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Pardon Our Dust, or, Why the World Trade Center Dust Matters

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John R. Moffett, the distinguished neuroscientist and managing editor of OPEDNEWS, has brought his considerable prestige to bear on the issue of whether the Twin Towers and WTC7 were destroyed by controlled demolition using the incendiary and sometimes explosive thermite as a key component.  Unfortunately, he has done so with either malicious incompetence, or worse, a cynical deliberate determination to distort, conceal, and suppress the findings of a recently published scientific article, "Active Thermitic Material Discovered in Dust from the 9/11 World Trade Center Catastrophe," that dispositively proves the presence of unignited explosives in the WTC dust.  Neither motivation on Dr. Moffett's part obviously recommends him for his post at OPEDNEWS.  I will first address Dr. Moffett's smear, which was promoted to OPEDNEWS headline status on 4/15/2009, then the importance of the thermitic dust.  If you think that 911 isn't your issue, you should pay close attention.

The evidence that first brought me around to considering 911 as a USG covert operation was the National Aeronautics and Science Administration's (NASA's) publication of a thermal survey taken September 16, 2001, that showed ground temperature hot spots of 1,100 and 1,400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Such temperatures are far too high to be produced by an open-air hydrocarbon fire except in very short bursts, but certainly not as an enduring after-effect.  Students of 911 have collected a vast array of evidence that temperatures at the WTC were generated far in excess of what normal hydrocarbon fires could produce.  The evidence includes eyewitness testimony of molten iron or steel weeks after the event, videos of orange molten metal pouring from the South Tower minutes before its destruction, and microspheres of once-molten iron in the dust examined by the United States Geological Survey forensics team (without further comment or analysis!). 



The importance of iron microspheres is simple.  Iron melts around 2,800 Fahrenheit, which is about twice the highest temperature that an open-air fire could produce.  A microsphere can only be produced by first melting iron, then dispersing the melted iron by some energetic means (like explosion) into an aerosol whose particles, influenced by the surface tension of the molten metal, form spheres as the smallest surface area required to contain any specified volume of matter.  Once again, as with the NASA thermal survey, an intense source of energy other than the WTC fires is required to melt iron or steel, as even the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) admitted in its reports.   The science is pretty simple; only its political consequences are complicated, and troubling. 

Thermite is simply a combination of aluminum and iron oxide, both in powdered form.  When heated to a certain temperature, the highly reactive aluminum steals the oxygen atoms from the iron oxide.  This chemical reaction releases intense heat in excess of 4,500 degrees Fahrenheit, hot enough to cut through steel, and produces molten iron as its reaction product.   

The first scientist to investigate thermite as a key component of the WTC demolitions was Steven E. Jones, who was then in 2005 a tenured professor of physics at Brigham Young University with a specialization in muon-catalyzed fusion.  Jones was subsequently forced to resign because of his 911 research, but he continued his research independently.  Alas for Jones and the group of same-minded scientists who were persuaded by the evidence that thermite was involved, the thought that should have come first came considerably later: "No incendiary or explosive is likely to combust completely in an environment of massive collapse and disruption such as 911, so if we are right, there ought to be both residue of and unexploded samples of thermite in the WTC dust.  We need to look at the dust."  Jones first made a request for the dust in an online paper in the fall of 2006 and examined his first sample in June 2007.  Better late than never. 

Jones obtained five samples of the dust from concerned citizens who had collected it on or shortly after 911.  Four of these people signed affidavits regarding the provenance of the dust.  The fifth was unwilling to do so, and though his sample contained the same materials as the others, it was not included in the specimens examined for the article.   One of the samples was collected ten minutes after the collapse of the first Tower, so was not possibly contaminated by the collapse of WTC7 later that afternoon, let alone the even later steel-cutting operations.  In another instance, Jones personally traveled to California to obtain in the presence of other scientists a second sample from a woman who had provided a sample by mail, thus assuring that no switch had occurred between mailing and receipt.   The provenance of the dust is not in doubt and can if necessary be compared with dust samples collected by official agencies that refused to analyze their contents.   

All of the dust samples contained an abundance of iron-rich microspheres as well as a collection of tiny chips that were red on one side, gray on the other.  These red-gray chips were put in a Differential Scanning Calorimeter (DSC), a device that slowly heats the chips and measures how much energy the chips emit or absorb at a given temperature.  The chips all ignited at 425 degrees Centigrade (+/- 10 degrees) and produced microspheres of molten iron, which is the reaction product of a thermitic reaction. 

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2Al + Fe2O3   Al2O3 + 2Fe (molten iron) 

Just to make things clear, iron melts at 2,800 Fahrenheit, about 1538 oC, so the red-gray chips – as the paper itself makes abundantly clear – generated intense temperatures and are a manufactured incendiary (with explosive potential).   

To confirm this finding, the authors measured the energy density of the red-gray chips – the amount of energy generated per gram of material – and compared it to the energy density of a variety of explosives and incendiaries, including conventional thermite.  The energy density of the red-gray chips exceeds that of standard explosives like HMX and TNT.  The authors state: 

It is striking that some of the red/gray chips release more energy in kJ/g than does ordinary thermite, as shown in the blue bar graphs above. [Their Figure 30]

That the energy density of the red-gray chips exceeded the energy density of conventional thermite was especially striking because only the red side of the chip contained the thermitic materials; the gray material was essentially inert and did not contribute to the energy density, but diminished it.  This finding was one amongst many results that lead the authors to conclude that the red-gray chips probably contained nano-thermite, a kind of "super" thermite with ultra-fine particles of aluminum and iron-oxide.   

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The authors then subjected the iron-rich microspherical residue of the red-gray chips to X-ray energy dispersive spectroscopy (XEDS) to compare it with the profile of microspherical residue from known thermite combustions and found them to be virtually identical.  Additionally, both were virtually identical to the XEDS of microspheres found in the WTC dust itself, as reported in a previous paper, Jones SE, Farrer J, Jenkins GS, et al. "Extremely high temperatures during the World Trade Center destruction." J 9/11 Studies 2008; 19: 1-11.  

As the principal author, chemist Niels H. Harrit, remarked in a 10-minute appearance on Danish television, the paper is merely the keystone in an already well-constructed arch of evidence that the Towers and WTC7 were taken down by controlled demolition.  Unfortunately, Dr. Moffett has only pretended to review even the findings in this paper.  Not a single one of the facts that I have presented in this review of the "Active Thermitic Material" paper was presented in his review, and there are many more compelling findings that support the same conclusion with which this popular essay will not burden the reader.  Instead, Dr. Moffett has actively suppressed them and maligned them by comparing them to the wildly speculative and false claims of Judy Wood in both his title, "Was it Nanotech-Thermite or Phasers that took down the WTC?" and his conclusions.  Ms. Wood has tried to peddle an entirely speculative and contrary-to-evidence fantasy of high-energy beams, phasers, destroying the Towers.

I am going to focus on the central deceit of Dr. Moffett's article.  Dr. Moffett dismisses the notion of thermite as absurd and writes,  

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I am a retired forensic psychologist living in Los Angeles with enough time on my hands to have spent the past few years studying the deeds whose perpetrators pejoratively deride the correct analysis of which as (more...)

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that there ought to have been a lot of aluminum ox... by Peter Duveen on Monday, Apr 20, 2009 at 9:03:58 PM
Peter, you are absolutely correct, and this was so... by Michael Green on Monday, Apr 20, 2009 at 9:39:37 PM
First, your proposition that the steel would need ... by Jeffrey Rock on Monday, Apr 20, 2009 at 10:13:57 PM
Sounds like you didn't even look at the essay, whi... by Victoria Ashley on Tuesday, Apr 21, 2009 at 12:01:33 AM
Oh dear, here we go again on the Muddle-Go-Round. ... by Andrew Johnson on Tuesday, Apr 21, 2009 at 3:39:37 AM
The flavour of thermite I prefer is the self-mixin... by gravity32 on Tuesday, Apr 21, 2009 at 10:54:10 AM
Of course I read it. What good does a photo do if ... by Jeffrey Rock on Tuesday, Apr 21, 2009 at 8:25:36 AM
You declare that there needs to be "an inviol... by Gregg Roberts on Tuesday, Apr 21, 2009 at 10:31:03 AM
What do you think brought down WTC #7? And how do ... by Nick van Nes on Monday, May 4, 2009 at 10:11:13 PM
Green did not assert that the steel had to melt. C... by Gregg Roberts on Tuesday, Apr 21, 2009 at 10:05:36 AM
...for a moment that there is both the presence of... by Jeffrey Rock on Tuesday, Apr 21, 2009 at 3:22:36 PM
Whatever state steel gets into at 850 (Fahrenheit,... by Maxwell on Wednesday, Apr 22, 2009 at 1:37:28 PM
Michael Green has given an excellent sum... by David Griscom on Tuesday, Apr 21, 2009 at 12:24:37 PM
Is it still your "theory" that the passengers on t... by Patrick Curley on Sunday, May 3, 2009 at 9:56:52 AM
I thought there were "tons of evidence" ... by Perry Logan on Tuesday, Apr 21, 2009 at 1:27:22 PM
have debunked you, Perry, before you even began.... by richard on Tuesday, Apr 21, 2009 at 7:23:23 PM
But don't feel bad, neither do a lot of scienc... by David Griscom on Wednesday, Apr 22, 2009 at 10:16:32 AM
...not Richard, who's got it right. Thanks, R... by David Griscom on Wednesday, Apr 22, 2009 at 10:23:19 AM
If you can't find the slide show, you may have... by David Griscom on Wednesday, Apr 22, 2009 at 10:30:11 AM
"It's too technical for me."--Logan Then how do... by William Whitten on Wednesday, Apr 22, 2009 at 12:27:46 PM
And -- Where is Dr. Moffet's response to THIS ... by boomerang on Tuesday, Apr 21, 2009 at 2:31:41 PM
this is a colleague's commendable and rather c... by richard on Tuesday, Apr 21, 2009 at 7:28:48 PM
I apologize for the 'bold' type... I swear this ed... by richard on Tuesday, Apr 21, 2009 at 7:31:49 PM
but not much, LOL. Us Macsters have a rocky ro... by Meryl Ann Butler on Wednesday, Apr 22, 2009 at 9:26:36 AM
Thank you very much for this comprehensive and wel... by William Whitten on Wednesday, Apr 22, 2009 at 12:19:57 PM
I'm not smart enough to know where to come dow... by Scott Baker on Wednesday, Apr 22, 2009 at 12:20:39 PM
It is not difficult to understand that nano partic... by Chris Sarns on Wednesday, Apr 22, 2009 at 5:46:28 PM
Noise and fury? Isn't that what the other side bri... by Gregg Roberts on Wednesday, Apr 22, 2009 at 9:18:51 PM
For people like Scott Baker, Perry Logan, Jeff Roc... by gravity32 on Wednesday, Apr 22, 2009 at 10:25:02 PM
I saw a report on TV (that is pretty scientific is... by Mad Jayhawk on Wednesday, Apr 22, 2009 at 11:33:07 PM
The pseudo-scientific rebuttals have been laid bar... by Chris Sarns on Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 at 1:43:45 AM
using bold type, Madjayhawks' argument gain credib... by richard on Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 at 7:44:47 AM
I take back the comment about bold type. Seeing th... by richard on Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 at 7:48:17 AM
This has something to do with how your machine is ... by William Whitten on Monday, May 4, 2009 at 8:44:18 PM
This has something to do with how your machine is ... by William Whitten on Monday, May 4, 2009 at 8:54:02 PM
The planes were, by design, fully loaded with fuel... by William Whitten on Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 at 2:25:19 PM
One basic flaw in the arguments that one floor col... by Maxwell on Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 at 2:55:24 PM
I don't usually touch on the anti-Truthers, (by de... by meremark on Monday, May 4, 2009 at 1:08:15 PM
What? You have some problems with entorpy and mome... by William Whitten on Monday, May 4, 2009 at 9:02:11 PM
at It is a HUGE websi... by Gregg Roberts on Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 at 8:34:14 AM
It is unfortunate that Dr Moffet offered only Judy... by Russ Hallberg on Monday, May 4, 2009 at 12:43:53 AM
If you have access to any of Dr. Moffett's pub... by Richard Volaar on Monday, May 4, 2009 at 6:40:00 AM
Professor at the Department of Chemistry, Universi... by richard on Monday, May 4, 2009 at 8:50:44 AM
If the results in the paper by Dr. Harrit et al., ... by Mike Zelinski on Monday, May 4, 2009 at 4:47:54 PM
I can think of why folks would attempt to thwart r... by richard on Monday, May 4, 2009 at 5:43:59 PM
several weeks ago and being suitably impressed wit... by Nick van Nes on Monday, May 4, 2009 at 9:27:18 PM