This article is dedicated to the reality-based community,
members of which often rightly state,
"extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."
members of which often rightly state,
"extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."
"I should not believe such a story were it told me by Cato, was a proverbial saying in Rome, even during the lifetime of that philosophical patriot. The incredibility of a fact, it was allowed, might invalidate so great an authority." David Hume, Of Miracles.
"When anyone tells me, that he saw a dead man restored to life, I immediately consider with myself, whether it be more probable, that this person should either deceive or be deceived, or that the fact, which he relates, should really have happened." David Hume, Of Miracles.
"The American people know what they saw with their own eyes on September 11, 2001. To suggest any kind of government conspiracy in the events of that day goes beyond the pale.” Robert Gates, President of Texas A&M University, nominee Secretary of Defense.
We have a problem, Dr. Gates, because I am one of the American people, and do not know what I saw with my own eyes on September 11, 2001. However, my arguments below are within the bounds of your Pale, by my choice, as questions of government conspiracy are beyond the scope of my argument.
Below, I analyze two papers by structural engineers. I think they show that what appears in this video
could not have happened in the real world.
[Update, 2/3/2007: YouTube has removed this video, so here's a a nice compilation which contains this and other videos that I believe show physically impossible events, as explained below.]
Or see here for some quick flash versions:
I also briefly discuss the collapses of WTC 1 and 2, official explanations of which rely heavily on an assumption that the planes penetrated the towers with enough residual kinetic energy to cut a number of the thick core columns.
Links to more videos of the second plane are available here: http://members.iinet.net.au/%7Eholmgren/sthtower.html
Images of the first airplane impact are much less numerous and less clear, and the papers I analyze below assume the faster speed of the second plane impact. For those interested, images can be found here.
My conclusion applies to both airplane impacts - I do not believe that a Boeing 767 impacted either of the towers. As I will show, saying that they did is an "extraordinary claim [which requires] extraordinary evidence."
Hume defined a miracle as "a violation of the laws of nature." Hume went on to say that "no testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous than the fact which it endeavors to establish." None of the questions I raise in this article are extraordinary in the sense of violating laws of nature.
Carl Sagan, distilling Hume's view of miracles, said "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." The claims I make are not extraordinary, other than that they defy convention.
Below I posit that two physical phenomena of 9/11 - the planes slipping into the towers 1 and 2 of the World Trade Center, and the collapse of these towers at free-fall speed solely as the result of plane impacts and fire - are in violation of the laws of nature, and that experts supporting the official theories have not rationally explained these phenomena. That these experts might be testifying to falsehoods, not necessarily intentionally, is not more miraculous than the facts which these experts endeavor to establish.
The global collapse at free-fall speed of the WTC Towers, solely as a result of plane impact and fire, and the butter-knife planes that slipped into the Towers – these are the extraordinary claims. No evidence or plausible argument has been provided in support of these extraordinary claims.
When I see an image of a supernatural event, I have two choices. I can either believe in a miracle, or I can question the image's authenticity.
When I hear an explanation of an event that I know violates fundamental laws of Newtonian mechanics, that even a non-scientist like me can understand, I have two choices. I can either believe in a miracle, or I can question the explanation and consider other hypotheses.
Note that I posit no theories as to how the 9/11 events, images of airplane impacts and actual tower collapses, occurred, nor do I speculate as to who is responsible for these events. I seek merely to show that the official and academic explanations of the airplane impacts and tower collapses are incorrect. I focus on the planes, which are important to both events because they are assumed to have cut many core columns.
The papers I have read and found unconvincing are Wierzbicki and Teng, How the airplane wing cut through the exterior columns of the World Trade Center, Int'l J. of Impact Engineering 28 (2003) 601-625, and Karim and Hoo Fatt, Impact of the Boeing 767 Aircraft Into the World Trade Center, J. of Engineering Mechanics, Vol. 131, No. 10 (October 2005).
Professor Wierzbecki is about as expert as you can get in these matters, being in the Impact & Crashworthiness Laboratory of the Dept of Ocean Engineering at MIT.
In the above article, he and Teng state:
To the casual observer, it would appear that the facade of the Twin Towers did not offer any resistance at all, and that the plane's wings and fuselage slice through the exterior columns as if they were made of cardboard. . . How was it possible that the relatively weak, light, and airy airframe damaged the apparently heavy lattice of high strength steel columns? The devastating result of this encounter came as a surprise to the engineering and scientific community or at least to the present authors.I find this statement most intriguing. My intuition as a casual observer matched the intuition of experts in this field.
Wierzbecki and Teng purport to show in their paper how the wings sliced through the exterior columns with little loss of kinetic energy. Wierzbecki and Tang's conclusion was that the process of wing cutting through the exterior columns consumed only 7% of the initial kinetic energy of the aircraft moving at 240 m/s (500 mph). (In effect, their modeling is of the South Tower impact, as the North Tower plane was said to be moving slower than that.) However, one of their assumptions was not realistic, as the wing they modeled combined the mass of the engine and wing mass into one thick box beam, which they treated as rigid and not deformable.
This is Karim and Hoo Fat, not me, saying that this assumption is incorrect. Karim and Hoo Fat model the wing without the engine mass, which is treated as impacting separately. They conclude that their modeled exterior columns could have been penetrated, but that "[a]t the top speed of the aircraft of 240 m/s, about 46% of the kinetic energy was used to damage the columns and the aircraft." They pointed out that Wierzbicki and Teng's 7% "only considered one column and a portion of the wing that interacts with this." So presumably the latter's model also shows much higher loss of kinetic energy to get those wings through the external columns.
Karim and Hoo Fatt's stated purpose was to determine how thick the columns, as they modeled them, would have to be made to avoid penetration by an aircraft. However, the title of the paper suggests that they are attempting to explain what happened that day, and their operating assumption is that the airplanes penetrated the towers as shown in the videos. However, they made an assumption that is quite unrealistic and very significant: they did not consider the floors.
Even without the floors, they estimated that the plane lost 46% of kinetic energy just to get through the external columns. Yet there was no explosion outside, no debris left outside, and the plane does not appear to decelerate at all. This cannot be true.
Wierzbecki states in another paper that 48% of the initial kinetic energy of the aircraft was dissipated by the floor structure, which is what the aircraft had to get through to reach the core columns. He says about 25% of the energy was dissipated in damage to the core columns.
The following calculation may not be accurate, but adding Hoo Fat's 46% just from the external columns to Wierzbicki's 48% from the floors, there is very little energy left to damage the core columns. (Wierzbicki also states that damage to the plane dissipated 23% of the initial kinetic energy, but his 23% is the reaction of the airplane not only to the external columns as in Hoo Fat's 46%, but also to the floors and the core columns.)
This just does not add up. The bottom line is that those buildings would have provided much more resistance to a Boeing 767, which would show at least deceleration, if not gross deformation, fragmentation, and fuel explosion outside the building. There is no way that plane slips in to the building like a knife into butter. In the real world, that is.
The floors are massive structures, and Wierzbicki shows in the second paper that the plane either hit one floor head-on, or hit two floors. The latter would result in more loss of kinetic energy, so he averaged the two assumptions. It should be fairly easy for FEMA or NIST to determine exactly where the planes hit in relation to floors.
This second paper is available online:
It is also unclear whether the models use steel of the same strength and thickness of the actual columns at the floors impacted. This information appears to have been unavailable to the authors.
Given these figures, which comport with the experiential common sense of Professor Wierzbecki and me, I do not believe that the plane slipped into the South Tower as shown on television. I also do not believe that there was much energy left to reach the core columns, and certainly not to damage them as much as was assumed in the collapse models.
I am neither a physicist nor an engineer. I cannot follow mathematical arguments, and could certainly be missing something. However, I do think I can understand their assumptions and conclusions, and draw a reasonable conclusion therefrom.
Unlike Mathew Rothschild of the "Progressive,"
I do not simply trust experts when what they are saying makes no sense to me. Particularly when the stakes are so high.
My reading of FEMA, NIST, and the above papers is that 800- pound gorillas of physical impossibility are being avoided with tortured arguments. For example, see NIST's FAQ:
Their answer to the question of how the towers free-fell, which is really a question of why there was so little resistance, is this:
"Since the stories below the level of collapse initiation provided little resistance to the tremendous energy released by the falling building mass, the building section above came down essentially in free fall, as seen in videos."
This is a tautology that avoids the question of why the stories below appeared to provide virtually no resistance.
They might as well say, "The buildings free-fell because they did."
There is one paper I do not understand at all: Bazant and Zhou, Why did the World Trade Center Collapse? - Simple Analysis, J. of Engineering Mechanics, Vol. 128, No. 1 (January 2002).
There is a copy of this paper online at:
I don't trust the intersticed critiques at this website, because the critic doesn't seem to realize that "plastic hinge" is a term of art, and interprets the word in its layman's sense. But this website does have a copy of the paper.
Plastic hinges are defined here, under the heading "Stress in a beam."
Bazant and Zhou seem to be saying that a stress wave propagated down quickly, and that multistory sections further down buckled almost immediately. I don't know exactly what they are saying, but it does not comport with my common sense belief that the building below should have provided very much more resistance than it seemed to. What I saw did not look like buckling, it looked like the building disintegrating in mid-air.
[Update: 2/23/2007 - I have since come to understand that Bazant and Zhou assumed that 3-10 floors instantly buckled with no resistance, so that the uppe block came crashing down at high velocity and destroyed the building below. This tautological assumption is not realistic, and even if it occurred, I do not believe that the entire mass, much greater, of the lower building, would have been destroyed so quickly. Moreover, the upper block disappeared early in the process, so what was the mass driving down?]
This engineer's paper finds that the building collapse would not haveThis website, by Judy Woods, a professor of mechanical engineering at Clemson University, cogently explained the physical impossibilty of the NIST-filtered official story of free-fall collapse as the result only of airplane impact and fire:
continued solely as a result of gravity, but would have stopped:
I cannot follow Ross' mathematical arguments any more than Bazant
and Zhou's arguments, really, but his conclusions comport with my
common sense as to what should have happened with gravity alone.
This professor, working with Morgan Reynolds, professor emeritus of economics at Texas A&M University, goes on to postulate what really happened at the World Trade Center on 9/11. Their theory seems far-fetched, even fantastic, but makes a lot more sense than the official story, because it explains why the buildings were pulverized in mid-air. What they describe is not extraordinary in Hume's sense of a miracle. Whatever you think of their theory, the images of the World Trade Centers on and after 9/11 are stunning, and well worth viewing in their own right:
I want to see the crashes modeled with precise assumptions clearly disclosed, down to the actual thickness and grade of the steel at the impacted points, correct air speed, amount of fuel, behavior of wings, direction of fuel dispersion given the attitude of the plane going in, etc. Hoo Fat uses a Pentium IV and says the detail has to be limited as a result. If it will help, do it on a supercomputer if that is possible. But model with accurate assumptions, not assumptions the lead to the desired result. I attempted to find a detailed description of the World Trade Center design in the libraries of a large university, but was unsuccessful. I would not be capable of running models with any new data I found, but wanted to see if the assumptions in the above paper were accurate.
As one example of what seems an inaccurate assumption, Karim and Hoo Fatt modeled the fuel tanks as full, when they were probably a little less than half-full as stated in this paper:
And of course, not considering the resistance of the floors is not realistic, though I suppose for the limited purpose stated by Karim and Hoo Fatt it might be sufficient.
Another expert, Les Robertson who helped design the building, said on the radio recently that he has not modeled past the point of initiation of collapse, and neither has NIST. He said Congress did not charter or fund NIST to do that. He then made a remarkable statement -- that this did not matter because the purpose was to learn how to design buildings in the future.
How can this be? Not only would engineers want to avoid expensive over-design based on erroneous conclusions, we all should want to know why firemen and other people died in an unexpected collapse. Are building codes to be rewritten based on this conclusion? How can not learning why "global collapse ensued" not be important? In terms of fire safety, could not an erroneous assessment of the global collapse risk cause rescue operations to be called off in an existing building in a future fire, leading to unnecessary loss of life? There are surely more reasons why understanding the real mechanism of collapse is necessary. Nonexistent criminal investigation aside, of course the public and experts need to know what really happened from a public safety standpoint.
This was in a debate with BYU's Dr. Steven Jones, here:
Once again, it's the 800-pound gorilla in the room that no one wants to notice. Our society is like an alcoholic family dominated by the presence and denial of alcoholism. This need to deny basic facts about 9/11 distorts even science, I would submit.
Karim and Hoo Fatt state at the beginning of their paper: "Before the buildings collapsed, one can see an imprint of the fuselage, engine, and wings on the side of the buildings. This means that the wings must have perforated the buildings before exploding and starting fires within the buildings." Does it mean that? I say that it cannot mean that, and that their own paper shows that. What it does mean is beyond the scope of my argument. It should not have been relevant to their conclusions, either, but I cannot help but think that they took perforation as a verity and designed their research accordingly.
Richard Falk, professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University, says that "given the tainted legitimacy of a political system that either allowed 9/11 to happen . . . or conspired to make it happen, there is a deep, paralyzing secret harbored in the recesses of the governing processes." I agree, and would submit that this paralyzing secret compels us to accept preposterous explanations for the events of that day.
The official story is not explained by experts that are offered in support of that story. The televised image of a plane penetrating the South Tower is not explained by the experts that are offered in support of the story. I trust my mind more than I trust mediated images. The extraordinary events of three unprecedented building collapses and four disappearing planes, all in one day, must be reasonably explained.
The government has not provided a reasonable explanation for the events of 9/11, so I have had to seek an explanation for myself.
Because so much of our news and analysis is based on widely held assumptions that I know cannot be true, I experience cognitive dissonance when hearing or reading about 9/11, and the "War on Terror."
Help me, please. Prove my cognition wrong. Life would be much simpler. I want to believe my government and the media, I truly do.
Appendix A - sources consulted and a short history of the controversial
"no-planes theory" or "no-big-Boeings" theory
The foregoing is my own analysis of the above papers, but I should credit those who got me
to look at those papers in the first place. Several weeks ago, I heard a speech by Dr. Morgan Reynolds in which he asserted that there were no big Boeings that hit the towers on 9/11. My first reaction was shock and disbelief. But he mentioned a website so I read his papers on the issue, and kept looking on the Internet, where I learned that many people have been questioning the televised images of planes for several years.
These are the websites and articles which I read as background. I order them according to my understanding of when the author started questioning the planes, though this order
may be incorrect.
Marcus Icke (I think)
If I have left anyone out I apologize, but these are main sites I looked at.
These websites convinced me that I should go to the library and see what the experts are saying, and I found the above engineering papers. I'm sure these websites also gave me ideas that are reflected in my writing.
The rest is my work, my mistakes.
I now realize Nico Haupt has also been questioning the planes for a long time, and recently launched this website:
Mr. Haupt also wrote the below FAQ, which talks about a debate among 9/11 researchers about whether the no-plane theory should be pursued. Apparently, some people are more concerned about how this theory will be perceived than whether it is valid, thinking that pursuing this theory will discredit the "9/11 Truth Movement."
This is not a proper criterion by which to judge whether a hypothesis should be pursued, and conclusions reported if that is what the researcher believes to be true. Those people who think, a priori, that anyone who questions the official story is a nutty "conspiracy theorist" will not be convinced regardless of how "credible" the argument appears. Those people who maintain an open mind will consider any argument on the merits.
All of this is interesting to me but should not be relevant to my argument that the expert's papers show that the planes could not have penetrated the towers as shown on television,
as there would have much more deceleration and deformation, and probably an explosion of the fuel outside the building.
Of course, I am biased in that I have long doubted the official story, even before the 9/11 Commission's report with its great number of implausible assertions or unexplained omissions. All I can say about this bias is that I attempted to find expert analyses that would disprove assertions that a plane could not have penetrated the towers as shown on television, and was unsuccessful. These expert analyses seem equally if not more biased in assuming without question facts stated in the official story or images shown on television, which is not surprising given the criticism and ridicule faced by those who question the official story.
Tenure notwithstanding, dependence on government funding, careerism, or fear of ridicule or worse could be inhibiting objective research into 9/11:
Finally, my inquiries may be offensive or painful to many people, especially if they have families members that died on 9/11. I will not presume to be seeking the truth on behalf of these people, and can only apologize if I am causing pain. I am trying to find out what happened on 9/11 for myself, as it has affected me deeply. I will presume to speak for my country and its legal system, which have been profoundly affected by 9/11 and the subsequent "War on Terror." The full story, whatever it may be, has not been told, and it must be told.
Appendix B - Response to a contrary view
The scope of my argument was to prove that the images
of the second plane penetrating the South Tower do
not reflect physical reality, and thus cannot be
authentic. I make no assertions as to the authenticity
of other images. Other writers have long questioned
the televised 9/11 images, including the websites
cited in Appendix A above.
These writings, which go beyond what I am attempting
to show above, prompted a response which was published
at a website called the "Journal of 9/11 Studies."
A Critical Review of WTC 'No Plane' Theories
Mr. Salter's main arguments are: (1) there were
too many independent observers at the scene for
faked images to have been possible; in other
words, video fakery would not be attempted
because perpetrators could not guarantee that
a contradictory video might not surface, and
(2) his analysis of a video of the second plane
shows that "the plane does decelerate as it
enters the building, losing about 12% of
its speed and 25% of its kinetic energy as
it passes through the outer wall and office
My tentative responses to Mr. Salter's first
(1) His first argument is attractive, as it
does seem hard to believe a deception could
be successful, particularly on the second
tower as so many people were watching at the
time. Nevertheless, at least as to the images
of the plane penetrating the South Tower,
nobody could have witnessed an impossible
event, in the same way that a video of an
impossible event cannot be authentic. That's
really the end of the debate for me. How this
video came to be shown on CNN is not relevant
to my argument.
Another response might be that no one could
have filmed something that was not there,
so there could no videos that prove a negative.
Granted, a video camera trained on the point at
which the plane supposedly entered might have
shown a sudden explosion, with no plane entering
just prior to that. No such videos ever existed
to my knowledge. Again, this is speculation beyond
the scope of what I was trying to show above.
A video purporting to show no plane has just
surfaced on the Internet:
I have no way of authenticating this video,
and my understanding is that a real object
could be edited out as well as a fake image
could be inserted. It is interesting that
the video not only shows no plane, it also
shows no explosion or hole where the plane
was supposed to have hit. Again, I don't
really care about videotaped images,
because videos are not immutable. The laws
of nature are immutable. Absent extraordinary
evidence, of course.
Here's what videos can do these days:
(2) Since Mr. Salter talks about witnesses
on the scene, I will say that there are people
that did not witness an airplane or thought they
saw a smaller plane or a military plane.
An example is in the above recent video where
two women thought the second plane was a military
plane and one woman is heard saying she saw the
first tower explode but did not see an airplane.
Another example of a witness who saw an explosion
but no plane is here:
Here, there is an interesting exchange between CNN
Anchor Carol Lin and a woman named Jeanne Yurman
who identified herself as a witness:
LIN: Jeanne, we are continuing to look at pictures
of this devastating scene, according to Sean Murtagh,
vice president of finance, who witnessed what he
described as a twin-engine plane, possibly a 737.
He was almost absolutely sure it was a large passenger
jet that went into that.
Jeanne, you are saying you didn't see anything
initially. You didn't see a plane approach
YURMAN: I had no idea it was a plane. I just saw
the entire top part of the World Trade Center
explode. So I turned on the TV when I heard
they said it was a plane. It was really strange.
LIN: Were you living in New York during the
World Trade Center bombing?
YURMAN: No, I wasn't.
So we have a CNN anchor citing a CNN VP of
finance, contradicted by a witness who does
not work for CNN, followed by a non-sequiter
from the CNN anchor, who does not explore
[Revision: It is true that Yurman may have
simply been viewing the building from a position
that prevented her from seeing the plane. However,
a reporter should ask. Where were you standing?
Did you hear a plane prior to the explosion?
Did you hear the impact? What did you think was
Whatever this is, it is bad journalism, as a reporter
should not be telling a witness what other people saw
but should be asking what that person saw. This could
be example of 9/11 group think already in operation,
or it could be an example of the intentional creation
of 9/11 group think. Of course, the woman could be
mistaken. Regardless, not everyone reports seeing
a plane at the time of the explosion of the North
Tower, which is said to have resulted from the impact
of Flight 11.
Other witness reports are discussed here, the author's
conclusion being that they do not prove what kind(s)
of object hit the tower(s), but nor do they prove
that whatever hit was a large jet.
My response to Mr. Salter's second argument about
visible deceleration (slowing) of the second plane
is as follows:
(1) Other people have found no or little declaration.
See, e.g., Rick Rajter's analysis at:
(2) Even a 12% deceleration, corresponding he says to
loss of 25% of initial kinetic energy, does not fit the
loss of kinetic energy found by Karim and Hoo Fatt, as
described above. Karim and Hoo Fatt found a loss of 46%
just for the plane to penetrate the external columns,
which should have resulted in a 23% decleration. Karim and
Hoo Fatt did not include the floors, while Salter did,
describing them as "office space." There should have been
a much higher deceleration than 12%, so Salter's research
confirms that the video image does not conform to physical
Earlier, I wrote a critique of Salter's writing style,
which I thought inappropriate for a journal that purports
to be scholarly. I do not mean this as a criticism of
other articles published there, one of which I cite above.
Appendix C - a new video surfaces
There is a new eyewitness video of the events of 9/11, which was taken from an apartment facing the North Tower. I have no way of knowing whether it is authentic, but it sounds and looks authentic.
It is very disturbing to watch, as the apartment is close to the World Trade Center. The collapses are horrific on this video, and so is the aftermath where people are walking around breathing horribly dangerous air. There are voices of three or four people who were understandably scared and horrified.
I don't know what to make of their comments about a military plane at 12:15 of the video, right after the South Tower exploded. The video cuts in at 11:46 in the middle of the South Tower explosion, right after the plane hits, so the plane is not visible in their video. It seems edited, though I suppose the camera person could have resumed filming at that exact moment. That is merely my observation.
I also find the people's observations at the beginning, starting around 00:50, very interesting. A woman states she saw a plane fly over, then she saw the building explode from inside. This suggests she was looking right at the part of the building where the first plane supposedly hit, and did not see a plane hit, but rather saw an explosion from inside the building. This contradicts the official story.
For what it's worth, this is what I think happened - explosions within the building. Something else could have hit the North Tower, though this woman does not report that, but it could not have been a Boeing 767.
In any case, eyewitness testimony on the type and size of the plane or planes is inconsistent, and generally speaking, eyewitness testimony is less reliable than physical evidence. I have seen no physical evidence that would overcome my refusal to believe that planes flew into the towers like a knife into butter. I have no other conclusions, just questions.
Appendix D - Ground Zero rescue workers betrayed
Here is a New York police officer who was permanently injured
by his rescue work in the polluted air at Ground Zero. I think
his call for more investigation into 9/11 is powerful. He deserves
a proper investigation. He also deserves more compensation for
his injuries and better medical assistance, which it seems he is
He criticizes not only the 9/11 Commission, but also the
EPA's Christine Todd Whitman for saying that the air was safe.
He says, "I'll ask any official at the Pentagon - what the
fuck are you trying to hide?"
The Inspector General of the Environmental Protection Agency
found that the EPA lied, at the behest of the White House,
about the safety of the air in New York.
Mount Sinai Medical Center recently released a report showing
high rates of pulmonary and other illnesses among rescue workers
at Ground Zero.
When I think about whether my government would kill citizens or
allow them to be killed, I think of the gross disregard for human
health shown by the White House in lying to the people of
New York about asbestos and other poisons in the air after 9/11.
Once you start cost-benefitting with people's lives, where is the