New York City activist

February 22, 2008

Questions for “debunkers” about Steven Jones’s research

Steven Jones gave me permission to quote some questions which he posted in a private forum. I would be interested to see comments by “debunkers.” I would also appreciate it very much if anyone could post links to relevant pages by “debunkers.”

Steven Jones wrote:

I would like to know if debunkers have any reasonable explanation for:

1. The iron-aluminum-rich spheres shown in our latest paper — where the iron and aluminum contents both exceed 7% and where Silicon or Sulfur is also high (4% or above). (See Figs 3 and 4 in the latest paper, here: Extremely high temperatures during the World Trade Center destruction (PDF), January 2008).

None of the explanations you summarized covers these observed spheres, that I can see, and these chemical signatures in spheres are quite common in the WTC dust.

By “the explanations you summarized,” he is referring to my re-posting of the quote from Frank Greening in this comment by ref1, here on my blog. ref1 quoted Frank Greening as saying:

To quote Frank Greening: If some of these sources were present before 9/11, e.g. in construction debris from welding and cutting operations, Jones needs to show us how he can distinguish between such particles and particles produced in the WTC fires.

Possible natural sources of his particles:

– Pigments and fillers used in plastics
– Fly ash from the combustion of cellulose-based materials: wood, cardboard and paper
– Welding fume left in the towers from construction activities
– Wear particles from grinding and cutting during construction of the towers
– Iron powder cores from electronics (e.g. transformer cores)
– NYC background levels of particulate from general environmental sources

See also my reply to ref1. Later, ref1 posted a link to a post by Frank Greening (dated 29th January 2008) in the JREF thread JONES new paper:Microspheres and Temperatures.)

Anyhow, back to Steven Jones’s post:

2. What is their best explanation for the red/gray chips found in the WTC dust? Note that I brought up the “ordinary paint hypothesis” and presented arguments against it during my talk in Boston, Dec. 2007.

The above question was followed by a video link. Note that I do not publish video links on my blog since I myself cannot watch streaming video. (P.S.[edit]: I’ve posted the video link in my second post in the thread Steven Jones’s research, and critiques thereof in the “Skeptics” section of the Loose Change forum.)

To continue with Steven Jones’s questions:

Then do the “debunkers” have explanations for:

3. Why NIST refused to show visualizations [e.g., isosurfaces] to accompany their finite-element model? (See: Why Indeed Did the World Trade Center Buildings Completely Collapse? (PDF), September 2006)
4. The bright white flame seen on the corner of the South Tower just minutes before collapse? [NIST, 2005, Fig 9-44]
5. The flowing yellow-orange material from the same general spot, shortly thereafter? [NIST, 2005]
6. Do these guys agree with NIST that the “pancaking theory” of collapse is defunct? [NIST, 2006]
7. What do they make of NIST’s admission to a group of us, including 9/11-family members:

“This letter is in response to your April 12, 2007 request for correction. … We are unable to provide a full explanation of the total collapse.” [NIST, Sept. 2007 Response to April 2007 RFC, from NIST (PDF)]

(My quote from Steven Jones’s post has been edited to HTML-ize and prettify links, and to correct a few minor punctuation errors.)


  1. Your site is a political activist site. Your list of links point to political sites promoting political conspiracy theories of 9/11. None has produced anything but theories to support a desired conclusion.

    If you really want to discuss technical issues about the attacks and the forensic science involved I would suggest asking those questions at knowledgeable sites like

    There has been an extensive discussion for years there on the physorg forum about the attacks of 9/11. See Physics Of 9/11 Events – Part 3, continued from: 9/11 Events- New thread. You’ll get far more substantive information. I think you’ll find it far more useful than repeating discussions that have already taken place elsewhere for years and that have never changed anyone’s mind.

    [Comment by jthomas2, edited by blog author Diane to HTML-ize and prettify link.]

    Comment by jthomas2 — February 23, 2008 @ 6:02 pm | Reply

  2. Thanks for the physorg link.

    However, you’ve misjudged my blog and the kinds of discussions we’ve had here.

    There have been some very interesting and worthwhile discussions here, not just “repeating discussions that have already taken place elsewhere for years and that have never changed anyone’s mind.”

    It is true that some of the recent discussions here have fit your descrption.

    However, please take a look at the comment threads following the posts mentioned in the section My past interactions with “debunkers,” Round 2 (some very good, productive, substantive discussions!) in my post Common a priori objections by “debunkers,” including arguments from authority and the “someone would have talked” and “too many people” arguments. Would you not agree that those discussions were substantive?

    The above-linked post of mine is an attempt to improve the signal-to-noise ratio around here by confining certain relatively unproductive kinds of discussion to one thread from henceforth.

    P.S.[edit]: If you post here again, please try to avoid generalized disparaging remarks like “None has produced anything but theories to support a desired conclusion.” Please try to focus, instead, on the topic of the particular post you are replying to. Also, please be sure to read my comment policy, if you have not yet done so.

    Further P.S.[edit]: Perhaps I should create a “generalized gripe thread for ‘debunkers,'” just for generalized gripes like “None has produced anything but theories to support a desired conclusion,” to help keep those generalized gripes out of other threads where they are a distraction.

    Comment by Diane — February 23, 2008 @ 8:08 pm | Reply

  3. Hello Diane.

    Steven Jones writes, “Do these guys agree with NIST that the “pancaking theory” of collapse is defunct?”

    It appears that many “debunkers” still agree with the pancake collapse scenario. From 911myths, “A PANCAKE-STYLE collapse isn’t quite as rare as some sites want to portray. Here’s what happened to the L’Ambiance Plaza in 1987, for instance.”

    The website debunking911 also seems to still promote the pancake collapse, “Note there is no ejection of debris characteristic in Controlled Demolition before the event. Only after the building begins to fall do we see the debris from the PANCAKING floors eject outward as the floors force air out of the windows.”

    However, the author goes on the explain,

    “The massive weight easily caused a “Pancaking” effect but unlike the original hypothesis, the pancaking didn’t cause the collapse. It was a result of the collapse.”

    I’m not exactly sure what the author is trying to say. He appears to be saying that the buildings did pancake, but pancaking did not initiate the collapse. This is a very inexact way of speaking. It would be better to say that truss failure or column failure initiated the collapse. Normally, truss failure would lead to pancaking, while column failure would lead to a pile-driver effect. The author of debunking911 seems to believe that column failure led to pancaking. This explanation would still contradict Shyam Sunder’s statement that there was no evidence of any of the floors pancaking.

    Comment by tanabear — February 26, 2008 @ 4:16 am | Reply

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