Ed Ward
Why the WTC fell by Steven Jones
Mon Sep 4, 2006 23:09

Why Indeed Did the WTC Buildings Collapse?
by Steven E. Jones
En Espaol:"Por qu se derrumbaron realmente los edificios del WTC?"
In Japanese:

Reader comments on this paper and research

After reading this paper, you may wish to sign the petition calling for release
of U.S. government-held information regarding events of 9/11/2001:
(Click on "See full petition" before signing.)
Updated August 15, 2006: http://www.journalof911studies.com/JonesAnswersQuestionsWorldTradeCenter.pdf

A new journal containing more peer-reviewed papers presenting research regarding 9/11/2001 is available here:

Physics Department Colloquium at Idaho State University, Sept. 1, 2006, 4:00 pm, Physical Science Building, room 140: What Caused Not Two but Three WTC Skyscrapers to COMPLETELY Collapse on 9/11/2001? More: http://www.physics.isu.edu/colloquium/jones06.html

Video of Dr. Jones' lecture at Utah Valley State College (Feb. 2006)

The views in this paper are the sole responsibility of the author.

The paper (below) has undergone modifications and a second set of peer reviews (successfully) and has been accepted for publication in a volume edited by David Ray Griffin
and Peter Dale Scott, 9/11 And The American Empire: Intellectuals Speak Out, and also in Global Outlook, and is published here by kind permission of the editors.

Why Indeed Did the WTC Buildings Collapse?

By Dr. Steven E. Jones

Physicist and Archaeometrist


In this paper, I call for a serious investigation of the hypothesis that WTC 7 and the Twin Towers were brought down, not just by impact damage and fires, but through the use of pre-positioned cutter-charges. I consider the official FEMA, NIST, and 9-11 Commission reports that fires plus impact damage alone caused complete collapses of all three buildings. And I present evidence for the controlled-demolition hypothesis, which is suggested by the available data, and can be tested scientifically, and yet has not been analyzed in any of the reports funded by the US government.


We start with the fact that large quantities of molten metal were observed in basement areas under rubble piles of all three buildings: the Twin Towers and WTC7. A video clip provides eye-witness evidence regarding this metal at ground zero: http://plaguepuppy.net/public_html/video%20archive/red_hot_ground_zero_low_quality.wmv . The photographs below by Frank Silecchia show chunks of the hot metal being removed from the North Tower rubble on September 27, 2001 (according to photographer's aid). Notice the color of the lower portion of the extracted metal -- this tells us much about the temperature of the metal and provides important clues regarding its composition, as we shall see.

Next, as a basis for discussion, I invite you to consider the collapse of the 47-story WTC 7, which was never hit by a jet. Here is the building prior to and on September 11, 2001:

WTC 7: 47 - Story, steel-frame building..

WTC 7 on 9-11-01. WTC 7 is the tall sky-scraper in the background, right.

Seen from WTC plaza / Church Street area.

WTC 7 collapsed completely, onto its own footprint

Now that you have seen the still photographs, it is important to the discussion which follows for you to observe video clips of the collapse of this building, so go to:

http://911research.wtc7.net/talks/wtc/videos.html Click on the three photos at the top of this web-site page in order to see the videos of the collapse of WTC 7. It helps to have sound.

Then consider a video close-up of the same building, SW corner, as this corner begins its steady drop to the ground:


New, side-by-side comparison of WTC7 collapse and a controlled demolition using explosives: http://www.911podcasts.com/files/video/Italiandebateshow-WTC7.wmv (backup: http://www.911podcasts.com/display.php?vid=113 ).

What did you observe?

Symmetry: did the building collapse straight down (nearly symmetrically) – or did it topple over?

Speed: How fast did the southwest corner of the roof fall? (Students and I measure [6.5 +- 0.2] seconds; time it!)

Smoke/debris-jets: Did you observe puffs of smoke/debris coming out of the building? Please note for yourself the sequence and fast timing of observed puffs or “squibs.” Note that reference to web pages is used in this paper due largely to the importance of viewing motion picture clips, thus enhancing consideration of the laws of motion and physics generally. High-quality photographs showing details of the collapses of WTC 7 and the WTC Towers can be found in books (Hufschmid, 2002; Paul and Hoffman, 2004), magazines (Hoffman, 2005; Baker, 2005) and at http://911research.wtc7.net/wtc/evidence/photos/collapses.html .

On the basis of photographic and video evidence as well as related data and analyses, I provide thirteen reasons for rejecting the official hypothesis, according to which fire and impact damage caused the collapse of the Twin Towers and WTC 7, in favor of the controlled-demolition hypothesis. The goal is to promote further scrutiny of the official government-sponsored reports as well as serious investigation of the controlled-demolition hypothesis. (No rebuttal of my argument can be complete, of course, unless it addresses all of these points.)

Thirteen Reasons to Challenge Government-sponsored Reports and Investigate the Controlled-demolition Hypothesis

1. Molten Metal: Flowing and in Pools

There are several published observations of molten metal in the basements of all three buildings, WTC 1, 2 (“Twin Towers”) and 7. For example, Dr. Keith Eaton toured Ground Zero and stated in The Structural Engineer,

‘They showed us many fascinating slides’ [Eaton] continued, ‘ranging from molten metal which was still red hot weeks after the event, to 4-inch thick steel plates sheared and bent in the disaster’. (Structural Engineer, September 3, 2002, p. 6; emphasis added.)

The existence of molten metal at Ground Zero was reported by several observers (see first photograph above), including Greg Fuchek:

For six months after Sept. 11, the ground temperature varied between 600 degrees Fahrenheit and 1,500 degrees, sometimes higher. “In the first few weeks, sometimes when a worker would pull a steel beam from the wreckage, the end of the beam would be dripping molten steel,” Fuchek said. (Walsh, 2002)

Sarah Atlas was part of New Jersey's Task Force One Urban Search and Rescue and was one of the first on the scene at Ground Zero with her canine partner Anna. She reported in Penn Arts and Sciences, summer 2002,

‘Nobody's going to be alive.' Fires burned and molten steel flowed in the pile of ruins still settling beneath her feet. (Penn, 2002; emphasis added.)

Notice that the molten metal (probably not steel alone; see discussion below) was flowing down in the rubble pile early on; so it is not the case that the molten metal pools formed due to subterranean fires after the collapses.

A video clip provides further eyewitness evidence regarding this extremely hot metal at ground zero: http://plaguepuppy.net/public_html/video%20archive/red_hot_ground_zero_low_quality.wmv . The observer notes that the observed surface of this metal is still reddish-orange some six weeks after 9-11. This implies a large quantity of a metal with fairly low heat conductivity and a relatively large heat capacity (e.g., iron is more likely than aluminum) even in an underground location. Like magma in a volcanic cone, such metal might remain hot and molten for a long time -- once the metal is sufficiently hot to melt in large quantities and then kept in a fairly-well insulated underground location. Moreover, as hypothesized below, thermite reactions may well have resulted in substantial quantities (observed in pools) of molten iron at very high temperatures – initially above 2,000 C (3,632 F). At these temperatures, various materials entrained in the molten metal pools will continue to undergo exothermic reactions which would tend to keep the pools hot for weeks despite radiative and conductive losses. Any thermite cutter charges which did not ignite during the collapse would also contribute to the prolonged heating.

Thus, molten metal was repeatedly observed and formally reported in the rubble piles of the WTC Towers and WTC 7, metal that looked like molten steel or perhaps iron. Scientific analysis would be needed to conclusively ascertain the composition of the molten metal in detail.

I maintain that these observations are consistent with the use of high-temperature cutter-charges such as thermite, HMX or RDX or some combination thereof, routinely used to melt/cut/demolish steel. [See Grimmer, 2004] Thermite is a mixture of iron oxide and aluminum powder. The end products of the thermite reaction are aluminum oxide and molten iron. So the thermite reaction generates molten iron directly, and is hot enough to melt and even evaporate steel which it contacts while reacting. Here is the thermite-reaction equation for a typical mixture of aluminum powder iron oxide powder:

2Al + Fe2O3 = Al2O3 + 2Fe (molten iron), DH = - 853.5 kJ/mole.

Thermite contains its own supply of oxygen and so the reaction cannot be smothered, even with water. Use of sulfur in conjunction with the thermite, for example in thermate, will accelerate the destructive effect on steel, and sulfidation of structural steel was indeed observed in some of the few recovered members from the WTC rubble, as reported in Appendix C of the FEMA report. (FEMA, 2002; see also, http://www.911research.wtc7.net/wtc/evidence/metallurgy/index.html.) On the other hand, falling buildings (absent incendiaries such as thermite) have insufficient directed energy to result in melting of large quantities of metal; any particles of molten metal somehow formed during collapse will not coalesce into molten pools of metal!

The government reports admit that the building fires were insufficient to melt steel beams -- then where did the molten metal pools come from? Metals expert Dr. Frank Gayle (working with NIST) stated:

Your gut reaction would be the jet fuel is what made the fire so very intense, a lot of people figured that's what melted the steel. Indeed it did not, the steel did not melt. (Field, 2005; emphasis added.)

None of the official reports tackles this mystery. Yet this is evidently a significant clue to what caused the Towers and WTC 7 to collapse. So an analysis of the composition of the previously-molten metal is required by a qualified scientific panel. This could well become an experiment crucis.

Prof. Thomas Eagar explained in 2001 that the WTC fires would NOT melt steel:

"The fire is the most misunderstood part of the WTC collapse. Even today, the media report (and many scientists believe) that the steel melted. It is argued that the jet fuel burns very hot, especially with so much fuel present. This is not true.... The temperature of the fire at the WTC was not unusual, and it was most definitely not capable of melting steel.

In combustion science, there are three basic types of flames, namely, a jet burner, a pre-mixed flame, and a diffuse flame.... In a diffuse flame, the fuel and the oxidant are not mixed before ignition, but flow together in an uncontrolled manner and combust when the fuel/oxidant ratios reach values within the flammable range. A fireplace is a diffuse flame burning in air, as was the WTC fire. Diffuse flames generate the lowest heat intensities of the three flame types... The maximum flame temperature increase for burning hydrocarbons (jet fuel) in air is, thus, about 1000 C -- hardly sufficient to melt steel at 1500 C."

"But it is very difficult to reach [even] this maximum temperature with a diffuse flame. There is nothing to ensure that the fuel and air in a diffuse flame are mixed in the best ratio... This is why the temperatures in a residential fire are usually in the 500 C to 650 C range [Cote, 1992]. It is known that the WTC fire was a fuel-rich, diffuse flame as evidenced by the copious black smoke.... It is known that structural steel begins to soften around 425 C and loses about half of its strength at 650 C [Cote, 1992]. This is why steel is stress relieved in this temperature range. But even a 50% loss of strength is still insufficient, by itself, to explain the WTC collapse... The WTC, on this low-wind day, was likely not stressed more than a third of the design allowable... Even with its strength halved, the steel could still support two to three times the stresses imposed by a 650 C fire." (Eagar and Musso, 2001; emphasis added.)

We will return to the question of fire-induced stresses and WTC collapses later.

Even without a direct elemental analysis, we can rule out some metals based on available data. The photograph in the introduction shows a chunk of hot metal being extracted at ground zero. The hottest portion of the chunk is the lower portion, which was deepest down in the slag, and the metal is seen to be yellow-hot, certainly above cherry-red hot. The following table (see http://www.processassociates.com/process/heat/metcolor.htm ) provides data regarding the melting temperatures of lead, aluminum, structural steel and iron, along with approximate metal temperatures by color. Note that the approximate temperature of a hot metal is given by its color, quite independent of the composition of the metal. (A notable exception is falling liquid aluminum, which due to low emissivity and high reflectivity appears silvery-gray in daylight conditions, after falling through air 1-2 meters, regardless of the temperature at which the poured-out aluminum left the vessel. Aluminum does incandesce (glow) like other metals, but faintly, so that with the conditions described in the previous sentence (which prevailed at the WTC on 9/11), falling liquid aluminum will appear silvery-gray. Rapid oxidation of the hot flowing aluminum will contribute to the observed appearance. [Experiments: Jones, 2006])


Lead (Pb) Melts

Faint Red

Blood Red

*Aluminum Melts

Medium Cherry


Bright Cherry


Dark Orange



Light Yellow


*Structural Steel


*Iron Melts

*Thermite (typical)














































We see from the photograph above that solid metal from the WTC rubble existed at salmon-to-yellow-hot temperature (approx. 1550 - 1900 oF, 845 - 1040 oC.) The temperature is well above the melting temperatures of lead, zinc and aluminum, and these metals can evid

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