Thursday, August 23, 2007

A Spot of Debunking

A new commenter named Boris Epstein claimed in the comments to be able to prove with high school physics that the official story is impossible, so I asked him to put together a post on his blog and we'd take a look at it. Boris divides the events of 9-11 into "Impossible", "Improbable" and "Implausible". Under "Impossible":

Near free-fall speed collapse of WTC1 (10 seconds), WTC2 (10 - 14 seconds) and WTC7 (6.5 seconds).

We'll briefly note the high school physics stuff about how free fall is not "speed" but acceleration. Nobody has satisfactorily timed the collapse of the Twin Towers to my knowledge, due to several difficulties.

First, nobody was close enough to film the collapse of the buildings in their entirety without their view being obstructed by the other large buildings in the way. Those who were close enough were running too hard to focus on the collapses.

Second, nobody has explained why controlled demolition should be as fast as free-fall speed in the first place. This seems to be just assumed.

Here's a page with the Southwark Towers demolition, which Steven Jones cited in one of his lectures as a very good comparable for the WTC. You have to click on the third icon from the left on the bottom row to see this demo.

Watching carefully, I estimated that the roof on the left building started sagging right around 38.24 into the movie, and that the top of the building hit ground at about 45.69. Thus the duration of the collapse was about 7.45 seconds. From this page we know that the roof of the building was about 98 meters high, or approximately 323 feet. But a building of 323 feet should not take 7.45 seconds to collapse in free fall, it should only take 4.5 seconds by the formula 16*4.5^2=323.

And indeed, there is no reason to expect that controlled demolition results in a free-fall collapse of a building, for the same "common sense" reasoning that the CD theorists use with regard to the WTC. As Boris writes:

That model excludes such factors as resistance each floor should be expected to provide, the air resistance or considerations of energy needed to pulverize the contents of the buildings reported to have been turned into fine dust.

If you watch the Southwark Towers, you'll see that they appeared to blow out every fifth floor or so. But shouldn't the other floors provide resistance? And in fact, they do, which is why the implosion takes as long as it does, instead of free fall time.

Another thing that the CT crowd seldom looks at is where the collapses initiated and where they ended up. They say "Well, a rock dropped from the top of the WTC would have hit the ground in 9.22 seconds." Yes, but the collapse did not start from the top, and it did not end at the ground. WTC 2 collapsed from 28 floors down, and ended up in a pile that was about 8 stories high. If we say that each floor was about 12 feet high, this means that effectively the South Tower collapsed approximately 74 stories, or around 900 feet, not the 1360 or so feet that is commonly used in these calculations.

Impossibility #2:

The pools of molten steel found in the ruins of the three skyscrapers that collapsed on 9/11.

Sigh. I'll be hearing this one on my deathbed. Just because people say they saw molten steel under the buildings doesn't mean its true. As we have discussed endlessly, the NASA thermal imaging photos showed temperatures of up to 1400 degrees Fahrenheit in the pile, which is not remotely enough to melt steel. Ergo, the material was something else, probably aluminum or lead or other metals which do melt at temperatures under 1400 degrees F.

Improbability #1:

Four airliners successfully hijacked and subject to intercept procedures are not intercepted, even though one of them, American Airlines Flight 77, flies after being hijacked for over 40 minutes.

This is the continuing false belief in the infallibility of NORAD and NEADS (Northeast Air Defense Sector). Read the Vanity Fair piece.

American Airlines Flight 11
NEADS notified at 8:37
Crashed into North Tower at 8:46

United Airlines Flight 175
NEADS notified at 9:03
Crashed into South Tower at 9:03

American Airlines Flight 77
NEADS notified at 9:34
Crashed into Pentagon at 9:37

United Airlines Flight 93
NEADS notified at 10:07
Crashed into strip mine in Shanksville, 10:03

To me, it is very implausible that any of those planes could have been intercepted given the minimal to nonexistent lead time that NEADS had.

The individuals alleged to have taken over the job of piloting hijacked airliners were all characterized by their flight instructors as rather inefficient, if not hopelessly inept, pilots.

And yet they all had commercial pilots' licenses. Hani Hanjour (who gets cited) was indeed turned down for a plane rental at Freeway Airport, but he was turned down after making three test flights with instructors at that airport. It is hard to believe that a hopelessly inept pilot would be given a second chance, let alone a third. In Dylan's film, Marcel Bernard describes him as an average to below average pilot, not hopelessly inept.

Hani Hanjour, the alleged pilot of AA 77, chooses to aim for the West Wing of the Pentagon.

Because that was the closest wing.

On September 11, 2001 a number of war games, some simulating aircraft hijackings were in progress.

My response to this one is always the same. How many war games, some involving simulating aircraft hijackings, were in progress on the morning of 9-10-01? Nobody's ever had an answer to that, but it is crucial to understanding whether the number and type of war games that day were unusual.

If some of you want to take on the implausible ones in the comments feel free.