kallistii: (Default)
I have a number of really creative and interesting friends...but sometimes, they really amaze me as to the theories they support....and one that is very topical at the moment is the idea that the US Government destroyed the Twin Towers and other buildings in the World Trade Center complex. Some people say that the live TV of the planes hitting the towers were staged, and explosives were used to destroy the buildings.

Conspiracy theories are nothing new...especially when something that is massively shocking and almost incomprehensible happens. Add to that, governments thrive on cover-ups and "creating reality" to suit their interests. So there is good reason to be suspicious of governments.

Many conspiracy theories are given "feet" by the lack of understanding of facts involved with the incident. The collapse of the Twin Towers is a great example of this. I've watched a few films and visited a few web sites that claim the impact of the two planes and the fires they caused could never have brought them down. And, if they had been traditional buildings, that is true.

The first skyscraper and tallest building in the world to suffer the impact of an airplane was the Empire State Building. It had a traditional frame structure...that is, they are like the old Erector Sets, where you build essentially a series of square boxes, and pile them one upon the other until you have a tall building. The big problem with building tall structures is that the struts that make up the frame of the building end up taking more and more space to support the load of the building. The Empire State Building (ESB) is near the limit of how high you can build such a building and still have lots of floor space for offices. Because of the frame structure, you can damage or break a certain number of the struts and the remaining ones will take up the load. Add to that, in many ways, the ESB was grossly over-engineered. When the B-25 bomber struck it in 1945, most of the damage was thus cosmetic, not structural. That is why, 60+ years later, the building still stands, and the floor that was hit is still in use.

The World Trade Center's Twin Towers, on the other hand, had a very different design. Rather than having an internal frame, it has an outer load-bearing structure with an inner load bearing structure.. The easiest way to visualize this is to take the empty tube from a roll of toilet paper and place it on it's end. Next, place a book upon it. Chances are, although it is a flimsy cardboard, it will support not just one book, but many. In fact, you might be able to put all of your weight on it It is a tremendously strong structure. Up through the center was the elevator shafts, which were also of a unique design to allow the high-speed elevators needed for a building that tall. Suspended between the structure of the elevator shafts and the outer frame were the floors. These floors also provided cross bracing between core and the outer tube such that they prevented the "tube" from bowing outwards under the stress.

To further visualize this, think of that toilet paper tube again, and then put a bundle of Bic pens in the middle. Now imagine suspended between the inner pens, and the outer tube were the "floors", with strings between the pens and the tube, holding up the floors, and keeping the outer system and the inner system connected.

The design was a wonder...it allowed the building of a structure with huge amounts of floor space, with a great deal of strength, on a record-setting height.

To understand how the impact of the planes affected the structure of the Twin Towers, take that tube you were using, and which might be able to hold up your weight when standing upon it. Now put a slight crease in the side, then put just a few books on top of it...and chances are, the tube will collapse fairly quickly.

But the Twin Towers also had a central core...so they were stronger than just the outer tube. And this was part of the "over engineering" that most modern structures today have. Thus, if they had only suffered an impact, they might have survived. But the planes were fully loaded with fuel. But the type of fuel they use, JET A-1, burns at around
1500 degrees F. This is below the temperature at which steel melts, but it is hot enough to reduce the amount of load it will carry.

But there is another effect of heat that has not been addressed...and everyone one has seen it...Those expansion joints on bridges are a good indication of it.

Most metals expand when heated. And if you don't heat a metal evenly, it will twist. Between the weakening caused by the burning JET A-1 fuel, and the distortions in the steel due to uneven heating, it is not hard to see that it could have easily stressed the structure to the point of failure.

According to another theory, there was another type of burnable material that burns very hot...and there was tonnes of it...Two of the main structural metals used in modern aircraft today are aluminum and magnesium. Between the jet fuel burning, the impact and any chimney effects, it is quite conceivable that either metal, or possibly both could have been ignited. These metals burn at around the same temperature as thermite (which consists of aluminum and iron oxide), that is, around 4000-5000 degrees F. Water will not put these materials out. So the sprinklers would be of no use. Temperatures such as these will melt steel without any trouble at all... We know that the planes lodged against the inner elevator columns, and with upwards of 60 tonnes of burning aluminum and magnesium burning at 5000 degrees F, it is not inconceivable that the central structure was compromised and collapsed, causing the Towers to seemingly implode upon themselves and collapse.

So if you go back to the toilet paper tube with the inner core of Bic pens, imagine if you suddenly pushed those pens downward...the walls of the tube would fold in on themselves, much like putting your hand into a sock, and pulling it it inside out. Needless to say, any strength that the tube and pen structure had is now gone.

Thus it was with the Twin Towers on September 11th, 2001. And it was a good thing too, If they had fallen over sideways, the loss of life would have gone up by possibly an order of magnitude! Falling sideways, they would have devastated many blocks of adjacent buildings, still filled with people.

There are many reasons why the Twin Towers fell, simple reasons, without the need of complex conspiracy theories.

Remember Occam's Razor:

"The simplest answer is usually the correct answer."

Think about how complex a conspiracy theory you need to create to control all of the news feeds of all the TV networks, plant charges to blow up the buildings, cover up the facts, and get away with it.

The destruction of the Twin Towers was a very traumatic event for North American society, and like dealing with the death of a loved one, the first phase of grieving is disbelief. That is where we are now. We are searching for other answers than the one before us. It seems too simple, seemingly too easy to destroy two icons of North American society, and cause the death of thousands of innocent people. But it wasn't simple. It took years of planning. All we saw was the last couple of hours of those years of plans. Death on such a scale is never simple or easy. And that is part of what is keeping us safe now.


Here are some of the sites I used for reference:

http://www.st911.org
http://www.damninteresting.com/?p=179
http://www.civil.usyd.edu.au/wtc.shtml
http://www.tms.org/pubs/journals/JOM/0112/Eagar/Eagar-0112.html

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