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12 May 2016


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I don't mean any offense to you. I was unaware of your participation at SST.

I agree with optimax that it's more productive to look at who was funding supporting the 9-11 hijackers. But I also think that the 9-11 Commission report was deficient (if those that question it are even half right).



I not offended; I don’t get offended easily because if I’m wrong, I want to know. I thought you were making assumptions about me, so I corrected them.

I am also someone who doesn’t have an opinion about the actual perps. I’m still stuck on the science of what happened. Sure, two planes flew into the buildings, and there was a fireball from one of them. The hijackers left suicide note and wills in a leased car in an airport enroute to Portland, ME, so we knew they were Arabs. The buildings collapsed. There was devastating loss. But since when do Jet A/kerosene fires burn downward and vaporize massive steel buildings in under 10 seconds?

By the same token, my ire was piqued when I watched Ehud Barak, of all people, declare on BBC at 11:30 AM EST on 9/11, an hour after the North Tower came down, as if he were the President of the United States, calling for a US-run global war on terror, and declaring twice that it was Bin Laden who done it. Then four hours later Richard Perle and Barak were back for two hours on the BBC to declare positively that Bin Laden did it. No investigation. Zip. Fait accompli. And everyone bought it.

When TWA 800 blew up over Long Island Sound, they retrieved every piece they could, and reconstructed the plane to study what happened. It was a crime scene. No one could go in there. It took the NTSB four years to conclude their investigation. 9/11? We got rid of the evidence. we sold it to the Chinese.

The consequences of the results over time of the decisions that immediately followed the WTC catastrophe have been disastrous, in my view, for America, both domestically and internationally. Bush refused an investigation until the three widows shamed senators and representatives into doing something 440 days later. WTF? The General Counsel for the 9/11 Commission (some guy named Farmer) wrote a book describing how they were purposefully hamstrung in doing their jobs, and denied access to documents. Further, they were forced to do it on a shoestring, and denied funds to do the job properly.

So I’m back at the beginning. As I wrote optimax below, the scientific method: first the what, and then the how. Neither has been answered satisfactorily. NIST’s quasi-pancake theory implies resistance, and there was no resistance in the 10-second free-fall we all witnessed. Working with the physics is complicated and requires experts. And time. But the final answer is not. I didn’t need to be a rocket scientist to understand that the O-rings in the Challenger disaster would fail below 32 degrees, and that NASA ignored the manufacturer’s desperate warning not to launch the day of because it was too cold.

Things have to make sense. And nothing about the supposed science of the tower destructions makes any sense to me. Snap, Crackle, and Pop downward in 10 seconds doesn’t cut it with me.



No offense was taken, and no explanations are needed.

I do think you might want to look up the definition of the word "wonder", however. My dictionary provides something along the lines of "to be curious to know something", and that is exactly the appropriate response to uncertainty, whether it's about WTC 7 or anything else of importance.

So I'm at a loss as to why you are surprised that someone trained in science and engineering would be curious to know more about important topics.


What was interesting was seeing a collapsed apartment building or house next to undamaged ones, despite identical architecture and probably built by the same contractor to the same specs.

but that's exactly it! In this case three buildings came down in seemingly identical fashion - one after the owner said "pull it." How likely is that to happen spontaneously. How hard is that to do? The experts who know the answer to that are demolition people.

I agree with you about practical demonstrations. The blacksmith's bar in the forge was was not that.

also super high temperatures of forges, kilns, and Finnish stoves are contained structured systems - a burning building is a mostly open one.

The Twisted Genius

To all those who have insight into the collapse of the WTC,

Was any investigation able to determine if the structures were actually built to the required specifications? Did anyone cut corners during the construction?


The second link in the my first post has a picture showing the WTC buckling inward. I won't convince anybody of anything, just putting what I think out there.


Cieran, I have always learned much from your comments. I read SST everyday and consider it the gold standard--the colonel and many posters are vintage elixirs that separate the precious metal from the base elements of our MSM and government propaganda. I don't post much but I'm, an INFP and absorb more than I emit.



a burning building is a mostly open one.

I disagree--the floor and ceiling made it more like a stove, the open sides fed air to the fire. It didn't have to get as hot as a kiln.



That's another good question. I don't recall allegations of improper construction in any of the official reports, but it's been a few years since I last used these documents as required reading for graduate coursework in hazard-resistant structural design, so my recollection may be incomplete.

There were concerns expressed in the FEMA report about more-or-less random changes made to the structure over time, but those were more of the architectural and operational varieties than structural, e.g., changing occupancy and use patterns.

Probably the most relevant building modifications cited were those that added private stairs and re-routed as-designed egress routes, but compared to the effect of the airplane crashing into and severing those evacuation routes, those later revisions were not likely a substantial factor in the loss of life. Design changes that occur during construction are common root causes for structural collapse (e.g., the 1978 collapse of the Hartford Civic Center), but I do not recall any mention of such large-scale revisions to the WTC towers, and that's the kind of smoking gun that one tends to remember!

Cutting corners on construction is a common unfortunate occurrence, but it's not generally found in high-visibility high-priced structures in this country. My own practical experience tends to west-coast practices, where it is well-known that the highest structures generally have the best designs and the most careful construction. I imagine that the WTC would be a similar case, but I'm not as familiar with east-coast practices beyond the observation that they tend to lag best-practices in earthquake country.

There are some important factors implicated in the collapse that are less about cost-cutting, and more about ad hoc protection measures that could have been performed with less attention to detail than warranted given the importance of the structure. For example, many of the buildings' fire-resistance systems were add-ons, and some of those protective measures were installed in a piecemeal or incremental manner that could compromise performance. Those protection systems were not designed to work in case of a collision with an airliner, and it would not take much of a compromise of structural fire-retardant coatings to cause unexpected structural effects.

Many people have asserted that the WTC towers were designed to resist impact by an aircraft, but the presumption in that case was a relatively slow-moving airliner lost in the fog or otherwise off course at an approach velocity. The terrorists flew those 767s into the WTC towers at more like 500 mph, and designing a high-rise structure to resist that kind of insult is well beyond the scope of normal practice.

I keep a copy of the WTC FEMA report in my office, along with reports and plans for other buildings that have suffered at the hands of man-made and natural hazards. I'll give the FEMA report a look next week to see if any mention can be found of improper construction processes, but I don't recall any such concerns offhand.



In reply to Jack 14 May 2016 at 09:33 AM

Short answer is yes followed by saying Mr Habakuk will be able to give you far better information than I.

Take a look at the comments in The Guardian to see left-wing pushback but _far more importantly_ take a look at who is leader of the Labour party. Now that's pushback.

I suggest you do some research on the Momentum movement in the UK, here's some links to get you going. Remember if you do further searches to spell the name of the political party as Labour with a U.





https://www.facebook.com/PeoplesMomentum/photos/a.160217227657006.1073741829.155710354774360/260012541010807/?type=3&theater (that one is referencing their help overthrowing the Conservatives in London and electing a Labour mayor)

Finally a starting point search on google:


Hope some or all of that helps.


Agreed about Brexit - and I've moved from being very pro-EU to wanting it at the very least sharply curbed and that a Brexit would be the start of that.


@The Twisted Genius,

According to the FEMA report, they exceeded them.

Little known fact: the Bin Laden Construction group built them in the 60s.

Peter Reichard

The issue in earthquakes is foundation failure caused by factors involving soil mechanics. Bedrock is best, bay fill or sediment the worst as it can lead to soil liquefaction. Identical side by side structures can experience radically different results.

Peter Reichard

The NIST report on building 7 stated that the damage suffered to its south face from the collapse of the north tower in no way contributed to its failure, nor were the diesel fires hot enough to weaken steel to its failure point. It is alleged that thermal expansion of horizontal members at right angles to other horizontal members caused the latter to detach from a vertical column weakening its lateral support. The buckling of this one internal column in a 3x8 array surrounded by 48 external columns set up a chain reaction which brought down the whole building. I find this implausible and would welcome your comments.



to listen to the conspiracy theorists you'll think we shouldn't build anything a couple stories high lest it fall by dominoes due to a fire. Here's an example of a partial collapse, all it took to get going was a cigarette.

Fire fighting is its own "art". Here's a video from "American Heat" who put out a number of such training videos back when I was doing industrial fire fighting long ago. It will give you a good idea of what fire departments face in urban settings. Taller buildings have even greater challenges:



No they didn't. Tishman was the general contractor. Tishman also built WTC 7, in case anyone wants to start some new conspiracy theories!

The only substantial connection between Bin Laden Construction and the WTC is through the architect Yamasaki. He designed a number of structures in Saudi Arabia, where the Bin Laden family did lots of construction business.




You are correct. Cieran is a long standing SST correspondent who seldom comments these days. His informative and technical comments on nuclear matters really helped shed light on some of the fallacies so prevalent on the Internet where cut & paste keyboard jockeys masquerading as experts abound. He is a person of great credibility like Zanzibar was on financial matters.

MRW on the other hand while he generally makes interesting comments, is clearly on some potent stuff when it comes to finance and government spending. His faith-based promotion that infinite government spending leads to financial nirvana is plain absurd. His calling Jim Grant a very successful financial journalist and economic historian an idiot is laughable. If he was such an expert on national finances one wonders why he is he spending all his time channeling his ludicrous theories on the Internet instead of being Treasury Secretary. After all his Midas theory that unlimited government spending financed by money conjured from the ether would be in much demand in DC and national capitals around the world.



You’re right about Tishman being the general contractor, but according to an architect who worked for Emery Roth and Sons in the early 60s--can’t remember his name but I remember the design firm?--one of the many architectural and design firms that worked on the massive project over the 10-year period, Yamasaki brought a lot of the Bin Laden Construction Co. engineers he had worked with in Saudi Arabia over to work with him in NYC.

I never use Preview, unfortunately. Should have written engineers from the Bin Laden group helped with the structural issues . . . . which I realized would be misconstrued after I pressed Post.


When the physical evidence led Galileo to conclude that the earth moved around the sun, and the authorities of the day disagreed, there was literally an avalanche of writings against his thesis.

They were two main arguments: the Scriptures said the sun moved around the earth and there was no truth greater than the scriptures; everyone can see with their own eyes that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west.

In short, Galileo was declared, over and over, presumptuous and vain to challenge both the Scriptures and common sense.

Replace the authority of the scriptures with the authority of the government, and the obvious trajectory of the sun with edited videos of the planes crashing and the buildings falling.

It took roughly two hundred years for Galileo's writing to be taken off the index of forbidden and outlawed publications.

David Habakkuk

Jack, Dubhaltach,

I wish I could give more coherent answers to the questions Jack raises.

These are very complicated matters, about which I am trying to gather my thoughts. There will be ample opportunity, I think, to return to them on future threads.

For the moment, one observation.

On the referendum, my suspicion is that the odds given by the bookies, while I think they underestimate Trump’s chances against Hillary, are probably right about the prospects of ‘Brexit’. Currently, Ladbroke’s has it at 1/3 for remain, and 9/4 for leave.

(See https://sports.ladbrokes.com/en-gb/betting/politics/british/eu-referendum/uk-european-referendum/220800266/ .)

However, I do not think that this is largely a product of the backing given to the ‘Stay’ campaign by the Tory and Labour ‘establishments’.

As with the Scottish referendum on independence from England two years ago, there is a very simple fact.

If people vote ‘yes’, that would settle the issue – there would be no way back. If they vote ‘no’, there would always be the option of a ‘second bite at the cherry.’ Moreover, things in Europe are patently changing. This may not be an appropriate time to take a decision.

Whatever the results of the referendum, moreover, it is not going to put an end to the civil wars going on in both the Labour and Tory parties.

On the latter, I would recommend a piece written by one of the most intelligent Tory columnists, Peter Oborne, last December.

(See http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-3356963/PETER-OBORNE-Cameron-crony-break-Tory-Party-two.html .)

If one wants to see how complex and chaotic developments here are, I would recommend a look at Oborne’s ‘Wikipedia’ entry. Also relevant is the biography of his wife, Martine. Besides being the mother of five children, she is a former director of N.M.Rothschild, who is now vicar of an Anglican church near where I live.

(See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Oborne ; http://www.chiswickw4.com/default.asp?section=info&page=constmichaelsc003.htm .)

Dubhaltach: Thanks for the link to the Patrick Hawes piece. I have listened to it, with interest and enjoyment, and will listen to the full cycle.



I don't find the NIST report's conclusions on WTC 7 to be implausible. I find them to be full of uncertainty, but that's what one would expect given the circumstances. WTC 7 had a lot of structural details (e.g., transfer elements) that are often associated with structural failures, but the NIST report asserted that those were not the primary cause of the failure.

You overstate the NIST report's findings, however, because it did assert that the tower collapses were contributors to the WTC 7 failure by dint of starting fires within WTC 7. The report also noted that several exterior columns were damaged, though those were not suspected of contributing to the primary collapse mechanism.

Thermal expansion of some long-span girders is what I recall as the smoking gun from WTC 7 (though I admit that I haven't reviewed the NIST report in a few years). Redundancy in girder systems is good insurance against collapse, but in the presence of long durations of heating well above design conditions, the indeterminacy of those member connections can quickly change from a structural asset to a serious liability.

Bridge designers are keenly aware of this fact, which is why the design and inspection of thermal expansion joints in long-span bridges becomes something of a religion. The NIST report asserted that these thermal strains accumulated over long spans and compromised the vertical force-resisting systems of the building, and as someone with lots of experience in bridge engineering, I find that interpretation completely plausible.

But as the NIST report notes, there is considerable uncertainty about nearly every aspect of the WTC collapse, starting with lack of availability of as-built plans, all the way up to the difficulty of doing forensic engineering at the WTC site. Various comments here have asserted that the structural materials of the two towers disappeared ("vaporized") during the event, but they didn't: the buildings created a gigantic pile of steel, concrete, and other materials that spread over several blocks.

So a good forensic examination of the site was not likely, and especially given that the primary goal in the aftermath of the collapses was the search for survivors. We will likely never know the full sequence of events leading to the collapse, but one thing we know from plenty of experience is that once a progressive failure begins with even a local failure, it can propagate at astonishing speed because every mechanical system, including high-rise buildings, seeks its lowest potential energy state.

In the case of high-rises, that's DOWN.




I wonder what happened to Zanzibar and Confusedponderer? Voices of reason. I miss them. Age has its limitations.


In regards to SST Community Member Confusedponderer:



You are flaming MRW about his economic thoughts as a way to support Cieran's thoughts on 9/11?

William R. Cumming

Do KSA's citizens still have automatic visa-waiver for entry to U.S.A.?


Tidewater to Cieran, MRW, Optimax, and the engineers here, All,

"The late John Skilling, the head of the structural engineering firm that designed the towers, used to enjoy showing a chart of all the lightest tall buildings in the world. In a yellow band at the top of the chart were the lightest buildings ever built. His designs were clustered in that band; as a group they were overwhelmingly the lightest tall buildings ever erected...In the era when the World Trade Center was designed, the weights for high-rises often exceeded 75 pounds of steel per square foot. The World Trade Center was 37 pounds, saving tens of millions of dollars."

This is from "Perfect Soldiers" by Terry McDermott. (Page 242.)

"The lateral forces, however, which vary unpredictably, the main structural concern with Skilling's building was always wind..." So this is Cieran's LFRS. A "Lateral Force Resisting System," as an unusally significant, dare I say, "problem" with the WTC towers.

McDermott goes on: "In the event, the buildings performed as expected. They handily absorbed the impacts." They returned to their upright stance. One of Skilling's former partners watched Marwan al-Shehhi's [hijacked plane] hit the South Tower. "Magnusson was... appalled....but proud too. The twin towers took the mightiest of blows and stood, still. They could not absorb what followed."

McDermott is repeating what he was told in interviews. I think there is a problem here. The way the conspiracy theories started begins with the obvious images of the towers still standing, and in some video footage, still showing the immense strength that was in their elegant design. There has been intense emphasis on the "fact" of the buildings having survived, only to be taken down by fire. And the fire itself, upon examination, proving suspicious. If the fire(s) cannot be conclusively accounted for, was this then a government conspiracy?

I have spent a hour or more reading into the Optimax link, "Accounts of Tower Structural Instability and Expected Collapse." After reading this I had some sense of having been in a place that was collapsing internally. I think this is a terrific source of info and thank you very much, Optimax. Indeed, thank you also,of course, Cieran and MRW --all the engineering comments, one way or the other.

Flight 11 crashed into One World Trade Center (North Tower) at 8:46:40 a.m. betweeen Floors 93 and 94. Its speed was 466 MPH. That's a good deal more than the kind of lateral force that Skilling was concerned about. I've been in hundred mile an hour winds. You can move around. It's not that bad. The North Tower in that kind of wind would just lean, come back, and lean again more in gusts up to 120-140. That is not what witness reports describe in the North Tower. That building torqued and twisted and this violent alteration to the structure was not temporary, whatever the surface appearance. It was permanent and it was ruinous. There is a lot of hearsay evidence.

Mark Loizeaux of Controlled Demolitions predicted the South Tower would go down first. He was right. He noted that 2/3 of the external columns in one area were missing, I think this was the North Tower. He also comments on paper fires as being a factor, like a coal fire, with plenty of air, up high in the sky. There must have been tons of reams of paper, etc. in those buildings. (It could be determined, I think, from company records.) Like charcoal briquettes?

But skip the fire angle. There are witness reports and there are transcriptions of radio conversations between important people in the damage evaluation effort. It seems obvious that unencumbered fireman got to the 78th floor and above in the North Tower and made reports. By 9:15 a.m.(the North Tower would fall at about 10:27 a.m., so its early on) WTC Construction Manager Frank De Marini radioed from Floor 78 "Sky Lobby" that the drywall insulation was off the central core and that "he had seen something in the steel he'd didn't like." He wanted two structural engineers that were there on hand to come up and take a look. There are significant reports of a debate going on among the structural people and the authorities. The whole building was structurally compromised. "Structural damage appeared to be immense."

I have a little collection of witness statements, which, frankly, I find horrifying and fascinating. I once asked a submariner who was a friend of the family how he knew what had happened to the Japanese carrier he had just torpedoed --he was the approach officer--if they were lying deep and quiet after having survived a depth charge attack. He said they could hear a ship breaking up. Talk about the groaning lovesongs of the humpbacked whales! A ship is not designed to be stood on end. That surprisingly long bronze propeller shaft turning in its trough of cooling water I saw once on a German collier years ago crossing the Atlantic. That would make some noise breaking loose.

The Towers were making NOISES! That is horrible. And amazing. Stair steps were cracking. Drywall coming down. Pipes were being twisted, snapping, water pouring down. Enormous sheets of glass on exterior suddenly giving way. The elevator shafts seem to have been twisted loose. Strong doors could not be opened, jammed shut. The building was creaking. Groaning. (I once heard that the whole urban legend that the White House was ghost-haunted back in, was it Truman's day, was because the entire structure was slipping off its footings.) In the South Tower an architect, Bob Shelton, heard cracking, a strange, sinister sound, as of a box of spaghetti being broken in two. (In other worlds, something impossible to explain. Was it everywhere?) And he commented to the effect: When a building "goes off its center..." (Meaning it never comes back.) He got out of there quite promptly.

So the North Tower, which in the first moments seemed to be tipping over, throwing people into the air, and down on the floor, came back, but when it came back, it came back wrong? There was a sudden energy shift from top to bottom that torqued it ultimately beyond survival, then? One thing that I noticed, a witness who had been high in the building stated that he saw a fifty-foot crack (!) in the floor. That would mean not only the concrete but the tile floor-covering then over the concrete? (Ever seen that in your house, stick built or not?) Having just read up on the way the floors were attached, suspended, fitted into that exoskeleton--quite soundly, I guess-- that long crack is a shocker. It means that the twisting of the building not only broke the thick concrete and steel floor, it must have tested the fastenings, welds, angle straps, the whole clever, effective way the building support and floors were fitted together. This cracking on the horizontal surely must be at least in part a cause of sagging, which is clearly documented in videos in the inward bending of the exterior steel support walls; they were being pulled inboard, then, in at least some areas, by tons of now cracked, broken, slowly sinking concrete floor.

Not to sound like an eejit--but that was a horrifying twist or torquing to the North Tower, and when the shock was absorbed, frankly, what I think had happened was, that building was done! It was ruptured!

To speculate on an admittedly moot point: Suppose no fires at all, or they were put out, or they burned out. What would have happened? I think many lives could have been saved in a such a scenario, but then what? How many hours or days would the towers have continued to stand? I think there would have been a continued deterioration in the buildings, which is described or suggested in many accounts or observations of the growing instablity.

My suspicion: Those towers would have gotten increasingly unstable, if they didn't suddenly at some point, hours or days later, simply collapse. They would have had to be brought down by controlled demolition. It would have been very hazardous to accomplish. Perhaps it would not have gone so neatly.

I think the North and South WTC Towers were dead in the air, if you will. You didn't need fire. I can't help but wonder about WTC 7. Was it "pulled?"

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