by Scott Creighton
“Professor Muller (at about 7:30) is led by Boston Public Radio host Tom Ashbrook to the subject of what future presidents should know about the physics of terrorism; specifically, how did those buildings come down?”
Professor Muller is currentlywith the University of California, Berkley and also a member of the JASON Defense Advisory Group which brings together top scientists as consultants for the United States Department of Defense. So he shouldn’t be too biased, eh?
He writes a monthly column for MIT’s magazine and by all accounts, he is a very smart man (you can tell by how he holds his glasses there). So, let’s see what he says in the interview about the physics of 9/11, shall we?
This is part of what he says during that interview:
“TNT is uh, a (sic) explosive, releases a certain amount of energy, I like to measure the energy in food calories, per gram or per pound.
If we compare the energy released by gasoline, many people are surprised to learn that gasoline releases more energy, 15 times the energy of TNT.
The planes carried about 60 tons of jet fuel, and if you multiply that by about 15 to get a sense of it, it was about 900 tons of TNT or the equivalent. 2 planes=1.8kila tons. That’s why there was so much damage done.”
First, let me say that jet fuel isn’tgasoline, though Muller interchanges the two during his talk. The jet fuel used in these planes was Type A jet Fuel. “The most common fuel is an unleaded/paraffin (kerosene) oil-based fuel classified as Jet A-1 (otherwise known as AVTUR), which is produced to an internationally standardized set of specifications.” Wiki, here.
Now, aside from the equation of “15 times the energy of TNT” statement he makes, which I don’t know whether that is true or not of “gasoline”, since we are talking about Type A Jet Fuel, I don’t think it makes a difference. But I want to work out the math for you, and then show you a video real quick.
But, since gasoline is derived from oil, even though it does have several additives that make it more volatile, we can basically derive that the energy output would be close that of oil when compared to TNT.
So, we are looking at something akin to a 10 to 1 ratio as opposed to a 15 to 1 as he claims, depending on the additives. But he is the professor, not me, so I will yield to his pedigree on this one.
Let’s “do the math” shall we? He says there were the equivalent of 900 tons of TNT on each plane, and that is what caused “all the damage”. Well, 900 tons (Short Tons) equals 1,800,000 lbs. That is nearly 2 million lbs of TNT… per plane. Wanna see what 1 million pounds of TNT does? Almost HALF of what Muller says is the same as what the planes did to the Trade Center? Take a look…
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