Sunday, September 14, 2008

Analyzing a Typical 9/11 Conspiracy Film

The purpose of this article is to examine a typical 9/11 conspiracy film and to deconstruct its flaws. To support its assertions this film uses copious amounts of bad science. This film assets that WTC 7 fell at “free fall speeds” thus it must have been caused by a controlled demolition. Lets have a look:


The first picture of interest is the reference screen that the author uses to determine scale for their calculations.

A few things of note: The Irvine Trust building that is used for scale is not particularly close to WTC7 and thus, using it as a source of scaling is flawed. This is especially true since the video is shot from and elevated location, this further skews our sense of scale. There is also nothing to indicate that its flooring system is similar to WTC7, this is another source or error. Also note that the video on the left, its indicator of the 21st floor does not correspond well with the scale on the right. The Irvine building is 23 floors tall and the scale on the left, if correct, would be lower than the 21st floor.


Even if the distance covered is correct, we already have a discontinuity in the calculations used by the video’s author. From the picture below the author times the fall to be 4.15 seconds.

The author then says that WTC7 fell 100 meters in 4.5 seconds.

The author then uses a “Science website” to calculate what the free fall times for objects falling 100 meters. In essence this science website is just using a kinematics equation to calculate the fall time. The equation to calculate the time of a falling object in free fall, vacuum is simply:

t= [(D*2)/a]^0.5

Where: D is the distance, a is the acceleration due to gravity, and t is the time.

The author then shows that an object falling in free fall will cover 100 meters in 4.5 seconds.

This is indeed true but this is also where the work by the videos author starts to seriously fall apart. As we showed earlier the video the fall time was 4.15 seconds. If the WTC 7 really did fall 100 meters in 4.15 seconds this would correspond to an acceleration due to gravity of 11.6 m/s2 . Earths gravitational acceleration is 9.8 m/s2 this corresponds to an 18 percent increase. At this point the videos author has lost most if not all footing. Nothing can sustain an accelerated fall over 100 meters without an enormous amount of energy to force it down. Additionally, during a building demolition with explosives, the building falls close but not above the rate cause by gravity. There is no forcing down by the explosives. Controlled demolitions operate by destroying the supporting columns of the building, which then allows gravity to tear down the building. What this means is, the videos scaling calculations are incorrect and misleading. The authors assertions that a building would not collapse at exactly free fall speeds is correct, but this statement in itself causes the whole premise of his video to fail. From his own calculations and numbers the buildings did something that is physically impossible and it causes me to believe that his work is not only flawed, but purposely misleading and doctored.


Perhaps the silliest and most obscene part of this video was when the author compares the free fall lab to the video, to show that the two fall at the same time. The first thing to note is that the author does not show how he scaled the video to match the program, this is a totally different frame from the first frame of the video showing the collapse. By not showing how he scaled the video, you can match the video to any speed of collapse. As we have shown previously the calculations and video scaling are already fatally flawed to begin with, this comparison is another case of serious misrepresentation and bad science.


The final frame of the video acts as a summary. Again, this contains serious flaws that are based on false assertions and bad science. The observation that the WTC 7 fell faster than the speed of gravity is phased incorrectly. Objects in vacuums do fall at the speed of gravity; this shows that the author has deficiencies in his understanding of the basic physics behind the collapse of WTC 7. As we shown before, the author’s calculations and scalings are flawed and incorrect. Any numbers used by the author are not accurate and cannot be trusted. The conclusion that the building was “pulled” down by a vacuum caused by a controlled demolition is totally incorrect. During a controlled demolition there is no vacuum that causes the building to fall. The building falls due to the structural supports being broken and the building then falls under the force of gravity. Furthermore the author indicates that a “large explosion” is heard 9.5 seconds before the collapse. If an explosion was present almost 10 seconds before the collapse it cannot be the source of energy needed to cause the building to fall at the supposed accelerated rate. After almost 10 seconds any force from that explosion would have dissipated and in either case, if a large explosion was the cause of the collapse, if anything, it would have slowed the collapse because of the upward force of the explosion.

In summary, we have shown that this video contains serious flaws in its calculations of the fall timing, scaling of the video and contains numerous continuity errors that make any of its mathematical and physics assertions dubious at best. According to the authors own calculations WTC 7 did things that are not only impossible from an engineering standpoint but also from a basic physics standpoint as well. This shows that the author has serious deficiencies in his understanding of basic physics and analysis. We have also shown that the authors conclusions are inconsistent and lack basic physical sense.

It should be also noted that the NIST has recently released a new study on WTC 7 which has shed new light on the collapse and has conclusively answered many questions asked by conspiracy theorists. The findings of this study is being used in new building codes concerning fires and impacts on structures. No where did any of the NIST’s reports does it show that WTC 7’s collapse was caused by a controlled demolition or that there was any strange phenomenon that cannot be explained through rational analysis.

In many ways this video is typical of the basic 9/11 conspiracy mindset. A slight inconsistency, based on a false observation is blown out of proportion. Bad science and engineering take over and soon enough a regular phenomenon has become a world class controversy that involves thousands of people in a multifaceted conspiracy. A conspiracy involving a controlled demolition of WTC 7 would have involved hundreds if not thousands of people, yet not one of these people, after 7 years has blown the lid on the biggest conspiracy of the century. By comparison, it is almost common knowledge that the Bush administration had spoken at length about invading Iraq during their fist national security meeting. This meeting would have involved less than several dozen people. In the case of science, the simplest explanation is usually the most correct one. In a simplistic way, a building burning uncontrollably for hours on end, damaged by enormous amounts of falling debris, falling under its own weight seems much more reasonable than, a multi million dollar, national conspiracy, involving thousands of people, through all levels of government, as proposed by shady internet videos.


Neighborhood Rationalist said...

Well done. This is the stuff I can't really carry into debates, the technical engineering stuff.

Philippok said...

Compare the collapse of WTC building 7 as shown in the video
with the collapse as modeled by NIST in their own document
page 108, figure 4-62.
In the video the exterior vertical walls, except for a single vertical crease, remain connected to and supported by the large number of perimeter columns and retain their rectangular shape until late in the collapse. In NIST's theoretical model the exterior columns almost immediately buckle inwards over the building. Why?

Neighborhood Rationalist said...

Your analysis appears to be incorrect. The "perimeter columns" were directly inside those walls and so the very "vertical crease" you concede to exist requires at least some of them to have split early in the collapse.

Philippok said...

Look at the video, and look at the NIST theoretical model in figure 4-62. They don't look like the same collapse. Why?

AJ said...

I will take a look at your links in a few days. very busy at the moment

Jim said...

Nice analysis. I've noticed that anything that the conspiracy theorist can't explain in their own mind turns into evidence for the conspiracy, regardless of whether or not someone has offered a satisfactory explanation or not. Also, any uncertainty in the evidence is also regarded as evidence of the conspiracy. It's like a dog chasing its tail and is common to every wild conspiracy theory out there that I've studied, be it 9/11, JFK, UFOs, the Moonlanding Hoax hoax, etc.

Neighborhood Rationalist said...

Phil, I just explained why. The computerized model shows the behavior of the interior columns.

Philippok said...

Look again. Figure 4-62 on page 108 of NCSTAR 1-9A and Figure 12-69 on page 593 of NCSTAR 1-9 both show the same thing -- exterior buckling. That's why the caption of the figures reads "Exterior buckling after global collapse initiation." Also, on page 593 it says "the global collapse (i.e., buckling of exterior columns) was under way as shown in Figure 12-69..."

bootz15 said...

You said "If an explosion was present almost 10 seconds before the collapse it cannot be the source of energy needed to cause the building to fall at the supposed accelerated rate."
I think you misunderstood the author's point.
The explosion would not propel the building down, of course. Instead, demolition teams sometimes place explosives at the bottom of a building to weaken/destroy the foundation, allowing the building to collapse below street level, helping it fall almost flat into its footprint. This theory would also explain the hot molten metal photographed several weeks after the collapse.
I think that was his point.
Further, I personally believe it is impossible to perfectly time the collapse because all of the dust and many buildings are in the way. So claiming that the video was doctored up is irrelevant to me. Find another authentic video source and time that. You'll come up with something around 5 seconds--much faster than any building can collapse into it footprint without explosives.

chopper23nz said...

I dont think the whole building would have collapsed on its own if you look at the Oklahoma bombing that was a massive bomb but only one section of the building was destroyed. Part of the building was an emergency command bunker and had government agencies in it surely they would choose a robust building. I have worked on a blasting crew before and when you look at the tv footage and you hear people talking about bombs going off and looking like a controlled demolition its hard to believe there wasnt something else happening on that day

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