9 - 1 1 R e s e a r c h essays
essays by Michael Green


Michael Green
Dec. 12, 2006

To a mind acquainted with history and unburdened with a trust in the devotion of the US ruling class to democracy and to the welfare of the American people; to a mind familiar with the resources of the USG Intelligence Community and the cooperation it commands within the ruling class; to a mind unconcerned with the burdensome particulars of pre-planting explosives in the World Trade Center with the considerable risks that this entails -- to such a mind the collapses of WTC 1, 2, and 7 are seen without psychological conflict to have behaved like controlled demolitions.  WTC7 behaved precisely like a conventional implosion, whereas WTC1 and WTC2 behaved like symmetrical explosions outward coupled with collapse and disintegration of the Towers' cores.  I will not here rehearse all the additional reasons and evidence supporting demolition, which must stand or fall on their own merits.  There is a commonly held belief, however, that the National Institute of Standards and Technology undertook a study to determine the causes of the collapses that scientifically ruled out this dark interpretation of events.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

On Sunday, December 3, 2006, I attended a talk at The Center for Inquiry West by Ronald Hamburger, one of the structural engineers who contributed to the NIST report on the collapse of the World Trade Center Towers and its preliminary findings on WTC7.  The Wall Street Journal of September 19, 2001, describes him as "one of four top forensic engineers commissioned to perform a postmortem of the World Trade Center's collapse."  I was looking forward to being disabused of my belief that the WTCs were collapsed through demolition, but I was skeptical of what would be presented. 

Before the talk I approached Mr. Hamburger privately and after ascertaining his willingness to entertain a question, asked him "Was your group given the task of explaining how the Towers collapsed, based on the assumption that the collapse was caused solely by the damage from the impact of the airplanes and the subsequent fire?"  "Yes," he answered pithily, and conveyed that my audience was at an end.  I left, but returned a few minutes later to ask, "Did you have any personal interest in considering the evidence that has persuaded many people that the Towers were brought down by explosives?"  "I did."  "Have your doubts, even given this evidence, been resolved?"  "They have."  "By what?"  "My four years of work on this project."  "I'll await your talk with interest."

I was thus hoping that Mr. Hamburger's talk would encompass and address the evidence for demolition that persuades or at least troubles those who don't ignore it, but the talk did not do so.  The talk did just what my first question elicited it would: tell us how the Towers (and WTC7) collapsed on the assumption that the Official Story was correct.

Actually, it did less than this.  In order to fit the facts into the Official Story, Mr. Hamburger ignored or distorted the significance of some facts and denied the existence of others.

Mr. Hamburger advised that before being damaged the Towers could support between 3-4 times their own weights.  After impact-damage from the aircrafts, they were weakened, but were still able to support 1-2 times their weight before being further damaged by fire until their weight-bearing capacity was <1.  We can count on the "<1" part being accurate, but the source of the other figures remained a mystery that Hamburger did little or nothing to clarify.

For example, to explain how part of this weakening occurred, Mr. Hamburger displayed a row of figures indicating the weight load on the remaining peripheral columns after re-distribution by the building's "hat truss," a complex system of cantilevers over-arching each building designed to redistribute the weight load of any damaged columns to undamaged columns.  Comparing figures, Mr. Hamburger intoned gravely when an increase of 30-35% occurred on a peripheral column and spoke of the "thousands of tons" of extra weight that the remaining peripheral columns had to bear.   Buildings, however, are designed to carry both dead load (their own weight) and the varying  live load such as office furnishings and occupancy, as well as occasional stresses from such factors as snow deposits or severe winds.  Mr. Hamburger did not offer any figure for the reserve strength ratio of the peripheral columns for their dead weight load.   Mr. Hamburger did not give any indication that he knew of the tremendous reserve strength of the peripheral columns designed by the Towers' Chief Engineer, John Skilling, as reported in Engineering News Record, April 2, 1964.  "Live loads on these columns can be increased more than 2,000% before failure occurs."  Such figures matter because the design live load of the Towers exceeds their own weight.  The News Record also stated "The World Trade Center towers would have an inherent capacity to resist unforeseen calamities. [..] One "could cut away all the first story columns on one side of the building, and partway from the corners of the perpendicular sides, and the building could still withstand design live loads and a 100 mph wind from any direction."  Mr. Hamburger certainly made no effort to inform his audience how NIST had grappled with such facts in reaching its conclusions.  Rather, he spoke in a manner that put me in mind of the infamous July 23, 2002 Downing Street Memo that revealed Bush's intention to invade Iraq and commented that thereafter "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

As Mr. Hamburger recounted how the (massive) core columns sagged long before collapse, presumed by NIST to have been weakened from intense heat, an audience member asked how many core columns there were.  Mr. Hamburger replied that he did not know the answer -- 47 -- a remarkable admission from a key member of the NIST WTC team.   When Mr. Hamburger described the core and peripheral columns as linked by trusses, I asked "Didn't large I-beams also connect the core columns with the peripheral columns?"  Mr. Hamburger said there were no such connecting beams.  I had asked because I had seen photos of them.   The Towers contained mechanical equipment floors between the 41st-42nd and 75-76th floors about which the 1/1/70 issue of Engineering News Record stated, "To accommodate the heavy loads, the [mechanical equipment] floors are designed as structural steel frame slabs" in contrast to the "typical truss floor joists and steel decking."  Unaware of the number of core columns, unaware that on some floors beams rather than trusses tied the cores to the perimeters, Mr. Hamburger was also little if any concerned with the massive cross-linked, cross-girded cores of incredible structural integrity that gave way without apparent resistance during the Towers' collapses and largely disintegrated in the process.  Indeed, not a single photo or video of the collapse of either Tower was used by Mr. Hamburger, who relied exclusively on computer generated visuals that behaved rather well on behalf of NIST's account.

Videos of the collapses show variously positioned puffs of smoke ejected horizontally from the Towers as many as thirty or more stories below the area of visible collapse.  These puffs vary in size, shape, and vigor, but the farther they are from the area of collapse, the more strongly they support the claim of independent explosive activity.   Mr. Hamburger had already stated to others that there was no evidence of explosives.  After the talk when the crowd had left him, I asked Mr. Hamburger the following questions.   "What is your account of the puffs of smoke visible on mainstream media footage from the sides of the Towers?"  "At what point?" he asked.  "After the initiation of collapse, the puffs that occur as many as 30 stories beneath the visible line of collapse."  I cannot recall his precise answer because it was hand waving, i.e., the jet fuel that had spilled down the elevator shaft had created numerous small fires; these puffs were their smoke, agitated in the space below the collapse by the force of the collapse.  I did not pursue the fact that Mr. Hamburger had abandoned his modified pancake collapse of the cement floors (with breakage) for something closer to a piston that could move air at a distance through the unbroken floors, no doubt through the core.  Instead, I asked about two other important facts.  "Do you credit reports of molten metal found amidst the rubble?  And do you credit the NASA reports of temperature surfaces in the neighborhood of 1400 degrees Fahrenheit many days after the collapse."  "No," he replied, from on high, as much the great mandarin person-to-person as he had been throughout his entire presentation.  So, two rather hard facts that trouble anyone who knows of them simply do not exist for Mr. Hamburger, or for NIST; nor does Mr. Hamburger condescend to address the allegedly fallacious basis for these unsound beliefs, one of which sources is NASA itself.  In the exchange I also asked what he made of the especially small size of the particulate matter of the residual dust that covered city blocks; he said that the dust was not especially small, full stop.

Mr. Hamburger does not give us science.  He gives us politics wrapped in science, bracketed by science, but not science.  The question of what caused the Towers and WTC7 to collapse was never addressed by NIST, no more than NIST addressed the question "Do pigs fly?"  Rather, NIST addressed the question, "On the assumption that pigs fly, how do they do it?"  I am not suggesting that it is as obvious that the WTCs were taken down by explosives as it is that pigs can't fly, but that Mr. Hamburger would be inclined to take his commission as it was given to him, though perhaps he would draw the line at flying pigs.

The first title of this essay, "Science, Handmaiden of Inspired Truth," is the sardonic title of Chapter II from The Spirit and Structure of German Fascism," 1937, London, Victor Gollancz Ltd., by Robert A. Brady, an associate professor of Economics at the University of California.  I have no doubt that Mr. Hamburger is completely sincere; that makes matters worse.  The problem in a nutshell may be found in the aforementioned Wall Street Journal article which states that Mr. Hamburger turned on his TV on 911 "just in time to watch the collapse of the second World Trade Center tower."

"It appeared to me that charges had been placed in the building," said Mr. Hamburger, chief structural engineer for ABS Consulting in Oakland, Calif. Upon learning that no bombs had been detonated, "I was very surprised," said Mr. Hamburger. The buildings "certainly did not do as well as I would have hoped."

Had I the time and Hamburger's attention, I would have asked, "Who told you that there were no bombs -- or explosive demolitions -- in the building, and how could they have possibly known?  Wasn't it your job to determine that?"  But as we know, it was not.  Mr. Hamburger's job was assigned to him, and he complied with it. 

Professor Brady has a detailed and complex explanation for the ready subordination of science, and engineering in particular, to Nazi doctrine, which we quote in pertinent part:

"...the working alliance between research and practice was extremely close, and in many important respects had been almost entirely effaced [because they became one]. ... But the significance of this tie-up between science and industry lies not only in the fact that the bonds uniting them were growing steadily more numerous and rigid, but also in the even more important fact that, throughout, it was the business man who determined programmes for research, who gave the necessary money, and made use of the results.  Science and engineering were subservient throughout.  When business men changed their titles to 'Leaders' under the Nazi system -- when the business men were given a chance under Nazism to dictate in all things -- they found no need for changing their working relationships with scientists in any single fundamental respect.  Nor did the scientists who served them before."

Ronald Hamburger

Conspiracy or Science:
Why Did the Towers Fall?

Center for Inquiry West Los Angeles, CA

Sunday, December 3, 2006
11 a.m.

     Debates have been raging for years about whether or not the twin towers of the World Trade Center collapsed due to the impact of the two commercial airliners that struck them on 9/11/2001. Questions about the collapse of building 7, which was not struck by a plane, also feed the conspiratorial fire. Could terrorists have planted explosives throughout the World Trade Center in advance of the crashes? Were the fires caused by the planes enough to bring down these engineering marvels? Wherein lies the truth?

     Ronald Hamburger, a structural engineer and Senior Principal at Simpson Gumpertz and Heger consulting engineers in San Francisco, will discuss why those buildings collapsed and illustrate his talk with graphics. He was a principal author of FEMA's initial report on the collapse of the twin towers and later a key participant in the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) study.

copyright December 7, 2006

(permission granted to reproduce for non-commercial purposes)

Michael B. Green, Ph.D.

Clinical Psychologist

Qualified Medical Examiner (1992-7/2006, retired)

Former Assistant Professor of Philosophy     University of Texas at Austin

Copyright (c) Michael Green 2006