensive materials-science investigations of “red/gray chips” originally discovered by co-author Prof. Steven Jones in samples of dust produced by the destruction of the World Trade Center. Specifically, they examined red/gray chips from four separate sites in lower Manhattan, collected just 10 minutes, one day, one day, and one week after the collapse of WTC 1, each one uncontaminated by clean-up operations which began later. Their experimental methods included optical microscopy (see photomicrographs below), scanning electron microscopy (SEM; see images below the photomicrographs), X-ray energy dispersive spectroscopy (XEDS) to determine elemental compositions, and differential scanning calorimetry (DSC). By these means they determined the red material to contain (1) faceted grains consistently 100 nm (0.1 micrometer) in size which are largely ferric-iron oxide, (2) metallic aluminum in the form of platelets approximately 40 nm thick and about 1 micrometer broad, and (3) a binder matrix consisting of silicon dioxide and some sort of organic material.
|Figure 2 of Harrit et al. (2009): Photomicrographs of red/gray chips from four different samples of the WTC dust. The inset in (d) shows the same chip edge on, revealing the gray layer. The 100 micrometer scale bars are 0.1 millimeters (mm) long.|
The combination of powdered metallic aluminum with iron oxide powder is the classic recipe for thermite. When ignited, the aluminum in thermite is oxidized while the iron oxide is reduced to (molten) metallic iron:
2Al + Fe2O3 --> Al2O3 + 2Fe (molten iron), ΔH = - 853.5 kJ/mole.
Harrit et al. also reported that small spheroidal particles of metallic iron and of iron-rich glass are relatively common in the WTC dust. And they were able to manufacture similar spheroids in the laboratory by igniting some of their red/gray chips.
The energy release (ΔH =-853.5 kJ/mole) is about the same as that for burning pure carbon in pure oxygen. But the big difference is that in the case of thermite, no gaseous oxygen at all is required for the thermite reaction. Thermite can burn and release this amount of energy in a vacuum, under water ...or even buried deeply in non-inflammable dust. All it needs is a heat source to ignite it.
Commercial thermite is quite hard to ignite, generally requiring temperatures in excess of 900 C to initiate the reaction (which is then self-sustaining). But with intimately mixed nano-particles (100 nm or less) of Fe2O3 and metallic Al, the situation is different.
Harrit et al.’s differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) results show us just how different.
In the DSC experiment, the temperature of the sample is raised at a constant rate, while the heat intake or (as in the present case) output of the sample is constantly monitored. The DSC graph from Harrit et al. shown below is a comparison between a typical red/gray chip (blue curve, which was shown elsewhere in the paper to be similar to the results for red/gray chips from the other three sites) and an experimental nano-thermite using 25-nm aluminum particles (red curve) published by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientists Tillotson et al. in the June 2001 issue of the Journal of Non-Crystalline Solids (a journal where I happen to have published 41 papers and have 2 more pending).
From the graph above we learn three important things: (i) the red layer of the red/gray chips can be considered to be a form of nano-thermite, (ii) this form ignites at low temperatures (420 to 450 °C) relative to commercial thermite (>900 C), and (iii) nano-thermites with slightly higher ignition temperatures were actually developed in the course of government-sponsored research that took place well before the 9/11/01 attacks.
And look at the graph below! Here we see that red/gray chips from WTC dust samples #3 and #4 are more energetic per unit mass than three common explosives and one experimental Al/Fe2O3 nano-composite reported in the scientific literature in 2004!
Note that two of the eight hot spots reported by the USGS in the figures at the beginning of this post fall within the ignition range (420 to 450 °C) of the red/gray chips endemic to the WTC dust and the rest correspond to higher temperatures up to 747 °C. Indeed, burning thermite can reach temperatures of the order of 2500 °C. That temperatures this high were not picked up by AVIRUS can be attributed to the insulating properties of the cement dust that interred the vast majority of these energetic chips.
Nuclear reactors normally operate at temperatures in the range 300 to 1,000 C, while natural-gas-burning turbines typically burn their fuel in the range 320 to 500 C. Both are operated for the purpose of generating electricity.
So, if the six months or so of heat generation in these temperature ranges within the WTC ruins could have been fed into an electric generator it might well have lit up all of lower Manhattan for most of this time. Since no radioactivity was ever detected at the WTC site, we can be sure it wasn’t fissionable material making all that heat. Therefore, it had to have been chemical energy -- chemical energy that can be released without a source of oxygen. By process of elimination, this chemical energy has to have been stored in the thermitic red/gray chips that Harrit el al. (2008) estimate make up as much as 0.1% by weight of the WTC dust. If the amount of dust in and near the footprints of the three WTC towers was, say, 100,000 cubic meters of powdered concrete at 2000 kilograms/cubic meter, it would then have contained as much as 200,000 kilograms of red/gray chips. And if I did the calculation right, burning all of it (at 4kJ/gram) to power a 50% efficient steam turbine could have provided 100,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity.
These energetic red/gray chips are clearly the remnants of exotic nano-thermites evolved from U.S. Government sponsored research, mass produced somewhere in the years before 9/11, and fitted into the Twin Towers in the weeks or months before the 9/11 attacks, together with other specialized explosives and a meticulously designed detonation sequence to make the demolitions begin near the impact points of the equally well devised and guided pair of drone airliners which, according to my hypothesis, switched places with Flights AA-11 and AU-175.
If you are wondering how the perps could have gotten all of those explosives into the WTC towers without arousing suspicion, here’s a very plausible scenario.
But if anyone feels the need for more smoking guns, they can be found here.