Mittwoch, 15. Mai 2013

cjnewson's "American Airlines Flight 77 Evidence"

Fellow JREF forumite "cjnewson88" has compiled a massive blog post with tons of evidence (photos and videos) documenting the attack on the Pentagon: You will see the plane on video, plane parts inside and outside of the Pentagon, comparison with whole Boeing 757s, damage to the building and surroundings, radar information, aircraft control radio recordings, results from flight data recorder analysis, evidence concerning Hani Hanjour, etc., all in one place, with very little commentary. Please share (careful if you are on mobile or have a low bandwidth: This massive repository will take a little while to load!):

http://therightbloggerbastard.blogspot.co.nz/2012/09/american-airlines-77-hit-pentagon.html

Please share! You can post the URL in YouTube comments without trouble if you copy and paste this:

therightbloggerbastard.blogspot.co.nz

Montag, 8. April 2013

All "Truther" Petitions fail miserably

(Update) Apr 10, 2013: Mark Ouwehand's petition at whitehouse.gov ended today with only 798 signatures of the required 100,000 (0.8%) (/Update)

Abstract

Many 9/11 "Truthers" believe in change through popular support of their positions, and they believe they have the numbers on their side. Consequently, 9/11 Truthers have set up numerous petitions to make certain demands and points in connection with the conspiracy theorists' beliefs.

I have monitored eight "9/11 truth" petitions since the summer of 2012. The four most popular of these were started between May 2012 and March 2013. Three of them have a goal or expectation of reaching a "million" signatures, with no time frame, while the fourth is a petition to the White House and is thus expected to reach 100,000 in 30 days.

The purpose of this blog post is to visualize how terribly these "best" petitons have failed relative to their stated goals, and comment on the delusion of "truth" leaders who believe to have much popular support. Their own petitions prove them wrong.

Websites facilitating petitions

Several websites, such as signon.org [1] , petition2congress.com [2], avaaz.org [3], change.org [4] and ipetitions.com [5] facilitate the setting-up of petitions Those petitions rarely come with a target when they are set up, but sometimes, the "truther" promoting one voices an expectation or hope about the number of signature that petition would eventually reach and surpass. As "truthers" often believe they have "millions" of supporters in the USA and the world, they usually set their hopes at "1 million" or "millions" of signatures, but without announcing a time frame to achieve that goal. To reach 1 million signatures within 1 year, they would need almost 3,000 signatures every day on average.

An exception is the White House's petition site, petitions.whitehouse.gov [6], which prescribes the target: A petiton there must reach 100,000 signatures within 30 days to be considered by the Obama administration (until recently, the threshold was 50,000).

It easy for you to verify that on all these sites petitons with success large and small have been generated en masse: While many (probably most) issues are ill promoted, unpopular, or very local in scope and attract only a handful to few hundreds of signatures, there is a good number however that surpass ten thousand, one hundred thousand, and occasionally even a million signatures. I recommend you browse the sites at your leisure. Look for "popular" or "hot" petitions. Some sites offer success stories ("victories"), where petitons not only got a lot of signatures, but their demands were also eventually met (albeit not always because of that particular petition).

With the common "truther" claim that "9/11 truth" is supported by millions, by significant proportions of the population, and with all their busy campaigning on the internet, one might expect that their issues are both well promoted and popular; and 9/11 is a national and global issue that almost everybody on the planet is aware of. As a result, their petitions should rank among the more popular. But: They don't.

"Truther" petitions and their goals

Of eight "9/11 truth" petitions that I am currently monitoring, four (by Chris Sarns, James Hufferd, an anonymous and RL McGee) have apparently never been much promoted anywhere; they have between 49 (after 32 days) and 226 supporters (after more than a year). I won't bother you with these. Their creators never announced any ambitious goal, as far as I know. The following four have fared relatively better, and at some point "truthers" voiced ambitious expectations:

  1. Mark Graham: "Revise the U.S. government final report on the collapse of Building 7" at avaaz.org [7]. Posted May 7, 2012. I have blogged about this, and its failure, before [8], when I showed that 911Blogger commenter "kawika" had "dreamed" about reaching 1 million signatures. The petition was at ca. 1,470 signatures when I last updated late in June. It is now at 1,734.
  2. Richard Gage: "President Obama: 9/11 Families Ask You to Watch 9/11: Explosive Evidence - Experts Speak Out" at change.org [9]. This has sat quite prominently, with a nice logo, on top of the right hand column on the startpage of ae911truth.org (where it is now just one among several less prominent links). More recently, ae911truth sent out an email to all their newsletter recipients (probably a five-figure number) asking all to sign. The petition received most of its now ca. 5,600 signatures following this emailing, which had the subtitle: "Help us reach 1 Million Signatures!" [10].
  3. Jon Gold: "Statement For 9/11 Justice" at ipetitions.com [11]. Not strictly a petition, as this "statement" does not advance any demands, Jon still hopes to get a lot of signatures, as he announced at 911Blogger [12]: "I am hoping this statement goes viral. I am hoping that millions sign it. Can you imagine how powerful a statement that would be?" (my bolding).
  4. Mark Ouwehand: "REINVESTIGATE THE COLLAPSE OF WTC BUILDING 7 ON 9/11. NEVER HAS A STEEL FRAME BUILDING COLLAPSED DUE TO OFFICE FIRES" [13]. This comes with an implicit goal of 100,000 signatures within 30 days, as that is the threshold set by the Obama administration for such petitions to be considered (even though the administration does sometimes publish an official statement on petitions with fewer signature, at its own discretion). The 30 days end on April 10th - 2 days from today.

Data

The following graphs plot the development of the four petitions above. The three petitions that have been running since last summer and all want to reach 1 million are drawn to the same scale: The diagrams have the same size. The left-hand y-axis goes to the target of 1 million total signatures. The right-hand y-axis goes to the 3,000 that they'd need almost every day to reach 1 million within one year. The x-axis runs from the first day of the month the petition was started to May 1st, 2013.

The red lines shows the total number of signatures. The blue line shows new signatures per day - those are usually averages for 2 or 3 consecutive days, but intervals may vary.

The fourth graph is scaled differently, owing to the lower target and shorter runtime. So the total is scaled to 100,000 total and 3,000 per day (it would actually take an average of 3,334 to reeach the target), the x-axis shows the 30 days available:

Discussion

In all four graphs (my originals, anyway; not sure how you download them), the span from 0 to max y-value is 182 pixels. Since none of the four petitions has even reached 1% of its target, the red lines rise no more than 2 pixels above zero. The blue "per day" plots occasionally peak above zero, but only one of the few discernible peaks exceeds 10% of what they need every single day. All four petitions have seen activity at practically 0% of what's required on almost all days.

There are not many possibilities to explain this huge discrepancy between the stated or implied targets of 100,000, "1 million" or even "millions" of signatures and the less than 1% of that actually reached - especially the question "why do truthers voice such an expectation":

  • They either sincerely believe that 1 million, or 100,000 within 30 days, is a realistic target, or at least one that is not magnitudes away from what is realistic. In that case, they are seriously deluded about the popularity of "9/11 Truth", its reach and the enthusiam of its followers
  • Or they know perfectly well that 1 million is totally unrealistic, and say such things for propaganda value only

I stated earlier that many online petitions fail to win much support when they are not well promoted, or unpopular, or only interesting to a small group (local issues or special interests). The former two might apply to "9/11 Truth" petitions, so one, or both, of the following must be true:

  • "Truthers" don't promote their petitions well
  • "Truthers"' demands and statements are unpopular

At least in the case of Richard Gage and AE911Truth, their petition has been seen by tens of thousands, as Gage has actively mailed to their "member" base, and his website gets a lot of daily traffic (thousands of daily content views). I have no good idea how and where the other petitions have been advertized, but it seems clear that their reach has been quite limited. "9/11 Truth" is mostly known as an internet phenomenon (yeah, citation needed; please comment if you disagree!), so it should be surprising, and I'd find it rather implausible, if none of these petitions haven't been promoted such that many or most "9/11 Truth" believers could have come across them.

Conclusions

In my opinion, all these petitions document that, today, "9/11 Truth" is a fringe issue that no more than a few thousand individuals worldwide have an actual interest in.

I suspect that the "truth" leaders who set up such petitions are sincere in their belief that they have "millions" on their side, and that they sincerely believe to break into widespread popular support any day now, and that thus their hope to at least approach 1 million of signatures isn't far-fetched.

These "truth" leaders are deluded. They live in a tiny bubble, frequent echo chambers, where the fringe few thousands mutually amplify their delusions.

References

[1] SignOn.org. Democracy in action

[2] Petition2Congress. Free petitions that send email to Capitol Hill

[3] AVAAZ.org. The world in action

[4] change.org. The world's petiton platform

[5] ipetitions. Your voice counts

[6] WE the PEOPLE. Your voice in our government

[7] Mark Graham: Revise the U.S. government final report on the collapse of Building 7. Posted May 07, 2012

[8] Oystein: Monitoring Truther Petition about WTC7 at Avaaz . Posted June 7, 2012; last updated June 26, 2012

[9] Richard Gage: President Obama: 9/11 Families Ask You to Watch “9/11: Explosive Evidence - Experts Speak Out”. Posted June 09, 2012

[10] AE911Truth: Sign the AE911Truth FAMILY MEMBER PETITION - Help us reach 1 Million Signatures!. Posted March 07, 2013

[11] Jon Gold: Statement For 9/11 Justice. Posted August 04, 2012

[12] Jon Gold: Off To A Great Start. Posted at 911Blogger on August 09, 2012.

[13] Mark Ouwehand: REINVESTIGATE THE COLLAPSE OF WTC BUILDING 7 ON 9/11. NEVER HAS A STEEL FRAME BUILDING COLLAPSED DUE TO OFFICE FIRES. Posted on March 11, 2013

Donnerstag, 28. Februar 2013

7.5 kJ/g disproves thermitic material

Abstract

Harrit et al. [1] present 4 red-gray chips that they did a DSC test on. One of the chips was determined to yield a specific energy of 7.5 kJ/g. They believe that some of that energy yield comes from thermite in the red layer.

Assuming that the red layer contains at least as much Si as Al by weight and that Si is fully oxidized as SiO2, I have developed a simple spreadsheet to compute the minimum amount of energy that the organic matrix must contribute to raise the composite specific energy of the chip to the empirical value of 7.5 kJ/g. A number of cases is dicussed in which the following paramters are varied:

  • Specific energy of thermite: Theoretical value of 3.96 kJ/g vs. a more realistic practical value of 3 kJ/g
  • Mass of the gray layer: None vs. equal mass as red layer (this in effect doubles the effective specific energy of the red layer)
  • Organic matrix: Values of 42 kJ/g (highest tabulated value of all organic polymers, for PP), 30 kJ/g (upper limit for most polymers), 20.4 kJ/g (epoxy) and 9.5 kJ/g (ideal polymer plus oxidizer composite) are considered.

Introduction

According to the data in [1] and Harrit et al.'s interpretation thereof, the red layer of their red-gray chips contains mainly just the elements C, O, Al, Si and Fe, while the gray layer is mainly iron oxide and chemically inert. They conclude that the red layer contains thermite (2 Al + Fe2O3) which reacts in the DSC test, and also an unidentified organic matrix that also reacts and is "itself energetic" (p. 28). Harrit et al. have heated four chips in a DSC up to 700 °C and measured heat flux. The most energetic of these four yielded a specific energy of 7.5 kJ/g (page 19):

Proceeding from the smallest to largest peaks, the yields are estimated to be approximately 1.5, 3, 6 and 7.5 kJ/g respectively. Variations in peak height as well as yield estimates are not surprising, since the mass used to determine the scale of the signal, shown in the DSC traces, included the mass of the gray layer. The gray layer was found to consist mostly of iron oxide so that it probably does not contribute to the exotherm, and yet this layer varies greatly in mass from chip to chip.

Later (p. 28) they correctly argue:

We observe that the total energy released from some of the red chips exceeds the theoretical limit for thermite alone (3.9 kJ/g). One possibility is that the organic material in the red layer is itself energetic.

When the chip as a whole exhibits 7.5 kJ/g, but it has constituent materials that are inert or have a lower energy density, then there have to be other constituents with an average specific energy that is significantly higher than 7.5 kJ/g. This already rules out conventional monomolecular explosives (Fig. 30 in [1]). So if the energy balance comes from the organic matrix, it has to react with an oxidizing agent: Either ambient oxygen, or, conceivably, some unidentified embedded oxidizer.

With reasonable assumptions to envelop ideal and realistic scenarios, it is possible to compute, dependent on hypothetical thermit contents, the minimum contribution of the organic matrix to the mass and energy yield of such a chip. I propose that, if significantly more of the energy yield comes from organic combustion than from thermite, then the characterization of the chips as "thermitic" as well as the interpretation of the DSC test results vis-a-vis nanothermite from literature are faulty.

Assumptions

It is known from practically all EDS spectra of red layers or residues that Harrit et al. present that the silicon amount is at least equal to, and often exceeds, the aluminium content. This is easy to verify: In Fig. 7, and Fig. 11, the Al- and Si-peaks are about equal, in Fig. 14, 16, 18, 25 and 26, the Si-peak is significantly higher than the Al-peak. The only exception, Fig 17, is from a small spot location specifically chosen for its high Al-content. That chip however contains less Al overall than Si (Fig. 14). Judging from Fig. 16 I find that Si is accompanied by enough O to form silica.

I will therefore assume that, for all chips tested in the DSC,

  • Si was present in the red layer in a mass fraction equal to that of Al.
  • Si is fully oxidized as SiO2. Since Si and O appear in silica in a mass fraction of 28:(16+16), this means that for each mass unit of Al, there are 32/28 = 1.14 mass units of O.

These are the only assumptions that are not "thermite friendly", but they follow from the data! I have three more assumptions that remain constant throughout all cases and that are either "thermite friendly" (i.e. deviation from them would render the case for Harrit et al.' "thermite" hypothesis even more unrealistic), or almost neutral:

  • I assume in all cases cases that all the Al is mixed with iron oxide as stoichiometric thermite: 2 Al + Fe2O3 (molar masses 2*26.98 + 159.69) consists of 74.7% iron oxide and 25.3% Al, so for each mass unit of thermite, there are 0.253 mass units of Al and 0.541 mass units of SiO2 (0.253 + 0.253*32/28).
  • The balance of the mass of the red layer is assumed to be organic material, with or without embedded oxidizer.
  • The gray layer is always present and assumed by Harrit et al. to not contribute to the exotherm. I disagree somewhat with this assumption - it is quite possible for hematite to experience exotherm phase changes when heated, but that will pale against redox reactions of fuel, so I ignore that and accept the assumption.

Parameters and cases

It is well known that many solid organic compounds, including many that could form such a matrix (epoxy, alkyd, other resins) are highly energetic. Practically all of them release more than the 3.96 kJ/g that thermite does. For non-halogenated polymers (Harrit et al. found no significant signals for halogenes), tabulated values for effective heat of combustion range from 12.0 kJ/ for Polyimide thermoplastic over 20.4 kJ/g for epoxy and around 25.5 kJ/g for Polyamides to 41.9 kJ/g for Polypropylene ([2], Table A-5). The large majority are in a range between 15 and 30 kJ/g. Itherefore propose that the effective specific energy of the unknown organic material cannot exceed 42 kJ/g, and probably does not in fact exceed 30 kJ/g. I will further consider the case that the matrix is epoxy, as Millette found chips with an epoxy matrix.

The previous paragraph considers organic combustion with oxygen from ambient air. Such a process limits the burn rate and would render the red layer material less-than-explosive. I will consider a hypothetical polymer readily mixed with pure oxygen as oxidizer: The highest energy yield is tabulated for Polypropylene (PP), at 42 kJ/g. PP has a sum formula of (C3H6)n. Complete combustion follows the formula: C3H6 + 4.5 O2 -> 3 CO2 + 3 H2O + heat. This means that a composite of PP and O2 would have to incorporate 144 (9*16) g of oxygene per 42 grams of PP. The effective specific energy of that composite would consequently drop to 42 kJ/g * 42/(42+144) ~ 9.5 kJ/g. Of course any actual solid oxidizer (such as perchlorates or permagnanates) contains additional mass that would further decreases the effective specific energy. I will use 9.5 kJ/ as an upper limit to envelop any and all (organic polymer + oxidizer) composites.

I will assume in the ideal case that all the Al is present as metal, none is oxidized, and that it reacts perfectly with all the available iron oxide to release the theoretical maximum of 3.96 kJ/g. In a more realistic case, I will assume the same proportions of aluminium and iron oxide, but consider that a sgnificant proportion of nano-Al is passivated, or that it won't react to completion, such that the effective energy yield of the thermite is decreased to 3 kJ/g.

The mass proportions of red:gray layers isn't known and difficult to estimate. However, as the gray layer is mostly iron oxide (>5 kg/L) and the red layer is only partly iron oxide, all other constituents lighter (Al: 2.7 kg/L; silica: 2.65 kg/L; polymers: usually <2 kg/L), it is clear that the gray layer has a significantly higher density. Harrit suggest that both layers are usually of similar thickness. In my unrealistic cases, I will ignore the gray layer, or assume its mass is 0, in the realistic cases I'll assume both layers have the same mass. That effectively doubles the specific energy of the red layer, from 7.5 to 15 kJ/g.

Calculations

Formulas

I created a spreadsheet with five input cells (numbers (1), (2), (6), (7) and (9) below) and with six relevant output cells (numbers (4), (5), (11), (13), (14), (15) and (17) below). The formulas provide a generic description of the spreadsheet formulas, so you can recreate the spreadsheet with any software you prefer:

(1) The mass of the red layer is constant: 100%.
(2) The mass proportion of thermite in the red layer, expressed in %
(3) The mass proportion of Al in the red layer: =(2)*0.253
(4) The mass proportion of SiO2 in the red layer: =(3)*60/28
(5) The mass proportion of the organix matrix is the balance: =(1)-(2)-(4)
(6) The specific energy of thermite: In the "ideal" case 3.96 kJ/g, in the "realistic" case 3 kJ/g
(7) The mass of the gray layer: In the "ideal" case 0, in the "realistic" case 100% (of the red layer)
(8) Total mass of the Chip: =(1)+(7)
(9) The measured specific energy of the chip, in kJ/g; constant at 7.5 kJ/g for the purpose of this article
(10) The specific energy of the red layer alone: =(9)*(8)/(1)
(11) The contribution of thermite to the specific energy of the red layer in kJ/g: =(6)*(2)
(12) The contribution of the organic matrix to the specific energy of the red layer in kJ/g: =(9)-(11)
(13) The specific energy of the organic matrix: =(12)/(5)
(14) The mass ratio of organics:thermite: =(5)/(2)
(15) The energy contribution ration of organics:thermite: =(12)/(11)
(16) The energy contribution of thermite, in % of total energy release: =(11)/(9)
(17) The energy contribution of organics, in % of total energy release: =(12)/(9)

For each of the three cases, I kept the specific energy of thermite (6) and the mass of the gray layer (7) constant and played with the mass proportion of thermite (2) such that the specific energy yield of the organic matrix (13) reached the target values of 9.5, 20.4, 30 and 42 kJ/g. I then copied the resulting values of interest into the tables.

Tabulated results

I have modeled three cases - one unrealistic, one half realistic, one realistic. In each case, I have tabulated results for 5 mass proportions of thermite:

  1. Thermite fixed at 12%. This means an Al-content just over 3%. I chose this value, as quantifications of XEDS spectra of red layers suggest there is less than 3% Al in them
  2. Thermite chosen such that the organic matrix computes to the specific energy yield of 9.50, which is a theoretical upper limit for organic polymer with embedded stoichiometric oxygen
  3. Thermite chosen such that the organic matrix computes to the specific energy yield of epoxy, 20.40
  4. Thermite chosen such that the organic matrix computes to the specific energy yield of 30 kJ/g, which is a realistic limit defined in my assumptions
  5. Thermite chosen such that the organic matrix computes to the specific energy yield of 42 kJ/g, which is the maximum for all organic polymers

Ideal case: Gray layer 0%, Thermite 3.96 kJ/g, chip yields 7.5 kJ/g

"Ideal" means "unrealistic" - this case gives absolute theoretical maxima for the contribution of thermite to the measured exotherm. It is however impossible to actually reach these values, as the energy yield of thermite in practice never reaches the theoretical maximum of 3.96 kJ/g, and there was in fact a gray layer that contributed significant mass but no significant energy.

Mass of
Thermite
% of red layer
(2)
Mass of
SiO2
% of red layer
(4)
Mass of
Organics
% of red layer
(5)
Contrib.
Thermite
kJ
(11)
Yield of
Organics
kJ/g
(13)
Mass
Thmt:Poly

(14)
Energy
Thmt:Poly

(15)
Contrib.
Polymer
%
(17)
12.00 5.69 82.31 0.48 8.53 1:6.86 1:14.78 93.66%
19.90 9.44 70.66 0.79 9.50 1:3.55 1:8.52 89.49%
49.39 23.43 27.18 1.96 20.40 1:0.55 1:2.83 73.92%
55.87 26.50 17.63 2.21 30.00 1:0.32 1:2.39 70.50%
59.52 28.23 12.25 2.36 42.00 1:0.21 1:2.18 68.57%

More realistic case: Gray layer 0%, Thermite 3.00 kJ/g, chip yields 7.5 kJ/g

"More realistic" means "still unrealistic" - The thermite yield is now reasonable, but I still ignore the very real mass of the gray layer.

Mass of
Thermite
% of red layer
(2)
Mass of
SiO2
% of red layer
(4)
Mass of
Organics
% of red layer
(5)
Contrib.
Thermite
kJ
(11)
Yield of
Organics
kJ/g
(13)
Mass
Thmt:Poly

(14)
Energy
Thmt:Poly

(15)
Contrib.
Polymer
%
(17)
12.00 5.69 82.31 0.36 8.67 1:6.86 1:19.83 95.20%
18.20 8.63 73.17 0.55 9.50 1:4.02 1:12.74 92.72%
47.64 22.60 29.76 1.43 20.40 1:0.62 1:4.25 80.94%
54.57 25.89 19.54 1.64 30.00 1:0.36 1:3.58 78.17%
58.55 27.77 13.68 1.76 42.00 1:0.23 1:3.27 76.58%

Realistic case: Gray layer 100%, Thermite 3.00 kJ/g, chip yields 7.5 kJ/g

"Realistic" means that all assumptions are now within the bounds of what is possible in practice - it does not mean that these are probable values! Al still ist best estimated as less than 3% of the mass of the red layer! This case merely provides realistic maxima of hypothetical thermite contribution to mass and energy yield af that chip and its 7.5 kJ/g.

Mass of
Thermite
% of red layer
(2)
Mass of
SiO2
% of red layer
(4)
Mass of
Organics
% of red layer
(5)
Contrib.
Thermite
kJ
(11)
Yield of
Organics
kJ/g
(13)
Mass
Thmt:Poly

(14)
Energy
Thmt:Poly

(15)
Contrib.
Polymer
%
(17)
12.00 5.69 82.31 0.36 17.79 1:6.86 1:40.67 97.60%
n/p n/p n/p n/p 9.50 n/p n/p n/p
19.95 9.46 70.59 0.60 20.40 1:3.54 1:24.06 96.01%
36.38 17.26 46.36 1.09 30.00 1:1.27 1:12.74 92.72%
45.82 21.74 32.44 1.37 42.00 1:0.71 1:9.91 90.84%

Discussion

The first, fully unrealistic case, shows that even under the most thermite-friendly assumptions - the highest possible energy contribution of the organic matrix and ideal composition of thermite, with no losses, and neglected gray layer mass, the organic matrix provides more than twice as much energy as the hypothetical thermite. In the case of a more typical or expected epoxy matrix, this factor increases to almost 3. If XEDS readings are reliable in their indicating 3% of Al or less, then the organic matrix provides at least 93.66% of the measured energy, or almost 15 times as much as thermite.

When we consider that nanothermite can't in practice yield the theoretical maximum but will in practice be limited to perhaps 3 kJ/g, then even the best, most "thermite-friendly" organic matrix would contribute 76.58% of the measured energy, which is more than 3 times the energy that thermite contributes in that case - even when the gray layer is ignored. If the matrix is epoxy, then thermite would only contribute 21% of the energy. If the polymer carries its own oxidizer, then it must contribute more than 4 times the mass of thermite and more than 12.7 times more energy.

Putting the gray layer into the equation, the last remaining hope that thermite could play a significant role is shattered: The best realistic case, with an organic matrix that has 42 kJ/g, there could be almost 46% thermite in the red layer, but it would contribute only 11% of the energy. A more typical organic material with 30 kJ/g would have to outweigh the thermite by mass and yield 92.72% of the total energy. An epoxy matrix would have to outweigh thermite by a margin of 3.54:1, giving it 24 times the energy content of the 20% thermite. However, as there probably isn't actually more than 3% Al in the red layers, which means no more than 12% thermite, we find that 7.5 kJ/g for the entire chip means that 97,60% of its energy must come from organic combustion.

The spreadsheet shows that, as long as the gray layer has more than 26.5% of the mass of the red layer. it is not possible at all to reach 7.5 kJ/g with an ideal hypothetical (polymer+O) composite that is independent from ambient air, regardless of thermite content (nor can thermite, with its mere 3.96%, explain that value).

Since in all realistic scenarios, no more than 36% of the mass of the red layer would be thermite, and that thermite would be intimately mixed with silica and organic matrix in a nanocomposite with a very high surface-to-volume ratio, we have to assume that the heat released by both the thermite and the organic matrix would increase the temperature of all ingredients uniformly. A significant proportion of that heat is lost in gasification of the organic polymer. It seems unlikely that any part of such a mix could reach a temperature near the melting point of iron, as Harrit et al. seem to suggest (page 19).

Conclusions

With only two limiting assumption - that there is as much Si as Al, and that it is fully oxidized to silica - I have shown that the theoretical maximum contribution of thermite is under 1/3 of the energy yield of that chip. This result of just 31.43% energy from thermite holds true only for a carefully chosen but impossible set of conditions: Perfect efficiency of the thermite, no mass contribution from inert gray layer, and the most energetic solid organic polymer fuel.

Considering realistic parameters - that the hypothesized nanothermit will yield no more than 3 kJ/g (about 75% of the theoretical maximum) in practice, and that the gray layer has the same, but chemically inert, mass as the red layer, I find that the organic matrix must contribute at least ten times as much energy as thermite. This factor of ten holds true only with an ideal organic fuel. A realistically chosen organic fuel, with a specific energy between 20 and 30 kJ/g, would have to have 1.27 to 3.54 times the mass of thermite, and contribute 92.7 - 96.0% of the energy to boost that chip to its empirically determined 7.5 kJ/g. In these scenarios, the thermite content falls to 20%

Considering that the actual Al-content of the red layers is probably under 3%, I find that thermite can at most contribite 2.4% of the 7.5 kJ/g

It is not within the realm of the practically possible to hypothesize that the organic matrix itself contains an embedded oxidizer.

With those findings, this red-gray chip cannot reasonably be called "thermitic" and cannot be explosive.

References

[1] Harrit N. H.; Farrer, J.; Jones, S. E.; Ryan, K. R.; Legge, F. M.; Farnsworth, D.; Roberts, G.; Gourley, J. R.; and Larsen, B. R.: Active Thermitic Material Discovered in Dust from the 9/11 World Trade Center Catastrophe. The Open Chemical Physics Journal, 2009, 2, 7-31

[2] Lyon Richard E.; Janssens Marc L.: Polymer Flammability. May 2005 - Final Report for the U.S. Department of Transportation and FAA. Report No. DOT/FAA/AR-05/14

Montag, 18. Februar 2013

Useful links for "Thermite" debate

Note: This link list may be appended or edited at any time without notice.

Studies already done or proposed

[] Basile, M., Shaddock, R.: Proposal for Independent Study of the WTC Dust

[] Harrit N. H.; Farrer, J.; Jones, S. E.; Ryan, K. R.; Legge, F. M.; Farnsworth, D.; Roberts, G.; Gourley, J. R.; and Larsen, B. R.: Active Thermitic Material Discovered in Dust from the 9/11 World Trade Center Catastrophe. The Open Chemical Physics Journal, 2009, 2, 7-31

[] Harrit N. H.: Why The Red/Gray Chips Are Not Primer Paint. Open Letter, May 2009

[] Millette, J. R.: Revised Report of Results: MVA9119. Progress Report on the Analysis of Red/Gray Chips in WTC dust. Prepared for Classical Guide, Denver, 01 March 2012.

References in "ATM"

[14] :

[16] :

[18] Suna, J.; Pantoyab, M. L.; Simon, S. L.: Dependence of size and size distribution on reactivity of aluminum nanoparticles in reactions with oxygen and MoO3
Abstract and Figures only; Figures are interesting: DSC scans with Al nano particles

[19] Gash, A. E.; Simpson, R. L.; Tillotson, T. M.; Satcher, J. H.; Hrubesh, L. W.: Making nanostructured pyrotechnics in a beaker. pre-print UCRL-JC-137593, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory: Livermore, Ca; April 10, 2000.
Alternative URL

[20] Miziolek, A. W.: Nanoenergetics: an emerging technology area of national importance. Amptiac Q 2002; 6(1): 43-48.
Alternative URL

[21] Gash, A. E.; Satcher, J. H.; Simpson, R. L.; Clapsaddle B. J.: Nanostructured energetic materials with sol-gel methods. Mater Res Soc Symp Proc 2004; 800:55-66.
Alternative URL

[28] Tillotson T. M.; Gash A. E.; Simpson R. L.; Hrubesh L. W.; Satcher J. H. Jr, Poco J. F.: Nanostructured energetic materials using sol-gel methodologies. J Non-Cryst Sol 2001; 285: 338-345.
Alternative URL

[] :

[] :

NIST-Report

Start page

[] NIST: Final Reports from the NIST Investigation of the World Trade Center Disaster

[] ALTERNATIVE URL: 911depository.info

Individual reports of interest

[] Luecke, W. E.; Siewert, T. A.; Gayle, F. W.: Contemporaneous Structural Steel Specifications. Federal Building and Fire Safety Investigation of the World Trade Center Disaster (NIST NCSTAR 1-3A). December 2005
Table 3-5, p. 21 (list of steel manufacturers)
Alternative URL

[] Carino, N. J.; Starnes, M. A.; Gross, J. L.; Yang, J. C.; Kukuck, S. R.; Prasad, K. R.; Bukowski, R. W.:Passive Fire Protection. Federal Building and Fire Safety Investigation of the World Trade Center Disaster (NIST NCSTAR 1-6A). December 2005
Page 87: “...Series 10 Tnemec Prime (99 red), which is the primer that was specified for the exterior columns”
Alternative URL

[] Gross, J. L.; Hervey, F.; Izydorek, M.; Mammoser, J.; Treadway, J.: Fire Resistance Tests of the Floor Truss Systems. Federal Building and Fire Safety Investigation of the World Trade Center Disaster (NCSTAR 1-6B). December 2005
Appendix B, p. 157 of the PDF: LaClede primer specification
Alternative URL

Videos

[] Basile, M.: 911 Dust Analysis Raises Questions. Videotaped presentation at the Porcupine Freedom Festival in Lancaster, New Hampshire on 26th June 2010.
Screenshots

[] Basile, M.: Mark Basile ignites a chip (nano-thermite) - 9/11. Clip (15 seconds) from the above video (at 41:43 minutes)

[] Basile, M; Suarez, B.; Steele, A.: Mark Basile and WTC dust. Interview at 9/11 Free Fall, 27 December 2012.
Transcript

[] Charters, Adrian: Prof. Niels Harrit - Interview London (2009) Part 1, Part 2, Part 3. July 2009.

[] Harrit, N. H.: The Toronto Hearings on 9/11 Uncut - Niels Harrit (Full Presentation). September 2011.

[] Jones, S. E.: Dr. Steven Jones - Boston 911 Conference - Full Presentation - 12/15/07

[] Jones, S. E.: 911 Dr Steven E. Jones - Science and Society - part 6 of 8. Presentation, "Hard Evidence Tour Down Under", November of 2009.
Screenshots

[] Jones, S. E.: DR STEVEN JONES- 911- THERMATE EVIDENCE PART 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5. Uploaded January 30, 2009

[] :

[] :

DSC Testing

[] Lyon, Richard E. and Janssens, Marc L.: Polymer Flammability. DOT/FAA/AR-05/14, May 2005

[] Epoxy Technology, Inc.: . Epoxy Technology, Inc., 14 Fortune Drive, Billerica, MA 01821 (USA), 2009

[] Ferranti, Louis, Jr.: Mechanochemical Reactions and Strengthening in Epoxy-Cast Aluminum Iron-Oxide Mixtures. Georgia Institute of Technology, 2007

[] Schawe J., Riesen R., Widmann J., Schubnell M., Jörimann U.: Interpreting DSC curves. Part 1: Dynamic measurements. METTLER TOLEDO GmbH, Switzerland, 2000.

[] Schubnell M., Riesen R., Widmann J., Schawe J., Darribère C., Jörimann U.: Interpreting DSC curves. Part 2: Isothermal measurements. METTLER TOLEDO GmbH, Switzerland, 2000.

[] :

[] :

[] :

[] :

Miscellaneous

[] Ritchie, N. W. M.: NIST DTSA-II multiplatform software package for quantitative x-ray microanalysis.

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[] :

Donnerstag, 17. Januar 2013

Asking Truth scientists: How do you tell energetic and mundane chips apart?

Abstract

It has been alleged that dust particles from WTC dust that have the two properties "attracted by a magnet" and "are red-gray chips" are also active thermitic material. However, recent remarks made by some of the researchers involved strongly suggest that many chips selected by those criteria may in fact be really just paint.

In order for follow-up researcher to select the "right" chips, an objective method should exist to separate the "right" ("energetic", "thermitic") from "wrong" (perhaps "paint" etc.) chips.

It is also not entirely clear, in my mind, if the researchers like Harrit, Jones, Farrer or Basile who have reported on "energetic" chips were aware of the distinction at the time, and did in fact separate the different kinds of chips prior to any desctructive tests that yielded exotherm reactions and suspicious residues.

I expect that these "thermite"-proponents can declare unequivocally how to distinguish "thermitic" from mundane chips before any destructive experiments are done. I have designed a series of questions to shed light on this.

Content:

  1. Introduction
  2. Detailed Questions
  3. How the Bentham authors selected the chips to be studied
  4. How Millette selected the chips to be studied
  5. Statements by "truther" scientists
    • Steven Jones
    • Frank Legge
    • Kevin Ryan
    • Mark Basile
  6. References

Introduction

Harrit e.al. (2009 [1], refered to as "ATM [1]" throughout the rest of this article) have studied red-gray chips found in dust from the World Trade Center collapses that settled around "Ground Zero" on 9/11/2001. Their paper describes how these chips were selected, discusses how they are all similar, and presents data, much of which is said to be "representative" of all the red-gray chips they studied. They conclude that the red layer of these chips is "active thetmitic material" and some kind of "super-thermite" and "nano-thermite", i.e. contains the classical thermite ingredients iron oxide and elemental aluminium as nano-sized particles, embedded in an organic matrix.

The method to select these chips is described as involving only two steps:

a) Pull a magnet through the dust and select all particles that are attracted to it
b) Visually inspect particles and select those that are chips with a red and a gray layer

The paper gives the impression that virtually all chips that the authors found by this two-step method have the same "thermitic" properties - in particular, that they are all "energetic", and, when ignited and burned, leave in their residue iron-rich micro-spheres.

I have previously argued (Oystein [2]) that the data presented in ATM [1] speaks for the presence of several different kinds of red-gray chips, precluding the validity of lumping data from different chips together to form a single conclusion for all chips.

Millette (2012, [3]) has done a follow-up study to ATM [1] and selected red-gray chips from WTC dust samples using the very same method: a) Pull particles out with magnet; b) visually select red-gray chips. In addition, he focused on chips whose red-layer were similar in morphology and elemental composition (EDS spectrum) to chips a-d in Figures 6-11 in ATM [1]. He found that these chips contain no elemental Al, and thus no thermite at all. Instead, all the compounds he identified (kaolin clay, pigment-sized hematite and titanium dioxide ambedded in epoxy) are consistent with primer paint. His chips appear to be mundane.

It appears now that some of the authors of ATM [1] acknowledge that indeed some of the red-gray chips they selected were mundane - and believe that Millette looked at the wrong chips! This raises a few questions, that I would like these scientists to answer before any further studies (e.g. Mark Basile, [4]) are undertaken – most prominently:

  • By what non-destructive method and objective criteria – in addition to selection by magnet and visually seperating red-gray chip – can a researcher who attempts to study the "energetic" red-gray chips, that are alleged to be thermitic, distinguish them from mundane materials such as paint?

Detailed Questions

The scientists that, to my best knowledge, have stated there are non-thermitic yet magnetic (?) red-gray chips (I'll present their statements below) and who the following questions are addressed to most immediately are:

  • Steve E. Jones – the actual lead author of ATM [1]
  • Kevin R. Ryan – co-author of ATM [1]
  • Frank M. Legge – co-author of ATM [1]
  • Mark Basile – acknowledged in ATM [1] as contributor; has studied chips himself; proposes a new study to be done by an independent lab

Others who I'd expect to be able to answer them are:

  • Niels H. Harrit – named lead author of ATM [1]
  • Jeffrey Farrer – co-author of ATM [1], responsible for much of the analytical work in the lab (DSC tests and, I believe, all the work on at least chips a-d)
  • David Griscom – peer-reviewer of ATM [1] and currently advisor to Mark Basile

In the remainder of this section, I will talk about red-gray chips that are attracted to a magnet, and I will just call those „chips“. So whenever you read the word „chips“, I am talking about dust particles drawn from WTC dust with a magnet that have (at least) a red and a gray layer.

Here are two more terms that I define and consistently use throught this section to describe and identify chips:

  • energetic: This word denotes chips that react with an exotherm when ignited in the manner described in ATM [1] and produce spherical residues that include the element iron. Those are the chips that are considered „interesting“, „active thermitic material“, „suspect“ or what you want to call it. I give you some freedom to decide for yourself which chips you want to consider energetic.
  • mundane: Those are all other chips - they don't react energetically, or don't produce iron-rich spherical residue, and can thus considered to be non-thermitic, or not active, or not interesting, or whatever you prefer. Some or all of the mundane chips might be paint, but it is not important here what they are.

Each chips is either energetic or it is mundane, but can't be both, and can't be neither.

So here are my questions:

  • Do you agree that there are both energetic and mundane chips in the WTC dust?

If you agree that at least some chips are mundane, please answer the following (skip those that don't apply to you or that you can't answer on behalf of your team mates) (note that the recurring question „If yes, how (did you separate them)?“ is really the most interesting at the time of writing):

  • When did you first realize there are both mundane and energetic chips in the WTC dust?
  • Did you separate mundane chips from energetic chips before you photographed them? If yes, how?
  • Do any of the photographs you present in your work show mundane chips? If yes, which? If not, why did you not show photographs of any mundane chips? Do such photographs exist?
  • Did you separate mundane chips from energetic chips before you put them in the electron microscope? If yes, how?
  • Do any of the SE- or BSE-images in your work show mundane chips? If yes, which? If not, why did you not show micrographs of any mundane chips? Do such micrographs exist?
  • Did you separate mundane chips from energetic chips before you did XEDS scans on them? If yes, how?
  • Were any of the XEDS graphs you present in your work taken from mundane chips? If yes, which? If not, why did you not show any XEDS scans from mundane chips? Do such XEDS graphs exist?
  • Did you separate mundane chips from energetic chips before you did DSC or other ignition tests on them? If yes, how?
  • Were any of the DSC graphs you present in your work taken from mundane chips? If yes, which? If not, why did you not show any DSC traces from mundane chips? Do such DSC traces exist?
  • Was any of the post-ignition (DSC, flame test, heating strip...) residue you show in your work from mundane chips? If yes, which? If not, why did you not show photographs, micrographs or XEDS spectra from residue of mundane chips?
  • In your opinion, should a researcher who tries to replicate „ATM“ today, or wants to go beyond ATM and perhaps tackle the open questions, attempt to separare mundane chips from energetic chips before doing any ignition tests (such as DSC)? If so, how do you propose this be done?

If, on the other hand, you disagree that some of the chips are mundane, in other words, if you believe that all (magnetic! red-gray!) chips are energetic, then please answer the following:

James Millette reported on chips (from WTC dust that are both magnetic and red-gray), yet he said he didn't find any elemental Al in them.

  • Do you accept that Millette validly showed there is no elemental Al in the specimens he analyzed in depth? If not, what did he do wrong?
  • Do you agree that these specimens, where Millette ruled out elemental Al and thus thermite, are indeed chips, i.e. from WTC dust, red-gray, and attracted to a magnet? If yes, how do you square that with your assertion that all chips contain thermite? If not, what did Millette do wrong?

How the Bentham authors selected the chips to be studied

From ATM [1], page 9 (font colors added by me):

2. Chip Size, Isolation, and Examination

For clarification, the dust samples collected and sent to the authors by Ms. Janette MacKinlay will be sample 1; the sample collected by Mr. Frank Delassio, or the Delassio/ Breidenbach sample, will be sample 2; the sample collected by Mr. Jody Intermont will be sample 3; and the sample collected by Mr. Stephen White will be sample 4. The red/gray chips are attracted by a magnet, which facilitates collection and separation of the chips from the bulk of the dust. A small permanent magnet in its own plastic bag was used to attract and collect the chips from dust samples. The chips are typically small but readily discernible by eye due to their distinctive color. They are of variable size with major dimensions of roughly 0.2 to 3 mm. Thicknesses vary from roughly 10 to 100 microns for each layer (red and gray). Samples of WTC dust from these and other collectors have been sent directly from collectors to various scientists (including some not on this research team) who have also found such red/gray chips in the dust from the World Trade Center destruction.

Note that this section of the text provides only two methods to select chips of interest, and doesn't hint at any other criteria by which to select specimens to be studied. Further in the paper, it points out several times how the chips are similar, and how the data presented is representative for all chips (from pages 10-15):

1. Characterization of the Red/Gray Chips

Red/gray chips were found in all of the dust samples collected. An analysis of the chips was performed to assess the similarity of the chips and to determine the chemistry and materials that make up the chips.
...
All of the chips used in the study had a gray layer and a red layer and were attracted by a magnet. ... Similarities between the samples are already evident from these photographs.
...
... Fig. (5). These four cross sections are representative of all the red/gray chips studied from the dust samples. The BSE images illustrate the finding that all of the red layers studied contained small bright particles or grains characterized by a high average atomic number. ...
...
(XEDS) analyses of both the red and gray layers from cross sections prepared from the four dust samples were performed and representative spectra are shown in Figs. (6, 7). The four spectra in Fig. (6) indicate that the gray layers are consistently characterized by high iron and oxygen content including a smaller amount of carbon. The chemical signatures found in the red layers are also quite consistent (Fig. 7), each showing the presence of aluminum (Al), silicon (Si), iron (Fe) and oxygen (O), and a significant carbon (C) peak as well.

At still higher magnifications, BSE imaging of the red layer illustrates the similarity between the different dust samples.

No hint at all in all of the paper that some of the magnetically selected red-gray chips can be distinguished by any of the methods described and be grouped as "thermitic/energetic" chips vs. "non-thermitic/mundane" material before testing them in the DSC.

How Millette selected the chips to be studied

From [3], page 2 and 3:

Method
...
The criteria for the particles of interest as described by Harrit et al.1 are: small red/gray chips attracted by a magnet and showing an elemental composition primarily of aluminum, silicon and iron as determined by scanning electron microscopy and x-ray energy dispersive spectroscopy (SEM-EDS) (Figure 4). The spectrum may also contain small peaks related to other elements. To that end, the following protocol was performed on each of the four WTC dust samples.
...
1. The dust sample particles contained in a plastic bag were drawn across a magnet and those attracted to the magnet were collected (Figure 5).
2. Using a stereomicroscope, particle chips showing the characteristic red/gray were removed and washed in clean water.
3. The particles were dried and mounted on a carbon adhesive film on an SEM stub and photographed (Figure 6).
4. Analysis of the surfaces of the chips was done by SEM-EDS at 20 kV without any added conductive coating (Figures 7 and 8).

Red/gray particles that matched the criteria (attracted to a magnet and an EDS Al-Si-Fe spectrum) were then considered particles of interest and subjected to additional analytical testing.

Millette used the exact same criteria that Harrit e.al. did – plus making sure the red layer has the Fe, Si and Al signals that Harrit e.al. consider a significant finding in "thermitic" chips.

Statements by "truther" scientists

Steven Jones

At the end of a blog post at 911Blogger [5], Steven Jones appended the following remark at the very end:

I (Dr. Jones) have searched Millette's plots and see no indication of strontium (Sr) or lead (Pb) in his samples, but he does report titanium (Ti) which we do not see. Thus, his samples do not appear to be the same material as what we reported on.

This implies that red-gray chips can be pulled from WTC dust with a magnet that are not the same material that Harrit e.al. reported on – i.e. a different material.

Frank Legge

Frank Legge recently engaged in an online debate with Ronald Wieck and others in the comments section of an Amazon customer review [6]. Note that he incorrectly addressed "Ronald and Millette", it should have been "Ronald and Erich", as Millette didn't participate in that exchange. To make reading easier, I'll format the questions quoted from Ronald's previous post blue, Legge's own words purple:

Ronald and Millette

"you write "Millette's ... carefully selected some paint fragments on which to perform his analysis. He did not study the chips described in the Active Thermitic Materials paper."

Do I understand you correctly when I construe your words to imply
1. that there are different kinds of red-gray chips, i.e. different materials? Such that some may represent thermitic incendiaries/explosives, some may perhaps represent paint, and some may perhaps represent other mundane or not so mundane things?"


Of course!

"2. that it is possible to select chips and pick out those that are not thermitic?"

Of course

"3. that, as a corrolary to 2., it would be possible to select thermitic chips from a mix of various kinds of red-gray chips?"

Of course.

"If that is so, can you provide objective, unambiguous and non-destructive, criteria by which to distinguish and separate thermitic chips from the dust? I believe this would be a great help for future studies, such as the one contemplated by Mark Basile (http://aneta.org/markbasile_org/proposal/index.htm) right now? "

Of course. Read the Active Thermitic Materials paper. It is all set out there.

The questions don't mention the magnetic separation of red-gray chips. However, since Legge is very clear that "[i]t is all set out [in the Active Thermitic Materials paper]", these words must be construed as meaning that ALL red-gray chips selected with a magnet are thermitic.

Kevin Ryan

Prior to commissioning the James Millette study, Colorado-based journalist Chris Mohr was in conversation with Harrit's co-author Kevin Ryan. In those exchanges, Ryan acknowledged that there are paint chips among the red-gray chips, as Mohr relates on the JREF forum [7]:

BTW in support of what MM said, when Kevin Ryan was still talking to me, he said that he has in his possession both red-grey paint chips and red-grey thermitic chips, "and I can tell you they are not the same." He claimed that they look different to the eye, but more importantly, that the thermitic chips have an exothermic quality that the paint chips don't. Unfortunately, he refused to release the samples to me or Millette, and our personal connection broke down around that time. I was never able to get samples of these different kinds of chips, or more info about them in relation to the Bentham paper. Nor did I know at that time about the two different types of paint primer in use at WTC. So MM is right that the Bentham authors knew there were paint chips, but his noncooperation has made it impossible to know what he actually has. In the meantime, however, the Millette study has not been credibly refuted when it comes to the question of which chips he tested. Many 9/11 Truth people seem to agree that his methodology in finding the correct chips was sound.

Red font marking added by me to highlight the key statement. So the question is: How do the acknowledged paint chip look different? I note that there is again no mention of magnetic properties, which would in this case seem to indicate that magnetic attraction is not a key difference.

Mark Basile

Mark Basile is a chemical engineer who first approached Steven Jones about the alleged thermitic nature of the red-gray chips in december 2007, and was in due course supplied with a sample of WTC from one of the sources (Janette MacKinlay) which he did some tests on. I commented some of his results elsewhere in my blog

As Basile is currently proposing yet another lab study of the dust, he was recently (december 2012) interviewed by the radio talkshow "9/11 Free Fall Radio" (Bernie Suarez and Andrew Steele) on No Lies Radio [8]. Some passages transcribed - first one starting at the 27:26 minutes mark:

There are a lot of paint chips in the dust! You should make that perfectly clear! Just when you, if anybody in the audience, let's say, would get out there and get a World Trade Center dust sample, and they pull out red chips from this, I'm not telling anybody in the world that every red chip you're gonna pull out of there is one of these nano-thermite chips. The vast majority of them actually are primer paint, from what I'm finding, but that doesn't mean they all are. And they are not all, because […?...] pulled out ones where I've seen the reaction, I've seen the product, so I know you're in there. But there is also a lot of primer paint chips in there, too.

He even goes on to speculate about the work of Steven Jones (28:28 minutes):

I think some of the chips that, you know, Jones and all looked at were definitely, you know, primer paint chips, too, so not everything in there was necessarily nano-thermite chips.

(I wonder what Jones, Harrit etc. have to say on this?)

References

[1] Niels H. Harrit, Jeffrey Farrer, Steven E. Jones, Kevin R. Ryan, Frank M. Legge, Daniel Farnsworth, Gregg Roberts, James R. Gourley and Bradley R. Larsen: Active Thermitic Material Discovered in Dust from the 9/11 World Trade Center Catastrophe ("ATM"). The Open Chemical Physics Journal, 2009, 2, 7-31

[2] Oystein: Why red-gray chips aren't all the same. Posted in author's blog on March 14 2012

[3] James R. Millette: Revised Report of Results: MVA9119. Progress Report on the Analysis of Red/Gray Chips in WTC dust. Prepared for Classical Guide, Denver, 01 March 2012.

[4] Mark Basile: Proposal for Labs to Study the Building Fire Dust.

[5] Steven E. Jones: Letter regarding red/gray chip analyses. Posted on 911Blogger on September 08 2012. Last retrieved: 2013/01/16

[6] Frank M. Legge: Reply to a question. Posted at amazon.org as a comment to a Customer Review on December 25 2012. Last retrieved: 2013/01/16

[7] Chris Mohr: A forum post. Posted at the JREF forum on January 10 2013. Last retrieved: 2013/01/16

[8] Mark Basile: 9/11 Free Fall: Mark Basile and WTC dust. Radio talkshow, broadcast by No Lies Radio on December 27 2012.

Mittwoch, 12. September 2012

Steven Jones and Jeff Farrer confirm four of my claims concerning red-gray chips

Summary

Steven E. Jones and Jeff Farrer, both among the authors of the 2009 paper "Active Thermitic Material..." (ATM, [1]) by Harrit e.al., have now confirmed four claims I have made about that paper and the red-gray chips discussed therein:

  1. The chips contain traces of strontium and chromium, corroborating my claim that some chips may be LaClede steel primer, which contains ca. 1% by weight Strontium Chromate pigments [2]
  2. Their XEDS data of chips a-d is consistent with kaolin as the sole ingredient that contains Al
  3. They concede that a DSC experiment, done by LLNL scientists Tom Tillotson and Alex Gash and refered to in ATM, may have been performed under inert atmosphere and not, as they previously believed, under air
  4. Red-gray chips found in WTC are not all the same material, they represent at least two different materials

Jones and Farrer speak

A few days ago, on september 8th, Steven Jones posted recommendations to an unnamed scientist who wants to do a replication of the Harrit e.al. experiments on red-gray chips at 911Blogger [3]. A day later, he appended comments (or paraphrases thereof) that he had received from Jeff Farrer. Please find the bulk of his post quoted below.

I will now show how Jones and Farrer confirm four claims I have made about their experiments on red-gray all along.

Discussion

1. Farrer corroborates Strontium Chromate from LaClede primer paint

As I have previously shown [2], the four red-gray chips labeled "a-d" in Figures 2 - 11 of ATM [1] are consistent with what one would expect from chips of LaClede Standard Primer - a red paint that, according to NIST documentation, was painted on the floor joists of the WTC twin towers. These floor joists probably had more painted surface than the perimeter columns (painted with Tnemec 69 or 99) and the core columns (painted with unknown primer(s)) and can thus be expected to be abundant in WTC dust.

To recap: LaClede standard primer was a paint that, per specification, consisted of 71.5% by weight epoxy (organic matrix) and 28.5% mineral pigments. Of the pigments, 55% by weight was red iron oxide (i.e. hematite = Fe2O3 with a size most likely in the range 100-300 nanometers), 41% aluminium silicates (with kaolin, a naturally mined clay silcate, chemical sum formula Al2Si2O9H5, being the most mundane candidate) and 4% Strontium Chromate (SrCrO4). This would be equivalent to there being approximately 0.5% Strontium and 0.3% Chromium in the ready paint, along with 11% iron and 2.5% and 2.4% silicon and aluminium. I have further shown that an XEDS spectrum of this paint at 20 keV (the electron energy used by Harrit e.al. for their Fig. 7) would show a small signal for Cr, but that Sr would quite likely be missed due to its small signal being right underneath the much larger Si-signel. I have pointed to a letter by Niels Harrit [4] in which Harrit documented that small signals for both Cr and Sr were detectable at least in their chip a.

We learn via Steven Jones now that Jeff Farrer has done further TEM-studies on red-gray chips, and has confirmed the presence of both Strontium and Chromium:

6. Jeff notes that in his TEM analyses he observed “very small (nanometer-scale) Pb particles in the TEM samples” as well as strontium and chromium in small amounts. (Much of the TEM analysis was performed at higher magnification than used in the SEM analysis done in the paper.) Thus, red/gray chips which match ours will show these same elements under TEM analysis.

TEM is "Transmission electron microscopy". The XEDS spectra shown in ATM[1] were all derived from "SEM" equipment, that is "Scanning electron microscope". Jones is clear that Farrer did identify Sr and Cr with the TEM.

This would corroborate the result from [4], that some red-gray chips contain particles (pigments) with Strontium and Chromium - a result clearly consistent with my assertion that some chips are LaClede primer.

It is true that Dr. Millette [8] did not show any Sr in his TEM data. I submit that this could possibly result from Sr-chromate making up only 4% of the LaClede pigment - one part in 25. It isn't totally unlikely that a microscopic LaClede sample with countably few pigments by chance simply contains no Sr-chromate pigment. I wish though Dr. Millette would go back to the lab and specifically search for such pigments (they should be recognizable by their probable shape, which is typically acicular, i.e. needle-shaped, with length in the range of 1-4 micrometers)

It would be interesting to know how Farrer identified elements on the TEM, and see his actual results (images, spectra...). One technique available on TEM to identify not elements as such but crystal structures and thus, potentially, the minerals in question, is TEM-SAED ("Selected area electron diffraction"). I wonder if Farrer has specifically identified Strontium Chromate. I call upon Drs Farrer and Jones to publish their TEM data as soon as possible!

2. Farrer confirms Al and Si consistent with kaolin

In his own initial post, Jones makes the following assertion:

... looking at aluminum-containing platelets which we were able to isolate quite well in the thin sample. We found that the Al and Si are in fact NOT in equal amounts; the Al:Si ratio came out to approximately 0.92 (based on atomic wt %, TEM focused on a platelet.) How could this be the mineral kaolinite as you suggest, for which the Al:Si ratio is exactly 1.0? Formula: Al2Si2O5(OH)4

An Al:Si ratio of 0.92 would mean there is more silicon than aluminium in those "aluminum-containing platelets" - a strange finding for one who claims to have a formulation of Fe-Al-thermite in which the Al is found in said platelets. Note that Jones fails to mention that the same platelets also contain a very significant amount of oxigen, as can be seen in Fig. 11a of [1]. It would be interesting to get a value for the Al:O ratio there!

However, Jones's claim that the measured ratio of 0.92 disproves kaolinite, is FALSE, as Farrer has pointed out. Jones added the following remark a day later:

5. With regard to the 0.92 ratio, Jeff notes that he did not use standards for the TEM/XEDS analysis so this ratio could be consistent with unity. The interested scientist is encouraged to use standards for the TEM/XEDS so this ratio can be pinned down definitively.

Kudos to Farrer for pointing this out, and to Jones for faithfully forwarding that comment. So it seems Farrer's TEM-data on those platelets is consistent with kaolin after all!

(To wrap up my argument: Fig. 7 (XEDS spectra for bulk or red layers) shows that chips a-d all have Al:Si ratios near unity. The only constituent of chips a-d identified by the Jones team as containing Al are these platelets, which means that all, or almost all, the Al in the chips is actually contained in the platelets. The elemental composition as well as the morphology of these platelets is entirely consistent with kaolin clay, a common paint ingredient. It is indeed the best explanation for ALL the data Harrit e.al. have presented on chips a-d. So if the Al in the platelets is present in a stoichiometric proportion to Si to form kaolin, or even sllightly too little Al, then there is no Al left - neither in the platelets nor elsewhere in the chip - to account for a hypothetical presence of elemental Al.)

3. Farrer concedes he may have done DSC-test the wrong way

The context for that topic is this: In ATM [1], Harrit e.al. present, in Fig. 19, DSC traces for four (unknown, uncharacterised) chips. They compare one of these with a DSC trace taken from a paper by LLNL scientists Tom Tillotson and Alex Gash [5], which was from a sample of experimental nano-thermite. Harrot e.al. claim that the DSC traces basically have the same characteristics (while in fact it can be clearly seen that they are quite different in many respects), and take this as one of their best pieces of evidence that the red-gray chips are not thermitic. The DSC test on the red-gray chips was done by Jeff Farrer, and it was done under an atmosphere of normal air, i.e. in the presence of ca. 21% oxygen. In Tillotson e.al., no indication is given if the test was done under air or inert gas.

Steven Jones and Niels Harrit have claimed on several occasions that Jeff Farrer contacted Tillotson and Gash before doing his DSC test and learned from them that they used air. I have called this a lie. It is patently obvious why doing the experiment under air would be a fool's errand when you know (as both Tillotson e.al. and Harrit e.al. did) that your sample contains organic material which is likely to combust under air when heated. I just didn't know if the lie orignated with Farrer, who is alleged to have called the LLNL scientists, or with Jones or Harrit, who may have invented that bit of information about Farrer. I know however of two emails that Gash and Tillotson wrote on the matter and that prove Jones and Harrit wrong [6]. First from Gash's email:

[...] As you correctly point out DSC in an O2 atmosphere will combust the organic impurities and greatly add to the energy release. However the DSC in question was done in ultra pure nitrogen. [...]

Alex

Then Tillotson:

The experiment was performed as Alex described...in ultra pure nitrogen as is standard technique here at LLNL. If Mr. Farrer did contact me I can guarantee you that I did not respond to his questions.

Tom Tillotson

Now, Jeff Farrer has advised Jones to backpaddle from the earlier claims. Jones appends Farrer's comment (my emphasize):

1. Dr. Farrer contacted Dr. Tillotson of LLNL regarding the LLNL production and ignition of nano-thermite; Dr Tillotson said the experiments were likely done in atmosphere. After publication of our paper, others have suggested that the experiments in the LLNL publication were performed in an inert atmosphere; so the picture is not clear to us at this time and further contact with the LLNL scientists is advised. It would be best to run studies in both atmosphere and in an inert gas.

Good to see that all of a sudden they really don't know. It must be pointed out that Tillotson has expressedly denied the claim that he replied to a question by Farrer, if ever he received one.

Obviously, it should be assumed at this time that

  1. Tillotson and Gash did their experiment under inert gas
  2. Farrer did his test under 21% oxygen
  3. The results of both teams can thus not be compared
  4. No DSC test will yield any useful results with regard to identifying or excluding thermite if done under air
  5. A replication of the DSC is thus not desirable and should be advised against

To pile up, Alex Gash today believes DSC is not a good method at all to characterize a (nano-)thermite reaction. In his email, he continues:

While that may or may not be the case over the years we have come to rely less and less on the enthalpy from DSC for irreversible reactions as an absolutely accurate value.

In irreversible high energy processes the solid is undergoing many changes that may lead to inefficient heat transfer tot he DSC sensor and thus an inaccurate heat flow measurement. At the time of publication, we had more faith in the absolute value of these measurements. That is not to say DSC is not useful, quite the contrary. It gives us a reasonable idea how energetic a composition may be, it identifies decomposition temperatures, and is very accurate for determining the enthalpy of reversible heat flow (e.g., phase transitions, melting etc..). Since the publication of that paper we have found that combustion calorimetry is a far more accurate way to determine reaction enthalpy.

Gash confirms what any person experienced with and knowledgable about DSC could have told you: DSC is very good for physical processes, good for decomposition, but not good for vigorous chemical reactions. Another excellent reason why replication of Farrer's DSC-expermient is not a good idea.

4. Jones admits that red-gray chips may be from different materials

In a previous post, I have already explained why red-gray chips aren't all the same [7]: Harrit e.al. themselves point out how different chips are characterized by different significant elements. It really is quite obvious.

Yet, Jones and Harrit go on and pretend like all chips are basically the same material. In particular, their MEK-soaked chip (Fig. 12-18) is obviously quite different from chips a-d (Fig. 2-11, which are much more likely all the same stuff) in several respects, yet they pretend that a result found on that MEK-soaked chip (apparent trace occurance of elemental Al) can be extrapolated to chips a-d. Further on, no spectra or images are provided for the four chips burned in the DSC (Fig. 19), so their identity and characteristics remain unknown - it is simply assumed, without argument, that they are the same material.

It can't be stressed enough that all conclusions of ATM [1] are fundamentally dependent on the unproven, and actually refuted, assumption that all red-gray chips in WTC dust that are attrected to a magnet are basically the same (thermitic) material because they lump together results gained from different specimens and form a conclusion that is assumed to be valid for all of them.

With his new statement, Steven Jones now implies that red-gray chips extracted from WTC dust by magnet are from different materials. He writes:

I (Dr. Jones) have searched Millette's plots and see no indication of strontium (Sr) or lead (Pb) in his samples, but he does report titanium (Ti) which we do not see. Thus, his samples do not appear to be the same material as what we reported on.

Please keep in mind that Millette used the very same method to gather red-gray chips that Jones did. Thus, if Millette can extract a different material, so can Jones, and with that reasoning, he has to consider the possibility that, for example, the MEK-soaked chip wasn't the same material as chips a-d, or that the chips Farrer wasted in the DSC were different from each other, from chips a-d, and / or different from the MEK-soaked chip.

Also, note how Jones determines that "his [Millette's] samples do not appear to be the same material": he notes that some of Millettes chips, according to SEM-XEDS spectra, contain element X and not Y, while some of Jones's chips contain Y and not X. The same argument can be applied to Jones's own chips:

  1. The MEK-soaked chip contains Zn and Mg but no Na or K; Chip (c) on the other hand contains neither Zn nor Mg, but does show Na and K.
  2. The DSC-residue of a chip shown in Fig. 25 shows Ti; Neither chips a-d nor the MEK-soaked chip have Ti.
  3. The chip in Fig. 31 contains Pb. No other chip shown in [1] contains Pb
  4. The gray layer of the chip in Fig. 33 contains no Fe; all gray layers in Fig 6 are dominated by Fe

I call on Steven Jones to puclicly acknowledge that obviously the red-gray chips are of different materials, rendering the conclusions of Harrit e.al. invalid!

There's even more: Jones rejects Millette's samples on the ground that Millette reports no Pb, Sr and Cr. By the same reasoning, Jones ought to have rejected ALL specimens presented in his own paper, ATM, on the grounds that none are shown to contain Pb, Sr and Cr!

He alleges that Millette's finding of Ti is grounds to exclude the specimen from the study, yet included a specimen with Ti in ATM.

The explanations for these discrepancies are obvious:

  1. As the chips are obviously from different materials, some are bound to contain Pb, others not; some are bound to contain Sr and Cr, others not; some are bound to contain Ti, others not; some are bound to contain Zn or Mg, others not; etc.
  2. On each specimen, it would be possible and easy to miss a small trace of an element when scanning the bulk of a particle with SEM-EDS, but finding small particles containing that element within the specimen when focussing the much hiigher resolution of TEM-EDS on select pigments

Farrer's finding of particles containing Pb, Sr and Cr is very interesting, but near useless without having the actual data for reference. I call upon Dr. Farrer to publish his TEM-data fully and as soon as possible!

Conclusions

Steven Jones did not intend this, isn't perhaps aware of it and would probably deny it, but his latest comments have strengthened the hypothesis that some of the red-gray chips were corroded steel chipped off the WTC floor joists, which were painted by LaClede Steel Company with a primer containing pigments of Iron Oxide and Kaolin along with traces of Strontium Chromate, by confirming that

  1. some chips contain particles with strontium and chromium
  2. the Al:Si ratio observed in many of the chips is consistent with Kaolin

Further, he has retracted the claim that DSC tests ought to be done under air to compare the results with actual nano-thermite. This puts into further doubt the validity and usefulness of doing DSC tests on the red-gray chips and speaks against repeating such tests.

Lastly, Jones has admitted, by implication, that the WTC dust contains several different materials that form red-gray, magnetically attracted chips. He has provided criteria for when to doubt that two chips are of the same material. Applying the same criteria to ATM (Harrit e.al., [1]) invalidates at once all major conclusions of that paper and resets the status of the debate to "there is no evidence that any red-gray chips contain aluminothermic material".

The Source: Recent remarks by Steven Jones at 911Blogger

Quoting at length from the post for posterity - first what Jones originally posted (I left out parts that bring up other issues than the four I discuss here):

Dear [Interested Scientist],

Yes, I would encourage you to do a follow-up study on the World Trade Center dust, after you have carefully read our “Active Thermitic Materials...” paper. [Niels Harrit, Jeffrey Farrer, Steven Jones, et al. "Active Thermitic Material Discovered in Dust from the 9/11 World Trade Center Catastrophe", THE OPEN CHEMICAL PHYSICS JOURNAL, April 2009.]

Among the most salient observations in that paper are these:

1. the observation of elemental-iron-rich spheres in the ash following ignition of the red/gray chips in the Differential Scanning Calorimeter (DSC),
2. the sharp peaking of the heat-traces in each case for the ignition of red/gray chips in the DSC (Figure 19).

Therefore, I am pleased that you propose to do DSC analyses along the lines that we preformed; as you noted, James Millette did NOT do DSC analyses at all for his report MVA9119. What a shame, really, and I hope you will do better as you propose.
[...]
When Dr Farrer burned epoxy paint in the DSC, it gave a very broad thermal trace, NOT at all like the spiked exothermic DSC peak in our Fig 19. This is one of the many tests he did to check things.

[...]

You suggest that you would like to ignite the red material in an inert atmosphere, which is not a bad idea but there are caveats. Dr Farrer of our team contacted one of the LLNL scientists about this issue, and was informed that the LLNL tests of nano-thermite were performed in air; which is why we did our tests in air also. Thus, we could make direct comparisons with the LLNL data on nano-thermite fabricated at the LLNL laboratory.

Later, we mixed up some ultra-fine aluminum and iron-oxide powders thus making a type of nano-thermite (but with no organic matrix). This was run in the DSC at BYU in an inert atmosphere up to 700C – and it did not ignite! We concluded that oxygen may be important to get the reaction initiated.

You say that the exothermic peaks we observed in the DSC (our Figure 19) could be due to burning of epoxy paint. Not according to our experiments -- that is, when Dr Farrer burned epoxy paint in the DSC, it gave a very broad thermal trace, NOT at all like the spiked exothermic DSC peaks in Fig 19. Igniting paint in the same DSC is one of many tests performed to double-check our experiments, and I urge you to do similar tests.

Please keep these facts in mind as you undertake DSC studies – which I welcome! Yes, I was surprised that James Millette did not even perform DSC studies.

[...]

Dr Farrer and I did some work with Transmission Electron Microscopy after the paper was published, looking at aluminum-containing platelets which we were able to isolate quite well in the thin sample. We found that the Al and Si are in fact NOT in equal amounts; the Al:Si ratio came out to approximately 0.92 (based on atomic wt %, TEM focused on a platelet.) How could this be the mineral kaolinite as you suggest, for which the Al:Si ratio is exactly 1.0? Formula: Al2Si2O5(OH)4 .

The accuracy of the TEM analysis should allow you (and Millette) to determine if you are indeed looking at the same material that we reported on, beginning with the Al:Si ratio.

I encourage you to do TEM analysis as we have done. Studying electron-diffraction patterns obtained with the TEM, Dr. Farrer found that that the iron-oxide was in the form Fe2O3. He did not see a pattern demonstrating that aluminum was in a form he recognized by this method, which surprised us. There are possible explanations for this; see for example http://www.tms.org/pubs/journals/jom/0203/perepezko-0203.html . I'll leave it at that for now. I have encouraged Dr. Farrer to write up and publish his TEM findings. Did Millette see an electron diffraction pattern demonstrating that aluminum occurs in the form of kaolinite? His report does state: Millette report: "TEM-SAED-EDS analysis of a thin section of the red layer showed equant-shaped particles of iron consistent with iron oxide pigments and plates of kaolin clay (Figures 20 and 21). The matrix material of the red coating layer was carbon-based. Small numbers of titanium oxide particles consistent with titanium dioxide pigment and some calcium particles were also found (Appendix F).” We did TEM analysis also, years ago now, but we did not see any titanium in the red/gray chips! (Referring specifically to the clean-surface chips; see Figs. 6 and 7 in our published paper.) More and more, it appears that Millette was simply not looking at the same material that we studied. Why would he not measure the electrical resistivity of his red material (discussed in our paper) right off? That's what gets me – he could have saved himself a lot of time. Finally he gets to TEM analysis, and finds that he has titanium oxide! How can he claim its the same material? What a waste of time. I hope you will not make the same mistake. Sincerely, Steven E. Jones

A day later, SE Jones had received feed-back from his collaborater at BYU, Jeff Farrer (manager of the BYU TEM-lab), and appended his blog post with the following clarifications (again, only showing the parts that are of interest here):

Note added, based on comments received 9-9-12 from Dr. Jeffrey Farrer.
1. Dr. Farrer contacted Dr. Tillotson of LLNL regarding the LLNL production and ignition of nano-thermite; Dr Tillotson said the experiments were likely done in atmosphere. After publication of our paper, others have suggested that the experiments in the LLNL publication were performed in an inert atmosphere; so the picture is not clear to us at this time and further contact with the LLNL scientists is advised. It would be best to run studies in both atmosphere and in an inert gas. 2. The DSC run with the ultra-fine aluminum and iron-oxide (which did not ignite in atmosphere) may have been heated to approximately 800 degrees centigrade. Jeff will check his notes.
[...]
5. With regard to the 0.92 ratio, Jeff notes that he did not use standards for the TEM/XEDS analysis so this ratio could be consistent with unity. The interested scientist is encouraged to use standards for the TEM/XEDS so this ratio can be pinned down definitively.
6. Jeff notes that in his TEM analyses he observed “very small (nanometer-scale) Pb particles in the TEM samples” as well as strontium and chromium in small amounts. (Much of the TEM analysis was performed at higher magnification than used in the SEM analysis done in the paper.) Thus, red/gray chips which match ours will show these same elements under TEM analysis.
I (Dr. Jones) have searched Millette's plots and see no indication of strontium (Sr) or lead (Pb) in his samples, but he does report titanium (Ti) which we do not see. Thus, his samples do not appear to be the same material as what we reported on.

References

[1] Niels H. Harrit, Jeffrey Farrer, Steven E. Jones, Kevin R. Ryan, Frank M. Legge, Daniel Farnsworth, Gregg Roberts, James R. Gourley and Bradley R. Larsen: Active Thermitic Material Discovered in Dust from the 9/11 World Trade Center Catastrophe. The Open Chemical Physics Journal, 2009, 2, 7-31

[2] Oystein: Another primer at the WTC: LaClede Standard Primer. 2012/03/16

[3] Steven E. Jones: Letter regarding red/gray chip analyses. Blog post at 911Blogger, 2012/09/08. Last retrieved 2012/09/12.

[4] Niels H. Harrit: Why The Red/Gray Chips Are Not Primer Paint. Open Letter, May 2009

[5] T.M. Tillotson et al: Nanostructured energetic materials using sol-gel methodologies. Journal of Non-Crystalline Solids 285 (2001) 338-345

[6] T.M. Tillotson and Alexander Gash: E-Mails. As quoted by "Moorea" at the JREF forum on 2012/09/09. Original mails probably written on or shortly before either 2010/07/12 or 2010/12/07.

[7] Oystein: Why red-gray chips aren't all the same. 2012/03/14

[8] James R. Millette: Revised Report of Results: MVA9119. Progress Report on the Analysis of Red/Gray Chips in WTC dust. Prepared for Classical Guide, Denver, 01 March 2012.