Consequently, notwithstanding the contrary claims of some individuals, none of the buildings at the World Trade Center that did fall were subject to uncontrolled fires since there is ample evidence to indicate that all of those fires were of a manageable kind – that is: the fires were not extensive on the floors where they did occur; the fires had not spread to most of the other floors in the respective buildings, and none of the fires were of a highly intense, impossible-to-put-out character which, as a result, lasted for an extended period of time.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
NIST, Junk Science, and Building 7
In a November 29, 2001 New York Times article by James Glanz entitled: ‘Engineers Suspect Diesel Fuel in Collapse of 7 World Trade Center’, the reporter describes how a variety of structural engineering experts seemed to agree that finding a way to explain how WTC came down may “be much more important to understand” than understanding how the Twin Towers fell because “no … modern, steel-reinforced high-rise had ever collapsed as the result of an uncontrolled fire.” There are several salient points inherent in the foregoing story.
First, there is an acknowledgment that “no modern steel-reinforced high-rise had ever collapsed as the result of uncontrolled fire.” Yet, on September 11, 2001, three buildings within several hundred feet of one another did come down.
The only explanation offered by technical experts in relation to the destruction of those buildings really reduces down to some sort of theory about the effects of fire. This is because the Twin Towers had been constructed in such a way that even if they were hit by something as big as commercial jet loaded with fuel, the buildings would not have crumbled, and, therefore, the NIST theory concerning their fall is functionally dependent on fire being the primary culprit in the destruction of the two buildings. Moreover, since no plane hit Building 7, the only conventional suspect is, once again, some sort of theory involving fire.
A second point to notice in the aforementioned Time’s article is that the term “uncontrolled fires” is used. Now, while it is true that there have been four or five instances of actual uncontrolled fires taking place in different parts of the world (America, South America, Europe, and Asia) involving modern, steel-reinforced high-rise structures, nevertheless, the presence of uncontrolled fires in those buildings did not result in the structures coming down.
Consequently, notwithstanding the contrary claims of some individuals, none of the buildings at the World Trade Center that did fall were subject to uncontrolled fires since there is ample evidence to indicate that all of those fires were of a manageable kind – that is: the fires were not extensive on the floors where they did occur; the fires had not spread to most of the other floors in the respective buildings, and none of the fires were of a highly intense, impossible-to-put-out character which, as a result, lasted for an extended period of time.
Consequently, notwithstanding the contrary claims of some individuals, none of the buildings at the World Trade Center that did fall were subject to uncontrolled fires since there is ample evidence to indicate that all of those fires were of a manageable kind – that is: the fires were not extensive on the floors where they did occur; the fires had not spread to most of the other floors in the respective buildings, and none of the fires were of a highly intense, impossible-to-put-out character which, as a result, lasted for an extended period of time.
Were there fires in each of the buildings? Yes, but none of them could really be considered to be of an: ‘uncontrolled’ or ‘uncontrollable’ nature, and I will come back to this point later in this chapter.
A third feature worth taking note of in relation to the aforementioned Time’s article revolves around the headline for the news item. According to the engineers to whom Glanz talked, they suspected that diesel fuel may have played a primary role in serving as a considerable source of fuel for fires which broke out in Building 7 since there were a variety of large diesel fuel storage containers in different parts of Building 7 that were intended to supply back-up generators in case the main power supply for the building were cut off or disrupted in some manner. If, somehow, those storage containers caught fire, then this might explain why the fires in Building 7 allegedly became ‘uncontrollable’.
FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) had issued a report in May of 2002 – ‘World Trade Center Building Performance Study’ -- which noted that the diesel fuel storage containers in Building 7 might have been a source that could have fed fires in that building for quite a long time. However, the report also indicated that such a possibility had a very low order of probability and finally concluded that the reasons for the fall of Building 7 were something of an unsolved mystery.
The diesel fuel idea was also part of the initial theory advanced by NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) to explain why Building 7 came down. However, when NIST released its final report on Building 7, it had largely discarded the diesel fuel angle even as the Institute continued to maintain that it was uncontrolled fires that, ultimately, were responsible for the demise of Building 7.
So, once again, we are left with the mystery to which Glanz alluded in his article. Namely, given that no other steel-reinforced buildings anywhere in the world had ever come down even when uncontrollable fires were present, why did three buildings at the World Trade Center come down on the same day within hours of one another when no uncontrollable fires were present?
When the 9/11 Commission released its report in 2004, it contained no discussion of Building 7. Building 7 was as much a mystery to the 9/11 Commission as it was to the structural engineers whom Glanz interviewed, and to the engineers connected to both FEMA and NIST.
One of most mysterious features entailed by the demise of Building 7 is the issue of the near freefall character of the structure when it came down. Although various people attach slightly different times to the duration of the building’s fall, all of those times are far more consistent with, and closer to, the properties of freefall than they are consistent with what one would expect if the building came down through some sort of conventional theory of collapse in which delays due to the conservation of momentum would have to be factored in and, as a result, the time required for the building to ‘collapse’ would be substantially higher than what was observed on 9/11 in relation to Building 7.
NIST even amended its final report concerning this aspect of freefall in conjunction with Building 7, when a high-school physics teacher, David Chandler, took NIST through the math and showed that there were at least several seconds of freefall that occurred when the structure came down. NIST made the correction but had no explanation to offer as to why or how the property of freefall was present in the demise of Building 7.
There really is only one way for such a period of freefall to be present. Somehow, one, or more, floors beneath a falling floor must be eliminated so that the falling floor encounters no resistance as it drops to the ground.
The question is: what eliminated the floors in question before the falling floor (s) reached the former location of the newly missing floors? Whatever explanation one comes up with to answer the foregoing question, it cannot be clothed in the garment of a pancake theory of progressive collapse in which each floor slams down on the floor below creating stresses that, in turn, lead to the failure of the lower floor, which, in turn, acts on the next floor below -- although, perhaps, somewhat more quickly since with each succeeding floor failure there is more mass moving in a downward direction to create increasingly severe stresses as one goes down the building.
The reason why the answer to the freefall mystery cannot be adequately addressed by any form of conventional collapse theory, is because at no time in such an explanation does a falling floor meet with anything but the floor below, and, consequently, this means that the issue of the conservation of momentum must always be factored into the calculations for determining the length of the time it would take for a structure to come down. There is never a period during such a scenario in which a falling floor encounters nothing but empty space in which one does not have to continue to take into consideration the conservation of momentum principle.
As a result of the foregoing considerations, some people have advanced a theory that Building 7 was brought down by controlled demolition. Among the reasons for advancing such a thesis is the following: (a) there were elements of freefall present as the building came down; (b) the descent of the building was relatively sudden, symmetrical and straight down – none of which is consistent with a conventional gravity-driven collapse; (c) the destruction of the building was, more or less, total in the sense that there were no steel beams left standing – again, something which is unlikely to occur in any sort of conventional progressive collapse; (d) the debris pile was relatively small.
In relation to this last issue – that is, the size of the debris pile for Building 7 -- while that debris pile was, relatively speaking, fairly small, it was larger than the ones found in relation to WTC 1 and WTC 2. This is rather odd, since both of the Twin Towers were more than twice as tall as Building 7. So, where did the mass from the larger two buildings go in relation to the size of the debris piles for the Twin Towers relative to the size of the somewhat larger debris pile for Building 7?
Notwithstanding the foregoing question, the fact of the matter is that the debris pile for Building 7 leads to a similar sort of question. Why didn’t that debris pile reflect the amount of debris there should have been present from a 47-storey building? It was significantly undersized despite containing large amounts of mud – the presence of which has never been explained -- and, therefore, the idea of controlled demolition may have difficulty accounting for the undersized character of the debris pile for Building 7.
Some individuals might counter the foregoing point by saying that the process of controlled demolition might have pulverized a lot of the concrete building material and, therefore, one would expect the debris pile to be smaller than anything that might take place through a conventional, gravity-driven. However, the extraordinary extent to which material was pulverized in all three buildings is not really consistent with the process of controlled demolition. Although controlled demolition does tend to lead to a break-up of materials, that process does not cause the pulverization or ‘dustification’ (Dr. Judy Wood’s term) of such materials which is what occurred at the World Trade Center.
The degree of pulverization present in relation to Building 7 was not quite as severe as was the case with respect to WTC 1 and WTC 2. Nonetheless, the extent of pulverization of building materials in Building 7 was greater than one would have expected to see if that structure was brought down either by a conventional gravity-driven progressive collapse or via controlled demolition.
A second problem with the controlled demolition thesis is that the seismic readings that were recorded in relation to the fall of Building 7 were inconsistent with what one might expect if that structure came down as a result of either some sort of conventional, gravity-driven pancake theory or if the building came down as a result of controlled demolition. In other words, the seismic signature for the fall of Building 7 was not as great as one might anticipate in relation to such a massive structure coming down.
In fact, the seismic recording was not much different than normal background rumblings that are produced by the work-a-day world of a major metropolitan area … and, to an extent, this fact tends to, once again, raise the question of what happened to the considerable mass contained in Building 7? Why wasn’t the fall of such a large mass reflected in the seismic recordings for the 9/11 event?
Both the proponents of the official government conspiracy theory concerning 9/11 as well those individuals who do not accept the official government theory concerning 9/11 bring in their dueling experts (whether engineers or explosive experts) to say that, respectively, (1) Building 7 did not come down as a result of controlled demolition or that (2) Building 7 did come down as a result of controlled demolition. However, as the foregoing paragraphs indicate, there are problems entailed by both theories of what happened to Building 7 … problems that neither of the two perspectives that attempt to explain what happened to Building 7 can adequately resolve.
NIST has issued a number of interim progress reports concerning its study of the Building 7 issue. All of those reports have implicated fire – in one form or another – as playing a major role in the destruction of Building 7, but those interim reports also implicated the role which falling debris from WTC buildings 1 and 2 (i.e., the Twin Towers) may have played in the eventual fall of Building 7.
As reported by the magazine, Popular Mechanics, the lead NIST investigative engineer, Shyam Sunder, spoke of a huge gash in the side of Building 7 facing the Twin Towers that ran about 10 stories and which had scooped out approximately 25 percent of the depth of the building. This statement was part of the evidence NIST was putting forth as support for a working hypothesis that, somehow, the structural damage (such as the huge gash noted above) that supposedly had been created by debris falling from the North Tower was connected to fires allegedly raging out of control in Building 7 – presumably feed by pressurized fuel gas lines connected to a variety of fuel storage tanks-- that eventually led to the progressive collapse of that structure around 5:20 PM on 9/11.
There are, however, a number of problems inherent in the foregoing hypothesis. The North Tower was more than three hundred and seventy feet away from Building 7, and if the fall of that building was via a gravity-driven progressive collapse --supposedly due to a combination of structural damage caused by plane impact and extensive fires (a theory which is neither credible nor proven) – then how did some thing or things massive enough to cause a 10 story gash which scooped out 25 percent of the depth of Building 7 get thrown laterally from the North Tower – especially given that the fall of the North Tower was largely symmetrical and straight-down?
Of course, there is considerable evidence (both visual and physical) to demonstrate that, in point of fact, there were multi-ton steel beams that were hurled from the North Tower, and, conceivably, one, or more, of these hurling masses struck Building 7 causing the gash described by Sunder. On the other hand, the existence of such hurling masses is entirely inconsistent with a gravity-driven progressive collapse because there is no excess energy left over from the collapsing process to be able to rip such multi-ton slabs from the building and, simultaneously, propel them hundreds of feet into surrounding buildings.
Sunder, apparently, wanted to both keep and eat his technical cake. Nonetheless, if he wants to propose – as he did -- that the Twin Towers came down as the result of a conventional gravity-driven progressive collapse, then, such a proposal cannot explain how multi-ton slabs were ripped from those buildings and, then, hurled between 300 and 500 feet in a, more or less, lateral direction. However, if Sunder wishes to claim – as he did -- that the structural damage to Building 7 was caused by debris from the North Tower, then he is going to have to jettison the idea of a conventional, gravity-driven progressive collapse of the North Tower because ‘falling’ (rather than explosively propelled) multi-ton slab beams are not likely to have reached Building 7.
Sunder can have -- theoretically speaking – a conventional gravity-driven progressive collapse of the Twin Towers (which NIST was never able to plausibly demonstrate) with no multi-ton steel beams being hurled laterally some 300-600 feet, or he can have multi-ton steel beams being hurled laterally some 300-600 feet without a conventional gravity-driven progressive collapse. But, he can’t have both, and, yet, Sunder claims – without any real plausible explanation for how it was possible – that both events occurred at the same time.
The foregoing considerations notwithstanding, they are all somewhat – but not entirely -- moot because in its final report on the destruction of Building 7 that was released in 2008, NIST indicated that the considerable structural damage to one face of Building 7 played a very limited and marginal role in the fall of that structure. Instead, NIST argued (and I will come back to this issue) that the fall of Building 7 was entirely the result of fires that weakened a key structural component of the building and when this key component failed, this led to a progressive, gravity-driven collapse of the building.
As a passing observation, one might note that to a large extent, both Popular Mechanics and Skeptic magazines based their accounts of what happened to Building 7 on the early working-theory of NIST that involved a combination of two main factors: (1) structural damage caused by debris from WTC 1 and 2, working in conjunction with (2) fires fed by broken, pressurized fuel lines linked to a number of diesel storage tanks in the building. In its final report on Building 7, NIST indicated – without saying it directly – that the accounts of both Popular Mechanics and Skeptic magazines were in error since NIST’s final report, issued in November of 2008, claimed that neither structural damage caused by ‘falling’ debris nor fires fed by pressurized diesel fuel lines had much to do with the fall of Building 7.
NIST held a press conference in August 2008 in which Shyam Sunder stated in his opening remarks that: “WTC 7 collapsed because of fires fueled by office furnishings.” Sunder also indicated in his statement that NIST had discovered a new phenomenon – namely, that is possible for fire, and fire alone, to “induce a progressive collapse” in a modern, steel-reinforced high-rise building – something which had never occurred previously even though there had been 4 or five instances in various parts of the world in which such steel-reinforced buildings had burned with uncontrolled fires for many hours without collapsing.
The ‘new’ phenomenon to which Sunder was referring involved the idea of “thermal expansion”. While the concept of thermal expansion was quite well known to engineers prior to 9/11, what was new, according to Sunder, involved the way in which structural aspects of Building 7 were allegedly affected by thermal expansion to such an extent that the building was induced to have a progressive collapse … a fire-induced progressive collapse – the first in history.
According to Sunder’s press statement, debris from the North Tower: “started fires on at least ten floors of the building. The fire burned out of control on six [7, 8, 9, 11, 12, and 13] of these ten floors for about seven hours.”
Aside from the aforementioned issue of wondering how multi-ton steel beams would have been able to travel more than three hundred and seventy feet to reach Building 7 if the North Tower was merely collapsing due to a gravity-driven progressive collapse, one also wonders how fires were started on ten different floors of Building 7. The assumption that NIST and Sunder made is that something hot or on fire somehow reached Building 7 and eventually led to fires on at least ten floors.
However, the only things from the North Tower (NIST rejected the idea that anything from the South Tower would have been able to reach Building 7, some 675 feet away) that might have been hot or on fire would have come from just a few of the upper floors of the North Tower – the floors where a plane allegedly had crashed and started fires that, in fairly short order, were largely both oxygen starved and starved of fuel prior to the point when they came down. More than 100 floors in the North Tower were not on fire, so what evidence is there that material which was on fire or that was supposedly hot enough to ignite fires from the few floors that did have fires in the North Tower had been able to make the journey of more than 370 feet to Building 7 and land in a condition that was hot enough to be able to start fires on multiple floors of Building 7?
The fact of the matter is there is no evidence in support of the foregoing idea. It is pure conjecture.
Of course, NIST might wish to counter with something along the lines of: “Well, if the fires in Building 7 didn’t start as a result of debris from the North Tower, then, how did they start? This is a good question for which I do not have an answer, but being unable to answer such a question, does not automatically make NIST’s assumption about how fires started in Building 7 correct.
NIST, itself, admits in its final report on Building 7 that the cause of fires is actually unknown. Nonetheless, NIST indicates that the idea that the fires in Building 7 were initiated by debris from the Twin Towers is, nonetheless, likely. Likely, why?
What made it possible for hot/fiery material from the North Tower to travel more than 370 feet to Building 7? NIST doesn’t know but assumes that material “falling” from the North Tower sort of ‘fell; more than 370 feet away – an assumption which is rather implausible within the context of an allegedly gravity-driven ‘collapse’.
As indicated previously, NIST rejected the idea that any ‘falling’ material from the South Tower would have been able to reach Building 7. Why is it more reasonable to suppose that falling material would have been able to reach Building 7 from the North Tower some 370 feet away -- especially given that the North Tower came straight down.
What was the temperature of the material from the North Tower that hit Building 7? NIST doesn’t know.
How can one be certain that such material was hot enough to start fires? NIST doesn’t know.
How exactly did the material from the North Tower that supposedly hit Building 7 start fires? NIST doesn’t know.
The contention that the fires in Building 7 started as a result of debris from the falling North Tower is considered ‘likely’ by NIST because that idea is crucial to its narration of events since without such an assumption everything that follows in its report is problematic. In effect, the NIST assumption about how the fires started in Building 7 is ‘likely’ because NIST’s theory requires this to be the case and, therefore, it assumes the truth of its theory’s ‘likelihood’ despite the fact that there is little evidence to warrant describing such an assumption as ‘likely’.
In short, the assumption concerning how the fires in Building 7 started is ‘likely’ because the theory that NIST wishes to put forward as an explanation of events needs that assumption to be likely. The reasoning is circular and not evidentially based.
According to the opening statement of Shyam Sunder, the fires, once started, burned out of control for about seven hours. Yet, the final report by NIST concerning Building 7 indicates that the first videographic or photographic evidence of fire in relation to Building 7 was recorded at 12:10 PM. At that time, two fires were visible on the southwest corner of the 22nd floor.
If this is the case, then, Sunder has no evidential basis for saying that fires burned out of control in Building 7 for about seven hours. There is no evidential basis for such a statement because the earliest piece of photographic evidence indicating fires were burning in Building 7 was at 12:10 PM and this was in conjunction with the 22nd floor.
If one assumes that fires started as a result of ‘falling’ debris from the North Tower, then such debris would have begun ‘falling’ around 10:28 AM, and if one assumes that uncontrolled fires started in Building 7 shortly thereafter, then NIST’s contention that such fires could have burned for about 7 hours -- or until the structure fell at around 5:20 PM -- might be true. However, this is all a network of assumptions.
Two witnesses – namely, Barry Jennings, a former official of the New York City Housing Authority, and Michael Hess, the corporation legal counsel for New York City – indicated that they were trapped in the stairwell on the 8th floor of Building 7 for somewhere between: 1 ½ to two hours, and although they reported hearing and experiencing several explosions, neither one of them said anything about seeing fires. Information concerning their account of things is drawn from a number of sources including several NIST documents, interviews with BBC and Dylan Avery, as well as from a September 13th, 2001 article by Paul Vallely in The Independent, a British newspaper.
In a 2002 article in Leadership, Rudy Giuliani [who was a friend of Michael Hess but was not present at the time the two men became trapped since the two individuals had gone to the 23rd floor of Building 7 to be with Giuliani at the Emergency Management Command Center but the Mayor was not where he was supposed to be, and it was at that point the two men began to descend the stairs because the elevators were not working] Giuliani reported that the two men had been trapped by debris falling from the North Tower. Giuliani noted that the two trapped-men were fortunate that they were going down the north stairwell since the debris from the North Tower had been crashing down on the south side of Building 7.
Yet, if the two men were lucky that they were going down the north side stairwell because debris from the North Tower was raining down on the south side of Building 7, how did debris falling from the North Tower reach the two men on the back side of Building 7, more than 150 feet away from the south side of Building 7 – and this must be added to the more than 370 feet which separates the south side of Building 7 from the North Tower? How did the debris that allegedly was falling on the south side of Building 7 trap Jennings and Hess on the north, or back side, at the sixth floor of that building?
In contradistinction to what Giuliani said about the Jennings/Hess affair in the 2002 Leadership piece, the two individuals about whom Giuliani was writing originally indicated that what trapped them was an explosion – not falling debris -- because the explosion had blown out the stairwell below the sixth floor (not from above as would have been the case if debris from the South Tower were raining down on them), and, as a result, they could not continue going down the stairs any further. The two worked their way back up to the 8th floor at which time Barry Jennings took a fire extinguisher and broke a window in the stairwell and was able to alert someone on the street below that they were trapped in the building.
Barry Jennings also testified that the explosion that trapped them occurred before either of the Twin Towers fell. He reports that once they had worked their way back up to the 8th floor stairwell landing and after he had been able to draw attention to their plight by breaking a window and calling out, there had been two separate occasions during which emergency personnel were about to rescue the two trapped men and each time the rescue teams were forced to flee due to the collapse of one, or another, of the Twin Towers. Their rescue did not occur until, at least, 30 to 45 minutes after the second tower fell.
In other words, the explosion that eliminated the stairway below the sixth floor landing was not due to falling debris. It was an event that was entirely unrelated to falling debris from the North Tower because it occurred prior to the fall of either of the Twin Towers.
The foregoing testimonies are interesting because Shyam Sunder of NIST indicated in his August 2008 press conference statement that fires were raging out of control on a number of floors – including the 8th floor. Moreover, Giuliani attempts to claim that the two individuals became trapped only after the North Tower came down, and, therefore, presumably – if one accepts the assumptions of NIST -- uncontrollable fires were “likely” to have begun shortly after the two individuals became trapped, and, yet, somehow, Jennings and Hess were able to survive for anywhere from an hour to more than an hour and a half under such circumstances.
According to NIST and Giuliani, two people were trapped in the stairwell of the 8th floor for an extended period of time when fires supposedly were raging out of control on 7, 8, and 9 and, yet, neither Jennings nor Hess gave any mention in their witness statements about seeing fires. They did indicate that there had been some explosions unrelated to what was happening in conjunction with the Twin Towers and that there was a thick smoke all around them and, as well, they felt some degree of heat from, presumably, a fire burning in some undetermined location.
Explosions, yes! Fires, no!
Was the ‘smoke’ that the two previously trapped individuals mentioned in their account from a smoldering fire somewhere or was it from a raging fire? Or, was the ‘smoke’ merely dust created by the explosions that they both reported in relation to Building 7 prior to becoming trapped? Or, was the thick ‘smoke’ from the dust that arose following the fall of the South Tower … something that, according to their initial statements, occurred after they had become trapped? Or, was it some combination of the three?
As someone who has been involved in an apartment building fire and stayed in the building long enough to go banging on doors trying to rouse people and to get someone to call 911, I know that my lungs and the lungs of someone whom I roused were sufficiently adversely affected by the smoke coming from the fire that I had trouble breathing for a bit of time after I got out into clear air. The fire was not that big and my exposure was not more than five or ten minutes at the most, but I don’t think I could have gone on much longer without encountering some severe breathing difficulty.
While there may have been some smoke from a fire in what was swirling all about them, one wonders how much of the thick ‘cloud’ was smoke from a fire and how much was dust from the explosions they had heard and felt prior to being trapped on the 8th floor and prior to the time when either of the Twin Towers actually fell and how much might have been dust from the fallen Twin Towers? Since, according to the initial statements of the two men, they were trapped in the 8th floor stairwell before either of the Twin Towers fell, then one wonders what the thick ‘smoke’ was from since – according to NIST -- no fires could have been started by ‘falling debris’ from towers that had not, yet, collapsed … or was the report of thick ‘smoke’ something that arose only some time after the first tower collapsed?
Which of the foregoing possibilities might be the case is hard to determine based on what I have seen of their witness statements. Nevertheless, no matter in what direction one would like to proceed with respect to trying to understand what took place in Building 7, there are a variety of questions that arise in conjunction with the testimony of Barry Jennings and Michael Hess concerning the accuracy of the NIST narrative involving Building 7 – especially in relation to the issue of how the fires in that building started or whether such fires actually were of the sort of uncontrolled nature claimed by NIST.
Moreover, if there were some fires on the 7th, 8th, and 9th floors, and, yet, those fires were relatively small (and, possibly therefore, producing more smoke than fire), this would be consistent with the photographic and videographic evidence mentioned earlier. That evidence indicated that fires were not seen in Building 7 until 12:10 PM, and those fires were on the north side of the 22nd floor, not on the 7th, 8th, and 9th, floors.
NIST assumes that fires starting – due to falling debris – on the south side of Building 7 eventually worked their way over to the north side of the building. However, they have no evidence to substantiate their contention concerning the spread of the fire since the first hard evidence of a fire burning in Building 7 is in relation to the 22nd floor on the north side of the building and not in relation to its south side.
In other words, NIST assumed that the fire started in certain places on the south side of Building 7, and, moreover, they assumed that those fires spread in a certain way to the north side of the building. However, they have no actual evidence to support either contention. It is all conjecture … and not necessarily “likely” conjecture.
In a 2004 publication entitled: Interim Report on WTC 7 (Appendix L) issued by NIST as well as in a 2005 NIST publication entitled: The Emergency Response Operations, an account, of sorts, is given concerning the Barry Jennings and Michael Hess experience of being trapped in Building 7 on 9/11. In certain respects, and for whatever reason, the authors of those two NIST accounts seek to paint a very different description of what supposedly took place on that day.
The NIST accounts tend to parallel the account given by Rudy Giuliani several years earlier. More specifically, the two aforementioned NIST accounts try to indicate that Jennings and Hess became trapped by debris from the North Tower as it came down and that the reason why the two individuals had to go down the stairs in the first place was because the fall of the South Tower had knocked out the power to Building 7 thereby rendering the elevators inoperable.
Both Hess and Jennings gave statements indicating that they had received calls prior to 9:00 AM to go to the Office of Emergency Management Command Center for New York City – which was the 23rd floor of Building 7 -- after the first plane had hit the North Tower but before the second plane had struck the South Tower. They indicated that the second plane hit the South Tower just after they arrived on the 23rd floor of Building 7.
When the two men arrived at the Emergency Management Command Center, they found the place empty. There was cups on some of the desks with steam still rising from the surface of the coffee, and, as well, there were some half-eaten sandwiches.
Jennings called several people trying to find out what was going on. One of the people he called told him to leave the building right away.
Consequently, the two men tried to quickly get out of the building. They attempted to take the elevators but found that the elevators, for some reason, were not operating.
According to the NIST account, the reason the elevators were not working was because the South Tower had fallen and knocked out the power. Jennings, on several occasions, has indicated that the foregoing scenario could not be true because only after they became trapped did the Twin Towers fall, and the reason why he knows this is because there were several occasions after the two men became trapped that emergency teams were about to rescue them but had to leave because on each occasion one of the Twin Towers fell.
In addition, the NIST account of the ordeal indicates, as did Giuliani’s description several years earlier and as a subsequent BBC video piece tried to suggest -- that Jennings and Hess became trapped by debris from the North Tower falling on Building 7. However, the same problem arises in conjunction with the NIST account and the BBC story in this respect as was the case in relation to Giuliani’s story – namely, if Jennings and Hess were going down the north stairway on the side of Building 7 furthest from the North Tower and if they had reached the sixth floor, then, how did so-called “falling” debris from the North Tower not only travel more than 450 feet to reach the back side of Building 7 but, as well, was able to strike that backside of the building down around the sixth floor?
Again, not only is such an account contradicted by Jennings testimony on several occasions that neither of the Twin Towers fell until after they had become trapped in Building 7, but, as well, neither the NIST account nor that of Rudy Giuliani make any physical sense. How did debris falling from the North Tower travel more than 520 feet and, somehow, strike Building 7 on the side furthest away from the North Tower down around the sixth floor?
I find it rather perplexing why NIST and Giuliani – neither of whom were in Building 7 at the time of the Jennings/Hess incident and neither of whom were in the stairwell with Jennings and Hess at the time of the incident – should insist that their account of the event is correct and that Jennings was, somehow, confused about things. Jennings is providing direct experiential data of life events, and, at best, NIST and Giuliani are interpreting that data through the filters of their own theories about 9/11.
Since neither NIST nor Giuliani can account for the explosions which Jennings and Hess mention, they try to force fit the experience of those two men into a world view that not only insists, but needs, the explosion to which Jennings and Hess refer to be the result of falling debris from the North Tower. The story being advanced by NIST, Giuliani, and the BBC makes absolutely no physical sense, and, furthermore, that story is contradicted by Jennings’ account which not only places the explosion prior to the destruction of the Twin Towers but provides evidence indicating that the Twin Towers came down only after they became trapped.
In addition to the foregoing considerations, and quite inexplicably, both NIST and Giuliani leave out other parts of Jennings account of what transpired in Building 7 on 9/11. More specifically, Jennings indicates that when they were finally rescued, they were brought down into the lobby area, and according to Jennings, the lobby was in such a devastated condition that the two had to be taken out through a hole in the wall rather than through doors.
Presumably, NIST might attribute the devastation to the effects of falling debris from the North Tower. However, Jennings reported that while they were trapped in the stairwell of Building 7, a number of explosions took place.
Was the destruction in the lobby of Building 7 from falling debris or from explosions or a bit of both? If NIST were to put forward the former idea rather than the latter idea, it really has no evidence to support or substantiate such a perspective.
All they have are assumptions and a number of unanswered questions such as: how was such extensive destruction brought about in relation to the lobby and where are the reports of steel beams from the North Tower being strewn about the lobby or penetrating into the lobby, and why didn’t NIST discuss any of this?
There is another set of questions that occurs to me in relation to the rescue of Jennings and Hess. Since the stairwell landing on floor 6 had been blown out, how did Jennings and Hess get to the lobby?
Presumably, they were taken to another stairwell. However, to get to such a stairwell, one might suppose that they had to enter one of the floors of Building 7.
Yet, out of control fires supposedly were burning on 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, and 13 in Building 7. So, how did they cross over to another stairwell? Or, did they have to cross over? Were they, perhaps, somehow lowered down or assisted to climb down through the hole where the sixth floor landing was missing?
I have found no account of the actual rescue details with respect to their journey from a north-side 8th floor stairwell to the lobby of Building 7. If out of control fires were burning all around them, how did they get to the lobby?
By raising the foregoing questions, I am not questioning the story of Jennings and Hess concerning their ordeal. What I am wondering about is whether Shyam Sunder was accurate in his August 2008 Press Conference when he claimed that out of control fires were raging on floors: 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, and 13 in Building 7 for a period of some seven hours … one might suppose that under such harrowing circumstances, something might have been said by someone about the difficulties of being able to find a way down to the lobby.
Maybe, there are reasonable explanations for the foregoing set of questions. However, if there are, NIST certainly hasn’t supplied them.
In fact, NIST not only left out any account of the foregoing aspect of the rescue but, as well, completely left out the facet of the experience when the two men finally reached the lobby after being rescued and Jennings remarked how astonished he was with respect to the extent of the damage that had been inflicted on the very large area that, among other things, had contained escalators when Jennings had come to Building 7 around 9:00 in the morning. One wonders why NIST left out the foregoing aspects from Jennings account of his experiences.
Another part of Jennings account that NIST left out was the dead bodies (possibly) that Jennings came across in the lobby of Building 7 … dead bodies that Jennings had to step over on the way to the hole in the wall of the lobby which was to serve as an exit to the street outside. Again, one wonders why NIST left this detail out of its account.
NIST repeatedly has said that no one died in Building 7 on 9/11. Perhaps it left out the portion of Jennings account about possible dead bodies and a destroyed lobby because it doesn’t want to have to deal with inconvenient facts that run contrary to the way NIST is trying to frame the events of 9/11 – a process of framing rooted in assumptions and problematic data gathering rather than actual evidence.
Later, in a BBC program called ‘The Conspiracy Files: 9/11 – The Third Tower’, Jennings indicated that he never saw any dead bodies – only that he felt like he was stepping over them as he made his way to the hole in the side of the lobby of Building 7. On the other hand, Jennings previously reported that a firefighter who was with them and guiding them toward the hole repeatedly said: “Don’t look down.”
Now, why would a firefighter say such things? What was the fire fighter trying to spare Jennings and Hess from seeing?
Were there any dead bodies in the lobby of Building 7? Jennings indicated that it felt like he was stepping over dead bodies as he made his way to the hole in the wall. On the other hand, he told the people behind the BBC program that he never actually saw any dead bodies. Notwithstanding that fact, Jennings did say that he was warned by a firefighter with him not to look down as he made his way to the exit hole in the wall.
It is possible that both things could be true. In other words, while Jennings never saw any dead bodies, he may have had to step over them.
Moreover, Jennings was warned about not looking down as he made his way to the exit hole in the wall. Although Jennings was never told that the reason why he shouldn’t look down is because there are dead bodies on the lobby floor, nonetheless, one is left wondering why else Jennings would be told not to look down.
As it stands, the dead body facet of things in the lobby of Building 7 is something of a mystery. NIST has no evidence to prove that there were no dead bodies, but, at the same time, the existing evidence only suggests the possibility of dead bodies in the lobby and does not constitute proof that such was the case.
Rather than leave the issue as an unresolved mystery, NIST tended to sanitize the data it collected and retained. Whatever was inconsistent with the theory NIST wants to push – such as much of the account given by Barry Jennings -- is discarded and left out of their reports.
NIST is willing to include assumptions that lack any evidential basis in its reports. Yet, NIST is unwilling to include ideas in its reports for which there is evidence but which, for arbitrary reasons, NIST wants to keep out of its reports.
A second BBC program about Building 7 was aired on October 26, 2008. In this program -- entitled: ‘The Conspiracy Files – The Truth Behind The Third Tower’ -- Michael Hess, the person who had been trapped on 9/11with Barry Jennings in Building 7 was interviewed (Barry Jennings had passed away several months prior to the program’s release), and, reportedly, the interview was the first that Hess had given since the eventful day.
Although in an interview given to UPN 9 News shortly after being rescued on 9/11, Hess mentioned having experienced and heard explosions in Building 7, in the 2008 BBC interview, Hess recants his earlier testimony and says, instead, that there was no explosion on 9/11. In he latter interview, he recounts how although originally he believed there had been some sort of explosion in the basement, he knows “now this was caused by the northern half of Number 1 falling on the southern half of our building.”
The question naturally arises: How does Michael Hess “know now” what he claims to not have known on 9/11? If he was in a stairwell on the north side of Building 7 down near the sixth floor, he couldn’t possibly have seen debris from the North Tower raining down on him. So, what is the basis of his newly found ‘knowledge’?
On the basis of his previously reported experience on 9/11, he indicated that he heard and felt an explosion from below that knocked him back and which destroyed the landing for the sixth floor stairwell on the north side of Building 7. He knew that he could not continue down the stairs because there were no stairs to continue down, so he went back up the stairwell.
After Barry Jennings broke one of the windows in the 8th floor stairwell, he waited near that window for rescue to arrive. Finally, he was rescued and, somehow, he, along with Barry Jennings, were brought down to the lobby and helped to exit through a hole in the lobby wall.
What new facts does Hess have which now makes him certain that the ‘explosion’ experienced on 9/11 was actually the sound of debris from the North Tower striking the south side of Building 7? Actually, he has no new facts, but he has been presented with something that is new: a framing of events by NIST, Giuliani, and others that has induced Hess to re-interpret his original experience.
Hess’ new perspective on things cannot answer the following question. If what he heard on 9/11 was not an explosion but merely falling debris from the North Tower, how did that falling debris destroy the 6th floor landing on the back side of Building 7 furthest from the North Tower, more than 520 feet away from North Tower? And, given this question, how can Hess “know now” that the whole thing was the result of falling debris?
Hess cannot plausibly and credibly answer the foregoing question any more than NIST or Giuliani would be able to answer it. The fact that portions of a north side landing and stairwell leading down to the street were destroyed – a fact that led to their being trapped – undermines the picture which NIST, Giuliani, and BBC (each for their own individual reasons) is trying to paint concerning the nature of the experience undergone by Hess and Jennings on 9/11.
Hess, Giuliani, NIST, and BBC have no independent evidence to support their interpretation of events. Furthermore, there is a crucial question concerning physical evidence that none of them can answer in a plausible or credible way.
In addition, none of them has any evidence to contradict Jennings testimony that the explosion which took out the 6th floor landing had to occur prior to the fall of either of the Twin Towers and that only after they had become trapped did the Twin Towers fall. Jennings indicates that twice, emergency workers had tried to rescue the two trapped-men only to be stymied by the fall of the Twin Towers at two different points during the protracted rescue attempt.
On page 341 of NIST NCSTAR 1-9 (National Construction Safety Team Act Report), NIST indicates: “there was no evidence of floor-to-floor fire spread.” Thus, on the ten floors where fires, according to NIST, were believed to be (six of which were supposedly uncontrollable – namely, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, and 13), those fires were independent of one another, and this means that one needs to come up with an explanation for how fires started on ten different floors and why those fires became out of control on some floors but not others.
Now, since earlier I indicated that NIST admitted that the answer to the question of how the fires started is unknown, this means that NIST has to make ten assumptions that, somehow, debris from the North Tower started each of the fires in Building 7. Or, to say the same thing in a slightly different way, NIST is just making one assumption, but they are applying that assumption to ten situations that they believe to be independent of one another. I’m not sure that the underlying assumption becomes more credible if one parses the situation in one of the foregoing ways rather than the other.
In any event, NIST goes on to maintain that each of the fires worked its way from the south side of Building 7 to the northeast side of the structure. Once the fires reached the northeast sector of the building, they are alleged to have burned long enough and with the requisite degree of intensity to bring about thermal expansion in a certain key, structural component and that this, in turn, led to a progressive collapse of the building.
There are a number of questions that can be raised in relation to the foregoing theory. (1) Did the fires spread in the way that NIST claims? (2) Did the fires burn for a sufficiently long period and with sufficient thermal intensity to bring about thermal expansion? (3) If thermal expansion occurred, would it have been capable of initiating a progressive collapse?
There is a sequence to the order in which some of the evidence for fires was reported in relation to Building 7. This evidence involves the capture of visual images.
As previously noted, the first photographic indication of fires in Building 7 was acquired at 12:10 PM in relation to the southwest corner of the 22nd floor. Prior to 2:08 PM, there were only three photographs that provided evidence of fires in Building 7. These photographs involved the aforementioned 22nd floor, as well as fires on both the 29th and 30th floors.
According to NIST, around 2:00 PM, and shortly thereafter, images of fires were captured in relation to the 7th, 11th, and 12th, floors. Another fire was photographed in conjunction with the east side of the 13th floor at approximately 2:30 PM. Further fires were photographed on the 8th, 9th, and 14th floors at, respectively: 3:40 PM, 4:00 PM and 5:00 PM.
If fires supposedly were started in Building 7 by materials falling from the failing North Tower at around 10:28 AM, then why have only three fires shown up prior to 2:00 PM, some 3 ½ hours later? Moreover, why did it take so long for the fires that only appeared after 2:00 PM to show up?
Just as importantly, with respect to whatever visible fires showed up after 2:00 PM – which is most of them as far as photographic evidence is concerned – there is no evidence that any of those fires had been burning out of control for the seven hours that was indicated by Shyam Sunder in his August 2008 NIST Press Conference. On the basis of photographic evidence, the very most that NIST might claim that the fires burned would be not much more than a little over three hours … and, this assumes that those fires did burn consistently throughout that three hour period, and NIST has no evidence that is capable of substantiating such a contention.
NIST claims that there were some eyewitness accounts that suggested that fires were ongoing before any of the aforementioned photographic evidence indicates. For instance, on pages 298-299 of its document NIST NCSTAR 1-9, NIST talks about a security officer who: “saw a fire on the west side of the Floor 7 that he attempted to put out with an extinguisher, but was unable to do so.” The foregoing is said to have happened shortly after the North Tower came down.
A number of questions could be raised in relation to the foregoing. Did the security officer have any idea of what started the fire? If the fire was sufficiently big at a little after 10:28 AM to not be able to put out with an extinguisher, then why did it take until after 2:00 in the afternoon for photographic evidence to become visible since the fire supposedly had been burning for 3 ½ hours? Or, is it possible that the fire on the 7th floor was never really raging but worked its way through the inflammable material on the floor in fits and starts, thereby never really becoming visible until much later in the day?
On page 380 of NIST NCSTAR 1-9 NIST states: “At 12:15 PM when the cubicle fire had been observed on Floor 7, people being led from Floors 7 and 8 out of the building reported no fires, heavy dust, or smoke on Floor 8. Between 12:15 PM and 2:30 PM, fire activity on Floor 8 was observed at the south face by eyewitnesses near the southwest corner of the building.” Floors 7 and 8 were two of the floors where out of control fires allegedly raged for nearly seven hours according to Shyam Sunder of NIST.
Yet, at 12: 15 PM – nearly two hours after the fall of the North Tower – there are no eyewitness reports of any fires or smoke on the 8th floor. There are, on the other hand, alleged – but unidentified -- eyewitness reports in relation to the 8th floor concerning the occurrence of fire somewhere between 12:15 PM and 2:30 PM.
NIST – as I earlier indicated – stated that there was no evidence to indicate that the fires in Building 7 traveled between floors. The fires were alleged to be relatively independent of one another.
If there was no sign of fire or smoke on the 8th floor at 12: 15 PM, and if all fires were supposedly started by falling debris from the North Tower, and if fires did not spread between floors, then why were there no eyewitness reports of fires prior to 12:15 PM? More importantly, how did the fires start on the 8th floor given that there were no reports of fires or smoke prior to 12:15 PM?
Furthermore, if, according to NIST, fires were supposedly raging out of control on the 7th and 8th floors of Building 7 for 7 hours, how were people still able to survive on those floors at 12:15 PM? In addition, if people were on those floors for nearly one hour and forty-five minutes following the fall of the North Tower, why was there no mention of structural damage to those floors through which debris from the North Tower would have been introduced to start fires, and if such debris was present, but merely unmentioned by eyewitnesses, why hadn’t fires started by 12:15 PM, and if debris from the North Tower had crashed into those floors, why were those individuals still in the building?
Matthys Levy, a structural engineer, indicated in a documentary entitled: ‘9/11 Conspiracies: Fact or Fiction’ which was aired on the History Channel in 2007 that he believed fires actually had been burning in Building 7 since at least 9:30 AM.
Levy supported the official theory about what happened on 9/11 at the World Trade Center and, apparently, was trying to build a case for increasing the amount of time that Building 7 was exposed to fire and, thereby, make the idea that fires could have brought down Building 7 more plausible by indicating that the fires were very long-lasting … nearly eight hours. This is an hour longer than Shyam Sunder claimed fires were raging in Building 7.
There are, however, some problems with respect to both Levy’s perspective and the position of NIST in relation to the demise of Building 7. First of all, if NIST claims that the fires in Building 7 all started as a result of debris from the North Tower that fell on the south face of Building 7, then, how did the 9:30 AM fires start?
Secondly, if fires actually started at 9:30 as Levy claims and if they were raging for eight hours – one more hour than NIST claims, then, why wasn’t there any additional photographic or eyewitness testimony to this effect? On what was Levy basing his 9:30 AM claims concerning the 9:30 AM fires and what independent evidence is there which supports his claim and why didn’t NIST acknowledge that claim in any of its reports?
Levy’s assertion concerning the existence of 9:30 AM fires is somewhat consistent with the initial reports of Jennings and Hess that there were fires, of some kind, in Building 7 prior to the fall of the North Tower – fires that may have been connected to the explosion that cut off their north stairwell exit at the sixth floor. However, if one accepts what Levy has to say, then obviously, NIST is quite wrong about a number of the things that it claims concerning fires and Building 7.
On the other hand, if Levy is correct with respect to the 9:30 AM part of his statement, he has no evidence to indicate that the fire(s) to which he refers actually sustained themselves for more than eight hours as he claimed to be the case in the History Channel documentary. This is merely his non-evidentially based inference.
According to NIST, although there was photographic evidence to indicate the presence of fires on the 22nd, 29th, and 30th floors of Building 7, the fires were short lived. NIST claims that such fires were of relatively brief duration due, primarily, to a sprinkler system that was functional on 9/11 … at least, the system was functional above the 20th floor while a separate sprinkler system servicing Building 7 from the 20th floor down was not operational since, according to NIST, it had been knocked out of commission when the Twin Towers fell.
Despite the absence of a functional sprinkler system for floors 1-20, NIST claims that after roughly 1:00 PM, there was no photographic or videographic evidence of fires anywhere above the 14th floor. Prior to 1:00 PM, there had been photographic evidence of a fire on the 19th floor, but this fire died out for reasons that NIST was unable to explain (see NIST NCSTAR 1-9, page 78).
One might reasonably ask: if a fire (the one on the 19th floor) which was large enough to be captured by camera could die out despite the absence of a sprinkler system, why isn’t the same scenario possible in relation to other floors below the 21st storey – the floors where the sprinkler system was not operative? Moreover, if fires allegedly were burning out of control on 7, 8, 9, 11, 12 and 13 for seven hours – in part, presumably, because of the absence of a working sprinkler system – then why didn’t these fires spread to floors 14 through 20?
NIST had stated there was no evidence of fires – once they started -- migrating from one floor to another … either upwards or downwards. However, as far as I have been able to determine, NIST provides no evidentially based explanation for why this would have been the case.
In other words, NIST, by its own admission, doesn’t really know how any of the fires in Building 7 started. It doesn’t know why a fire on the 19th floor appeared to die out despite the absence of a sprinkler system. NIST doesn’t seem to know why fires failed to spread from one floor to another. Moreover, the only photographic evidence that NIST has of fires in relation to floors below the 14th floor comes after 2:00 PM.
Yet, NIST claims that fires were burning out of control for seven hours in Building 7. Why should anyone accept such a claim?
There is a further mystery concerning fires in Building 7. Earlier I noted that in one of its reports (NIST NCSTAR 1-9, 2008), NIST had described (pages 298-299) the account of a security officer who had tried to put out a fire on the 7th floor but was unable to do so.
The account given by NIST with respect to the security officer also describes how that individual had been searching various parts of the upper floors of Building 7 for people who might still be in the building after the fall of the South Tower. While engaged in his search, the security officer reports that the building shook with the fall of the North Tower, but the security officer’s account gives no indication that the building was being hit by debris from the North Tower as he was descending the building – and remember, NIST has tried to indicate that the force which knocked out the sixth floor landing on the back side of Building 7 that trapped Barry Jennings and Michael Hess (the side furthest away from the falling North Tower but the same side as the security officer was on) was a function of debris from the falling North Tower.
The security officer indicates that he continued his descent down the stairs. When he reached the 23rd floor, he checked to see if anyone was present on the floor and reports that the floor was filled with smoke.
The 23rd floor housed the Office of Emergency Management for New York City. This is the office to which Barry Jennings and Michael Hess had come in order to meet up with Mayor Giuliani but found no one there.
The office was specially constructed. Among other things, the windows were supposedly blast proof and bullet proof.
One wonders, therefore, what started the fire on the 23rd floor that was creating the smoke seen by the security officer when he checked for the possible presence of personnel on the floor. One might reasonably have assumed that if the specially reinforced floor was blast proof that it would have been able to withstand the assault of falling debris – and one might keep in mind that in the NIST account the security officer gave no indication of there being any such impacts -- and if the 23rd floor was able to survive being hit by falling debris and if all fires in Building 7 were only started by falling debris from the North Tower, then there is an unanswered question concerning the origins of the possible fires on the 23rd floor that were generating the smoke which filled that floor and which allegedly was witnessed by the security officer.
One might also note in passing, that the NIST account of the security officer’s experience on 9/11 with respect to Building 7 does not give expression to any indication that the sprinkler system was operating on the 23rd floor despite the fact that the floor was filled with smoke suggesting that some where on the floor there was enough of a fire to generate such smoke. In addition, the NIST account of the security officer’s odyssey does not provide any indication that the 23rd floor had been destroyed – either partially or extensively -- by falling debris from the North Tower.
There is nothing in the NIST report, except assumption, that supports the idea that fires were burning out of control on floors 7, 8, 9, 11, 12 and 13 for seven hours. There is no photographic evidence to support such an idea – and, in fact, much of the photographic evidence indicates that most of the fires in Building 7 did not appear until a little before mid-afternoon and that they were of limited duration. Furthermore, there is no reliable eyewitness testimony capable of demonstrating that any fires in Building 7 lasted for seven hours … or even two or three hours.
NIST created theoretical models for fuel loads to support the idea that on a number of the floors in Building 7 where the fires were supposedly raging for extended periods of time, there would have been a sufficient amount of fuel to be able to maintain fires for seven hours at high levels of thermal intensity. Those fuel load models were rooted in a variety of arbitrary assumptions about what was the case with respect to the amount of combustible materials in the work-a-day business world of the companies and organizations (for example, American Express and the Security and Exchange Commission) where NIST believed the fires had raged for some 7 hours.
In the NIST NCSTAR 1-9 report released in August of 2008 that invited public comment, NIST claims that American Express managers indicated that the amount of combustible material in their southwest section of the 13th floor was ‘high’.
According to NIST, those managers said that there was a “no clean desk” policy in play at the time, and as a result, files and folders might be found out in the open – on desks, book cases, cabinet tops, and the like.
In its final report on Building 7 released in November 2008, NIST changed the foregoing. In the later report NIST indicated that managers from the SEC – not American Express -- had told NIST that the amount of combustible material on the 12th and 13th floors was described as high. American Express occupied only one sector on the 13th floor, and the SEC occupied the rest of the floor space on 12 and 13.
The term “high” is not a quantitative or an exact term. It is a qualitative estimate made by people who do not think in terms of fuel load or, for that matter, who do not necessarily have much of an idea of what things might be like in other companies and organizations in Building 7.
Does ‘high’ mean relative to everybody else in the building? If so, one still really doesn’t know what ‘high’ means until one establishes what the amount of combustibles are for other floors of Building 7, and one is able to verify that, yes, the amount of combustibles on such floors is ‘high’ relative to the number of combustibles on other floors.
Does ‘high’ mean relative to what is the case at other times of the year in the offices on a given floor? If so, one still would need to establish some sort of bench mark for the rest of the year against one can measure the amount of combustibles and, thereby, lend some sort of sense to what the term ‘high’ might mean.
Even if one accepts the descriptor ‘high’, this says nothing about the distribution of the material across the floors. Were some offices worst than others? Were some areas relatively free of such combustibles? Was the amount of combustibles pretty consistent across the floors? If fires started in one section of such a floor, would the fire necessarily have a consistently high-density pathway of combustibles to enable the fire to migrate across the floor, or is it possible that there were areas of the floor which despite the overall average fuel load for the floor might, nonetheless, still have helped to prevent the fire from migrating very far? What if a fire started in an area that did not have a high-density fuel load? After all, it really doesn’t make any difference what the average fuel load for a floor is if the place where a fire starts is significantly below that average and, therefore, incapable of enabling a fire that will sweep across the floor.
NIST came up with an average fuel load of 32kg/m2 to give quantitative expression to the qualitative descriptor ‘high’. This estimate was more than half again higher than the fuel load average (20kg/m2) that NIST had invented for the Twin Towers.
The foregoing fuel load estimate for the 12th and 13th floors of Building 7 is completely arbitrary. There are several points that can be made to indicate just how arbitrary the NIST figure is in relation to the 12th and 13th floors of Building 7.
First, NIST set the fuel load figure for floors 7 and 8 of Building 7 as equal to the fuel load average for the floors in the Twin Towers – namely, 20kg/m2. NIST did this despite the fact that American Express occupied the 7th and 8th floors of Building 7 – as well as the southwest sector of the 13th floor – and had a ‘no clean desk policy’ just as SEC did. Yet, in the latter case, NIST came up with a figure of 32kg/m2 with no real evidential basis for arriving at a figure that was more than half again as large as the estimate for the American Express offices in Building 7, whereas in the case of American Express NIST used a much lower figure despite the presence of a “no clean desk” policy similar to that of SEC.
Secondly, on page 376 of NIST NCSTAR 1-9, NIST stated: “The density of combustibles on the 13th floor was varied and not well known. The average value was assumed to be the same as the 12th floor.” In other words, with little or no evidence to back up its contention, NIST made a wholly arbitrary assumption concerning the nature of the fuel load figure for the 13th floor.
In fact, one could argue that the estimates of fuel load for the 13th floor of Building 7 which was made by NIST is not just arbitrary but completely misleading – and, possibly, deliberately so. More specifically, on pages 56 and 57 of NIST NCSTAR 1-9, there is a description of the 13th floor which talks about a variety of testimony rooms that occupied considerable space on the floor that “were sparsely furnished, with just a table and a few chairs.” Furthermore, by its own admission (noted earlier), NIST indicates that it does not know much about the amount of combustible materials on the 13th floor.
On what basis, therefore, can NIST make the assumption that the fuel load for the 13th floor of Building 7 would have been the same as the fuel load for the 12th floor? Indeed, in light of its own previously noted description of the 13th floor, there really is no basis whatsoever for making such a high estimate with respect to the fuel load for the 13th floor, and, as a result, the very most that one can say for the NIST process for estimating fuel loads on both the 12th and 13th floors is that it was highly arbitrary, misleading, and, maybe, just wrong.
The process of making assumptions and estimates is a part of science. However, such a process is not very scientific or rigorous when the assumptions and estimates that are made are, more or less, pulled out of a hat because of their completely arbitrary nature and because they have been selected in order to help bolster the theory one is pushing.
Consequently, when NIST makes statements such as: “In the computation, the fire on the 12th floor, and thus the derivative fires on the 11th and 13th floors, generated significantly higher more heat than the fire on the 7th and 8th floor. This was in large part due to the higher fuel load in the simulations.” (NIST NCSTAR 1-9, page 386), one has no reason for supposing that such simulations accurately reflect what may have gone on in Building 7 on 9/11. In fact, unless NIST can provide substantial independent evidence that its simulations accurately reflect the conditions in Building 7 on 9/11, there really is no reason for accepting such simulations as having anything of value to say … they are just arbitrary simulations with no proven evidential connection to actual events in Building 7.
It would be like trying to say that because one has established that two plus three is five, therefore we are entitled to say that the value of pi is ‘x’. One really has nothing to do with the other, and when one begins to throw around totally arbitrary and unwarranted assumptions and estimates as NIST does in the foregoing, then the simulations that are rooted in such an arbitrary process really have little, or nothing, to do with accurately informing the public about the actual character of that which the model purports to model.
When a lot of fuel is available in one place, fires tend to burn slowly and might be capable of pushing temperatures up. When there is not much fuel available, fires tend to move – to the extent they move at all rather than die out -- from place to place rather quickly and with much lower thermal intensity as long as there is sufficient fuel available to permit the fire to migrate.
The photographic evidence in relation to Building 7 tends to indicate that whatever fires were visible from mid-afternoon onward were relatively fast moving and not long lasting. NIST ran some fire flow computer simulations which suggested that fires were longer lasting and traveled less quickly than the photographic evidence indicated, and, therefore, such fires might be able to account for the sort of sustained elevated temperature that would be necessary to support the idea of thermal expansion weakening certain structural portions of Building 7.
The problem with the foregoing computer simulation is that they don’t reflect the available physical evidence. NIST admits as much in NIST NCSTAR 1-9, on pages 382-383, when it describes how the computer simulations it ran for floors 11, 12, and 13 ran longer than is suggested by any of the photographic/visual evidence.
When simulations don’t reflect physical evidence, this is an indication that one must rework the model. Until a model is capable of accurately reflecting the physical events it is supposed to be modeling, then, the model is problematic, and NIST was never able to come up with a computer simulation that accurately reflected what was going on physically – based on photographic and eye witness reports -- in Building 7.
The computer simulation models devised by NIST might have been bedeviled by overestimations of fuel load on the various floors, and, as previously discussed there is considerable evidence to indicate this may have been the case. Those same simulation models might also have been betrayed through problematic assumptions concerning: where fires allegedly started, or how they started, or when they started, or what the fuel-load conditions were like in the spots where such fires started, or how fuel-loads were distributed across a given floor and, therefore, capable of shaping the way in which fires would migrate (if they did so at all) across any given floor.
NIST adopts a different point of view however with respect to its disconnect between actual physical evidence and the computer simulations it created to model such physical evidence. More specifically, NIST claims: “The observed fire activity gleaned from the photographs and videos was not a model input, and thus one would not expect a perfect correspondence between predicted high temperatures and observed fire activity,” (NIST NCSTAR 1-9, page 378).
This is like claiming that reality is at fault for not reflecting the predictions of the computer simulation. The computer simulation predicts high temperatures in its description of the spread of the fires, but the photographic evidence suggests that such high temperatures would not have been present, therefore, according to NIST one shouldn’t hold the computer simulation accountable for its failure to model reality … and, indeed, according to NIST, one would expect as much, since reality was not part of (i.e., it was not a model input for) the computer simulation’s structural character.
For example, according to a simulation study conducted by NIST, temperatures in the northeast section of the 12th floor were predicted to have been in the range of between 500 and 1000° C. around 5:00 PM. Yet, according to NIST’s own admission, photographic evidence indicates that the fire on 12 had burned out by 4:45 PM.
There is additional photographic evidence that is inconsistent with the NIST simulation study for the 12th floor. Photographs taken just before 3:00 PM, as well as approximately thirteen minutes past 3:00 PM, indicate that the northeast section of that floor showed no indication of the presence of a fire – perhaps, having burned out at some earlier, undetermined time. Moreover, a photograph taken just before 4:00 PM indicates that the only remaining area of fire on 12 was in the northwest corner of Building 7. Finally, none of the photographs of Building 7 show a fire on the north side of the 13th floor at this time.
The 12th and 13th floors are two of the floors with respect to which NIST claimed that out of control fires of high intensity had been raging for seven hours. Yet, the aforementioned photographic evidence does not really support either the claim by NIST or its fire simulation study of with respect to the alleged existence of high-intensity, seven-hour fires on the 12th and 13th floors.
The absence of any fire in the northeast section of the 12th and 13th floors involves more than just another demonstration that there is a substantial disconnect between the simulation models used by NIST and the actual character of physical evidence for Building 7. The northeast section of Building 7 is where steel column 79 is located, and that beam is at the heart of the theory being promulgated by NIST since long-lasting fires of high intensity were supposed to have weakened horizontal beams and floor slabs connected to 79 through a process of thermal expansion and thermal weakening which, in turn, led to the buckling of Column 79, the failure of several floors, and, eventually, the progressive collapse of Building 7.
Unfortunately, for the NIST theory, the photographic evidence does not really provide very much, if any, evidence, to indicate that fires were either long-lasting or of high-intensity with respect to the critical northeast section of Building 7 … critical, that is, for the theory being advanced by NIST.
NIST also attempted to use the uncertainties inherent in the idea of a margin of error to bolster its case. In other words, NIST decided to consider three cases in relation to the fires that occurred in Building 7.
A middle case was based on the actual computations generated through its use of it Fire Dynamics Simulator. However, since the NIST engineers decided that the fires could have been, within a margin of error of 10 degrees, either slightly hotter than their FDS indicated or slightly cooler than its simulation indicated, they decided to use Case B – the one which was slightly hotter – as the source of computations for calculating what supposedly went on Building 7.
The choice of Case B was entirely arbitrary and there were absolutely no evidential considerations to indicate that Case B ought to be the scenario of choice. After all, what does it say about the confidence one has in the quality and accuracy of its Fire Dynamics Simulator to say that NIST is going to reject the results that are generated through that process and arbitrarily add 10 degrees to the temperatures that are predicted by the simulation model.
Earlier, I indicated that the simulations produced by the FDS process that were used by NIST did not even remotely reflect the photographic evidence concerning conditions in Building 7 on 9/11. If anything, the actual physical evidence indicates that both the duration and intensity of fires in the simulation model should be significantly lowered, and, yet, NIST believes that because of margin of error uncertainties, it is entitled to, arbitrarily – that is, without evidential support – increase the predicted temperature of fire intensity by 10 degrees.
When arbitrary choices concerning margins of errors are added to arbitrary assumptions about the start, spread, duration and intensity of fires, then one tends to end up with nothing but arbitrariness. Arbitrariness in a characteristic of junk science; arbitrariness is not a characteristic of real science, and in fact, the more arbitrary one’s investigation is, then, the more distant from truth and reality will one likely journey.
There is an old adage in computer science that states: “Garbage in! Garbage Out.” Apparently, some of the people at NIST are not very familiar with the concept for they often became trapped in the problems entailed by such a maxim.
According to NIST, a combination of thermal expansion and thermal weakening of various horizontal beams and floor slabs led to the rise of a set of forces that came to bear on Column 79, and this set of forces eventually caused that column to fail and, thereby, initiated a progressive collapse of Building 7. Thermal expansion occurs at temperatures in the vicinity of 400° C (750° F.), while thermal weakening takes place at temperatures above 500° C. (931° F.)
What evidence does NIST have that temperatures necessary for either thermal expansion or thermal weakening would have been present in Building 7 on 9/11? The answer is none because at no point did NIST actually examine any physical specimens – i.e., in the form of steel beams -- from Building 7 even though such data did exist as a result of some metallurgical studies conducted at Worcester Polytechnic Institute by Jonathan Barnett, Ronald Biederman, and Richard Sisson, Jr. in conjunction with beam material from both the World Trade Towers and Building 7.
The entire theory of NIST concerning thermal expansion and thermal weakening is rooted in speculation. This is not because such things as thermal expansion and thermal weakening do not occur, but, rather, this is because the NIST theory consists largely of arbitrary: assumptions, calculations and simulated models about what was going on in Building 7, and, therefore, is basically conjecture and speculation unsupported by actual physical data.
NIST claims on page 53 of NCSTAR 1A that temperatures of certain areas of the beams supporting the 8th, 12th, 13th, and 14th floor exceeded 600° C. What is this claim based on? It is based on results from its Fire Dynamics Simulator.
What is the FDS based on? The FDS is based on a variety of arbitrary assumptions made with respect to: when fires started, where fires started, what the fuel load of a floor was, how long such fires lasted, how hot those fires became, and for how long such temperatures were sustained.
Was there any physical evidence to support such assumptions? No!
Was there any photographic evidence to support such assumptions? No!
Was there any eyewitness testimony to support such assumptions? No!
On pages 395 and 396, of NIST NCSTAR 1-9, NIST claims that the temperatures of many the northeast corner floor beams were above 675° C., or 1,250° F. and that many of the floor beams in the southeast half of the 13th floor reached more than 600° and were sustained at that temperature for more than an hour.
Earlier it was pointed out that NIST, by its own admission, did not know what the fuel density or fuel distribution was on the 13th floor. Now, however, NIST is claiming that temperatures of 600° C, or more, would have been reached and sustained for more than an hour on that floor.
Furthermore, photographic evidence – which, again, is supplied and discussed by NIST (and which I have cited previously) – does not support the theory being advanced by NIST that the northeast corner floor beams were likely to have reached close to the temperatures – and temperature duration -- claimed by NIST.
Everything which NIST is claiming in the foregoing is based on a plethora of arbitrary assumptions about: when and where fires started, what the fuel load for floors were, how long fires burned and at what intensities. NIST set up a simulation based on such arbitrary assumptions and seeks to claim that this sort of arbitrary process does, indeed, represent an accurate record of what took place on 9/11 in Building 7 – in fact, the simulation is so accurate that NIST is prepared to resort to the uncertainties inherent in the margins of errors surrounding its simulation to arbitrarily increase temperatures by 10 degrees.
There is not one piece of data in the NIST estimation of temperatures that is tied to the actual examination of a steel beam from Building 7. At least, if NIST had undertaken a metallurgic examination of actual steel beams drawn from Building 7, then they might have some data capable of supporting the idea that the temperatures being thrown around by NIST have some degree of rootedness in something other than arbitrary assumptions. But, sadly, this is not the case.
Could what NIST is claiming be true? If one is talking in terms of the realms of physical possibility, then, yes, what NIST is claiming might be true.
However, to say that something is possible does not make that something either plausible or probable. Plausibility and probability require much more in the way of hard evidence than NIST has to offer in conjunction with Building 7.
Yet, NIST wants readers to believe that whatever is possible is, automatically, also plausible and probable. This is not a very credible way of proceeding – especially when NIST has offered little in the way of hard evidence that would incline someone to accept their ‘possibility’ as something more rigorous and evidentially grounded than is the case.
In fact, even the photographic evidence that NIST puts forward to support its theoretical position actually doesn’t accomplish what NIST believes it does. Indeed, the photographic evidence actually tends to undermine the theory being promulgated by NIST.
In 2007, at a meeting of the National Construction Safety Team Advisory Committee, Shyam Sunder of NIST indicated in response to a question that one needed to keep in mind that it was not just the movement of fires or the duration of fires in any one spot that was critical to consider, but, rather, one had to understand that as the fires moved from spot to spot, the air temperature would continue to rise.
Of course, Sunder is assuming in the foregoing scenario that little, or no, heat was lost as the fires were moving from place to place. However, there only would have been little or no heat loss if the building were airtight and if no heat were transferred to other parts of the building, neither of which was true in relation to Building 7. Because the building was not airtight and because of the heat sink properties of the building, heat would have escaped or been transferred away through walls (especially if there were holes in them due to falling debris from the North Tower), ceilings, floors, windows (especially if they were broken), and down elevator shafts.
Furthermore, if the building had been airtight, then whatever fires were burning on those floors would soon deplete the available air and become oxygen-starved fires. Such fires would either be very low-intensity fires producing more smoke than thermal intensity or they would have burned out altogether.
NIST also argues that heat would have been trapped by the insulation that was protecting the vertical and horizontal beams, as well as the floor panels. According to NIST, such trapped heat in conjunction with the rise of air temperatures could have brought about the sort of high-intensity temperatures that were cited earlier.
However, assumptions are being made in the foregoing about how: insulation, the amount of heat trapped by insulation, and heat transfer (or escape) would have interacted with one another at different locations across any given floor. Not only does insulation offer some degree of retardant protection to the steel that it covers, but whatever amount of heat may be trapped by the insulation (and there is a limit to just how much heat any given amount of insulation can trap), this heat is likely going to be radiated away within what is a very substantial heat sink (i.e., the structural character of the building) and, therefore, heat would not necessarily have the opportunity to increase the temperatures of either floors or ceilings to the degree that NIST needs for its theory to work.
The final report from NIST on Building 7 said on page 617 that: “Fires for the range of combustible contents in WTC 7 – 20kg/m2 on floors 7 to 9b and 32kg/m2 on Floors 11 to 13 – persisted in any given location for approximately 20 min to 30 min.” Elsewhere in the same report (pages 589 and 597), however, NIST indicated that 3 ½ hours “was not sufficient to cause an initiating event that would have led to global collapse.”
Thus, one of the challenges that NIST faces is to be able to plausibly connect the issue of fuel density to the idea of sustained high-intensity temperatures of more than 3 ½ hours. Unfortunately, other than in arbitrarily constructed computer simulations that are at odds with what could be demonstrated through actual physical evidence with respect to the conditions in Building 7 on 9/11, NIST cannot show in any rigorous, non-arbitrary fashion that the fuel loads it has assumed to have existed in Building 7 on 9/11 would likely, if not probably, have created fires that produced long-lasting high-intensity fires for more than 3 ½ hours in relation to either Column 79 or any of the horizontal structures connected to, or in the vicinity of, that column that plausibly would have given rise to the sort of necessary stresses that would led, first, to the failure of column 79, the failure of which would, in turn, have initiated a progressive global collapse of Building 7.
NIST accounts for the fall of Building 7 in the following manner: “Fire-induced thermal expansion of the floor system surrounding Column 79 led to the collapse of Floor 13, which triggered a cascade of floor failures. In this case, the floor beams on the east side of the building expanded enough that they pushed the girder spanning between columns 79 and 44 to the west on the 13th floor.” (p. 22 NIST NCSTAR 1-9) A short while later, the NIST report continues with: “This movement was enough for the girder to walk off of its support at Column 79. The unsupported girder and other local fire-induced damage caused Floor 13 to collapse.”
As was pointed out earlier, Floor 13 is a location for which NIST allegedly did not have much information with respect to the nature of its fuel load (i.e., combustible materials). Arbitrarily, NIST set the fuel load of the 13th floor equal to that of the 12th floor – namely, 32kg/m2.
Furthermore, as I noted previously: “Photographs taken just before 3:00 PM, as well as approximately thirteen minutes past 3:00 PM, indicate that the northeast section of that floor showed no indication of the presence of a fire – perhaps, having burned out at some earlier, undetermined time. Moreover, a photograph taken just before 4:00 PM indicates that the only remaining area of fire on 12 was in the northwest corner of Building 7. Finally, none of the photographs of Building 7 show a fire on the north side of the 13th floor at this time.”
In other words, the NIST theory concerning the failure of the 13th floor is a house of cards. There is absolutely no physical or photographic evidence to indicate that what NIST claims took place in relation to the 13th floor actually took place – especially in conjunction with the northeast sector of that floor.
Column 79 is of crucial importance to NIST because NIST wants to be able to account for several features of the fall of Building 7 that were captured on video and which occurred just before the demise of the structure. According to NIST: “Due to the buckling of Column 79 between floors 5 and 14, the upper section of Column 79 began to descend. The downward movement of Column 79 led to the observed kink in the east penthouse and its subsequent descent.” (NIST NCSTAR 1-9, pages 22-23)
In a sense, the theory that NIST puts forward is an attempt to account for visible, hard evidence – namely, the video recording that showed the east penthouse of Building 7 beginning to descend prior to the fall of Building 7. Working backward from the video evidence, NIST developed a theory that purported to account for such evidence.
The problem with the foregoing, however, is that NIST has no evidence to support such a theory. Operating on a double standard, NIST wants to take credit for coming up with a theory that might account for the observed behavior of the east penthouse of Building 7 prior the structure’s destruction, and, yet, NIST doesn’t want to be held accountable for the fact that it has produced no physical evidence which is capable of supporting such a theory … in fact, the photographic evidence argues against the theory which NIST is espousing.
NIST has no evidence to prove: when fires started, where they started, how they started, how long they lasted, where they migrated, how intensely they burned, or how much thermal weakening and/or thermal expansion of structural components went on, if any, in relation to those fires. NIST has taken photographic evidence and made interpolations and extrapolations of that data that are entirely arbitrary (since there is no evidence to lend credence to such interpolations and extrapolations) in an attempt to support its Column 79 /13th floor theory.
If things did not occur as NIST claims is the case with respect to its Column 79/13th floor theory, then NIST has no explanation for why a the east penthouse began to descend when it did just before Building 7 fell. If this is the case, then NIST really has no explanation for why Building 7 fell.
According to NIST: “The cascading failures of the lower floors surrounding Column 79 led to increased unsupported length in, falling debris, impact on, and loads being re-distributed to adjacent columns, and Column 80 and then column 81 buckled as well. All the floors connections to these three columns, as well as to the exterior columns failed, and the floors fell on the east side of the building. The exterior façade on the east quarter of the building was just a hollow shell. “ (p. 23, NIST NCSTAR 1-9). The foregoing quote is stated as an assertion, but, in reality, it is a completely hypothetical network of ideas.
Archimedes is once reported to have said with respect to the physical principle underlying the capacity of a lever to move objects: “Give me a place to stand, and I will move the earth.” The statement has a hidden presupposition in as much as having the right place to stand would not be enough to enable someone to move the Earth. One also would need a lever of the right length and, as well, one would need to be able to establish an appropriate fulcrum point through which to leverage the Earth’s movement.
The theory that NIST is putting forth in relation to Building 7 is akin to what Archimedes promised. The only difference is that not only does NIST possess no solid ground on which to stand but, as well, it has no lever or fulcrum through which to move its theory any credible amount of distance.
NIST has no evidence to support its claim that the reason why the east penthouse began to descend was because of what NIST claimed happened in its theory of the fall of Building 7. NIST has no evidence to support its claim that Columns 79, 80, and 81 buckled as a result of forces set in motion by thermal expansion and thermal weakening in and around those columns. NIST has no evidence to prove that “all the floor connections to these three columns, as well as the exterior columns failed.”
What NIST has done is to: invent a hypothetical place to stand, create a hypothetical lever mechanism, and imagine a hypothetical fulcrum point through nothing but creative imagination. More specifically, (1) if fires started at a certain time (shortly after 10:28 AM), and (2) if fires lasted for longer than 3 ½ hours, and (3) if the fuel-load on the 13th floor were 32 kg/m2 (for which NIST had absolutely no evidence), and (4) if the fires reached a sustained temperature of 400° C. for a sufficiently long enough period of time in order for thermal expansion to occur (for which NIST has no evidence), and (5) if thermal expansion gave rise to certain forces which came to bear upon Column 79 (for which NIST has no evidence), and (6) if the fires reached a sustained temperature of 500° C. for a sufficiently long enough period of time in order for a certain kind of thermal weakening to take place (for which NIST has no evidence), and (7) if such thermal weakening caused certain kinds of damage (for which NIST has no evidence), and (8) if columns 79, 80, 81 and related floors failed in the way NIST believes occurred (for which NIST has no evidence), and (9) if the failure of Columns 79, 80 and 81 led to the failures of Columns 76, 77, and 78 in the way NIST believes is the case (for which NIST has no evidence), and (10) if the foregoing collective failures could have led to a progressive global collapse (for which NIST has no evidence), then, QED, NIST has an explanation for the fall of Building 7. All one has to do is permit NIST to assume its way to such a conclusion without any independent evidence being required to warrant such assumptions.
One can prove or demonstrate virtually anything if one is permitted to derive one’s conclusion through purely hypothetical constructs. In fact, this is what NIST did. It showed that when one constructed a hypothetical construct with the right set of properties, then certain things might happen.
NIST showed that its virtual model had the potential to lead to certain conclusions if one granted NIST all of its many unwarranted assumptions. What NIST did not show, demonstrate, or prove – due to a complete lack of evidence -- is that its simulations and virtual models reflected what actually went on in Building 7 on 9/11.
Some people might want to argue that NIST has demonstrated a sort of ‘proof of concept’ with respect to Building 7. In other words, what NIST had done is to show that Building 7 could have fallen in the way NIST claims, if certain conditions had existed in that structure on 9/11.
However, I could just as easily say that if someone gave me a million dollars, I would be a millionaire. Presumably, by stating the condition under which I might become a millionaire, I have established a ‘proof of concept’ with respect to the underlying hypothesis.
Nonetheless, unless I can demonstrate that those conditions are likely to be satisfied, then, in truth, I have demonstrated nothing at all with respect to the real world and my being a millionaire. Similarly, unless NIST can demonstrate that the conditions it needs to be fulfilled for its hypothetical framework to become a reality were, in fact, present in Building 7 on 9/11, then, NIST has shown, proved, and demonstrated nothing at all., and NIST has not been able to do this.
Alternatively, someone might wish to ask: if the NIST theory is not true, then, what did cause Building 7 to fall on 9/11. The implication of the foregoing question is that if one cannot come up with a plausible alternative hypothesis, then, by default, one should stick with the one that NIST proposes.
This sort of approach to things is somewhat akin to the following example. If a person, ‘B’, proves that someone -- say: ‘C’ -- did not kill a given individual, ‘A’, then, unless B can prove who actually did kill A, then, one must continue to suppose that C is the killer.
By showing that a culprit – namely, Column 79/13th floor – has not been proven by NIST (due to lack of evidence) to: have brought about the fall of Building 7, one is under no obligation to continue to support such a contention merely because one doesn’t know what actually did cause Building 7 to fall – in fact, this is one of the reasons why the investigation into various facets of 9/11 needs to be re-opened since a plausible explanation for the fall of Building 7 has not been established. Yet, in effect, NIST is arguing that there is no need for further inquiry because even though its own theory actually fails at almost every point, nonetheless, in the absence of any other proven candidates, one, nevertheless, should stick with what NIST has proposed … and such an argument makes absolutely no sense.
In its investigation into the Twin Towers, NIST found that only three of the columns it examined showed any indication of having reached -- even temporarily, let alone having shown evidence of sustained thermal intensity -- temperatures of approximately 250° C. or 482° F. Most importantly, the foregoing finding was in relation to having studied actual steel beam material from the Twin Towers.
In relation to Building 7, NIST examined no actual structural material form that building. Yet, it concluded that temperatures in Building 7 reached – for sustained periods of time – between 400° and 500° C.
However, NIST failed to examine any actual structural components from Building 7 to be able to support its conclusion concerning thermal intensity. Moreover, none of the photographic or eye-witness testimony produced by NIST was capable of lending any credence to its claims concerning the level of thermal intensity which NIST alleged had been reached in Building 7 for sustained periods of time – that is, between 3 ½ and 7 hours.
When members of NIST are reminded by critics that steel-framed buildings such as: One Meridian Plaza and First Interstate Bank did not collapse despite being consumed by fire for sustained periods of time and, yet, NIST is arguing that WTC 7 collapsed due to fires and how does one account for this oddity, NIST has responded along the following lines: “… the reason for the different outcomes likely lay in differences in the structural systems and in the details for how the steel frames were constructed. “ (p. 341, NIST NCSTAR 1-9 Draft) The phrase “differences in the structural systems and in the details for how the steel frames were constructed” is an allusion to the claim of NIST that shear studs had not been used to connect girders to floor slabs in Building 7, whereas they probably were used in conjunction with the steel-framed buildings that had been consumed with fire and, yet, had remained standing.
According to NIST, if shear studs had been present to connect girders to the floors, then the presence of thermal expansion would not likely have led to the problems of failed columns and floors that NIST believed occurred in Building 7 on 9/11. NIST contends that when floor beams expanded and brought about the failure of shear studs and, this, in turn caused girders and floor slabs to become disconnected from the critical Column 79, then a key ingredient that helped to maintain the structural integrity of the building was lost.
There are a number of problems that arise in conjunction with the foregoing perspective. First, with respect to the steel-framed buildings that were able to remain standing despite being consumed by fire, NIST admits that at least one of those buildings did not have shear studs that connected the girders to the columns and, yet, the building remained standing. Consequently, one cannot necessarily argue that if a steel-framed high-rise does not have shear studs, it will collapse.
Secondly, the steel-framed buildings that remained standing despite the presence of sustained fires were all different from WTC 7 in a very important way. There is no proof that WTC 7 was ever consumed by fire or consumed by fire for any sustained period of time, and, yet, despite the lack of proof concerning such fires in conjunction with Building 7, the latter structure fell while the other buildings that did have proven long-lasting fires of high thermal intensity did not come down.
Thirdly, even if one were to concede the point – which I don’t – that the reason why Building 7 fell is, in large part, due to the absence of shear studs, NIST has failed to demonstrate a necessary component of the related theory. More specifically, NIST has not shown that a temperature of 400° C. was ever reached, or ever reached for a sustained period of time, in Building 7 on 9/11 in conjunction with Column 79 and associated horizontal girder and floor connections.
Of course, at one point, NIST claims that: “The first failures observed were of the shear studs, which were produced by axial expansion of the floor beams, and which began to occur at [the] fairly low temperature of 103° C.” (p. 352, NIST NCSTAR 1-9) If sheer studs fail at such a low temperature, then why did NIST indicate elsewhere that differential thermal expansion – one of the primary culprits cited by NIST in its theory -- requires that temperatures of 400° C. be reached and sustained?
One possibility, of course, is that while it may be true that a few shear studs might fail at the lower temperature – perhaps due to imperfections introduced during the time of manufacture (and provided that temperature was sustained for a sufficiently long period of time) -- the vast majority of shear studs are likely to hold until one reaches the 400° C. mark, and, then, only if the latter temperature is sustained over a period of time. To say that shear studs fail at 103° C. is misleading and inconsistent with the bench mark that NIST itself established with respect to the temperature that must be reached for a sustained period of time – namely, 400° C. – in order for thermal expansion to occur … which, according to NIST, is one of the primary culprits (along with thermal weakening) indicated in the alleged failure of shear studs.
On the other hand, David Proe, a research fellow at the Centre for Environmental and Risk Engineering at Victoria University in Melbourne, disputed the statement by NIST that claimed shear studs would fail at temperatures as low as 103° C. He informed NIST that he had never witnessed such a phenomenon during his research and inquired about the underlying physical mechanism.
Apparently, NIST did not respond to Proe’ inquiry. In fact, as far as I have been able to determine, NIST does not provide any explanation in its reports concerning Building 7 as to why some shear studs might fail at low temperatures while others only fail at a much higher temperature.
Fourthly, in an interim report on WTC 7 which was issued in 2004, NIST states: “Most of the beams and girders were made composite with the slabs through the use of shear studs” although “studs were not indicated on the design drawing for many of the core girders.” (L-6-7 of the Interim Report on WTC 7)
As independent researchers such as Chris Sarns have pointed out, the critical girder connecting Columns 79 and 44 is not a core girder but is part of the eastern section of Building 7 (the section beneath the penthouse that began to descend prior to the fall of Building 7). Therefore, according to the foregoing statement of NIST that is contained in its interim report on Building 7, the aforementioned girder would, in fact, have been connected to the floor slab by shear studs.
NIST contends that although girders were not connected to floor slabs by shear studs, nonetheless, steel floor beams were so connected. However, when thermal expansion caused the latter shear studs to break, then there was nothing to maintain lateral rigidity or structural integrity and, thereby, prevent columns from beginning to buckle.
Nevertheless, aside from contradicting itself with respect to the existence of shear studs in relation to non-core girders, the above position of NIST still presumes that fires with sustained temperatures of 400° C. were burning in the vicinity of Column 79 despite photographic evidence (previously cited) indicating otherwise. So, once again, NIST really has nothing more to support its theory other than assertion – namely, because NIST says this is the way it was in Building 7, then, this is the way it was … no evidence is needed.
In addition, even if one were to accept the contention of NIST that although girders were not connected to floor slabs by shear studs, steel floor beams were connected to the floor slabs by shear studs, one could raise the following question. How many of the 140, or so, shear studs connecting the five steel beams to the floor slabs would need to fail – and in what places and in what sequence -- before the floor would fail? I have not discovered an answer to this question in the NIST documents.
Fifthly, while NIST wishes to maintain that thermal expansion would cause shear studs to break, NIST doesn’t really offer any proof of this. NIST maintains that the differential thermal expansion between the steel beams and the concrete floor slabs will lead to the failure of the shear studs as a result of the torque forces that come to bear on the shear studs through that differential.
For the foregoing claim of NIST to be true, the linear expansion coefficient for steel and concrete would have to be substantially different. However, the linear expansion coefficient for steel and concrete are, respectively, 1.24 and 1.20.
NIST has provided no evidence that such a small disparity in linear expansion coefficient for steel and concrete would lead to the kind of torque forces that would supposedly be generated by differential thermal expansion NIST claims is at the heart of its theory with respect to the failure of shear studs. When steel is exposed to heat it expands and so does the surrounding concrete that is being exposed to the same heat source. Indeed, reinforced concrete has structural integrity precisely because the steel and the concrete do have very similar linear expansion coefficients and, therefore, are not likely to be affected appreciably in a differential way with respect to temperature changes in the environment.
The fact of the matter is NIST admits that in relation to the simulations it ran, it heated steel beams without heating concrete floor slabs -- that is, NIST states: “No thermal expansion of material degradation was considered for the concrete slab as the slab was not heated in this analysis.” (p. 352, NIST NCSTAR 1-9)
How can one demonstrate that there would have been differential thermal expansion when one studies only one of two necessary components that are needed for the purposes of comparison? NIST heated the steel beams in its simulation, but NIST did not heat the concrete floor slabs, so whatever thermal expansion differential NIST claims to be present in such an analysis is purely an assumed one.
As was the case with the Twin Towers, NIST never actually accounts for why the fall of Building 7 occurred in the way that has been observed – namely, in a largely symmetrical fashion with elements of freefall. NIST claims that its “explanation” – if one can call it that – only extends to events surrounding the initiation that, supposedly, led to the alleged progressive global collapse of Building 7. On pages 599-600 of NIST NCSTAR 1-9, NIST admits that: “Once simulation of the global collapse 0f WTC 7 was underway, there was a great increase in the uncertainty in the progression of the collapse sequence, due to the random nature of the interaction.” On page 44 of an earlier version (NIST NCSTAR 1A), of the aforementioned report (NIST NCSTAR 1-9) NIST makes the same point in the following language: “The simulations do show the formation of the kink, but any subsequent movement of the building is beyond the reliability of the physics of the model.”
The foregoing perspective of NIST is like someone claiming that they have developed a model which can predict who the first batter of a particular baseball game will be, but from there, the dynamics of the game fall outside the capacity of the physics programmed into the model and, therefore, since once one goes beyond the first person in the lineup stepping into the batter’s box, uncertainty rules the manner in which that game will progress. Could one say that what happened in the game followed from the initiating event – i.e., the first batter? Yes, one could, but being able to say this really does not provide any sort of credible explanation for what happened during the game or why the score ended up the way it did.
What impact did the first batter have on the rest of the game? One doesn’t know.
What impact did the alleged failure of column 79 have on the fall of Building 7? NIST doesn’t know but assumes – and by its own admission, NIST has no evidence to support its assumption -- that such a failure led to everything that was observed.
The problem facing NIST is actually worse than the foregoing baseball analogy suggests. The simulation model proposed by NIST with respect to Building 7 identifies what it believes is the initiating event for the fall of Building 7, but NIST doesn’t really even have a convincing case to put forth that its theory about such an initiating event is likely to have occurred.
To return to the baseball analogy, let us suppose that someone has a theory which predicts that Jacoby Ellsbury will lead off for the Red Sox at an away game with the Yankees. However, what happens to such a theory: if Ellsbury is injured prior to the game; or, the Red Sox manager, Terry Francona, decides that Ellsbury needs to rest a hamstring which has been acting up; or, Francona decides to drop Ellsbury down in the order to take some pressure off him that the manager believes has been adversely affecting Ellsbury offensive performance; or, Ellsbury comes down with food poisoning before the game begins; or, the game is postponed due to rain; or, the Yankees decide to forfeit the game in order to protest the fact that someone tried to bury a David Ortiz jersey in the new Yankee stadium when it was being constructed? There are many factors which might affect whether, or not, Ellsbury actually does lead off in the game against the Yankees.
Alternatively, what happens if the game does begin with Ellsbury leading off, but Ellsbury is hit by the first pitch and has to leave the game? What is the relationship between that event and the outcome of the game?
What if Ellsbury goes 0 for 5? What impact did that have on the rest of the game?
What if Ellsbury goes 3 for 5? What impact, if any, did that have on the rest of the game?
Given the foregoing considerations, why should one suppose that even if one were to concede – which I don’t -- that NIST had successfully identified the initial event that preceded the destruction of Building 7, then, therefore, such an initial event is actually what caused the building to fall? NIST was incorrect with respect to its first theory about the fall of Building 7, and, there is nothing that says NIST couldn’t be wrong with respect to its second theory about Building 7 … in fact, there is a great deal of evidence (much of which has been noted previously in this essay) to indicate that NIST is wrong with respect to its second theory about Building 7.
Maybe there are possibilities that NIST has not considered which might explain the fall of Building 7. Perhaps some of those alternative possibilities may have involved Column 79, in some fashion, so that although NIST could have been correct with respect to identifying the initial event in the destruction of Building 7 – which I don’t believe is the case -- nonetheless, NIST might be incorrect with respect to how Column 79 was connected to the actual character of the building’s destruction. Maybe some of the alternative possibilities have nothing to do with Column 79 and the 13th floor.
Unless NIST can demonstrate – through evidence and not assumption or assertion – that its Column 79/13th Floor theory is causally connected to the destruction of Building 7, then, the theory being put forth by NIST is not an explanation of much of anything other than that it gives expression to one possibility that might – and, I would emphasize the words: “one possibility” and “might” -- have taken place prior to the fall of Building 7.The connection which NIST claims exists between its Column 79/13th Floor theory and the fall of Building 7 is all a matter of assumption, and NIST acknowledges as much when it points out – as previously quoted – that explaining the character of the fall of Building 7 is really beyond the physics of its simulation model.
Despite the foregoing considerations, NIST has the audacity to say: ”Given the complexity of the modeled behavior, the global collapse analyses matched the observed behavior reasonably well,” and, then, proceeds to state: “The global collapse analysis confirmed the leading collapse hypothesis which was based on the available evidence.” (p. 44, NIST NCSTAR)
In what credible sense did the global collapse analysis of NIST confirm the leading collapse hypothesis? In what credible sense did the global collapse analysis of NIST match “the observed behavior [of Building 7] fairly well”?
The answer – although it is hardly credible -- to the foregoing two questions is actually the same in both cases. NIST believes that its ‘Column 79/13th Floor’ theory accounts for why a kink forms in the roof of Building 7 and for why the east penthouse began to descend prior to the fall of the rest of the building.
The ‘Column 79/13th Floor’ theory being propounded by NIST can account for nothing else – not the symmetry of the fall of Building 7, and not the freefall elements inherent in the destruction of Building 7, and not the missing mass in the debris pile, and not for the fact that seismic readings for the fall of Building 7 were not much different from background seismic activity for New York City. So, again, one might ask: How does the NIST theory revolving about the Column 79/13th Floor idea, reflect what was observed via video footage “fairly well”? Or, how does the NIST theory concerning ‘Column 79/13th Floor’ confirm “the leading collapse hypothesis” … especially when the leading collapse hypothesis is actually presupposed by the analysis that NIST did … so, in effect, the global analysis which NIST did is little more than an elaborate elaboration of what NIST believes would have had to have happened if its preliminary hypothesis is to be correct.
The computer simulation run by NIST is nothing more than its own hypothesis writ large. As such, the NIST analysis simulates nothing more than its own hypothesis and has little to do with reality in relation to Building 7.
In fact as has been pointed out previously, NIST cannot plausibly or convincingly demonstrate that its ‘Column 79/13th Floor’ theory is supported by evidence which shows that: fires would have started in Building 7 in the way NIST claims, or that the fuel loads on different floors would have been what NIST claimed they were, or that those fires would have migrated in the way NIST claims, or that those fires would have burned with the thermal intensity which NIST claims, or that such fires would have been sustained for even 3 ½ hours, let alone 7, hours as NIST claims, or that fires would have caused the sort of thermal expansion and thermal weakening in relation to Column 79 as NIST claims, or that the presence or absence of shear studs would be a deciding factor as NIST claims, or that shear studs would have failed in the way NIST claims.
The only thing that NIST has done is to come up with a theory – the ‘Column 79/13th Floor’ idea – that is consistent with what was observed in relation to some aspects of the roof of Building 7, but that theory is not consistent with anything else that was observed in conjunction with the destruction of Building 7. Moreover, there is nothing in the way of actual evidence that would indicate that the events which supposedly brought about the ‘Column 79/13th Floor’ scenario is rooted in anything more than a whole set of questionable assumptions that have been noted previously.
One glaring problem with the NIST ‘Column 79/13th Floor’ theory is that it cannot account for the largely symmetrical fall of Building 7. Everything in the NIST theory indicates that the fall of Building 7 should have been asymmetrical because Column 79 was beneath the east pent house which was observed to descend, somewhat, first, and, yet, after that, the fall was not asymmetrical but almost entirely symmetrical … from the roof line down.
Thus, rather than confirm the NIST theory, the observed symmetry in the fall of Building 7 disconfirms the ‘Column 79/13th Floor’ hypothesis. If that hypothesis had been true, then not only would one expect to see the observed kink and slight descent of the east pent house, but one also would have expected to see a cascading series of asymmetrical destruction that was set in motion by the initial asymmetry, but this is not what one observes.
NIST tries to obscure the manner in which its hypothesis is actually inconsistent with a major piece of observed data – namely, the issue of symmetry – by mentioning that too many dynamical uncertainties entered the picture following the failure of Column 79 and the 13th Floor and, therefore, such uncertainties were not capable of being handled by the physics programmed into its computer simulation. However, if there were so many dynamical uncertainties that entered the picture beyond the horizons of its ‘Column 79/13th Floor’ idea, then, why was the fall of Building 7 almost entirely symmetrical? How did all those uncertainties come together to generate a symmetrical fall?
NIST has no answer to any of the foregoing questions. In fact, the NIST ‘Column 79/13th Floor’ idea would have led to an asymmetrical fall of Building 7, and this did not occur, so either the theory being propounded by NIST is entirely wrong or that theory requires some sort of fundamental re-working because as it stands, it not only cannot account for what clearly has been observed to happen in relation to Building 7 by millions of people when it fell, but the NIST position would have predicted an entirely different, asymmetrical result.
Another glaring inconsistency between the NIST theory and what was observed to take place in relation to Building 7 concerns the issue of freefall. In a technical briefing given on August 26, 2008 by Shyam Sunder of NIST, Sunder claimed there was no element of freefall during the descent of Building 7 and, then, said: ”… you had a sequence of structural failures that had to take place. Everything was not instantaneous.” A little before saying the foregoing, Sunder talked about the presence of “structural resistance” that would not be all that unusual during a progressive collapse such as Building 7 underwent.
In other words, there could not have been any element of freefall in the descent of Building 7 because the NIST theory required a sequence of column failures involving structural resistance (i.e., the principle of conservation of momentum in action). This meant that the fall of Building 7 could not have been instantaneous.
In effect, Sunder is implicitly acknowledging that if there had been any element of freefall in the descent of Building 7, then the NIST perspective would have been incorrect, but since Sunder is assuming that the progressive collapse thesis is correct, then, ipso facto, there cannot have been any element of freefall present in the descent of Building 7. In effect, Sunder is assuming his conclusions by saying that his theory precludes any possibility of freefall, and, therefore, by assuming that his theory is true, the element of freefall has been eliminated, in an a prior manner, from the discussion … at least, this is the case as far as Sunder is concerned.
In the NIST technical briefing, Sunder argued that the measurements made by NIST indicated that the building came down in a time that was roughly 40% longer than would have been the case if freefall had been in effect. David Chandler, a high school physics teacher, analyzed the analysis of NIST and indicated that NIST had made several mistakes.
Chandler pointed out that the first mistake committed by NIST was that it selected an arbitrary starting point for its measurement of the descent of Building 7, and by selecting such an arbitrary starting point, that choice made the actual descent of Building 7 seem longer by 1.5 seconds than actually was the case. The second mistake committed by NIST that was pointed out by Chandler is that NIST used an average acceleration figure to represent the rate of descent of Building 7 from the time used by NIST to mark the beginning of the descent (which is earlier than it should have been) until the roof line of the building disappeared.
Together, the two foregoing mistakes permitted Sunder and NIST to claim that the duration of the descent of Building 7 took 40% longer than would have been the case if any element of freefall had been present. By pointing out such errors, Chandler demonstrated that, in fact, elements of freefall were inherent in the descent of Building 7.
On page 607 of the final report by NIST on Building 7, NIST, once again, asserts that the duration of descent for the top 18 stories of Building 7 was 40 % longer than the presence of freefall would have required. However, NIST then goes on to say that, in point of fact, there was a: “freefall descent over approximately eight stories at gravitational acceleration for approximately 2.25” seconds.
NIST gives no explanation for the presence of such an element of freefall in the descent of Building 7. Undoubtedly, NIST might wish to argue that the hollow shell that NIST claimed had been created in relation to portions of floors 7 through 13 in the northeast sector of the building as a result of the failure or buckling of a number of columns in the vicinity of Column 79, could have created conditions of freefall for those 7, or so, stories. However, even if one were to concede that such a hollow shell existed beneath the northeast section of the building – and, there is absolutely no evidence to indicate that this was the case – such a concession would not explain why the entire set of eight floors (involving 24 interior columns, 58 perimeter columns, and numerous horizontal girders, steel beams, shear studs, and floor slabs) suddenly fell at freefall velocities rather than just the portion of the northeast section of the building that was alleged to be a “hollow shell”.
Finally, the ‘Column 79/13th Floor’ theory advocated by NIST cannot explain why the debris pile for Building 7 is only two stories tall and largely contained within the original horizontal dimensions of the building – or footprint (Building 7 was a trapezoid whose dimensions were: 150 feet on both the east and west sides, 329 feet on the north side, and 247 feet on the south side). More specifically, while the height of Building 7 was 610 feet, and therefore there were 24 core interior columns that ran the height of the building, NIST argues that there were multiple column failures of core columns between the 7th and 14th floors as a result of the damage done by the fires via thermal expansion and thermal weakening.
Therefore, if what NIST claims is true, then one might expect to see sections of core columns measuring almost 430 feet long (thirteen feet for each story, and there were 33 stories above the 14th floor), and, yet, there was no evidence of this. There also was no evidence that any of the perimeter columns were anywhere near the foregoing length of roughly 430 feet. Moreover, one wonders why no such sections fell on nearby buildings such as the office buildings for New York Telephone or the Federal Reserve.
The presence of freefall, the symmetry of the fall, and the size and character of the debris pile in relation to Building 7 all serve to disconfirm the NIST hypothesis or theory concerning the destruction of Building 7. Yet, NIST wants to argue – as previously noted – that its analysis has confirmed its theory and that theory measures up “fairly well” and “reasonably well” with what was observed in conjunction with the destruction of Building 7.
What NIST has done in conjunction with its “analysis” of Building 7 is mostly a function of junk science. It is the same kind of “science” that all too many: tobacco, chemical, and pharmaceutical companies continually try to foist off on the public.
During the commission of junk science, people with degrees in medicine, science and engineering are used to lend an aura of “expertise”, “rigor”, and “competence” to a given study or investigation. However, the actual character of the investigation involves much that does not reflect such expertise, rigor, or competence … in fact, what junk science gives expression to involves quite another set of activities.
NIST assumed almost all of its conclusions in relation to its “explanation” of what happened to Building 7 on 9/11. NIST advanced conclusions that were not supported by verifiable evidence. Again and again, NIST used arbitrary criteria to shape its use and interpretation of its methodological activity, and, from time to time, NIST just fudged data (as was the case in the issue of freefall).
Last, but not least, NIST did not go through any sort of independent peer review process – either in conjunction with its “investigation” of the Twin Towers or in relation to its analysis of events with respect to Building 7. Calling for public comments on interim reports which one is free to ignore is not a process of peer review, although like much of the rest of its analytical, methodological, and investigatory activity, NIST tries to give the impression that something rigorous and scientific is happening when such is not the case.
All of the foregoing considerations are indicators for the presence of junk science, but junk science does not mean that someone is necessarily incompetent. Rather, what the presence of junk science indicates is that someone who engages in such a process is immoral and has allowed the quality of science to be corrupted by something other than a rigorous search for truth based on verifiable evidence that can be subjected to an independent review process that actually can alter the character of what is done and claimed in relation to the available data by means of a critical feed-back process.
The NIST report on Building 7 is steeped in junk science. The people at NIST -- and elsewhere in government, the media and academia -- who have permitted this to happen, are guilty of nothing less than moral turpitude.
To be guilty of moral turpitude does not necessarily mean such a person has engaged in a conspiracy. Rather, it means such an individual has failed as a human being within the frame of reference that is circumscribed by such junk science.