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Why Did the WTC Skyscrapers Collapse?

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    Why Did the Trade Center Skyscrapers Collapse? by Morgan Reynolds LewRockwell.com It didn t seem real- There are thousands of these steel beams that just fell
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 6, 2006
      Why Did the Trade Center Skyscrapers Collapse?
      by Morgan Reynolds

      "It didn't seem real- There are thousands of these steel beams
      that just fell like pickup sticks."

      ~ John Albanese, volunteer firefighter and amateur photographer

      "What struck us - guys like Warren Jennings and myself, who have
      spent basically all our lives in the scrap business - we'd never seen
      steel this heavy, this huge, this massive. It was just unbelievable."

      ~ Michael Henderson (p. 93),
      General Manager, Marine Terminals, Metal Management NE

      To explain the unanticipated free-fall collapses of the twin towers at
      the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, mainstream experts (also
      see The American Professional Constructor, October 2004, pp. 12-18)
      offer a three-stage argument: 1) an airplane impact weakened each
      structure, 2) an intense fire thermally weakened structural components
      that may have suffered damage to fireproofing materials, causing
      buckling failures, which, in turn, 3) allowed the upper floors to
      pancake onto the floors below.

      Many will nod their head, OK, that does it and go back to watching the
      NBA finals or whatever, but I find this theory just about as
      satisfying as the fantastic conspiracy theory that "19 young Arabs
      acting at the behest of Islamist extremists headquartered in distant
      Afghanistan" caused 9/11. The government's collapse theory is highly
      vulnerable on its own terms, but its blinkered narrowness and lack of
      breadth is the paramount defect unshared by its principal scientific
      rival - controlled demolition. Only professional demolition appears to
      account for the full range of facts associated with the collapses of
      WTC 1 (North Tower), WTC 2 (South Tower), and the much-overlooked
      collapse of the 47-story WTC building 7 at 5:21 pm on that fateful day.

      The scientific controversy over the initial structural weakening has
      two parts: what caused the original tower damage and did that damage
      "severely" weaken the structures? Photos show a stable, motionless
      North Tower (WTC 1) after the damage suffered at 8:46 am and the South
      Tower after its 9:03 am impact. If we focus on the North Tower, close
      examination of photos reveals arguably "minor" rather than "severe"
      damage in the North Tower and its perimeter columns.

      As many as 45 exterior columns between floors 94 and 98 on the
      northeast (impact) side of the North Tower were fractured - separated
      from each other - yet there is no direct evidence of "severe"
      structural weakening. None of the upper sections of the broken
      perimeter columns visibly sags or buckles toward its counterpart
      column below. We can infer this because of the aluminum covers on the
      columns: each seam uniformly aligns properly across the Tower, forming
      a horizontal "dashed line" in the facade from beveled end to end.
      Despite an impact hole, gaps in perimeter columns, and missing parts
      of floors 95-98 at the opening, the aluminum facade shows no evidence
      of vertical displacement in the columns, suggestive of little or no
      wider floor buckling at the perimeter.

      The aluminum covers attached to the columns also aligned vertically
      after impact, that is, separated columns continued to visually remain
      "plumb" (true vertical), lining up top to bottom around the aperture,
      implying no perceptible horizontal displacement of the columns.
      Photographic evidence for the northeast side of the North Tower showed
      no wider secondary structural impact beyond the opening itself. Of
      course, there was smoke pouring out of the upper floors.

      The fact that perimeter columns were not displaced suggests that the
      floors did not buckle or sag. Despite missing parts of floors 95-98,
      photos show no buckling or sag on other floors. If so, that boosts the
      likelihood that there was little damage to the core. Photos do not
      document what happened within the interior/core and no one was allowed
      to inspect and preserve relevant rubble before government authorities
      - primarily FEMA - had it quickly removed. Eyewitness testimony by
      those who escaped from inside the North Tower concerning core damage
      probably is unavailable.

      Photos do not allow us to peer far into the interior of the building;
      in fact the hole is black, with no flames visible. We know that the
      structural core and its steel was incredibly strong (claimed 600%
      redundancy) making it unlikely that the core was "severely" damaged at
      impact. There were 47 core columns connected to each other by steel
      beams within an overall rectangular core floor area of approximately
      87 feet x 137 feet (26.5 m x 41.8 m). Each column had a rectangular
      cross section of approximately 36" x 14" at the base (90 cm x 36 cm)
      with steel 4" thick all around (100 mm), tapering to ¼" (6 mm)
      thickness at the top. Each floor was also extremely strong (p. 26), a
      grid of steel, contrary to claims of a lightweight "truss" system.

      Those who support the official account like Thomas Eagar (p. 14),
      professor of materials engineering and engineering systems at MIT,
      usually argue that the collapse must be explained by the heat from the
      fires because the loss of loading-bearing capacity from the holes in
      the Towers was too small. The transfer of load would have been within
      the capacity of the towers. Since steel used in buildings must be able
      to bear five times its normal load, Eagar points out, the steel in the
      towers could have collapsed only if heated to the point where it "lost
      80 percent of its strength, " around 1,300oF. Eagar believes that this
      is what happened, though the fires did not appear to be extensive and
      intense enough, quickly billowing black smoke and relatively few flames.

      While some experts claim that airliner impact severely weakened the
      entire structural system, evidence is lacking. The perimeters of
      floors 94-98 did not appear severely weakened, much less the entire
      structural system. The criminal code requires that crime scene
      evidence be saved for forensic analysis but FEMA had it destroyed
      before anyone could seriously investigate it. FEMA was in position to
      take command because it had arrived the day before the attacks at New
      York's Pier 29 to conduct a war game exercise, "Tripod II," quite a
      coincidence. The authorities apparently considered the rubble quite
      valuable: New York City officials had every debris truck tracked on
      GPS and had one truck driver who took an unauthorized 1 ½ hour lunch

      The preliminary NIST Response claims that "the wall section above the
      impact zone moved downward" (pdf, p. 36) on WTC 1 but offers no
      evidence. It offers photographic evidence, however, for a "hanging
      floor slab" on the 82d floor of the South Tower at 9:55 a.m. This
      looks minor though because there is no sag on adjacent floors and the
      integrity of the structure looks very much intact. The fire looks weak
      too, yet the South Tower collapsed only four minutes later. This would
      be quite a puzzle without a demolition theory.

      About a dozen of the fragmented ends of exterior columns in the North
      Tower hole were bent but the bends faced the "wrong way" because they
      pointed toward the outside of the Tower. This fact is troublesome for
      the official theory that a plane crash created the hole and subsequent
      explosion between floors 94 and 98. The laws of physics imply that a
      high-speed airplane with fuel-filled wings breaking through thin
      perimeter columns would deflect the shattered ends of the columns
      inward, if deflected in any direction, certainly not bend them outward
      toward the exterior.

      A possible response would be that, well, yes, an airliner crash would
      bend a column inward rather than outward, if bent at all, but the
      subsequent force of a jet fuel blast would act in the opposite
      direction: any inward bends caused by plane impact would straighten
      toward vertical or even reverse the bent steel columns toward the
      exterior under blast pressure. However, such a proposed steel
      "reversal theory" (first bend inward by collision, then bend outward
      by explosion) suffers two major handicaps:

      No "inward-bending columns" were observed and it would be
      unlikely that each and every one would be reversed by subsequent
      explosion, and

      the hypothesis is ad hoc and lacks simplicity, both scientific

      Occam's razor would suggest that the outward bends in the perimeter
      columns were caused by explosions from inside the tower rather than
      bends caused by airliner impact from outside. Also supporting this
      theory is the fact that the uniformly neat ends of the blown perimeter
      columns are consistent with the linear shaped charges demolition
      experts use to slice steel as thick as 10 inches. The hypothesis of
      linear shaped charges also explains the perfectly formed crosses found
      in the rubble (crucifix-shaped fragments of core column structures),
      as well as the rather-neatly shorn steel everywhere.

      The engineering establishment's theory has further difficulties. It is
      well-known that the hole in the west wing of the Pentagon, less than
      18-foot diameter, was too small to accommodate a Boeing 757, but the
      North Tower's hole wasn't big enough for a Boeing 767 either, the
      alleged widebody airliner used on AA Flight 11 (officially tail number
      N334AA, FAA-listed as "destroyed"). A Boeing 767 has a wingspan of
      155'- 1" (47.6 m) yet the maximum distance across the hole in the
      North Tower was about 115 feet (35 m), a hole undersized by some 40
      feet or 26 percent. "The last few feet at the tips of the wings did
      not even break through the exterior columns," comments Hufschmid (p.
      27). But 20 feet on each wing? I'd call that a substantial difference,
      not "the last few feet," especially since aircraft impact holes tend
      to be three times the size of the aircraft, reflecting the fact that
      fuel-laden airliners flying into buildings send things smashing about
      in a big way. The small size of the holes in both towers casts doubt
      on the airliner-impact hypothesis and favors professional demolition
      again. There were no reports of plane parts, especially wings, shorn
      off in the collision and bounced to the ground on the northeast side
      of the tower, to my knowledge, though FEMA reported a few small pieces
      to the south at Church street (pp. 68-9) and atop WTC-5 to the east of

      Adding to the suspicious nature of the small aperture in WTC 1 is that
      some vertical gaps in the columns on the left side of the northeast
      hole were so short, probably less than three feet (p. 105) high (p.
      27). Not much of a jumbo jet could pass through such an opening,
      especially since a fuel-laden plane would not minimize its frontal
      area. The engines are a special problem because each engine is
      enormous and dense, consisting mainly of tempered steel and weighing
      5-6 tons, depending upon model. No engine was recovered in the rubble
      yet no hydrocarbon fire could possibly vaporize it.

      The hole in the North Tower also is suspicious because it did not even
      have a continuous opening at the perimeter, but instead contained
      substantial WTC material (p. 27) just left of center (pp. 62, 105).
      This material appears integral to that area, so it did not move much,
      suggesting minimal displacement and no clean penetration by a jumbo
      jet. These huge airliners weigh 82 tons empty and have a maximum
      takeoff weight of up to 193 tons.

      In the case of the South Tower, an engine from UAL Flight 175 (tail
      number N612UA and FAA-registered as still valid!) has not been
      recovered despite the fact that the flight trajectory of the video
      plane implied that the right engine would miss the South Tower. Photos
      showing minor engine parts on the ground are unconvincing, to put it
      mildly. Perhaps independent jet engine experts (retired?) can testify
      to the contrary. Further contradicting the official account, the
      beveled edge of the southeast side of the south tower was completely
      intact upon initial impact. The government never produced a jet engine
      yet claimed it recovered the passport of alleged hijacker Satam al
      Suqami unharmed by a fiery crash and catastrophic collapse of the
      North Tower. The government has not produced voice (CVR) or flight
      data recorders (FDR) in the New York attack either, so-called black
      boxes, a fact unprecedented in the aviation history of major domestic

      Adding to the problems of the official theory is the fact that photos
      of the North Tower hole show no evidence of a plane either. There is
      no recognizable wreckage or plane parts at the immediate crash site.
      While the issue probably takes us too far afield, the landing wheel
      assembly that allegedly flew out of the North Tower and was found
      several streets away could easily have been planted by FEMA or other
      government agents. I've never seen any objective analysis of this
      wheel assembly though it would be welcome. In fact, the government has
      failed to produce significant wreckage from any of the four alleged
      airliners that fateful day. The familiar photo of the Flight 93 crash
      site in Pennsylvania (The 9/11 Commission Report, Ch. 9) shows no
      fuselage, engine or anything recognizable as a plane, just a smoking
      hole in the ground. Photographers reportedly were not allowed near the
      hole. Neither the FBI nor the National Transportation Safety Board
      have investigated or produced any report on the alleged airliner crashes.

      The WTC 1 and Pentagon holes were not alone in being too small. Photos
      show that the hole in WTC 2 also was too small to have been caused by
      the crash of a Boeing 767. In fact, the South Tower hole is
      substantially smaller than the North Tower hole.

      The next question is whether the fires were hot enough to cause the
      WTC buildings to collapse. In defending the official account and its
      clones that try to explain the unprecedented collapses of three
      steel-framed skyscrapers without demolition, heat arguably is more
      important than structural impact. That's obviously true for building
      WTC 7 because there was no alleged airplane impact.

      First, no steel-framed skyscraper, even engulfed in flames hour after
      hour, had ever collapsed before. Suddenly, three stunning collapses
      occur within a few city blocks on the same day, two allegedly hit by
      aircraft, the third not. These extraordinary collapses after
      short-duration minor fires made it all the more important to preserve
      the evidence, mostly steel girders, to study what had happened. On
      fire intensity, consider this benchmark: A 1991 FEMA report on
      Philadelphia's Meridian Plaza fire said that the fire was so energetic
      that "[b]eams and girders sagged and twisted," but "[d]espite this
      extraordinary exposure, the columns continued to support their loads
      without obvious damage" (quoted by Griffin, p. 15). Such an intense
      fire with consequent sagging and twisting steel beams bears no
      resemblance to what we observed at the WTC.

      Second, severe structural damage to the WTC towers would have required
      fires that were not only large but growing throughout the buildings
      and burning for a considerable period of time. None of these
      conditions was present. "The lack of flames is an indication that the
      fires were small, and the dark smoke is an indication that the fires
      were suffocating," points out Hufschmid (p. 35). Eyewitnesses in the
      towers, as well as police and firefighters, reported (pp. 199-200) the
      same thing.

      Third, the impact opening was 15 floors lower in the South Tower than
      in the North Tower, where core columns were thicker, so the South
      Tower fire had to produce more heat to raise the steel temperatures to
      soften up (thermally weaken) the steel columns. Yet its fires were
      considerably smaller and 30 minutes shorter in duration. The Tower
      collapsed after burning only 56 minutes. A prime candidate to explain
      why "the wrong tower fell first" is that the small dying fire in the
      South Tower forced the hand of the mass murderers who decided to
      trigger demolition earlier than planned in order to sustain the lie
      that fire caused the collapse. The North Tower stood for another 29
      minutes and its core steel was thinner at its upper stories. The 1991
      Meridian Plaza fire burned for 19 hours and the fire was so extreme
      that flames came from dozens of windows on many floors. It did not

      Fourth, implicitly trying to explain away these difficulties, the
      current NIST investigation, conducted by "an extended investigation
      team of 236 people," makes "dislodged fireproofing" the key variable
      to explain the collapses. Supposedly, "the probable collapse sequence
      for the WTC towers are (sic) based on the behavior of thermally
      weakened structural components that had extensive damage to
      fireproofing or gypsum board fire protection induced by the debris
      field generated by aircraft impact" (p. 111). "Had fireproofing not
      been dislodged by debris field," this team of government-paid experts
      claims, "temperature rise of structural components would likely have
      been insufficient to induce global collapse" (p. 108). Perhaps
      acknowledging the lack of direct evidence for its conjectures, the
      NIST admits that "a full collapse of the WTC floor system would not
      occur even with a number of failed trusses or connections" and it
      "recognizes inherent uncertainties" (pp. 110 and 112). The NIST will
      have to boost its creativity to plausibly explain the WTC 7 collapse
      because it won't have the benefit of tales of aircraft and debris fields.

      Aside from specific defects in the fire collapse theory, a wide
      variety of facts undermine it:

      * Photos show people walking around in the hole in the North Tower
      "where 10,000 gallons of jet fuel were supposedly burning. The women
      (p. 27) seem to (sic) looking down to the ground" (the NIST "Response"
      pdf, p. 62, also shows a similar photo of the same blond woman with
      light-colored slacks looking over the edge of the 94th floor).
      * By the time the South Tower was hit, most of the North Tower's
      flames had already vanished, burning for only 16 minutes.
      * The fire did not grow over time, probably because it quickly ran
      out of fuel and was suffocating rather than the sprinkler system
      dousing the fires.
      * FDNY fire fighters remain under a gag order
      (Rodriguezvs-1.Bush.pdf, p. 10) to not discuss the explosions they
      heard, felt and saw. FAA personnel are also under a 9/11 gag order.
      * Even the 9/11 Commission (Kean-Zelikow) Report acknowledges that
      "none of the [fire] chiefs present believed that a total collapse of
      either tower was possible" (Ch. 9, p. 302). It shocked everyone that
      day, amateur and professional alike, although some firefighters
      realized that so-called secondary explosive devices were a risk.

      Griffin (pp. 25-7) succinctly identifies the primary defects in the
      official account of the WTC collapses, and its sister theories. These
      problems were entirely ignored by The 9/11 Commission Report (2004),
      so the government appointees must have found it difficult to account
      for the following facts:

      1. Fire had never before caused steel-frame buildings to collapse
      except for the three buildings on 9/11, nor has fire collapsed any
      steel high rise since 9/11.
      2. The fires, especially in the South Tower and WTC-7, were small.
      3. WTC-7 was unharmed by an airplane and had only minor fires on
      the seventh and twelfth floors of this 47-story steel building yet it
      collapsed in less than 10 seconds.
      4. WTC-5 and WTC-6 had raging fires but did not collapse despite
      much thinner steel beams (pp. 68â€"9).
      5. In a PBS documentary, Larry Silverstein, the WTC lease-holder,
      recalled talking to the fire department commander on 9/11 about WTC-7
      and said, "maybe the smartest thing to do is pull it," slang for
      demolish it.
      6. FEMA, given the uninviting task of explaining the collapse of
      Building 7 with mention of demolition verboten admitted that the best
      it could come up with had "only a low probability of occurrence."
      7. It's difficult if not impossible for hydrocarbon fires like
      those fed by jet fuel (kerosene) to raise the temperature of steel
      close to melting.

      Professional demolition, by contrast, can explain all of these facts
      and more. Demolition means placing explosives throughout a building,
      and detonating them in sequence to weaken "the structure so it
      collapses or folds in upon itself" (p. 44). In conventional
      demolitions gravity does most of the work, although it probably did a
      minority on 9/11, so heavily were the towers honeycombed with explosives.

      1. Each WTC building collapse occurred at virtually free-fall speed
      (approximately 10 seconds or less).
      2. Each building collapsed, for the most part, into its own footprint.
      3. Virtually all the concrete (an estimated 100,000 tons in each
      tower) on every floor was pulverized into a very fine dust, a
      phenomenon that requires enormous energy and could not be caused by
      gravity alone ("workers can't even find concrete. "It's all dust,"
      [the official] said").
      4. Dust exploded horizontally for a couple hundred feet, as did
      debris, at the beginning of each tower's collapse.
      5. Collapses were total, leaving none of the massive core columns
      sticking up hundreds of feet into the air.
      6. Salvage experts were amazed at how small the debris stacks were.
      7. The steel beams and columns came down in sections under 30 feet
      long and had no signs of "softening"; there was little left but shorn
      sections of steel and a few bits of concrete.
      8. Photos and videos of the collapses all show "demolition waves,"
      meaning "confluent rows of small explosions" along floors (blast
      9. According to many witnesses, explosions occurred within the
      10. Each collapse had detectable seismic vibrations suggestive of
      underground explosions, similar to the 2.3 earthquake magnitude from a
      demolition like the Seattle Kingdome (p. 108).
      11. Each collapse produced molten steel identical to that generated
      by explosives, resulting in "hot spots" that persisted for months (the
      two hottest spots at WTC-2 and WTC-7 were approximately 1,350o F five
      days after being continuously flooded with water, a temperature high
      enough to melt aluminum (p. 70).

      Controlled demolition would have required unimpeded access to the WTC,
      access to explosives, avoiding detection, and the expertise to
      orchestrate the deadly destruction from a nearby secure location. Such
      access before 9/11 likely depended on complicity by one or more WTC
      security companies. These companies focus on "access control" and as
      security specialist Wayne Black says, "When you have a security
      contract, you know the inner workings of everything." Stratesec, a
      now-defunct company that had security contracts at the World Trade
      Center and Dulles International Airport, should be investigated, among
      others, because of the strange coincidence that President Bush's
      brother, Marvin P. Bush, and his cousin, Wirt D. Walker III, were
      principals in the company, with Walker acting as CEO from 1999 until
      January 2002 and Marvin reportedly in New York on 9/11. At least one
      report claims that a "power down" condition prevailed on September 8-9
      (pdf, p. 45) at WTC to complete a "cabling upgrade," presenting an
      opportunity to plant explosives with low risk of detection.

      A related point is that demolition companies go to considerable
      expense to wire steel-framed skyscrapers with explosives to produce
      safe implosions, and they would love to do it more cheaply by simply
      setting two small fires like those that (allegedly) caved in building
      7. Apparently, the terrorist-inventors have kept this new technology

      Why would the killers destroy WTC-7, especially since a collapse would
      arouse suspicion in some quarters? A logical if unproven theory is
      that the perpetrators used Mayor Giuliani's sealed OEM "bunker" on the
      23d story of WTC-7 to conduct the twin tower implosions and then
      destroyed the building and evidence to cover up their crimes, just as
      a murderer might set his victim's dwelling ablaze to cover up the
      crime (one in four fires is arson). Giuliani's "undisclosed secret
      location" was perfect because it had been evacuated by 9:45 a.m. on
      9/11, it enabled unmolested work, provided a ringside seat, was
      bullet- and bomb-resistant, had its own secure air and water supply,
      and could withstand winds of 160 mph, necessary protection from the
      wind blasts generated by collapsing skyscrapers.

      There is special import in the fact of free-fall collapse (item one in
      the list immediately above), if only because everyone agrees that the
      towers fell at free-fall speed. This makes pancake collapse with one
      floor progressively falling onto the floor below an unattractive
      explanation. Progressive pancaking cannot happen at free-fall speed
      ("g" or 9.8 m/s2). Free-fall would require "pulling" or removing
      obstacles below before they could impede (slow) the acceleration of
      falling objects from above. Sequenced explosions, on the other hand,
      explain why the lower floors did not interfere with the progress of
      the falling objects above. The pancake theory fails this test.

      If we put the murder of 2,749 innocent victims momentarily aside, the
      only unusual technical feature of the collapses of the twin towers was
      that the explosions began at the top, immediately followed by
      explosions from below. WTC-7, by contrast, was entirely conventional,
      imploding from bottom up.

      It is hard to exaggerate the importance of a scientific debate over
      the cause(s) 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
      prove to be sound. Revised engineering and construction practices, for
      example, based on the belief that the twin towers collapsed through
      airplane damage and subsequent fires is premature, to say the least.

      More importantly, momentous political and social consequences would
      follow if impartial observers concluded that professionals imploded
      the WTC. If demolition destroyed three steel skyscrapers at the World
      Trade Center on 9/11, then the case for an "inside job" and a
      government attack on America would be compelling. Meanwhile, the job
      of scientists, engineers and impartial researchers everywhere is to
      get the scientific and engineering analysis of 9/11 right, "though
      heaven should fall." Unfortunately, getting it right in today's
      "security state" demands daring because explosives and structural
      experts have been intimidated in their analyses of the collapses of 9/11.

      Morgan Reynolds, Ph.D. [send him mail econrn @ cox-internet.com ], is
      professor emeritus at Texas A&M University and former director of the
      Criminal Justice Center at the National Center for Policy Analysis
      headquartered in Dallas, TX. He served as chief economist for the US
      Department of Labor during 2001-2, George W. Bush's first term.



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