Truth is always the idol of opposing sides, but seldom a party to either cause. The educated will seek the truth some where between the extremes; the irrational in their own back yard. Although I consider myself a Truther, I am not blind. I see myth creation in all conspiracy theories, and thermite is no different.

Evidence for the existence of thermite involves, as I’ve stated before, mostly photographs and eyewitness accounts. These things are passed along, interpreted, represented and misrepresented according to the views of each propagandist. Because of this, it is important to consider more than just the perspective most appealing to our existing bias.

Take for example this photograph.

It is a picture of several emergency workers huddled around a bright light at ground zero. They are all looking down, at, or into something unseen to the audience. In other words, the subjects on film can see something the picture cannot communicate to the viewer. This photo is one that is posted in support of the thermite theories. It’s a powerful image within this context, presented as fire fighters looking down into a hole or furnace filled with molten steel. Indeed this photograph can capture the mind. Still, to someone that finds the thermite theory unappealing, the photo might be something much more innocuous.

The magic of video reveals something entirely different.

This video clip offers a different view of the same image, but also something more due to the inherent nature of the medium. Within the shot is a similar, if not the same, scenario of emergency workers looking over a light. The shot tightens and holds to reveal a powerful flashlight as the source of the light that once gave the illusion of extreme temperatures. Clearly not evidence in support of molten steel.

While this does “debunk” a piece of the thermite theory, the pitfall is to assume the entire theory is supported by the same kind of misinterpreted evidence. There are other pictures, and other kinds of evidence that should receive the same critical attention, as should all theories around 9/11. In this case, the truth is not on either side, but more in the middle.

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Thermite

07Oct07

Before I was a Historian, I was a Chemist. The two doctrines are severely different, as I learned moving from one to the other. In Chemistry, things move in a step-by-step, empirical fashion; History is much more malleable because experiences vary with observers. Evidence is interpreted in very different fashions. For example, if chemists were to analyze the events prior to the Holocaust, as they would a chemical reaction, they might identify notable preceding events as reactants, a catalyst and a reaction medium, and conclude that the products were the causative results. In other words, any known chain of events, given the starting materials, could not have created any other situation and if these materials were to be mixed again, the reaction would repeat itself. Historians, contrary to the popular phrase “those that do not learn from history are destined to repeat it,” do not interpret evidence in this way. Matters involving people, communities and culture – things human, to put a general term to it – behave much differently than chemicals in a beaker and are more subjectively rationalized. Chemistry, and other empirical scientific fields such as physics, biology, and engineering are based in a world much less subject to individual interpretation. While these two, seemingly opposed approaches to inquiry can at times conflict, they can also supplement each other by forming a more cohesive and balanced argument.

Theories involving thermite and the destruction of WTC 1, 2 and 7 are based on the same investigative techniques employed by chemists looking at the products of a reaction, and seeking the initial reactants. This thermite theory rings true for me, although I’m still skeptical because as convincing as the argument is, I don’t have the education to critique it. It is something akin to sitting in a graduate seminar listening to advanced concepts of which I’ve little instruction. It is entirely possible the man at the lectern is a loon. But on the other hand, there are other scientists reviewing this work. Larger acceptance of theories involving thermite will hinge upon faith in the system of critical peer-review. That being said, I’ve enough education to know that what is being proposed is not scientific conjecture, but a solid and rational step in critical analysis.

It starts with molten steel. Found in the rubble of the towers, were pools of orange, molten steel, specifically A36 structural steel. This is a video from CNN, reinforcing the official theory, but there are a few holes in the plot. The white stuff rising is called both smoke and steam; you decide which it is. Notice how fast the steam and/or smoke disappears. A worker at the site also describes the creation of black pums of smoke that are not shown in the video clip. A36 is a well known compound, engineered and created by man, so the chemical properties such as strength, density, composition and melting point are not subjects for interpretation; they are facts. The presence of molten steel infers that something must have melted the steel; not a leap of faith or reason in the slightest. To do this, the melting point, about ~1500 degrees centigrade, must have been achieved and maintained long enough for the steel to meet this temperature. Therefore, to precipitate the product of molten steel, something must have generated temperatures in sufficient amount, and for a long enough period to sustain the liquid state, to facilitate discovery days later. The question then revolves around the idea of “fire.” Was combustion sustainable in the fire, raising the temperature to “1500 degrees” or was there another source of heat?

At this point, I’ll inject a little skepticism. One might want to consider whether or not it was in fact liquid steel and not liquid aluminum, or an unknown combination of other metals. The rubble was after all, a pile of different materials. Were any samples taken from these observed pools? There are pictures, but such things can be doctored. There are also verbal descriptions from witnesses, but these sources need to be systematically corroborated. Whether or not this level of skepticism is warranted is left for the reader, but it does seem to precipitate a cyclical paradox for the argument. If steel had melted, then we would conclude that something, like thermite, which reacts hot enough to melt steel, must have been present. However, if the melting point could not have been achieved, then we could reason that the molten material was not A36. To be completely beyond speculation, there would need to be an analysis of the material in question. To date, I have not read of any such analysis being done. Most theorists rely on photographic evidence and eyewitness accounts; which is at the very least cause for further investigation.

The official theory for the molten steel comes from the theory for collapse. The airplane full of jet fuel created a huge fireball, and the subsequent fires caused the structural failure of the steel, and the pools of molten material. To be honest, this kind of argument is convincing for only the most shallow of analysis. To illustrate, I draw from the history of human civilization. Fire is a basic, natural chemical process, harnessed by man thousands of years ago. Some time later, it was learned that fire could melt some types of metal which could be cooled into a desired shape, precipitating the advent of copper, bronze, and most recently iron tools. Iron however, required a very hot, controlled fire with adequate fuel and constant attention. A simple, un-stoked fire will not melt iron. Steel is much stronger and lighter than iron, due to the addition of carbon through a process not mastered until the Industrial Revolution. To propose that a fire not dissimilar from a boy scout weenie- roast had sufficient energy to heat and melt steel, and maintain that temperature for more than a few days, is preposterous to both history and science. Jet fuel (long chains of hydrocarbons) does not burn hot enough to melt steel. Nor does any wood or wood pulp product. Hold a fire poker into a fire. It will get quite hot, but it will not melt. This does not address the structural integrity of steel subjected to combustion, which is more relevant to the method of collapse. I’ll examine this in another entry. The point at hand pertains only to the alleged presence of liquid steel.

While considering all this, another question occurs to me. One that I will need answered. If a hydrocarbon-fueled fire cannot sufficiently weaken or melt modern forms of steel, then why do fire and building codes require steel beams and joints to be covered in fire retardant material? Certainly, if I am to put enough faith into the design of the fire codes, it must be possible for fire to, under plausible conditions, at least weaken steel. Or is the purpose of the fire retardant material to address an entirely different problem? This point seems relevant and must be addressed, as the effect of the planes’ collision on fire suppression measures, specifically the blowing away of the fire retardant steel covering, is in the conscious mind of the wider audience.

It seems so far, irrational to conclude that thermite was used simply because it was the only thing that could have created and maintained sufficient temperatures to produce molten steel. There must be something in the reactants that directly infers the existence of thermite. Something that only thermite as a reactant could have produced as an observed product. Indeed, there is such an observed product.

Dr. Steven Jones, a physicist and former BYU professor, was looking for dust from the WTC site. A resident of the area claimed to have saved the sample from a much larger amount of dust that consumed her living quarters not far from ground zero. Jones collected a sample, in the presence of witnesses, and subjected the material to a series of tests to determine their composition. The results are something of a smoking gun. The tests show iron rich micro spheres. (Numbered page 76, PDF page 22) A separate study, done by the USGS, also notes “metallic particles” in spherical shapes composed of iron and titanium, along with other elements, found in the dust from the WTC.

What could cause these products? To form spherical shaped debris, the crystallization of the material must take place in an environment free of outside forces, such as free fall. To illustrate, imagine a cup of water in the space shuttle. As a liquid in a zero gravity or free fall environment, the floating water will oscillate for a time and come to rest as a perfect sphere, held in that form by its own surface tension.
Liquid iron behaves the same way, and will retain that form after cooling into a solid, which would happen relatively quickly depending on the size of the sphere. From this we can conclude that these iron spheres were once liquid, and cooled in mid-air. Because iron melts at 1500 degrees centigrade, we can also conclude that something was involved in the collapse that could produce such temperatures. In conjunction with the photos and the eye witness descriptions, it seems beyond reasonable doubt, the A36 steel melted by some process besides combustion.

Dr. Jones and other scientists hypothesize thermite was used in the destruction. Their evidence further relies on the chemical composition of the spheres. In addition to iron, they are composed of aluminum, sulfur, potassium and manganese, all products that one would expect to find if thermite were used. While some of these reactants were certainly present at the site without thermite, it seems irrational to expect the same result by just throwing all the ingredients into a bowl, mixing and setting flame to them.

This is not junk science. It is observation of a product, the iron rich spheres, and proposing a hypothesis for the method of creation of these spheres. Regardless of how these spheres were produced, it is clear and reasonable, that these small samples of iron were liquid, a fact that cannot be explained by any aspect of the official theory. Again, the most troubling thing about all this is the lack of a defensible explanation for these spheres on behalf of the government. The fires created by the jet fuel could not have burned hot or long enough to melt the steel. Imagine if jet fuel actually did burn that hot; the reaction would melt the steel and titanium engine cores when at full power, making air travel as we know it, impossible.

While thermite seems the most plausible explanation for the presence of the micro spheres, it does not implicate the government directly. Although the appearance of complicity during investigation is damning, there is no direct connection between the government and the use of thermite. Such munitions are manufactured by private companies. Thermite is used on the private market (for demolition) as well as for military applications. It is reasonable to believe that the government has benefited so much from the story line created shortly after the event, that any deviation from it at this point, whether the act was perpetrated by the government or not, would be disastrous in terms of political stability. Therefore, even if the government was not involved, it is in their best interest to maintain the status-quo. Perhaps it is also in the best interest of the country, if such a concept could be determined with any measurable reliability.


In the days after 9/11, indeed within hours of the event, relief organizations, both charitable and federal began mobilizing, moving money, developing recovery plans and providing relief. I recall a time of unparalleled charity across all cultures and borders. People gave blood in considerable numbers, although it was not to be an event that would flood the hospitals with wounded. Washington State Troopers described that day, and the following days as the most considerate they’d ever seen, in terms of people’s behavior while behind the wheel. Without question, doing good things, like helping the recovery, donating time, money or blood, or just waving someone into the following distance you just established, was the outward reaction of most people after 9/11.

Tania Head, it seems, was busy constructing and telling lies. Her story of being burned and rescued by an eventual victim of the falling Towers was of mythical origin. It was the perfect story, one that landed her an executive position at World Trade Center Survivors Network. Six years later, the New York Times called bullshit. No part of her story can be confirmed. The story is, in a different sense, mythical; it never happened.

What can we make of this?

To find some kind of useful pattern, the story must be broken down into its essential elements. The inspiration, propagation, initial acceptance, review and the final and current stage, rejection. For the inspiration, Tania Head deserves all the credit. The details of a traumatic event often get smeared in minds of people. Facts are lost, and filled in by memories. Individual oral histories are traditionally, in my field of study, subject to extreme scrutiny for this exact reason. As a rule, one person telling a story is a myth. It takes hundreds of people telling a similar story to create a perception, and a separate similar perception to begin to form a “fact.” Tania Head simply told a lie. Making Tania the President of a relief organization and acceptance of her story took people acting without reason, solely upon trust in her myth, her concoction, her lie.

I’m inclined to conclude that both acts beyond reason were natural, jabbing a knife into the Humanist in me. But I’m not so arrogant as to think I am above the human herd. It can sometimes take time to move beyond the emotion, and review evidence with clarity, and for skepticism to become appropriate within the interpersonal exchanges around the event. This skepticism, when applied with enough reason, will precipitate the final stage.

As it stands now, Tania’s myth has collapsed. Brought down by investigation, reasonable inquiry, and candid disclosure of a conclusion. Perhaps the evolution of Tania’s story will inspire more honest inquiry. In six more years, it is wonderful to think that any myths we live with today will have toppled under the weight of sound reasoning and careful review.

Six years later, there is little need for immediate relief. Organizations have moved on, to the tsunami in Sri Lanka and Thailand, to Katrina, or whatever the flavor of the month is. But the desire to do good should still remain around all of these events. Today, the only good the US Government would have you believe that is coming out of 9/11 is the new campaign called the War on Terror. A campaign in which US dollars are sent overseas to secure liberty and freedom for everyone, whether they want it or not. A growing number of people seem to feel otherwise, and feel they are doing good things in reviewing our once universal acceptance of a story as fact.

On a closing note, I can say that no event, large or small, has remained as originally told. No first draft of history stands the test brought with time and hind-sight. 9/11 will be no different.


“Truther”

27Sep07

I consider myself, a reasonable person.  Just as any other human, I have at times a preexisting bias about particular subjects.  I temper this, human characteristic, with a curiosity of different perspectives.  It is a virtue to approach everything in life with the intent of learning something new.  Indeed, if exposure to a new phenomena does not create a question within your mind, then you are confined to the borders of your own skull, running circles in a self imposed Dark Age.

Over the last two months, I’ve undergone a process of exposure to something new, questioning that idea, seeking more information, and revising my original public opinion.  It started with a bumper sticker, and took very clear progressive steps, each one being critically questioned and leading, through justified reasoning, to another step.  I now find myself so far from where I started, that I chastise myself for not being more open minded before.  I seek to make up for this by encouraging others to ask questions and providing answers when I feel I can do so.

I am now what any given media outlet would call a conspiracy nut, theorist, traitor, or “truther”.  The last term I find kind of flattering given the etymology.  Like calling someone “The Pope” as an insult.  “Why thank you large unnamed media conglomerate.  I like to feel that I propagate truth, though I would never be so self centered as to presume that I always know the truth.  I’ll leave that for you.”  Something tells me the creator of this phrase is unfamiliar with Bolshevik history.

What I’ve read, and what I believe are two different things.  I find myself unwilling to support some of the wildest conclusions out there – Directed Energy Weapons, Nuclear Weapons, Jewish Sympathy Plot – but exposing myself to so much, has left a few reasonable questions that I believe should be addressed.  I think it not only obligatory of our government to exhaust all leads with investigation, but also appropriate for the people that lost, and that will lose their lives because of 11 September 2001.

It did start, or in hindsight, was catalyzed by a bumper sticker.  It was for a website, LooseChange911.com, which I wrote down among a few other things I wanted to remember.  It must have been a few days later that I found my note, as I had also forgotten other said items, a few of which I no longer needed.  So I traversed the internet, passed the news, forums, blogs, porn, and junkmail, and found a video.  This is the same video I linked in a previous entry.  I sat for 90 minutes, and took in a well developed idea, moderately well supported for the medium, and came out amazed at how much I had never seen, or didn’t recall.  On that day, after the towers fell, the television was shut off for a few weeks.  The only thing I saw was the end of Seattle’s 116 win season, and people singing between innings at Yankee Stadium.  This 90 minutes, left my mouth dry, and my head running a four-minute mile.  So much was new.

I turned to the web, searching for information on a few key items – thermite, PNAC, FDNY Oral Histories – most of which led me to a few mainstream underground (dig the oxymoron) websites.  I managed to find a few sites that operated under the rules of academic peer-review.  I wanted more than just webheads yelling at each other, quoting media sources without citation.  Steven Jones, Frank Legge, David Gordon, Jerry Lobdill, and Laurie Manwell; all established academics in their fields speaking out, with reason, against the version of events propagated by NIST, FEMA, and the 9/11 Commission.

Apparently, there are a lot of events that I forgot, or that didn’t receive coverage on that day or during the weeks following.  Today, the events only get covered as part of an anti propagation motive – they are associated with a conglomerated idea of “conspiracy theories” that have varied levels of probability.  The result is the inclusion of legitimate scientific questions and research into true crack-pot and nutcase theories.  The distinctive marker, that gets ignored, is the stated purpose of presenting these theories.  If a theory ends with a call for impeachment, then it likely overestimates it value.  The reasonable theories simply point out discrepancies and call for further investigation, something that a fully candid government should, ideally, have no fear of.

I’ll give a short description of the troubling theories, and save in depth analysis for later entries.

Controlled Demolition of WTC1, 2, and 7:
The best supported argument involves the use of thermite, a chemical substance that, once catalyzed, will burn hot enough to melt steel without an outside source of oxygen.  Pieces of steel found in the wreckage show, after preliminary examination, cause to suspect the use of thermite.  The key here is to realize that the fires caused by the planes hitting WTC 1 and 2 could not have burned hot enough to melt steel, but molten steel was found within the building rubble.  Secondly, WTC 7, which I see as the smoking gun, was never hit by a plane, but collapsed later in the evening.  FEMA released a diagram of the damage, which was confined to one side of the building.  Why then did the entire building come down at the same time?  The Federal Building bombing in Oklahoma occurred on one side, and only half the building collapsed.  The other half, stood until it was demolished.  It seems hard to believe that random damage from falling debris would have produced more of an immediate effect than an intentional bombing.  In short, there are unanswered legitimate questions that have yet to be addressed by any official government investigation and a FEMA report on WTC 7 even calls for further investigation.

FDNY Oral Histories:
From 1 October 2001, until 1 February 2002, statements from emergency service workers present or involved were taken and transcribed.  503 histories were collected, about 12,000 pages according to the New York Times.  But these statements were classified until 2005.  The immediate question is what would necessitate the classification of these statements, that were only released after legal action by the New York Times?  Within these statements, about 23% of them, are references that could be enough to warrant the consideration of secondary explosives.  There are vivid descriptions of blasts occurring on the lower floors, from within the building and outside, that are not attributed to an aircraft impact or a building collapse.  But no official report considered the statements in an effort to explain them.  It is difficult to determine the source of the explosive-like sounds, only further investigation yield the truth.  Initial examination of the statements also reveals something else troubling.  The witnesses, within their statements, first describe what they heard, and then revise their interpretations of events while making reference to an outside source of information, suggesting a massive re-education of public interpretation strong enough to alter even the perceptions of people that saw the events with their own eyes.

Project for a New American Century (PNAC):
As a historian, I find arguments with value consider evidence within a wider context.  PNAC is an organization that, prior to the events of 11 September, stated a need for increased military spending and capabilities but conceded that this would not be likely without a massive catalyzing event, such as Pearl Harbor.  This connects to our modern government through social networks within the defense industry and politicians, most notable Vice President Dick Cheney, whom was the CEO of Halliburton and Secretary of Defense before he was Vice President.  This stated need for a massive event, and then the occurrence of such an event, should cause suspicion to a reasonable person.  Much like the statements of al Queda, followed up with attacks.  But PNAC was never investigated by an official commission, and they remain outside the sphere of suspicion in public media discourse.  Certainly a historian fifty years from now that studies this context will see some conflict of evidence and the official version of events and find sufficient reason to investigate further.

Beyond these reasons to be critical, there is something of an established history of the US Government intentionally deceiving Americans for the purposes of conflict: USS Maine bombing precipitated Spanish American War in which the US expanded further westward; Pearl Harbor which was used as a patriotic motivator, as well as the flag on Mt Suribachi, to influence public opinions in favor of the war; the Gulf of Tonkin incident orchestrated by the CIA and DOD to provoke Congress into allowing the Executive to wage war without declaration (Blank Check); clear signs of the Japanese Emperor willing to surrender in the summer of 1945 were either ignored or not investigated to allow the use of an atomic bomb to intimidate Stalin on the precepts of saving American lives by avoiding an invasion.

Within a context, the participation of the US government in yet another False Flag event isn’t beyond the realm of reasonable possibility.

So I am skeptical, reasonable, and candid.  There are theories that are beyond reason, but truth is larger than any one piece.  Reality is a puzzle, and every perspective is a piece of a larger picture.  The mainstream response to Truthers, is to isolate a piece of the puzzle that seems immediately outlandish that all other associated pieces are dismissed. And the discussion moves on.

I am a patriot. The US can be the height of civilization, a leader in human rights, equality, charity, and morality.  I want so much for this to be so, but I am at times ashamed of things done in the name of idyllic agendas.  The American Hegemony does not need to be a bad thing.  To prevent the evils of Imperialism, all we need to do is hold our government accountable, as the Founding Fathers intended us to.  In the mean time, I will allow all questions to enter my mind in a public attempt to find a truth, be it the current story, or one revised through reason.