Wednesday, April 15, 2009

On controlled demolitions and thermite

Quick follow-up to my previous article.

This is by no means intended to be a comprehensive "debunk" because a) I'm not in that business and b) even if Harrit is right it doesn't change anything but a quick google search turned up the following:

Thermite Welding

Thermite welding (TW) (sometimes called thermit welding) is a process which joins metals by heating them with super heated liquid metal from a chemical reaction between a metal oxide and aluminum or other reducing agent, with or without the application of pressure. Filler metal is obtained from the liquid metal.


And this:

The most common thermite is aluminium-iron(III) oxide.

The aluminium reduces the oxide of another metal, most commonly iron oxide, because aluminium is highly combustible:

Fe2O3 + 2Al -> 2Fe + Al2O3 + Heat

The products are aluminium oxide, free elemental iron, and a large amount of heat. The reactants are commonly powdered and mixed with a binder to keep the material solid and prevent separation.

The reaction is used for thermite welding, often used to join rail tracks. Other metal oxides can be used, such as chromium oxide, to generate elementary metal. Copper thermite, using copper oxide, is used for creating electric joints in a process called cadwelding:

3CuO + 2Al -> 3Cu + Al2O3 + Heat

Source: Wikipedia


Thermite was also used in both German and Allied incendiary bombs during World War II. Incendiary bombs usually consisted of dozens of thin thermite-filled canisters (bomblets) ignited by a magnesium fuse. Incendiary bombs destroyed entire cities due to the raging fires that resulted from their use. Cities that primarily consisted of wooden buildings were especially susceptible. These incendiary bombs were utilized primarily during night time air raids. Bomb sights could not be used at night, creating the need to use munitions that could destroy targets without the need for precision placement.

And this:

Quick explanation of thermite:

A mixture of iron oxide Fe2O3 (rust) and aluminum powder. When it is ignited the aluminum powder reacts with the O3 part of the rust in a highly exothermic reaction, the resulting product is molten iron.

Thermite is commonly used in welding, because the molten iron has the ability to seep into cracks in metal. It cal also be used to melt through things as shown in an episode of Brainiac and the movie The Sixth Day.

I have made thermite a few times, but never in large enough batches to burn through anything significant. Aluminum powder is hard to come by and I never had a good enough reason to use what little powder I had.


And this video of the process in action:

Some basic conclusions based on 15 minutes of searching...

1. Thermite is commonly used in welding especially in railroad tracks - aside from the likelihood that they probably used thermite (and thermite machines) to cut the steel that became part of the World Trade Center...they almost certainly used it to work on and build the subway and train tracks that are located all over Manhattan. If you watch the video I embedded...I've actually SEEN this process take place and I'm pretty sure I've seen it take place in construction areas on the subway.

2. Thermite particles generally consist of iron oxide or aluminum oxide of some type. Iron oxide is red (like the "chips" Niels Harrit found) and is also commonly known as "rust." Could there be some other explanation for RUST to be found in the wreckage of a building that was partially built out of iron, steel and aluminum???

3. Thermite does not just explode by itself. Unless there was actually a guy running around between all three buildings on 9/11 as there were fires raging all around with the machine you saw in the would necessitate the usage of military-grade thermite which...

4. ...if you read the Wikipedia article is terribly imprecise. There's no "thermite timer" that can set a time for explosion. The way thermite burns is that it has to be heated to a certain point and then it combusts and it's game-time. If there actually WAS military-grade thermite planted throughout the buildings, the jet fuel would have ignited it IMMEDIATELY and the buildings would have collapsed on themselves within minutes if not seconds if not instantly after the planes hit them. As any of us who were alive and awake and watching the Manhattan skyline on that terrible day know - that's just not what happened.

Finally there's this article on controlled demolitions. Please note the fact that the word "thermite" never comes up...please also note on the first page that it took them THREE YEARS to destroy a three-building complex in Newark that was about 1/10 the size of the WTC. Please finally also note how much work goes into preparing the buildings for demolition.

I am not a physicist or scientist nor am I an explosives expert by any stretch of the imagination. But if you spend just 20 minutes of your life reading up on this stuff you will see just how implausible this argument is and how many mundane and simple explanations there are for this thermite nonsense.

Then if you do a little bit of digging on Dr. Harrit you'll find that he's been ranting and raving about 9/11 conspiracy theories for a very long time. You'll also find that he's a CHEMISTRY professor...not a structural engineer. He is most decidedly NOT an expert in controlled demolitions. Also the other scientists (Jeffrey Farrer, Steven E. Jones, Kevin R. Ryan, Frank M. Legge, Daniel Farnsworth, Gregg Roberts, James R. Gourley, Bradley R. Larsen) who collaborated on this study are all either devoted 9/11 "truthers" who have been desperately trying to prove their case for years, or relative unknowns with no other work to speak of.

In some cases these guys have degrees in sociology and psychology as opposed to chemistry or engineering which qualifies them to comment on the effects of the paranoia their work causes...NOT on the work itself.

It will take a while most likely for a scientific debunking of this "theory" - in the meantime the conspiracy people will be hooting and hollering about how they FINALLY have the scientific proof that's eluded them for years. Well hooray for them!

UPDATE: There is now a final update to this topic that specifically deals with the points that the report that sparked all of this brought up. I highly recommend reading it as it really should close the lid on this issue once and for all.


Anonymous said...

Great website!


I have only one suggestion, that applies to all 9.11 Truthers. I will only quote Prof. Robert Faurisson. What he says is meant for the big H revisionists, but it also applies to 9.11 Truthers:

"In the late 1970s I myself opened the way to material revisionist studies,looking into the technical, physical, chemical, topographical and architectural aspects of the matter of Hitler’s alleged WMDs. On this level, the revisionists have attained results of such abundance and precision that, little by little, the LIARS have found themselves at a loss for any answer. Their museums of the “Holocaust” have been unable to take up my final 1992 challenge: “Show me or draw me a Nazi gas chamber”. And what is true of the “Nazi gas chambers” is equally true of the “Nazi gas vans” or “Jewish soap” or lampshades made of human skin or still other nonsense.

I therefore suggest that the revisionists today close the book on this physical, chemical and other material research, for it is in fact taking a progressively pedantic turn. It is becoming “art for art’s sake”. These redundant studies have, above all, the disastrous effect of making a problem appear complicated when it is actually altogether easy to solve."

RonMossad said...

Thank you Mr./Mrs. Anonymous although I'm not entirely sure if you're quoting that jerk Faurisson bedcause you're saying how ridiculous he and other Holocaust deniers are or you're saying you don't believe in gas chambers...

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Wow. You must have an inordinate patience to address these nutjobs. Impressive.

RonMossad said...

Thanks Snoopy - good to see a fellow member of the common sense brigade around here. It can get depressing sometimes doing this alone! lol

Anonymous said...

"I am not a physicist or scientist nor am I an explosives expert by any stretch of the imagination."

I would guess that thermite guy actually making it to national TV to talk about rather sensitive stuff is. He obviously does not need to read wikipedia to get to know this thing.

Glad you did though, this helped me a lot to know about "Jewish soap".

RonMossad said...

Hello Mr./Mrs. Anonymous,

Unfortunately the "thermite guy" is not actually a "thermite guy". He's a physicist. Not an explosives expert. Not a demolition expert. Not a structural engineer. He has the exact same qualifications to speak on these topics as I do.

And how unfortunate that even a yo-yo like myself (or many other amateurs) have such an easy time pulling apart his theory. Read my other entries on the topic for more information.

I'm still not sure where the soap guy was going with his comments.

Anonymous said...

wiki is your source


Anonymous said...

Uh, try doing a little research on nano-thermate - there is a HUGE difference in thermite and nano-thermate guys - the stuff is so high-tech that it is only made in 4 labs on planet earth, 3 of which are in the U.S. and one is in Israel. How do you suppose terrorists obtained the stuff, beat security in the WTC's and loaded the core with it undetected? It was a CIA/Mossad operation with criminal elements of the fed gov involved and allowing it to happen. Wake up!

Anonymous said...

OT: "nanothermite" is only a general description of all kinds of thermite-like explosives.

So, how did nanothermite found its way into the towers - mind you they were 3 buildings, and thermite (not being the only explosive found) being found in the rubble of all three ?
They found it, so what ?

Anonymous said...

Like your website. Thanks for your efforts to debunk the thermite allegations.

One problem with conspiracy theorists is that they flood the informational "marketplace" with such a volume of suppositions, that at some point the quality researchers quit bothering to sort through and refute the torrent of sketchy allegations. The conspiracy theorists then fantasize that they are "getting somewhere," when really they are like a baby having a tantrum that the parents finally just tune out, letting the baby's caterwauling burn out on its own.

Request, Mr. Mossad:

Please get rid of those payday loan spam comments in this thread. They detract from your sincere and laudable effort to shed light on reality.

RonMossad said...

Thanks for the heads up, I've been on kind of a sabbatical from this site over the past few months and frankly wouldn't think to check such an old post like this anyway. It truly amazes me the amount of reaction was spawned by this little trip into the insane world of the 9/11 truthers.

In any case - spam...DELETED.