Tuesday, June 14, 2005

What's So Hard to Understand?

I admit that this is the first time that I have heard the theory that the WTC collapse must have been the result of professional demolition.
Former chief economist for the Department of Labor during President George W. Bush's first term Morgan Reynolds comments that the official story about the collapse of the WTC is "bogus" and that it is more likely that a controlled demolition destroyed the Twin Towers and adjacent Building No. 7.


Reynolds commented from his Texas A&M office, "It is hard to exaggerate the importance of a scientific debate over the cause of the collapse of the twin towers and building 7. If the official wisdom on the collapses is wrong, as I believe it is, then policy based on such erroneous engineering analysis is not likely to be correct either. The government's collapse theory is highly vulnerable on its own terms. Only professional demolition appears to account for the full range of facts associated with the collapse of the three buildings."

I'd be very interested as to what facts Mr. Reynolds is refering, but several facts also discount his "pofessional demolition" theory. The Discovery Channel ran a documentary on the practice of controlled explosive demolition several years ago. The documentary showed that the demolition of a 12 story building required direct access to the support columns, hundreds of charges, and thousands of feet wire and fuse line. None of those can possibly be done without any people noticing.

On the other angle of refutation, there is nothing that is commonly known about the collapse that does not fit into the standard theory. Part one: initiation of the collapse. Surely everyone has seen footage of a blacksmith at work. The metal is taken out of the forge glowing hot. The blacksmith then hammers the steel into shape. Heat softens metal and enough heat will remove the requisite rigidity necessary to hold a given load. Jet fuel is formulated to burn hot, and the fires resulting from the impacts burned long enough to allow the loads of the upper floors to buckle the heated columns.

Part two: collapse of the below-impact floors. While the structural frame of the Towers were able to hold the upper floors for years, they did so under static conditions. Aside from flex from the wind, the columns faced no change in momentum. Picture a brick balanced on the head of a nail. The static state can last for as long as you want it. Now lift the brick and let it fall on the head. Dropped from a sufficient height, the nail will buckle. The support pillars of the WTC Towers were no nails, but that was one hell of a brick that fell across the burning levels.

Mr. Reynolds claims to want a "scientific debate". Given the ability of the simpler theory to explain the results, I doubt that he neither wants nor would accept a truly scientific analysis. I might suspect ulterior motives when he makes the non-sequitur link of "faulty engineering ergo faulty policy". Methinks the policy is the true target of his scepticism.

Link via Little Green Footballs

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