Experts on Parade
Academics Give The Official Story an Air of Scientific Legitimacy
Starting as early as two days after the attack, "experts" in structural engineering lent their names to the effort to make the unprecedented crumbling of steel-framed skyscrapers into piles of rubble seem like a perfectly natural event. On September 13th the intimidatingly technical, equation-peppered paper, "Why Did the World Trade Center Collapse? - Simple Analysis", was published in the Journal of Engineering Mechanics ASCE. One wonders how well the peer-review process functioned given that timetable. Authors Bazant and Zhou purported to use "elastic dynamic analysis" to show that the dynamic loads were an order of magnitude greater than the structural resistance, claiming to always make simplifying assumptions that were optimistic with regard to building survival.
Structural engineer Ronald Hamburger, chief structural engineer and senior vice president of ABS Consulting Inc. in Oakland, CA became a spokesperson for the pancake collapse theory, addressing a packed auditorium in Stanford on November 29, 2001. Hamburger was one of the first engineers to articulate the pile-driver theory, stating "it was like a pile driver, which is why it collapsed as it did." 1
Later, a materials scientist, Dr. Eagar, became a standard bearer for the official truss theory. Although not a structural engineer, his credentials as a professor at MIT were sufficient for his role in explaining the collapses.