Friday, October 27, 2006

Ask Dr. Science

NPR used to have a short humor featurette in the late afternoon called Ask Dr. Science. Produced by Duck's Breath Mystery Theatre, it featured a (straight) question and a very absurd and amusing, pseudo-scientific answer. The piece would close with "Ask Dr Science, he knows more than you do." (Dr Science voice): "I have a master's degree!" "In science!"

Well, that's the way that I feel about this post. The guy claims to have a master's degree in engineering from Stanford, but look at this claim:

Steel frame towers are built very strongly. They need to withstand the pressure of gale-force winds, the violent rocking motion of earthquakes, and the ravages of time. For this reason, they are almost impossible to destroy.

Airplane strikes do not destroy skyscrapers. A bomber strike to the Empire State Building during World War II did not harm that building. The World Trade Center towers were designed to survive a strike by a Boeing 707. The 767 is more massive, so the building was stressed near its design limits. But if a failure had occurred at that moment, it would have been at the point of highest levered stress, near the base of the tower, and the tower would have fallen over like a giant tree in a forest windstorm. That, of course, did not happen.


What in the world is he thinking? Lord knows, the Deniers make a lot of ridiculous claims, but that just might be up there with the Keebler elves and their tree analogy.

42 Comments:

At 27 October, 2006 12:25, Blogger tym said...

You left out the best part.....

"How to destroy a skyscraper. So, how do you destroy a skyscraper? Suppose you need the vacant land to build another one, for example.

A nuclear bomb is very effective, but it can be difficult to get permits from the city."

 
At 27 October, 2006 12:36, Blogger remdem said...

A nuclear bomb is very effective

Nuclear bomb? Why not a gigantic moon laser to pinpoint the building and hit it with 1.4 GHz of gamma rays?! Or better yet, demolitions of skyscrapers can also be accomplished by lifting the building up on little silts, and carrying it somewhere else that wants it, like New Jersey or Easter Island.

 
At 27 October, 2006 12:43, Blogger Jujigatami said...

No Tym,

This is the best part:

First of all, the Boeing 757 and 767 aircraft are probably equipped with remote-controlled flight computers for purposes of hijack recovery. This was stated by a British intelligence operative and was also suggested by a former German secretary of defense. The technology needed for such systems is well known, and its utility is obvious. If these systems had been operative on 9/11, then they should have been used to take control from the hijackers.

Sheesh. I'm actually beginning to want the first ammendment protections on free speech taken away. Maybe that is the real CT!!!

 
At 27 October, 2006 12:47, Blogger Stevew said...

Who is this clown? The towers were a tube construction. The 208-foot wide facade is, in effect, a prefabricated steel lattice, with columns on 39-inch centers acting as wind bracing to resist all overturning forces; the central core takes only the gravity loads of the building. As you can see they were in 2 story sections, bolted and welded together as were the central core griders. 12-foot floor-to-floor height.
This is totally different than the Empire State and unique in the world of buildings

 
At 27 October, 2006 12:51, Blogger MarkyX said...

Yeah, this man is full of science. That's why when doing comparisons, he is comparing two different buildings with two different planes.

 
At 27 October, 2006 12:57, Blogger Triterope said...

The Boeing 757 and 767 aircraft are probably equipped with remote-controlled flight computers for purposes of hijack recovery.

Of course, there is a faction of 9-11 Denial that believes the planes were hijacked by remote control. So what happens if one group uses remote control to hijack the planes, and another group uses this system to try and recover it?

I don't know what would happen in that scenario, but I'm pretty sure it would star Steve Martin.

 
At 27 October, 2006 13:13, Blogger Dog Town said...

I don't know what would happen in that scenario, but I'm pretty sure it would star Steve Martin.
I'm thinking of a title like,
"The Man with Almost Half a Brain".

 
At 27 October, 2006 13:13, Blogger Griffinhart said...

What kills me is the sketchy use of his degrees and titles to appear more knowledgable than he actually is.

The use of PhD, which he certainly is entitled to use, but not mentioning it's in Psychology. And makes sure to let everyone know he has an MA in Engineering. Yet, he doesn't make note that the degree is in Electrical Engineering, which I'm fairly certain doesn't make him an expert in the construction, demolition, or problems associated with Aircraft impacting and subsequent fires of steel framed skyscrapers.

 
At 27 October, 2006 13:35, Blogger Triterope said...

What kills me is the sketchy use of his degrees and titles to appear more knowledgable than he actually is.

Another Scholar for 9-11 Truth.

 
At 27 October, 2006 13:44, Blogger CHF said...

But if a failure had occurred at that moment, it would have been at the point of highest levered stress, near the base of the tower, and the tower would have fallen over like a giant tree in a forest windstorm. That, of course, did not happen.

So...if a plane strikes a tower, it would result in the tower breaking at the bottom and falling over???

Sure hope this "engineer" doesn't build skyscrapers.

 
At 27 October, 2006 13:52, Blogger zippychippy said...

Then they collapsed directly to the ground, with remarkably little collateral damage to surrounding buildings

Ah, sorry moron. The collapse of WTC 1 & 2 destroyed or badly damaged 14 other buildings and two subway stations.

An additional 42 buildings received moderate damage.

 
At 27 October, 2006 13:54, Blogger zippychippy said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 27 October, 2006 14:08, Blogger insidejob said...

hey Griffinhart, can you give a source that says the guy's degree is in electrical engineering, as you claim? either way it doesn't address his arguments, but I'm of course skeptical of claims by anyone who actually investigates 9/11 and claims it wasn't an inside job. mostly I think you people just have your heads firmly implanted in the sand, though, refusing to watch or read anything that might give you a dose of reality. blue-pill eaters, all of you.

the guy is actually right, by the way.


http://belowgroundsurface.org

 
At 27 October, 2006 14:17, Anonymous Anonymous said...

But if a failure had occurred at that moment, it would have been at the point of highest levered stress, near the base of the tower, and the tower would have fallen over like a giant tree in a forest windstorm.

By "at that moment" I'm assuming he means the moment of the collision. I guess he thinks the towers were like big levers. Putting aside for a moment how retarded that theory is, it isn't even relevant because the towers collapsed hours later.

There's a PhD-abuse epidemic right now. You slap a Dr. next to your name and you can get away with saying anything, no matter how stupid it is. And a lot of honest people will believe you because of the letters after your name.

Can Stanford revoke this guy's PhD?

 
At 27 October, 2006 14:20, Blogger CHF said...

insidejob,

yeah we have our heads in the sand - along with every structural engineer nn the planet it would seem.

If only we were as smart as you...

Do you think that an aircraft impact should result in structural failure at the bottom?

If yes, do explain why...

 
At 27 October, 2006 14:41, Blogger Jay said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 27 October, 2006 14:54, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the tower would have fallen over like a giant tree in a forest windstorm
...

Like the Road Runner after he runs off the edge of the cliff, the entire building pauses a moment, then goes straight down
...

Like dropping a lead ball into a vat of molasses, or dropping a feather into the air, gravitational acceleration cannot achieve its full effect if it is fighting any opposing force


Why bother doing a rigurous study to test your hypotheses when you've got kick-ass analogies like this.

the guy is actually right, by the way.

No, he's not. His claims are completely spurious, they're not supported by any research. They're merely commonsense guesses at what happened. This man has completely abandoned his principles as a scientist to help sell a few DVD's. He is, in fact, a shill.

 
At 27 October, 2006 14:57, Blogger Stevew said...

insidejob
Anyone who compares the towers with the Empire State building is totally devoid of any credibility

 
At 27 October, 2006 15:00, Blogger Jay said...

I cant find Jerry Russel on the Stanford site
https://stanfordwho.stanford.edu/lookup?search=jerry%20russell&submit=Search

 
At 27 October, 2006 15:10, Blogger Triterope said...

For a guy who claims to be an expert in his own right, his paper is awfully derivative.

Meaning, it repeats the same tired bullshit that's been answered a million times before: speed of gravity, color of fire, melting steel, available time to set up a controlled demolition (with Israeli involvement), NORAD stand down, WTC7 wasn't hit by anything, and a bunch of Arabs couldn't have done this. There may be more; I can only take this stuff in limited doses.

I find it hilarious that this clown boasts about his impressive academic record, and then uses Eric Hufschmid and a bunch of other conspiracy kooks as his references. What's the old fable about building a house upon sand?

 
At 27 October, 2006 15:13, Blogger shawn said...

blue-pill eaters, all of you.

OMFG IZ DA M@TRICKS! LOLZ!

 
At 27 October, 2006 15:18, Blogger Jay said...

Griffinhart, i think u are confused with Jeff King.
http://www.plaguepuppy.net/public_html/letters/

 
At 27 October, 2006 15:56, Blogger James B. said...

Jeff King has a BS in EE, this guy apparently has a masters.

The author has a master's degree in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University, and a Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Oregon.

http://www.911-strike.com/demolition-pro-con.htm

How do you go from EE to pyschology? Interesting career change.

 
At 27 October, 2006 16:45, Blogger dman said...

Geez - my father has masters in E.E
but he is not a moonbat. Must be
something in the water.

 
At 27 October, 2006 18:06, Blogger R.Lange said...

He's certainly putting that psychology degree to poor (good?) use on the conspiracy theorists...

 
At 27 October, 2006 18:44, Blogger tym said...

Like the Road Runner after he runs off the edge of the cliff, the entire building pauses a moment, then goes straight down

Don't forget holding up the "Uh Oh" sign first!

 
At 27 October, 2006 19:44, Blogger Pat said...

mostly I think you people just have your heads firmly implanted in the sand, though, refusing to watch or read anything that might give you a dose of reality. blue-pill eaters, all of you.

Jeez, if you only knew how many of these stupid videos I've watched, and the stupid websites I've read. They all end up being the same. They all make the stupid claim about the terrorists not being on the Flight Manifests, they all talk about cellphone calls being supposedly impossible even though the vast majority of the calls they term suspicious are from Airfones.

 
At 27 October, 2006 20:18, Blogger The Reverend Schmitt., FCD. said...

mostly I think you people just have your heads firmly implanted in the sand, though, refusing to watch or read anything that might give you a dose of reality.

...On a blog which does little other than link and respond to conspiracy theorist resources. Brilliantly thought out criticism.

 
At 27 October, 2006 20:39, Blogger The Artistic Macrophage said...


The author has a master's degree in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University, and a Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Oregon.

http://www.911-strike.com/demolition-pro-con.htm

How do you go from EE to pyschology? Interesting career change.


Yes interesting indeed. I went from a Technology Diploma in Electronic Engineering to a Medical Degree. Lets just say my ability to comment, now, many years later, on the finer points of an electronic circuit, is minimal at best, let alone comment on the science of building collapse.

I would say he was never "into" engineering, but completed his degree, then went on to his passion...psychology.

TAM

 
At 27 October, 2006 22:33, Blogger Simon Lazarus said...

You read this shit, and you wonder: where do allegedly intelligent people come up with such garbage? How is it possible that these people live, work, and breathe amongst us?

So, the answer has to be one of two: either these are really stupid people who are pretending to be intelligent, or they are aliens from another planet. My theory? I believe, with some evidence showing that with normal human beings you tell them something ("The planes crashed into the WTC towers") and they understand it after one or two tellings ("Okay - I understand"), that these people continue to post nonsense ("Fires don't destroy skyscrapers") or lunatic theories ("There were no planes") demonstrates that they are aliens.

Simple.

Does anyone remember some movie a long time ago with Roddy Piper, in which he discovers that aliens are on earth and you can see them with a special tv monitor? Maybe if we trained a monitor on the likes of Bermas, and Barrett, and Fetzer, the mark of the alien will show up.

There can be no other explanation for such crazed ideas still floating around.

 
At 28 October, 2006 04:35, Blogger Stevew said...

Good point Simon, where are my glasses, "They Live"

 
At 28 October, 2006 14:09, Blogger The Artistic Macrophage said...

lol...so funny, i actually loved that movie when it came out...a classic...in a cheezy cult classic sort of way.

TAM

 
At 28 October, 2006 16:57, Blogger shawn said...

I came here to kick ass and chew bubblegum...and I'm all out of bubblegum.

 
At 29 October, 2006 09:50, Blogger Ransom said...

Jerry Russell, Ph.D. informs us:

and the tower would have fallen over like a giant tree in a forest windstorm. That, of course, did not happen.

Of course that did not happen. Would someone please explain the conservation of angular momentum to "Dr. Science"?

 
At 29 October, 2006 12:31, Blogger insidejob said...

how do you Deniers explain the freefall speed of the collapses?

http://belowgroundsurface.org

 
At 29 October, 2006 13:09, Blogger Ransom said...

how do you Deniers explain the freefall speed of the collapses?

The collapses didn't happen at "freefall speed," as the giant plumes of free-falling debris falling faster than the collapsing towers amply demonstrate.

 
At 29 October, 2006 13:31, Blogger The Artistic Macrophage said...

He doesnt need to explain it, he is a CTist...he just needs to stir up shit, make the lives of others horrible, and have a good nights sleep.

TAM

 
At 30 October, 2006 06:57, Blogger Griffinhart said...

can you give a source that says the guy's degree is in electrical engineering?

Do a little googling.

http://www.911-strike.com/demolition-pro-con.htm

It's an article by the same guy and the bottom of the page reads:

The author has a master's degree in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University, and a Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Oregon.

 
At 31 October, 2006 00:28, Blogger The Girl in Grey said...

The cartoonish image is funny. The man who came up with it is a NUT.

 
At 31 October, 2006 16:26, Blogger Just Me said...

Ok, so this jackass either never took for FE (formerly EIT, the first test you have to pass to become a professional engineer), or if he did, he seriously flunked the ethics part...from the NSPE Code of Ethics for Engineers:
"Engineers shall perform services only in the areas of their competence."

Last time I checked, building design does not fall under an electrical engineer's area of competence.

And what the hell is with people thinking that a building should tip over like a tree?? The comparison has many flaws...like for starters, the scale...they might as well say "Well, my glass of milk tips over so the Twin Towers should have done the same thing." It's the exact same physical law but on such a massively different scale that it's ridiculous. An enormous force would be required to tip a skyscraper over like a tree. For something like a glass, tree or skyscraper to tip over, its center of gravity has to be moved far enoughso that it becomes unstable...not very hard when you're dealing with a glass of milk, or even with a tree, but to move it far enough to tip a skyscraper...damn near impossible.

And, as for tipping 'at the point of highest levered stress' near the base, he's forgetting one really inportant factor...namely the mass moment of inertia...in other words, how much force would have to be applied initially to get the tower to move at all. That Newton guy was pretty smart...objects at rest tend to stay at rest unless acted upon by a force. And making my best engineering judgement, the force needed is a lot more than a 767 could apply.

 
At 06 February, 2009 10:17, Blogger RicHard-59 said...

IF twin towers had not collapsed, but fires put down, what would have done to them?
a) Real controlled demolition
b) remove only top parts
c) remove and rebuild top parts?
d) remove and rebuild towers new

a: explosives, how much, how
b,c: how to support top parts from falling

 
At 27 October, 2009 05:15, Blogger Evan said...

Keep the Both Thumbs Up!
Science Advice

 

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