A Response to Reynolds and Wood

by Frank Legge

Nothing doth more hurt in a state than
That cunning men pass for wise.

--Francis Bacon

Well said!

This is an attempt to show the ways in which the paper “The Trouble with Steven E. Jones' 9/11 Researchby Reynolds and Wood falls short of the normal standards of scientific debate in manner, inference and content. (Arial bold is used to distinguish this from the original paper, excerpts from which are shown in the original font.)

Jones' background includes research in the controversial area of "cold fusion," perhaps the biggest scientific scandal of the last half-century. Cold fusion violates standard physics theory because there is no explanation of where the energy might come from to merge nuclei at room temperature.

If they hold this view and think it important they should write a paper providing evidence for their disagreement and have it peer reviewed. To use this assertion without such review is an unprincipled ad hominem attack which is usually a sign that the following material will lack content.

The claim that the work is a “scandal” is extraordinary and possibly libelous, which will force a respected contributor to the 9/11 debate to waste valuable time with a response.

• Jones' work is deficient as shown below

• Its overall thrust is to rehabilitate portions of the Official Government Conspiracy Theory (OGCT).

More specifically, we assert:

• Demolition at the WTC was proven fact long before Jones came along, but he initially said that it is "...a hypothesis to be tested. That's a big difference from a conclusion..."

This statement either reveals a failure to understand the proper process of scientific investigation or is a devious piece of character assassination. Let’s take the more charitable first view.

The point at issue is whether the official reports can be trusted. It is a fact that these reports studiously avoid consideration of whether explosives were used, that is, they did not test this hypothesis. Prof Jones asks that the hypothesis now be tested. He has noted, as have many others, that the observations fit explosives far better than fire and plane impact and wants the authorities to be forced to establish a new investigation which will test the explosives hypothesis. If tested in this way the truth will be revealed where it counts.

That is the right and proper way to proceed. It is far more likely to receive a sympathetic response from the public than a bald assertion of a “conclusion”. It is the public that must be won over if a campaign for further investigation is to succeed.

His subsequent concentration on issues like steel-cutting thermite and experiments with newly-discovered materials from unofficial sources allegedly from the WTC site have undermined confidence in demolition.

What is the evidence for this? On the contrary the public acceptance of demolition appears to have accelerated since Jones started to publicize his work on thermite. Could it be that the motive for this paper by Reynolds and Wood is no more than their distress that Jones has been more successful than they have been?

• That no Boeing 757 went into the Pentagon was proven years ago but Jones suggests it is unproven because the Scholars are split on it, though truth is hardly a matter to be democratically decided.

Jones is perfectly correct: what hit the Pentagon is unproven. There is good work by Hoffman and others suggesting that explosives may have been used to destroy the plane before impact. This could account for the marks on the front of the building not matching the shape of a 757. The recently released video footage shows a brilliant white flash prior to the emergence of the red fireball. This supports the explosive theory. As long as there is a reasonable alternative theory the case must be regarded as unproven. It will not help the cause of truth movement to assert otherwise.

Proving what hit the Pentagon is not essential to the campaign and publicizing the fact that opinions differ is patently harmful.

• Jones ignores the enormous energy releases at the twin towers apparently because his favorite theory, thermite and its variants, cannot account for data like nearly complete transformation of concrete into fine dust. Instead, in a blinkered fashion Jones narrows the issue to thermite versus mini-nuke (fission bomb) and predictably finds no evidence for a mini-nuke.

This is untrue. Jones says: explosives finished the demolition job”.

• Jones neglects laws of physics and physical evidence regarding impossible WTC big plane crashes in favor of curt dismissal of the no-planes-theory (NPT). He relies on "soft" evidence like videos, eyewitnesses, planted evidence and unverified black boxes. When others challenge how aluminum wide-body Boeings can fly through steel-concrete walls, floors and core without losing a part, Jones does not turn to physics for refutation but continues to cite eyewitnesses and videos, thereby backing the OGCT.

This ignores the substantial evidence of plane parts on the ground, described by numerous observers who arrived on the scene after the crash but before the collapse.

Some researchers say they see no deceleration when the plane hits the South tower. Others say they do see deceleration. Given this, and that there were many eye witnesses, several videos of the plane hitting the tower, and photographs showing plane debris on the ground, is it not reasonable to say that the NPT is unproven?

On 9/11 issues where the case is proven and settled, Jones confounds it. On controversies with arguments and evidence on both sides like NPT, he conducts no physical analysis and sides with OGCT. The world asks, what energy source could have transformed 200,000 tons of steel-reinforced concrete into ultra-fine particles within seconds, suspended in the upper atmosphere for days while leaving paper unharmed, hurling straight sticks of steel hundreds of feet, incinerating cars and trucks for blocks, and leaving nary a desk, computer, file cabinet, bookcase or couch on the ground? Jones seems to reply, "Superthermite."

Jones says: “explosives finished the demolition job”. He also points out that pound for pound nanothermite has more power than conventional high explosives so perhaps the final explosives were “superthermite”. It is therefore not logical to assert that he has confounded the case.

The demolitions of WTC 1, 2 and 7 were different yet Jones treats them implicitly as if they are alike.

This is untrue. Jones says: “Unlike WTC7, the twin towers appear to have been exploded “top-down” rather than proceeding from the bottom – which is unusual for controlled demolition but clearly possible, depending on the order in which explosives are detonated.”

Q: "What data finally convinced you that 9/11 was not just by 19 hijackers?

A: Molten metal, yellow-hot and in large quantities..." [pdf (7/19/06) p. 45]

This statement raises two problems: first, Jones gives credence to the loony OGCT that "19 young Arabs acting at the behest of Islamist extremists headquartered in distant Afghanistan" were involved or caused 9/11.

This is not logical. Firstly it is not relevant to the truth what finally convinced Jones, and secondly his acceptance of thermite does not give credence to the official story; quite the reverse.

If a scientist falsifies his data, his career is over.

This may be true. We have already found several instances of untrue statements in this paper. The authors should be wary.

In downgrading the importance of free-fall speed Jones wrote on July 2, 2006, "...there are stronger arguments at this time than those which rely on the time-of-fall of the Towers. We're still working on those calculations...stronger arguments are growing, IMO." There is no stronger argument for demolition than near-free-fall speed.

I believe Reynolds and Wood are correct in saying that there is no stronger evidence than the near free fall speed observed. I also believe it is reasonable to assert that the finding of thermite is equally strong. Jones may have made a strategic error in asserting that thermite is stronger but is seems a small point on which to pillory him. Polite debate would have been a more appropriate contribution.

Thermite cannot pulverize an entire building and make molten metal burn for 100 days. Something far more powerful was used and Jones avoids the question.

Jones did not say only thermite was used (see above). It seems reasonable however to say that thermite could produce a sufficient mass of extremely hot iron to stay hot for weeks in a confined space. The thermite reaction produces iron at 2500oC, well above its melting point, 1540oC, so there is plenty of reserve heat to enable the iron to still be red hot when dug up later.

If the authors are going to assert that something more powerful was used they should provide the evidence, not merely assert a possibility, and then attempt to destroy a colleague with the assertion.

Jones claims that the pictured flow [of metal from the South tower] cannot be aluminum because, "Molten aluminum in daylight conditions (like 9-11 WTC) is silvery-straw-gray at all temperatures" [pdf (7/19/06) p. 50]. Laboratory experiments in late February 2006 by Wood and Zebuhr (1980-2006) cast serious doubt on Jones' contention.

The paper by Wood and Zebuhr does not cast doubt on the statement by Jones. On the contrary what this paper proves is that aluminium has a similar emissivity to tungsten. Tungsten has a low emissivity, much lower than iron, as reference books will confirm.

The authors assert that aluminium would glow like iron if it were raised to

1500°C. The problem with this is that if the metal were aluminium it would have run away long before reaching this temperature, as its melting point can be no higher than 660°C, and the observation that molten aluminium at this temperature looks silver in daylight still holds.

Reynolds and Wood also dispute the claim that the flowing metal is iron on the grounds that when yellow it would not be liquid. This is of course true. However the appearance of thermite when reacting suggests that it is not as simple as that. Thermite produces showers of yellow sparks so it appears that some of the fine particles which are flung out cool sufficiently, as they pass through the air, that the light emitted is yellow.

The claim that the flowing material is iron is much stronger than the claim that it is aluminium. It is important to note however that the case for thermite does not depend on this observation alone.

And of course, if the metal is aluminium, then it was necessary that a plane hit the tower to provide the large amount of aluminium. The authors are either wrong to assert that no plane hit the tower or wrong about the metal.

Professor Jones reports that he has analyzed a piece of solidified metal slag from WTC. He provides no documentation of the source or evidence regarding the chain of custody. He concludes that the presence of manganese, sulfur and fluorine suggest a "thermite fingerprint" (p. 77). Perhaps he is right but there is no independent corroboration. Can outsiders test the slag? Jones has proved nothing. Demolition is corroborated, proven and undoubtedly involved steel cutters to insure swift collapse of the lower structure, but the cutters were not necessarily thermite.

“… the cutters were not necessarily thermite”. That is exactly what Jones says.

3. The North Tower spire stood for 20-30 seconds, evaporated, went down, and turned to steel dust.

Figure 16: Steel beams turn to steel dust.

The authors assert that the above images indicate that steel has evaporated and that this proves something hotter than thermite was involved. There is a much simpler explanation.

A few seconds earlier the metal standing here was enveloped in a very dense cloud of dust, largely concrete. This will have settled on every surface. Because the cloud was so dense it settled very fast leaving clear air in which we can observe what happened next. The next event would have been the explosive demolition of the steel lower down, out of sight. The impact of the explosion would have sent a shock wave up the steel, dislodging the dust. The steel then falls through the dust and disappears from view leaving the dust, now widely scattered hence no longer so dense, falling slowly. There is no case here for anything hotter than thermite. There is a case for a high explosive to create a shock wave.

8. Brown shades of color in the air suggest sulfuric acid.

Sulphuric acid is not brown!

Air had pH levels of 12 of a maximum 14.

This contradicts the presence of acid as it has a low pH.

Huge expanding dust clouds multiples times the volume of the building, indicating extreme levels of heat in excess of traditional demolition explosives.

A calculation has been published which depends on input of a huge amount of heat energy to cause the expansion of water in the concrete as steam to produce the observed increase in volume. This calculation is in error as it ignores the fact that conventional explosives produce gas as well as heat. There is no evidence here for any extraordinary source of heat.

The expansion however does appear to provide evidence that thermite was not used alone as the thermite reaction does not produce gas. Of course Jones never said thermite was used alone.

13. No bodies, furniture or computers found in the rubble, but intact sheets of paper littered the dust-covered streets. Material with significant mass may have absorbed energy and were vaporized while paper did not.

It would seem more reasonable to infer that the source of energy was explosives rather than heat and that materials with significant mass would absorb shock energy and be pulverized rather than vaporized.

The authors are attempting to belittle Jones on the grounds that he did not properly look for evidence of exotic sources of energy. He has found good evidence for explosives and made the case that explosives, if thermite is included, can account for all observations. Should not those who promote exotic energy sources do their own research, come to their own conclusions, and publish their own results before they attack a fellow worker?

Steven E. Jones, BYU physicist, rocketed to the top of the 9/11 research ladder based on position and credentials. But nearly a year later, his contributions range from irrelevant to redundant to misleading to wrong. He has not turned up a single item of value. The majority of what Jones says is political and his physics is egregiously wrong (SJ: aluminum "cannot" glow yellow in daylight), deceptive (SJ: WTC demolitions can be treated alike), nonexistent (SJ: jet liners crashed into WTC, a jet liner might have crashed into the Pentagon) and shallow (SJ: thermite is key to WTC demolitions).

The proof that 9/11 was an inside job was well developed by internet researchers, not academics. The question now is whether participation by academic researchers will hamper or help in expanding our understanding of 9/11 and bringing the perpetrators to justice. Early returns from the most highly sought-after research on 9/11-that of physicist Steven E. Jones-predict little or no good will come from the academic establishment on either 9/11 truth or justice. Proof that government/media lied and 9/11 was an inside job is being confounded and rolled back.

It is an unfounded criticism to say that Jones regards thermite as the key to WTC demolitions. His paper lists 13 lines of evidence that explosives were used and explicitly states that every one of these must be dealt with for a rebuttal to succeed. It is however not surprising to find that his research focuses on thermite because he has specialist skills in elemental analysis.

Critics may claim that we damage Scholars for 9/11 Truth by exposing failings in the work of Steven Jones, its leading physical scientist. Yet the Scholars are "dedicated to exposing falsehoods and to revealing truths." S9/11T is devoted to applying the principles of scientific reasoning to the available evidence, "letting the chips fall where they may."

And one of the serious chips is the risk of being attacked by supposed fellow workers using untruths, unfounded assertions, illogical arguments and character assassination rather than scientific debate. Perhaps Jones has not been as meticulous in providing sources for previous findings as he might have been. Even if true, this failing does not warrant the scale of this attack. No failing of any kind could warrant the scurrilous nature of the attack.

It is much to be regretted that this event has occurred. These authors have contributed greatly to the 9/11 truth movement in the past and are obviously capable of doing so in the future. It is to be hoped that they will revert to constructive work.

How the authors could possibly think they were advancing the 9/11 cause by publishing this offensive material is a mystery to me. As a scientist I look at physical evidence and do not attempt to penetrate the workings of the mind, preferring to leave that very important area to others.

The scientific basis of the case for reopening the investigation of 9/11 is now well established. The best use of effort in future may well be to concentrate on the psychology of 9/11 in the hope of increasing the chance of a successful outcome. Indeed this may be an essential step if more state terror attacks are to be avoided.