The astonishing ignorance of people who believe the official 9/11 story

WTC rubble

The Daily Mail has published an article, One in seven believe U.S. government staged the 9/11 attacks in conspiracy, which is based on a poll for the BBC Two programme, The Conspiracy Files – Ten Years On.

The telephone survey conducted by Gfk NOP found that 14 per cent of Britons believed that there was a wider conspiracy involving the US administration.

The Mail article was fair, and nice to see a picture of Alex Jones in the mainstream British press, but I imagine that the BBC programme will be another “hit piece” like their previous propaganda programmes.

What I found most interesting about the Mail’s article were the readers’ comments and the fact that (at the time of writing) the pro-conspiracy comments are the ones being favoured with green arrows, although I see that Infowars has linked to it, so that should have helped.

But the really important thing is that, as is normal with such comments, the “Truthers” tend to come over as intelligent and willing to explain why they believe what they do, and the people who believe the Government’s version of events have a strange inability to form any sort of argument at all, instead, resorting to their usual comfort blankets of name-calling and general abuse, fake patriotism, weepy emotion and appeals for “respect for the dead” and of course the exhibition of total trust of government and unwillingness to personally evaluate the situation: “I refuse to believe the government would do that”.

I hope to write a few more posts on the attacks of 9/11 in the run-up to the tenth anniversary just nine days away, but I just wanted to draw your attention to the quality of comment from these people who, for whatever reason, believe the government over the evidence of their own senses.

The simple answer is the right one. Islamic Jihadists planned it and did it. End of story.

– kevin webb, accrington lancs, 29/8/2011

Kevin sounds delusional or perhaps scared. “End of story” means that, typically, he is convinced he is right, but doesn’t have the knowledge to debate it at all.

I have not read this rubbish just the head lines and how any body can think that the americans could do such a thing is complete and utter rubbish , if you say something to yourself often enough you will believe it so stop …………they would not do such a thing R I P The lost souls of 9/11 and my thoughts and best wishes are sent to the families and friends of all those who were murdered on that awful day

– lynn , by the sea wish i was i new york new york but will keep dreaming …., 29/8/2011

Lynn just reads headlines, apparently, then gets bossy, “So stop” and then insists that the government “would not do such a thing” and finishes on a flurry of sentimentality.

I agree with Paul. When people believe a conspiracy theory they cant let it go even when you give thwm proof. I can give a great deal of proof but the still wouldnt believe it.

– Lewis, England, 29/8/2011 18:54

Lewis has a ‘great deal of proof’. Okay, Lewis, let’s hear it… No? Didn’t think we would get any – just the usual hot air and lazy typing.

The sad thing about these ‘1 in 7′ morons who always believe in conspiracies about almost every international event, is that they also vote in elections! No wonder we end up with incompetent and inexperienced fools in high political office like Obama and his cronies. I’ll bet that every one of these idiots also believe that aliens are amongst us, and little green men from Mars are ready to invade!

– lesliemoss, malibu USA, 29/8/2011 18:45

The man from Malibu here uses the name-calling technique and introduces “little green men from Mars” into the equation because he is desperately short of ideas. And in my experience, 9/11 Truthers are more likely to be Republicans than Democrats.

Wow, the shrinks must be having a field day with all these loonies on the loose……what a disgrace to the memories of those lost on that awful day. You “theorists” should be ashamed of yourselves…

– cayman214, anywhere, USA, 29/8/2011 18:33

Can these people not debate AT ALL? They have serious problems – and note that I should be “ashamed” of myself. I wonder what he thinks of the many truth groups set up by people who lost loved ones on 9/11. He probably doesn’t even know they exist, just like the damning evidence against the US Administration.

Anyone who thinks that the USA government were involved in any way, is completely off their trolley.

– Above Average, Here, 29/8/2011 18:24

..and the earth is flat and the sun orbits it.

– Rolf Wittwer, Zürich Switzerland, 29/8/2011 17:59

DM readers are the new Sun readers; uneducated, uninformed, scientifically illiterate. How stupid do you have to be to buy into idiotic conspiracy theories, created in the muslim world where everything is a conspiracy. I despair at the intelligence of DM readers – they would have been called peasants in earlier times.

– Educated, UK, 29/8/2011 17:52

And most of them are DM readers! What a bunch of wackos ! read the comments that are getting the most green arrows and then try and tell me that your average DM reader is normal. And to think these people are walking the streets without any supervision! Scary.

– Robert, Manchester, 29/8/2011 17:39

Wow, this story about conspiracy wackos has certainly brought out the conspiracy wackos. As with many conspiracy theories (including the classic moon landing one), there is a superficial logic to the claims that suckers in the ignorant. But they don’t hold up to rigorous scrutiny. Trouble is that once people buy into a conspiracy theory they refuse to let it go and admit their ignorance, so there’s little point in trying to show them the evidence. It’s a bit like arguing with a creationist in that respect.

– Paul, London, 29/8/2011 17:35

Just some more general insults there. I can imagine Paul “arguing with a creationist”. It would go something like, “You’re a wacko, blah, blah, blah… ”

Evidence and facts to people like this are obviously an inconvenience. They think they are to be considered right for no other reason than they say so and if you don’t submit to their viewpoint then you are a moron/idiot/nutter…

Being an American I find this article ugly and offensive! I was there on 9/11…in NYC and believe me as much crap my government is responsible in the world in the past an present this is one atrocity that cannot be put at the door of Washington! The cowards that planned these attacks are thank god dead and as a nation we have survived and became stronger…only an ignorant, uneducated ass could come up with this plot theory! What would the purpose be?! Enough! It’s a disgrace to even go there!

– D.A.ward, London, UK, 29/8/2011 17:33

This person was in New York on 9/11 so obviously he knows everything that went on. Riiiiiight. Then he reckons that the USA has become stronger in the past decade (with the usual accompanying offensive name-calling). Clearly, the US economy is in deep, deep trouble. In fact, it is hard to think of one way in which the USA has become stronger.

Where did they conduct this survey, in a mental institution? Either that or this is a new low for those who love to hate.

– Whit, Houston USA, 29/8/2011 17:14

After the childish first comment, we get a familiar twist with this one: if your opinion is different it means you “hate”. All those 9/11 families for truth groups must really hate their dead relatives.

I have done research on this and found out just how wrong the conspireacy theiorts are. They were quite convicing at the time but they missed out alot more then people realise. For those who believe 9/11 was an inside job. I recomend you go to the website debunking 9/11 myths. It will explain pretty much everything. To all those who are gonna tell me I wrong or low rate my comment and say I’m wrong. I say do proper research.

– Lewis, England, 29/8/2011 17:03

It’s Lewis again. He’s done some research, but he still doesn’t tell us what he’s found.

Well I was there and the idiots who think this was a conspiracy are idiots.

– Ruth, Everywhere and anywhere, 29/8/2011


Let me guess…these 1 in 7 include leftist, global warming nut jobs, ACORN and other dissaffected USA Bashers. Now I can see 1 in 7 in the case.

– Laurence , Pewsey, WILTS UK, 29/8/2011

Chances are that 9/11 Truthers are more likely to be wise to the carbon scam as well.

The truthers are, without question, the most obnoxious people on the internet, and that takes some doing. Every single video on yutube in any way related to 9/11 is spammed to death with brainless comments like “inside job”, “illuminati” and “new world order”, perhaps with a reference to operation northwoods to give their argument “overwhelming proof”. But ignoring their rather disturbing paranoia, their theories are complete nonsense, and have been debunked numerous times. e.g. In answer to the top rated comment, the BBC said that because they had been told Building 7 would collapse at any moment. That’s to say nothing of the “missile hit the pentagon” theory, or the “explosives were planted in the twin towers without anybody noticing” idea, or my personal favourite, the “no planers” who believe that whatever hit each tower was NOT a plane! Just grow up truthers, you embarrass yourself with your ridiculous rants.

– pedantic hamsik, bratislava, slovakia,

…obviously unaware of his own ridiculous rant.

There is no evidence supporting these claims. Some people a so stupid.

– Tman666, Surrey, England, 29/8/2011 15:22

Amusing though it is to be rebuked for being ‘stupid’ by someone who cannot spell the most simple of words, this person should stop being lazy and look for the evidence. There is enough of it out there.

Those people who believe this need to get glass belt buckles so they can see where they are going. All these theorist are just a bunch on c**p. They also believe in the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny. Also that the world is flat so dont go to close to the edge as you might fall off.

– Charles Frost, Missouri City, Texas,

I don’t know about you, but I’m getting bored with this now. I tend not to call people names like “idiot” or “moron” but if anyone deserves it, I guess these people do.

Anyone who believes in government involvement also has to assume that George Bush had the brains to arrange it. Big fail.

– Teresa, New Zealand, 29/8/2011 14:21

This is a semi-sensible comment, but it assumes that Bush was in charge rather than being just a puppet.

Poor demented fools because someone starts the rumour on the web and produces “proof” that the US government were involved they believe it. I would put money on it that the majority of them think obama is a good president as well that is the level of their intelligence.

– KEITH BEVERLEY, Gillingham Dorset,

Keith thinks it started as an internet rumour. Does this make him a “Poor demented fool”?

Okay, that’s enough. I am shocked by the level of ignorance there. If I was brand new to 9/11 truth and I read these comments, it would hardly be worth my while investigating the evidence because it is obvious which side has the critical thinkers, not to mention over 1,500 architects and engineers in support.

This matters immensely. Major wars and restrictions on our freedom are the products of these attacks.

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53 Responses to The astonishing ignorance of people who believe the official 9/11 story

  1. LJ Rolfe says:

    OMG not this whole thing about 9/11 AGAIN! talk about Boring old samey stuff! Honestly, Why can you not except that the whole world is catagorically not a horrific place where every government is out to kill people, destroy large & Expencive buildings (some of which) belonged to them, in the 9/11 tragedy. Not forgetting that the pentagon was actually hit by a plane or something that at least looked damn well like a plane!

  2. LJ Rolfe says:

    Why Did the World Trade Center Collapse? Science, Engineering, and Speculation

    The following article appears in the journal JOM,
    (12) (2001)
    , pp. 8-11.

    Special Report

    Why Did the World Trade Center Collapse? Science, Engineering, and Speculation

    Thomas W. Eagar and Christopher Musso

    Editor’s Note: For a more complete. updated analysis of the World Trade Center towers collapse, read “The Role of Metallurgy in the NIST Investigation of the World Trade Center Towers Collapse” in the December 2007 issue.


    Did the World Trade Center Collapse? Science, Engineering, and Speculation

    by Thomas Eagar and Christopher Musso

    Materials Can Reduce the Threat from Terrorism
    by Toni G. Maréchaux
    Initial Microstructural Analysis of A36 Steel from WTC Building 7

    by J.R. Barnett, R.R. Biederman, and R.D. Sisson, Jr.
    & Update

    There have been numerous reports detailing the cause of the World Trade Center
    Tower collapse on September 11, 2001. Most have provided qualitative explanations;
    however, simple quantitative analyses show that some common conclusions are
    incorrect; for example, the steel could not melt in these flames and there was
    more structural damage than merely softening of the steel at elevated temperatures.
    Some guidelines for improvements in future structures are presented.


    The collapse of the World Trade Center (WTC) towers on September
    11, 2001, was as sudden as it was dramatic; the complete destruction of such
    massive buildings shocked nearly everyone. Immediately afterward and even today,
    there is widespread speculation that the buildings were structurally deficient,
    that the steel columns melted, or that the fire suppression equipment failed
    to operate. In order to separate the fact from the fiction, we have attempted
    to quantify various details of the collapse.

    The major events include the following:

    The airplane impact with damage to the columns.

    The ensuing fire with loss of steel strength and distortion (Figure

    The collapse, which generally occurred inward without significant tipping
    (Figure 2).

    Each will be discussed separately, but initially it is useful
    to review the overall design of the towers.
    The towers were designed and built in the mid-1960s through the
    early 1970s. They represented a new approach to skyscrapers in that they were
    to be very lightweight and involved modular construction methods in order to
    accelerate the schedule and to reduce the costs.

    To a structural engineer, a skyscraper is modeled as a large cantilever vertical
    column. Each tower was 64 m square, standing 411 m above street level and 21
    m below grade. This produces a height-to-width ratio of 6.8. The total weight
    of the structure was roughly 500,000 t, but wind load, rather than the gravity
    load, dominated the design. The building is a huge sail that must resist a 225
    km/h hurricane. It was designed to resist a wind load of 2 kPa—a total
    of lateral load of 5,000 t.

    In order to make each tower capable of withstanding this wind load, the architects
    selected a lightweight “perimeter tube” design consisting of 244 exterior
    columns of 36 cm square steel box section on 100 cm centers (see Figure
    ). This permitted windows more than one-half meter wide. Inside this outer
    tube there was a 27 m × 40 m core, which was designed to support the weight
    of the tower. It also housed the elevators, the stairwells, and the mechanical
    risers and utilities. Web joists 80 cm tall connected the core to the perimeter
    at each story. Concrete slabs were poured over these joists to form the floors.
    In essence, the building is an egg-crate construction that is about 95 percent
    air, explaining why the rubble after the collapse was only a few stories high.

    Figure 1. Flames and debris exploded
    from the World Trade Center south tower immediately after the airplane’s
    impact. The black smoke indicates a fuel-rich fire (Getty

    Figure 2. As the heat of the fire intensified,
    the joints on the most severely burned floors gave way, causing the perimeter
    wall columns to bow outward and the floors above them to fall. The buildings
    collapsed within ten seconds, hitting bottom with an estimated speed of
    200 km/h (Getty Images).

    The egg-crate construction made a redundant structure (i.e., if
    one or two columns were lost, the loads would shift into adjacent columns and
    the building would remain standing). Prior to the World Trade Center with its
    lightweight perimeter tube design, most tall buildings contained huge columns
    on 5 m centers and contained massive amounts of masonry carrying some of the
    structural load. The WTC was primarily a lightweight steel structure; however,
    its 244 perimeter columns made it “one of the most redundant and one of
    the most resilient” skyscrapers.1
    The early news reports noted how well the towers withstood the
    initial impact of the aircraft; however, when one recognizes that the buildings
    had more than 1,000 times the mass of the aircraft and had been designed to
    resist steady wind loads of 30 times the weight of the aircraft, this ability
    to withstand the initial impact is hardly surprising. Furthermore, since there
    was no significant wind on September 11, the outer perimeter columns were only
    stressed before the impact to around 1/3 of their 200 MPa design allowable.

    The only individual metal component of the aircraft that is comparable in strength
    to the box perimeter columns of the WTC is the keel beam at the bottom of the
    aircraft fuselage. While the aircraft impact undoubtedly destroyed several columns
    in the WTC perimeter wall, the number of columns lost on the initial impact
    was not large and the loads were shifted to remaining columns in this highly
    redundant structure. Of equal or even greater significance during this initial
    impact was the explosion when 90,000 L gallons of jet fuel, comprising nearly
    1/3 of the aircraft’s weight, ignited. The ensuing fire was clearly the
    principal cause of the collapse (Figure 4).

    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.

    Part of the problem is that people (including engineers) often confuse temperature
    and heat. While they are related, they are not the same. Thermodynamically,
    the heat contained in a material is related to the temperature through the heat
    capacity and the density (or mass). Temperature is defined as an intensive property,
    meaning that it does not vary with the quantity of material, while the heat
    is an extensive property, which does vary with the amount of material. One way
    to distinguish the two is to note that if a second log is added to the fireplace,
    the temperature does not double; it stays roughly the same, but the size of
    the fire or the length of time the fire burns, or a combination of the two,
    doubles. Thus, the fact that there were 90,000 L of jet fuel on a few floors
    of the WTC does not mean that this was an unusually hot fire. 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. A jet burner generally involves
    mixing the fuel and the oxidant in nearly stoichiometric proportions and igniting
    the mixture in a constant-volume chamber. Since the combustion products cannot
    expand in the constant-volume chamber, they exit the chamber as a very high
    velocity, fully combusted, jet. This is what occurs in a jet engine, and this
    is the flame type that generates the most intense heat.

    In a pre-mixed flame, the same nearly stoichiometric mixture is ignited as it
    exits a nozzle, under constant pressure conditions. It does not attain the flame
    velocities of a jet burner. An oxyacetylene torch or a Bunsen burner is a pre-mixed

    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 flame is a diffuse
    flame burning in air, as was the WTC fire.

    Diffuse flames generate the lowest heat intensities of the three flame types.

    If the fuel and the oxidant start at ambient temperature, a maximum flame temperature
    can be defined. For carbon burning in pure oxygen, the maximum is 3,200°C;
    for hydrogen it is 2,750°C. Thus, for virtually any hydrocarbons, the maximum
    flame temperature, starting at ambient temperature and using pure oxygen, is
    approximately 3,000°C.

    This maximum flame temperature is reduced by two-thirds if air is used rather
    than pure oxygen. The reason is that every molecule of oxygen releases the heat
    of formation of a molecule of carbon monoxide and a molecule of water. If pure
    oxygen is used, this heat only needs to heat two molecules (carbon monoxide
    and water), while with air, these two molecules must be heated plus four molecules
    of nitrogen. Thus, burning hydrocarbons in air produces only one-third the temperature
    increase as burning in pure oxygen because three times as many molecules must
    be heated when air is used. The maximum flame temperature increase for burning
    hydrocarbons (jet fuel) in air is, thus, about 1,000°C—hardly sufficient
    to melt steel at 1,500°C.

    Figure 3. A cutaway view of WTC structure.

    Figure 4. A graphic illustration, from
    the USA Today newspaper
    web site, of the World Trade Center points of impact. Click on the image
    above to access the actual USA
    Today feature

    But it is very difficult to reach 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. Typically, diffuse flames are fuel rich,
    meaning that the excess fuel molecules, which are unburned, must also be heated.
    It is known that most diffuse fires are fuel rich because blowing on a campfire
    or using a blacksmith’s bellows increases the rate of combustion by adding
    more oxygen. This fuel-rich diffuse flame can drop the temperature by up to
    a factor of two again. This is why the temperatures in a residential fire are
    usually in the 500°C to 650°C range.2,3
    It is known that the WTC fire was a fuel-rich, diffuse flame as evidenced
    by the copious black smoke. Soot is generated by incompletely burned fuel; hence,
    the WTC fire was fuel rich—hardly surprising with 90,000 L of jet fuel
    available. Factors such as flame volume and quantity of soot decrease the radiative
    heat loss in the fire, moving the temperature closer to the maximum of 1,000°C.
    However, it is highly unlikely that the steel at the WTC experienced temperatures
    above the 750–800°C range. All reports that the steel melted
    at 1,500°C are using imprecise terminology at best.

    Some reports suggest that the aluminum from the aircraft ignited, creating very
    high temperatures. While it is possible to ignite aluminum under special conditions,
    such conditions are not commonly attained in a hydrocarbon-based diffuse flame.
    In addition, the flame would be white hot, like a giant sparkler. There was
    no evidence of such aluminum ignition, which would have been visible even through
    the dense soot.

    It is known that structural steel begins to soften around 425°C and loses
    about half of its strength at 650°C.4
    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.
    It was noted above that the wind load controlled the design allowables. The
    WTC, on this low-wind day, was likely not stressed more than a third of the
    design allowable, which is roughly one-fifth of the yield strength of the steel.
    Even with its strength halved, the steel could still support two to three times
    the stresses imposed by a 650°C fire.

    The additional problem was distortion of the steel in the fire. The temperature
    of the fire was not uniform everywhere, and the temperature on the outside of
    the box columns was clearly lower than on the side facing the fire. The temperature
    along the 18 m long joists was certainly not uniform. Given the thermal
    expansion of steel, a 150°C temperature difference from
    one location to another will produce yield-level residual stresses. This produced
    distortions in the slender structural steel, which resulted in buckling failures.
    Thus, the failure of the steel was due to two factors: loss of strength due
    to the temperature of the fire, and loss of structural integrity due to distortion
    of the steel from the non-uniform temperatures in the fire.
    Nearly every large building has a redundant design that allows
    for loss of one primary structural member, such as a column. However, when multiple
    members fail, the shifting loads eventually overstress the adjacent members
    and the collapse occurs like a row of dominoes falling down.

    The perimeter tube design of the WTC was highly redundant. It survived the loss
    of several exterior columns due to aircraft impact, but the ensuing fire led
    to other steel failures. Many structural engineers believe that the weak points—the
    limiting factors on design allowables—were the angle clips that held the
    floor joists between the columns on the perimeter wall and the core structure
    (see Figure 5). With a 700 Pa floor design
    allowable, each floor should have been able to support approximately 1,300 t
    beyond its own weight. The total weight of each tower was about 500,000 t.

    As the joists on one or two of the most heavily burned floors gave way and the
    outer box columns began to bow outward, the floors above them also fell. The
    floor below (with its 1,300 t design capacity) could not support the roughly
    45,000 t of ten floors (or more) above crashing down on these angle clips. This
    started the domino effect that caused the buildings to collapse within ten seconds,
    hitting bottom with an estimated speed of 200 km per hour. If it had been free
    fall, with no restraint, the collapse would have only taken eight seconds and
    would have impacted at 300 km/h.1
    It has been suggested that it was fortunate that the WTC did not tip over onto
    other buildings surrounding the area. There are several points that should be
    made. First, the building is not solid; it is 95 percent air and, hence, can
    implode onto itself. Second, there is no lateral load, even the impact of a
    speeding aircraft, which is sufficient to move the center of gravity one hundred
    feet to the side such that it is not within the base footprint of the structure.
    Third, given the near free-fall collapse, there was insufficient time for portions
    to attain significant lateral velocity. To summarize all of these points, a
    500,000 t structure has too much inertia to fall in any direction other than
    nearly straight down.

    Figure 5. Unscaled schematic of WTC floor
    joints and attachment to columns.

    The World Trade Center was not defectively designed. No designer of the WTC
    anticipated, nor should have anticipated, a 90,000 L Molotov cocktail on one
    of the building floors. Skyscrapers are designed to support themselves for three
    hours in a fire even if the sprinkler system fails to operate. This time should
    be long enough to evacuate the occupants. The WTC towers lasted for one to two
    hours—less than the design life, but only because the fire fuel load was
    so large. No normal office fires would fill 4,000 square meters of floor space
    in the seconds in which the WTC fire developed. Usually, the fire would take
    up to an hour to spread so uniformly across the width and breadth of the building.
    This was a very large and rapidly progressing fire (very high heat but not unusually
    high temperature). Further information about the design of the WTC can be found
    on the World Wide Web.5–8

    The clean-up of the World Trade Center will take many months.
    After all, 1,000,000 t of rubble will require 20,000 to 30,000 truckloads to
    haul away the material. The asbestos fire insulation makes the task hazardous
    for those working nearby. Interestingly, the approximately 300,000 t of steel
    is fully recyclable and represents only one day’s production of the U.S.
    steel industry. Separation of the stone and concrete is a common matter for
    modern steel shredders. The land-filling of 700,000 t of concrete and stone
    rubble is more problematic. However, the volume is equivalent to six football
    fields, 6–9 m deep, so it is manageable.

    There will undoubtedly be a number of changes in the building codes as a result
    of the WTC catastrophe. For example, emergency communication systems need to
    be upgraded to speed up the notice for evacuation and the safest paths of egress.
    Emergency illumination systems, separate from the normal building lighting,
    are already on the drawing boards as a result of lessons learned from the WTC
    bombing in 1993. There will certainly be better fire protection of structural
    members. Protection from smoke inhalation, energy-absorbing materials, and redundant
    means of egress will all be considered.

    A basic engineering assessment of the design of the World Trade Center dispels
    many of the myths about its collapse. First, the perimeter tube design of the
    towers protected them from failing upon impact. The outer columns were engineered
    to stiffen the towers in heavy wind, and they protected the inner core, which
    held the gravity load. Removal of some of the outer columns alone could not
    bring the building down. Furthermore, because of the stiffness of the perimeter
    design, it was impossible for the aircraft impact to topple the building.

    However, the building was not able to withstand the intense heat of the jet
    fuel fire. While it was impossible for the fuel-rich, diffuse-flame fire to
    burn at a temperature high enough to melt the steel, its quick ignition and
    intense heat caused the steel to lose at least half its strength and to deform,
    causing buckling or crippling. This weakening and deformation caused a few floors
    to fall, while the weight of the stories above them crushed the floors below,
    initiating a domino collapse.

    It would be impractical to design buildings to withstand the fuel load induced
    by a burning commercial airliner. Instead of saving the building, engineers
    and officials should focus on saving the lives of those inside by designing
    better safety and evacuation systems.

    As scientists and engineers, we must not succumb to speculative thinking when
    a tragedy such as this occurs. Quantitative reasoning can help sort fact from
    fiction, and can help us learn from this unfortunate disaster. As Lord Kelvin

    “I often say . . . that when you can measure what you are speaking
    about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when
    you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge
    is of a meager and unsatisfactory kind; it may be the beginning of knowledge,
    but you have scarcely, in your thoughts, advanced to the stage of science,
    whatever the matter may be.”

    We will move forward from the WTC tragedy and we will engineer
    better and safer buildings in the future based, in part, on the lessons learned
    at the WTC. The reason the WTC collapse stirs our emotions so deeply is because
    it was an intentional attack on innocent people. It is easier to accept natural
    or unintentional tragedies; it is the intentional loss of life that makes us
    fear that some people have lost their humanity.
    1. Presentation
    on WTC Collapse, Civil Engineering Department, MIT,
    Cambridge, MA (October 3, 2001).
    2. D. Drysdale, An Introduction
    to Fire Dynamics
    (New York: Wiley
    , 1985), pp. 134–140.

    3. A.E. Cote, ed., Fire Protection
    Handbook 17th Edition
    (Quincy, MA: National
    Fire Protection Association
    , 1992), pp. 10–67.
    4. A.E. Cote, ed., Fire Protection
    Handbook 17th Edition
    (Quincy, MA: National
    Fire Protection Association
    , 1992), pp. 6-62 to 6-70.

    5. Steven Ashley, “When
    the Twin Towers Fell,” Scientific American Online (October 9, 2001);
    6. Zdenek P. Bazant and Yong Zhou, “Why Did the World
    Trade Center Collapse?—Simple Analysis,” J.
    Engineering Mechanics ASCE
    (September 28, 2001), also

    7. Timothy Wilkinson, “World Trade Centre–New
    York—Some Engineering Aspects” (October 25, 2001), Univ.
    , Department
    of Civil Engineering

    8. G. Charles Clifton, “Collapse of the World Trade
    Centers,” CAD Headlines,
    (October 8, 2001);

    Thomas W. Eagar,
    the Thomas Lord Professor of Materials Engineering and Engineering Systems,
    and Christopher Musso, graduate research student, are at the Massachusetts
    Institute of Technology

    For more information, contact T.W. Eagar, MIT, 77 Massachusetts
    Avenue, Room 4-136, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139-4301; (617) 253-3229; fax
    (617) 252-1773; e-mail

    Copyright held by The Minerals, Metals & Materials
    , 2001


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  3. Aaron atherton says:

    I don’t really get why 9/11 is treated like the worlds biggest tragedy I mean more people died in the the blitz, Hiroshima. Nagasaki and other events why does this one in particular have to be treated more serious than other tragic events just because it was in America. I personally am not sure whether 9/11 is a conspiracy or not because I don’t see why the American government would kill there own people unless they were totally phsycho and cared only for war and possible income from oil found arises but then again I do have questions that need answered such as the pentagon and stuff

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