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

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Before I get into details about why this work is so poorly done, and why the interpretations of the researchers are so suspect, it is important to state that the thermite argument was put forward by these same researchers years ago, and the idea was fully debunked years ago. See for example here: 

A central point of the paper referenced by Moffett is that the presence of ingredients of thermite (e.g., aluminum and iron oxide) is easily explained by, for example, the aluminum cladding on the Towers and the presence of rust (iron oxide).  Dr. Moffett's article elaborates on this simple theme: 

It is no small coincidence that the major components that the researchers detected in the red and gray chips include iron, aluminum, oxygen, silica, and carbon, since these relate to the primary building materials that the WTC was constructed from. The girders were steel, which rusts to iron oxide, the façade was aluminum, and the floors were concrete. The traces of calcium and sulfur could easily be from wallboard (calcium sulfate), as the authors themselves conclude.  ...


X-ray dispersive spectroscopy can tell you what elements are in a sample, but not what molecules those elements are incorporated into. Any sample of dust from the WTC collapse would contain similar amounts of these elements because those are the primary elements that made up the steel superstructure, concrete flooring, aluminum facade and other building materials (not to mention the aluminum fuselage of the aircraft).


Thus, Dr. Moffett represents the nine authors of the paper as bumbling idiots who confuse the presence of elements of thermite in the debris with evidence for thermite itself.  Yet, on p.13 the authors state:

The existence of elemental aluminum and iron oxide [in the red portion of the red-gray chips] leads to the obvious hypothesis that the material may contain thermite. However, before concluding that the red material found in the WTC dust is thermitic, further testing would be required. For example, how does the material behave when heated in a sensitive calorimeter? If the material does not react vigorously it may be argued that although ingredients of thermite are present, the material may not really be thermitic. 

Because the authors understood the issue, they performed the relevant tests that Dr. Moffett suppressed.  Instead, Moffett distorted and trivialized the complex case they made with the following aside:


The researchers also showed that the chips could be ignited, and that they burned at a lower temperature than normal thermite. This is of course not surprising since metals such as aluminum do burn if they are complexed with oxidizing agents, and are heated enough.

But of course what the researchers did was to show not merely that the chips could be ignited at a lower temperature than a known nano-composite thermite, but also that the chips were fiercely exothermic, generated iron microspheres with the XEDS of thermite, and released more energy per gram than known samples of conventional thermite possibly could.  Thus, curiously, for some reason, the estimable Dr. Moffett writes as though there were one and only one kind of thermite, even though the paper he pretends to review emphasizes that there are many kinds, including thermitic materials researched by the military for both incendiary and explosive purposes, and it provides citations from mainstream journals to support this claim.  Instead, Moffett writes, "It is also important to note that thermite is not explosive, and it is difficult to ignite."  I hope that willful ignorance or deliberate deceit will not become a standard at OPEDNEWS. 

            Couldn't the Rubble Make the Thermite? 

Let us return to Dr. Moffett's favorite article that "fully debunked" thermite as the key incendiary/explosive in the destruction of the World Trade Center.  Remarkably, that article ultimately attributed the destruction of the Towers to thermite, but claimed that the thermite was manufactured on site by the crash, the fire that melted the aluminum from the planes, and various elements of lime, gypsum, water, and rust from the materials of the buildings with which the aluminum combined to produce intense thermitic reactions that destroyed the Towers.  The author, Frank Greening, Ph.D., also speculated that the building materials had kept the ground fires burning for months after the collapses because hot aluminum combined with high pH water -- made high pH by the aluminum grouting! – to produce combustible hydrogen.  The author did this without any direct evidence that such was the case.  Fascinating! 

An essay I wrote on the Kennedy assassination lays out the general strategy and tactic taken by the USG assets and agents assigned to the media cover-up of major domestic covert operations.  Instead of following the evidence and pursuing its obvious implications, the agents -- and the voluntarily self-deceived -- ignore or distort the natural implications of the evidence and in its place present an entirely speculative account of what the evidence "conceivably" might mean that is consistent with the official story.   Crucially, the import of any piece of evidence is usually isolated from the rich body of other evidence so that the "conceivable" interpretation may seem plausible.  The defenders of the official story then demand that the "conspiracy theorists" refute their speculation, usually when there is no means of doing so. 

In the case of 911, Dr. Moffett's intellectual compatriot, Frank Greening, offers up a witches brew in which:

The molten aluminum [that Greening hypothesizes from airliners melted by fire] re-ignites some of the smoldering fires and rapidly burns through other combustible materials that survived the initial conflagration. Molten aluminum also falls onto fractured concrete, gypsum and rusted steel surfaces inducing violent thermite explosions, dispersing globules of molten metal and igniting new fires.

Steven Jones already rebutted the witches brew “hypothesis,” by directly combining molten aluminum alternately with crushed gypsum, wet and dry concrete, and rusted steel.  See pp. 8-13 of his paper, “Why, Indeed, did the World Trade Center Buildings Completely Collapse?” at the Journal of 911 Studies site,  Jones states therein:

Nor were violent reactions observed when we dropped molten aluminum onto crushed gypsum and concrete (wet or dry) and rusty steel. [Jones, 2006; available at]  These experiments lend no support whatever to the notion [see Greening, 2006] that molten aluminum in the WTC Towers could have destroyed the enormous steel columns in the cores of the buildings, even if those columns were rusty and somehow subjected to direct contact with liquid aluminum.

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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


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