October 17, 2007 (Updated December 28, 2007)
The Wisdom Fund

The Achilles' Heel of the Official 9/11 Conspiracy Theory

by Enver Masud

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Achilles, the son of King Peleus of Thessaly and the shape-changing nymph Thetis, is the central character of Homer's great poem, the Iliad. The Achilles' heel is named for the only part of the body of the Greek hero that was vulnerable.

Stretching the metaphor a bit, the collapse time, i.e. the time from the beginning of collapse to total collapse, is the Achilles' heel of the official 9/11 conspiracy theory. The official theory is also vulnerable to other challenges.

The National Institue of Standards and Technology (NIST) -- U.S. government department assigned the job of explaining what "The 9/11 Commission Report" does not -- estimates (October 5, 2007 FAQ) "the elapsed times for the first exterior panels to strike the ground after the collapse initiated in each of the towers to be approximately 11 seconds for WTC 1 and approximately 9 seconds for WTC 2. These elapsed times were based on: (1) precise timing of the initiation of collapse from video evidence, and (2) ground motion (seismic) signals recorded at Palisades, N.Y."

NIST adds that "significant portions of the cores of both buildings (roughly 60 stories of WTC 1 and 40 stories of WTC 2) are known to have stood 15 to 25 seconds after collapse initiation before they, too, began to collapse. Neither the duration of the seismic records nor video evidence . . . are reliable indicators of the total time it took for each building to collapse completely."

"The 9/11 Commission Report" puts it more simply (p. 322): "the South Tower collapsed in ten seconds".

These collapse times are close to that of a billiard ball dropped from the top of WTC 1 or 2. The time is calculated using the equation taught in high school physics classes: Distance = 0.5 X Acceleration X Time Squared.

Using this equation a billiard ball dropped from the top of the 1368 feet tall WTC 1 or 2 would travel 1296 feet in 9 seconds -- it would reach the ground in 9.2 seconds (assuming acceleration due to gravity of 32 feet per second per second, and no wind resistance).

The South towers' collapse in 10 seconds -- at near free-fall speed, due solely to airplane impact and the resulting fires, defies logic.

In Section 6.14.4 of NIST NCSTAR 1, NIST states: ". . . 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."

NIST (a) offers no calculations to support this theory, (b) does not explain how "falling building mass" which explodes into powder retains enough energy to dislodge the floors below, and (b) does not explain the symmetry of collapse.

Prof. Kenneth L. Kuttler, who has done the calculations concludes: "Clearly, fall times of over 25 seconds are expected with reasonable assumptions, yet the observed fall time for the Tower is less that that."

A letter from Dr Frank Legge in the Journal of 9/11 Studies observes that the downward acceleration of Building 7's roof was "very close to free fall right from the start . . . tells us that the steel supports went from adequate strength to virtually no strength in an instant." This is inconsistent with the behavior of steel heated to the point that it could no longer support the structure.

And there are other errors and inconsistencies in NIST's explanation.

Regarding the molten metal reported in the WTC debris pile more than three weeks later, NIST says: "The condition of the steel in the wreckage of the WTC towers (i.e., whether it was in a molten state or not) was irrelevant to the investigation of the collapse since it does not provide any conclusive information on the condition of the steel when the WTC towers were standing."

The molten steel may not provide "any conclusive information on the condition of the steel when the WTC towers were standing", but it is very relevant to the evaluation of hypotheses of why the towers collapsed. The steel at the bottom of the debris pile did not spontaneously get hot and melt after collapse.

"NIST's findings do not support" the "pancake theory" for the collapse, but NIST lead investigator Shyam Sunder explains the squibs (puffs or jets of smoke and dust caused by the detonation of explosives used to demolish buildings) seen in videos of the collapse: "Those clouds of dust may create the impression of a controlled demolition but it is the floor pancaking that leads to that perception."

NIST did not evaluate the use of explosives. NIST writes that an assisted collapse would require many thousands of pounds of explosives, yet their explanation of a gravity only collapse requires none.

Earlier this year researchers at Purdue University claimed to have the answer. They stated, "the weight of the fuel acted like a flash flood of flaming liquid, knocking out essential structural columns within the building and removing fireproofing insulation from other support structures."

These researchers simulated the "top 20 stories" for "3/4 seconds real-time". By extrapolation, flawed yet illustrative, a simulation of the 102 real-time minutes from impact to collapse, using Purdue's computers, could take 652,800 hours -- (102 x 60 / 0.750) x 80 hours, or about 75 years.

A NIST letter dated September 27, 2007, in response to a "request for correction", states: "NIST carried its analysis to the point where the buildings reached global instability. . . . we were unable to provide a full explanation of the total collapse." (emphasis added)

Independent analysts claim that "it is impossible that the jet fuel, by itself, raised the temperature of this floor more than 257° C (495° F). . . . It is not even close to the first critical temperature of 600° C (1,100° F) where steel loses about half its strength."

They add that "In the mid-1990s British Steel and the Building Research Establishment performed a series of six experiments at Cardington to investigate the behavior of steel frame buildings. These experiments were conducted in a simulated, eight-story building. Secondary steel beams were not protected. Despite the temperature of the steel beams reaching 800-900° C (1,500-1,700° F) in three of the tests (well above the traditionally assumed critical temperature of 600° C (1,100° F), no collapse was observed in any of the six experiments."

Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth state that "controlled demolition with explosives was involved in the destruction of the Twin Towers on 9/11." They offer the following evidence:

- Rapid onset of destruction
- Symmetrical and near-freefall speed of collapse
- Virtually complete pulverization of concrete
- 20-ton beams hurled 500 feet
- 700, half inch, bone fragments on top of adjacent buildings
- Molten metal "flowing like lava"
- Iron-rich microspheres
- Chemical evidence of the incendiary thermate
- Ends of columns and beams exhibiting rapid oxidation, sulfidation and intergranular melting
- 118 first-responders reporting sounds of explosions and flashes of light
- Squibs, or mistimed explosions 40 stories below collapse wave
Richard Gage, architect, in a letter to Mark Weitzman of the Simon Wiesenthal Center who, in testimony before the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing, and Terrorism Risk Assessment, referred to as an "Incubator of 9/11 Conspiracies and Disinformation", has demanded a retraction of Weitzman's "false, defamatory, outrageous and insulting statements".

Regarding the 47-story WTC 7 -- whose collapse in under 7 seconds is not even mentioned in "The 9/11 Commission Report" -- NIST writes that "a draft report will be released for public comment by the end of 2007 and that the final report will be released in early 2008."

NIST, and the 9/11 Commission, refuse to debate their findings with independent researchers.

Mr. Masud, an engineer, managed the National Power Grid Study for the U.S. Dept. of Energy (26 multidisciplinary teams, a total of 150 persons), has consulted for USAID and the World Bank, is a contributing author of "9/11 and American Empire: Christians, Jews, and Muslims Speak Out," and the moderator of the 9/11 Special Interest Group blog.

Enver Masud, "What Really Happened on September 11 Remains a Mystery," The Wisdom Fund, April 27, 2002

Enver Masud, "What Really Happened to 7 World Trade Center?," The Wisdom Fund, April 17, 2006

[The chair and vice chair of the 9/11 Commission, respectively Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, assert in their book, Without Precedent, that they were "set up to fail" and were starved of funds to do a proper investigation. They also confirm that they were denied access to the truth and misled by senior officials in the Pentagon and the federal aviation authority; and that this obstruction and deception led them to contemplate slapping officials with criminal charges.--Peter Tatchell, "Even the chair of the 9/11 Commission now admits that the official evidence they were given was 'far from the truth',", September 12, 2007]

Enver Masud, "Fatally Flawed: The 9/11 Commission Report," The Wisdom Fund, 2007

A newly found video shows the core columns during collapse of the North Tower.

The 9/11 WTC Collapses: An Audio-Video Analysis,

[We have discovered distinctive red/gray chips in all the samples we have studied of the dust produced by the destruction of the World Trade Center. Examination of four of these samples, collected from separate sites, is reported in this paper. These red/gray chips show marked similarities in all four samples. One sample was collected by a Manhattan resident about ten minutes after the collapse of the second WTC Tower, two the next day, and a fourth about a week later. The properties of these chips were analyzed using optical microscopy, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), X-ray energy dispersive spectroscopy (XEDS), and differential scanning calorimetry (DSC). . . . The red portion of these chips is found to be an unreacted thermitic material and highly energetic.--Niels H. Harrit, Jeffrey Farrer, Steven E. Jones, Kevin R. Ryan, Frank M. Legge, Daniel Farnsworth, Gregg Roberts, James R. Gourley, Bradley R. Larsen, "Active Thermitic Material Discovered in Dust from the 9/11 World Trade Center Catastrophe," The Open Chemical Physics Journal, Volume 2 ISSN: 1874-4125, pp.7-31]

VIDEO: "Face to Face with Richard Gage," PressTV, July 14, 2011

Adam Taylor, "Collapse Times of the Twin Towers,", April 25, 2012

James F. Tracy, "The 'Conspiracy Theory' Label: Powerful Tool of Media Disinformation and Political Discourse,", April 1, 2014

Steven Jones, Robert Korol, Anthony Szamboti and Ted Walter, "15 years later: on the physics of high-rise building collapses," Europhysics News, July-August 2016

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