by J. McMichael
October 21, 2001 / November 25, 2001
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Some of the sources have departed since this essay was originally published on October 21, 2001. Where I could find substitutes I have indicated them with the word "or" and a reference to an alternative copy. This revision was published November 25, 2001.
I tried to be patriotic.
I tried to believe. I watched those quarter mile high buildings fall through their jaw-dropping catastrophes over and over again. I listened to the announcer and the experts explain what had happened. And I worked at my pitiful lack of faith, pounding my skull with the remote control and staring at the flickering images on the TV screen.
But poor mental peasant that I am, I could not escape the teachings of my forefathers. I fear I am trapped in my time, walled off from further scientific understanding by my inability to abandon the Second Millennium mindset.
But enough of myself. Let us move on to the Science and Technology of the 21st Century. Those of you who cannot believe should learn the official truth by rote and perhaps you will be able to hide your ignorance.
Here are the bare bones of the WTC incident:
North tower struck 8:45 a.m. from the north at about the 93rd floor, collapsed about 10:29 a.m.
South tower struck 9:03 a.m. from the south at about the 80th floor, collapsed about 9:50 a.m.;
( http://www.infoplease.com/spot/sept112001.html or http://www.public-action.com/911/jmcm/info.html)
* Impact locations estimated by Scientific American http://www.sciam.com/explorations/2001/100901wtc
* Geographic information for WTC given at http://www.public-action.com/911/jmcm/wtcgeog
* Comprehensive info on WTC with 3D model of complex at http://www.GreatBuildings.com/buildings/World_
North tower struck 8:45 a.m. from the north at about the 93rd floor
South tower struck 9:03 a.m. from the south at about the 80th floor
Using jet fuel to melt steel is an amazing discovery, really. It is also amazing that until now, no one had been able to get it to work, and that proves the terrorists were not stupid people. Ironworkers fool with acetylene torches, bottled oxygen, electric arcs from generators, electric furnaces, and other elaborate tricks, but what did these brilliant terrorists use? Jet fuel, costing maybe 80 cents a gallon on the open market.
Let us consider: One plane full of jet fuel hit the north tower at 8:45 a.m., and the fuel fire burned for a while with bright flames and black smoke. We can see pictures of white smoke and flames shooting from the windows.
Then by 9:03 a.m. (which time was marked by the second plane's collision with the south tower), the flame was mostly gone and only black smoke continued to pour from the building. To my simple mind, that would indicate that the first fire had died down, but something was still burning inefficiently, leaving soot (carbon) in the smoke. A fire with sooty smoke is either low temperature or starved for oxygen — or both.
( http://www.fosters.com/news2001c/septem ... BE2E04.jpg or http://www.public-action.com/911/jmcm/fires1-2.html )
But by 10:29 a.m., the fire in north tower had accomplished the feat that I find so amazing: It melted the steel supports in the building, causing a chain reaction within the structure that brought the building to the ground.
And with less fuel to feed the fire, the south tower collapsed only 47 minutes after the plane collision, again with complete destruction. This is only half the time it took to destroy the north tower.
I try not to think about that. I try not to think about a petroleum fire burning for 104 minutes, just getting hotter and hotter until it reached 1538 degrees Celsius (2800 Fahrenheit) and melted the steel (steel is about 99% iron; for melting points of iron and steel see http://www.webelements.com/webelements/ ... /heat.html , http://www.weldtechnology.com/rwintroduction.html or http://www.public-action.com/911/jmcm/r ... ction.html ).
(Celsius/Fahrenheit conversion tool at http://www.vaxxine.com/mgdsite/celcon.htm .)
I try not to wonder how the fire reached temperatures that only bottled oxygen or forced air can produce.
And I try not to think about all the steel that was in that building — 200,000 tons of it (for WTC statistics see http://www.infoplease.com/spot/wtc1.html or http://www.public-action.com/911/jmcm/wtc1.html ).
I try to forget that heating steel is like pouring syrup onto a plate: you can't get it to stack up. The heat just flows out to the colder parts of the steel, cooling off the part you are trying to warm up. If you pour it on hard enough and fast enough, you can get the syrup to stack up a little bit. And with very high heat brought on very fast, you can heat up one part of a steel object, but the heat will quickly spread out and the hot part will cool off soon after you stop.
Am I to believe that the fire burned for 104 minutes in the north tower, gradually heating the 200,000 tons of steel supports like a blacksmith's forge, with the heat flowing throughout the skeleton of the tower? If the collapse was due to heated steel, the experts should be able to tell us how many thousands of tons of steel were heated to melting temperature in 104 minutes and how much fuel would be required to produce that much heat. Can a single Boeing 767 carry that much fuel?
Thankfully, I found this note on the BBC web page ( http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/ ... 540044.stm or http://www.public-action.com/911/jmcm/BBCNews ): "Fire reaches 800 [degrees] C — hot enough to melt steel floor supports."
That is one of the things I warned you about: In the 20th Century, steel melted at 1535 degrees Celsius (2795 F) (see http://www.chemicalelements.com/elements/fe.html), but in the 21st Century, it melts at 800 degrees C (1472 F).
This might be explained as a reporter's mistake — 800 to 900 C is the temperature for forging wrought iron. As soft as wrought iron is, of course, it would never be used for structural steel in a landmark skyscraper. (Descriptions of cast iron, wrought iron, steel, and relevant temperatures discussed at http://www.metrum.org/measures/castiron.htm or http://public-action.com/911/jmcm/castiron.htm.)
But then lower down, the BBC page repeats the 800 C number in bold, and the article emphasizes that the information comes from Chris Wise, "Structural Engineer." Would this professional individual permit himself to be misquoted in a global publication?
Eduardo Kausel, an M.I.T. professor of civil and environmental engineering, spoke as follows to a panel of Boston area civil and structural engineers: "I believe that the intense heat softened or melted the structural elements — floor trusses and columns — so that they became like chewing gum, and that was enough to trigger the collapse." Kausel is apparently satisfied that a kerosene fire could melt steel — though he does not venture a specific temperature for the fire
( http://www.sciam.com/explorations/2001/100901wtc or http://www.public-action.com/911/jmcm/sciam).
I feel it coming on again — that horrible cynicism that causes me to doubt the word of the major anchor-persons. Please just think of this essay as a plea for help, and do NOT let it interfere with your own righteous faith. The collapse of America's faith in its leaders must not become another casualty on America's skyline.
In my diseased mind, I think of the floors of each tower like a stack of LP (33-1/3 RPM) records, except that the floors were square instead of circular. They were stacked around a central spindle that consisted of multiple steel columns interspersed with dozens of elevator shafts (see http://www.skyscraper.org/tallest/t_wtc.htm , http://www.civil.usyd.edu.au/wtc.htm and http://www.GreatBuildings.com/buildings ... enter.html).