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9-11, Fire Science and Conspiracies

Updated on November 11, 2017
DanDnAZ profile image

Registered Architect, 40 years experience, investigative forensic specialist, engineering trained, college teacher, NCARB mentor, MBA.

Back in 2009, I wrote an article regarding September 11th the intent of that article was to celebrate American Building Codes and honoring the victims of that attack. Since that article has been published, it certainly has sparked comment, being the single most commented article of mine by any measure. Unfortunately, many of the comments made by some, as recent as the last couple weeks, have been from those that hold a belief in “shadow governments” and conspiracies at the expense of facts and science.

As that was not the intent of that article, and to preserve the true reasoning behind that particular article, I will now address some of that BS being spouted off in those comments made by others about that article. To begin, let me personally challenge “Architect” Gage from this conspiracy group. What State are you Registered / Licensed in and what your number is. One cannot use the term “Architect” in any State without passing the ARE (Architectural Registration Exam) that all States administer as a member of NCARB (National Council of Architectural Registration Boards). Secondly, show your training. When and where did you get your degree, and did you have classes like deformable solids, strengths and materials, structural design, fire science, etc. Finally, what data do you base your claims that steel must reach the melting point before deforming to the point of collapse? All other data I have been exposed to fails to support such claims. Show your credentials and support data because you are holding yourself up to the world as an “Architect”. As for me, I am Registered in Arizona, and you can find my record on the Arizona Board of Technical Registration website. I would also encourage you to please review another article I wrote that addressed even more of the science of those buildings collapse.

As for the others making claims of conspiracy, how is a TV / Movie celebrity qualified to know that this attack was in inside job. I am amazed how those with no expertise in a specific area, now are quoted as an expert in that area. Why is it that many of the people that responded to that article were not American? Why do so many from South Africa have such an interest in this event? It amazes me how much of the science is being discounted by those holding to such “conspiracy” theories.

Some have claimed that there are photos showing molten steel in the debris at ground zero. Molten steel is liquefied steel. No evidence has ever been found to support molten steel (which liquefies around 2500 degrees F). See this website and this website for more science and information concerning molten steel at ground zero. It would appear that some of the “witnesses” potentially have ulterior motives for the propagation of such false stories. How about finding sources without vest interest?

Next “evidence” is the thermite claim. First, thermite burns VERY hot AND VERY quick. Steel when exposed to very high temperatures sustain very little permanent damage unless the exposure to such heat is through extended time. There is also evidence of trace chemical residue left behind. Where is that trace evidence? I was watching a program just a few days ago on Discovery ID and a forensic demolition specialist was saying that ALL explosives leave a residual trace on surrounding surfaces that CSI units can find, isolate, and test for. So where is the evidence? Is this supposed to be a “magical” thermite that does not leave trace residue and can instantaneously deform and compromise steel in ways that nothing else can? If so, why can this not be reproduced in a laboratory setting? Where are the remains of any detonators? Show me the evidence or shut the hell up. Can that be plain enough?

Profiteers are always present in all wars. It happened in the Revolutionary War, the Civil War; even the Pirates of the Caribbean were privateers in a subtle war between Britain and France, so how is Halliburton, CACI, and Blackwater different from others in history. Do profiteers invalidate the war? Does that mean that the American Revolution is somehow invalid because some profited from the war? Should slavery not have been abolished because the Civil War was somehow invalid because some profited from the war itself?

Next, the freefall claim. Many have made this claim, yet to support that claim terminal velocity would have to be achieve, and that has been addressed best in the History Channel’s “The 9-11 Conspiracies: Fact or Fiction”. I have addressed this in another one of my other articles, so go read that as well.

Critical thing is a very important tool in the discussion of this event. However, to claim that someone is not thinking critically because that one fails to support such a conspiracy concept is disingenuous at the least. Now let us move to WTC 7. Resources are limited, especially in such a catastrophic event as 9-11. It was impossible for enough water to fight the fires in the twin towers, and WTC 7 simultaneously; even economists will stipulate that basis of scarce resources. There have been claims that there were “randomly scattered” fires throughout WTC 7. These claims are supposedly based on “eyewitness” claims that fires where only seen in sporadic locations. First, these observations have been made by non-professional, outside the building, none from within the building. That goes completely against fire science. What I mean is, fire left unchecked will continue to spread as long as there is availability of heat, oxygen, fuel, and a continuous chain reaction. This is referred to as the fire tetrahedron.

To begin, let us discuss basic heat transfer physics. First, heat travels from hotter objects to cooler objects. Notice that the word used is cooler, not cold objects, as long as the object is cooler than the hotter object, heat will transfer. The measurement for this transfer is called heat flux, and is measured in kilowatts per square foot (Kw / S.F.) as defined by the ASTM C177 standard (American Standard for Testing and Materials) with the current edition being the 2010 version. To illustrate the dynamic of this, I would refer you to the following pictures.

The test arrangements in the pictures are a two (2) sided configuration, a three (3) sided configuration, and a four (4) sided configuration of a standard work cubicle as would be found in most “open” office environments.  It is clear that the two (2) and three (3) sided configurations are basically the same with respect to the components inside each cubicle; however the four (4) sided cubicle is unknown.  It can be assumed that it is the same or similar to the other two as the main goal of these three test specimens are to compare the three configurations for the most accurate comparison of data.  That being said, each cubicle consists of an office chair, 2 shelves with binders and papers on the upper shelf and desk top to emulate a common work space with computer, 2 file draws, and 4 bankers boxes on the floor under the desk, with cubicle walls on 2, three, and 4 sides respectively.  All 3 configurations appear to have comparable fuel making material so this test is more accurately to compare between each configuration.  Again the four (4) sided cubicle is not completely visible, but does appear to be comparable to the other configurations.

 Plotting the time on an x-axis, and the heat flux in KVA/SF on the y-axis, a chart is generated as seen at the end of this paper.  It is clear that the heat flux between the 2 and 3 sided configurations appear to have the same basic fire consumption rate for time verses heat flux.  The 4 sided configuration appears to have a much higher heat flux as a result of the confined space and the expansion of the heat air and gasses.  The cause for this is simple physics, found in Gay-Lussac's Law which states as pressure builds, a gas gets increasing hotter.  The 4 walls contain the space for the heated air from the fire, which increase the temperature of that air and thus the heat flux.

As one can see the enclosed cubicle is a perfect illustration on what was happening in WTC 7.  As the fire grew within the building, the heated air expanded, raising the temperature even higher, until more fuel hit the fire point (the temperature at which the fuel will ignite and continue to burn).  Ultimately that temperature rose until the structural steel collapsed.  So where is the conspiracy?  I am at a loss.

My final thought is this.  A shadow cannot be touched.  A shadow cannot be smelled.  A shadow cannot be heard.  In fact a shadow can only be seen in certain light conditions.  So the question is, are shadows real?  I am not sure that there is a scientific answer to that question, but if the answer is that shadows are not real, what would that mean for “shadow governments”.  Ponder that.

© 2011 Dan Demland


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    • rachellrobinson profile image

      rachellrobinson 6 years ago from Southwest Missouri

      This hub made me happy. It's nice to see I am not the only one concerned with why a lot of the conspiracy theorist seem to come out of South Africa.

      Don't get me wrong, I am not happy that anyone would claim that what happened to us was "shadow governments", I am just happy that someone with your intelligence was able to put together a much more intelligent response to this nonsense than I was, I attempted a hub in response to some of the crazier comments I have heard about 9-11, unfortunately my hub lacked the kind of information that yours has.

      Thank you so much for writing something this wonderful, and renewing my faith that I am not the only one out there who thinks these conspiracies are awful.


    • DanDnAZ profile image

      Dan Demland 6 years ago from Phoenix, AZ


      I appreciate your non-conspiracy position, and even commend it; I did review your link. The reporter asked many questions that I felt the Scientist did not respond completely to. At about the 10 minute mark in the video, the Scientist even claimed that no one had been charged in the hijackings, and I found that peculiar, as I know that others had been. Look at this link from MSNBC:

      His inaccuracy on that claim leads me to question if his accuracy is off on other claims. His claim of nano-thermite has been addressed in another article I found. That article is:

      Take a look at the formulas and equations towards the end of that article in particular.

      This Danish Scientist made this report in April of 2009, or so, yet I have not seen any other scientific journal come on board to support his findings. Also I question how 22,000 tons to 220,000 tons of explosives went unnoticed that were brought into the buildings. His claim was they were brought on pallets. So let’s say the pallets were stacked 3 high, and they would support 845 lbs. per stack, we would be seeing about 52,071 stacks (or 5,207,100 stacks). The average pallet is 4 ft. x 4 ft., or 16 square feet. If there were 52,071 pallet stacks (or 5,207,100 stacks) that would mean that the pallets alone would have taken up about 833,136 square feet (or 83,313,600 square feet). How in the hell is that much space taken up without notice by anyone.

      Continuing on, let us say for instance that it would have taken 1 person 5 minutes to move the pallet from a truck to its resting location, that means it would have taken 4,339 man hours (or 433,900 man hours) just to move the explosive (or 180 days moving 24 hours a day (or 18,000 days moving 24 hours a day)).

      Now consider that 50,000 people occupied the towers at any given work hour and estimating that there were 130 work days (or 13,000 work days) in that 180 (18,000) day period, that would add up to mean that during the time these explosives were being moved into those buildings that 5.2 million (520 million) were in these building during the time that these explosives were supposedly being moved. How did no one see anything? Better yet, how do you keep that many people quite this long? The numbers cannot support the claim. Do you see how I find the numbers skeptical when we follow them through?

    • quotations profile image

      Robert P 6 years ago from Canada

      You ask where are the traces of thermite.

      I don't necessarily buy into any conspiracy theories, but some Danish scientists have detected substantial amounts of thermite in the debris dust - here is a video from a news program where the scientist explains his findings. It is in Dutch but has English subtitles.