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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Physics prof Denis Rancourt speaks out on 9/11 -- and gets it half right!

Physics professor and academic freedom fighter Denis Rancourt appeared on the Kevin Barrett Show yesterday and agreed that the implosion of World Trade Center Building 7 was clearly a case of controlled demolition -- but that the destruction of the Twin Towers might not have been! (The discussion of 9/11 occurs during the last 20 minutes of the show.)

Dr. Rancourt argued that the gravitational energy released by the Towers' coming down was great enough, and the mysteries of how various materials interact with each other under such conditions mysterious enough, to cast doubt on many of the apparent "smoking guns" of controlled demolition, including high-speed lateral ejections of multi-ton steel beam fragments, the pulverization of most of the buildings and their contents into sub-100-micron dust, the creation of rivers of molten steel in the rubble, and and the creation of unexploded hi-tech nano-thermite chips that have been found to constitute roughly .1% of the World Trade Center dust.

After the show, Denis emailed me to say that since the Towers' demolition isn't obvious to him, my argument for its obviousness to everyone with eyes may need revision.

Here is my response:

Hi Denis,

With all due respect to your expertise as a physicist, I think there are times when scholarly expertise can obfuscate rather simple matters, and I suspect this may be one of those times. 

I agree with you that it is impossible to completely rule out the possibility of viable alternate hypotheses for many of the apparent smoking guns of the Twin Towers' demolitions.  Indeed, it is impossible to completely rule out just about any hypothesis about anything. As you know, objects can theoretically fall up, rather than down, if all of the subatomic particles involved happen to emerge out of the collapse of the wave function in exactly the right way. Yet the odds against this are so great that we can effectively rule it out in all practical cases.

In the case of the destruction of the Towers, the explosive demolition hypothesis easily explains all ten features of these events that are exclusive features of controlled demolition of tall buildings. In other words, these features have occurred every time (or in a few cases nearly every time) a tall building has been demolished with explosives, and have never happened under any other circumstances, except, allegedly, on 9/11.  There are also several features that are unusual for controlled demolitions, but are easily explained by hypothesizing an explosive rather than implosive "deceptive demolition" designed to be hard to distinguish from a plane-and-fire-caused collapse. The deceptive demolition hypothesis easily and fully explains all aspects of this complex event. Yet you had to struggle to even begin to formulate an alternative hypothesis that could explain even ONE of the many bizarre or unprecedented features of this event (say, sudden onset, horizontal ejections, squibs, tiny bone fragments on neighboring rooftops, rivers of molten steel, a rubble pile only a couple of floors high, complete pulverization of nearly the entire structures and their contents into sub-100-micron dust, 100+ eyewitness reports on the record of massive explosions, and several reliable accounts of explosions starting before the planes hit, perfectly symmetrical descent of debris, hundreds of cars for many blocks around "toasted" by something that attacked steel, intricately manufactured (not randomly formed) nanothermite chips saturating the dust, iron-rich microspheres saturating the dust, Giuliani's foreknowledge of the "collapses," etc. etc.). In fact, you offered no hypothesis about any of the apparent smoking guns; instead, you argued in the vaguest possible terms that it was impossible to rule out a mysterious "something else" as the cause of a few of these phenomena, based on the mysteries of complex interactions of matter in gravitational descent when there is a lot of available gravitational energy.  This reminds me of certain perversely over-complex literary readings of fairly simple texts  by scholars who know too much about literature.

Even if we restrict ourselves to the physical evidence about the Towers, Occam's razor dictates that the simple answer -- controlled demolition -- is by far the best.  This "simple answer" is obvious to anyone with eyes.  And if look at other kinds of evidence, we would have very good reason to believe that the Towers were deliberately demolished even if there were no physical evidence of demolition.

I understand that as a physicist you are obliged to study this kind of event carefully before arriving at a conclusion. Joel Hirschhorn, a Ph.D. metallurgical engineer and former UW-Madison professor, came on my radio show a few years ago knowing nothing about the demolition hypothesis, listened to me, and then devoted a few months to studying the destruction of the WTC. After a bit of research, he agreed that controlled demolition is an absolute certainty in all three cases, but added that for him, it was not obvious -- it required a fair amount of research. So I do see your point, but would add that at the end of the day this is an issue where the simple, obvious, trust-your-eyes hypothesis is correct, as you will discover if you carefully study the issue.

Kevin

PS You might enjoy my "refutation" of an obnoxious colleague from the UW physics department...




Dr. Barrett Rebutts Professor Orwellian   

by Kevin Barrett (from the book Truth Jihad: My Epic Struggle Against the 9/11 Big Lie)

Re: Physics prof calls 9/11 conspiracist 'fruitcake'
'Since he can't evaluate the evidence presented, he shouldn't have an opinion'

http://worldnetdaily.com/news/printer-friendly.asp?ARTICLE_ID=51858


http://www.infowars.com/articles/sept11/physics_prof_calls_911_conspiracist_fruitcake.htm


A University of Wisconsin professor who works with 9-11 conspiracist Kevin Barrett says he's a "fruitcake" who is too biased in favor of Islam to teach a class on the subject.


Barrett, a Muslim convert, was recently cleared by the college to teach a course this fall titled, "Islam: Religion and Culture." Like many Muslims, he contends the 9-11 attacks were an "inside job" carried out by Bush administration officials and not Islamic terrorists...


"He's a fruitcake," says Marshall F. Onellion, a physics professor at the University of Wisconsin. "He has no education in any engineering or science area pertinent to how, or whether, buildings fall down when hit by airplanes. Since he can't evaluate the evidence presented, he shouldn't have an opinion" that will influence students...


"I simply do not believe that an adult convert to Islam is capable of objectively teaching, or objectively grading, a course on his religion," he told WorldNetDaily. "Never would such a person be objective."

* * *

Barrett Rebuts Orwellian

University of Wisconsin Professor M.F. Orwellian's argument that colleague Dr. Kevin Barrett is a "fruitcake," and that only those with physics Ph.D.s are qualified to judge anything involving the laws of physics, was subjected to a calm, thoughtful, scholarly rebuttal by Dr. Barrett yesterday.

Dr. Barrett began by lucidly laying out the premise and conclusion of his argument: "Professor Orwellian is a wingbat, a dingnut, a moonboot--which is to say, an utter and complete imbecile with the malignant growth on his neck that passes for his head firmly implanted in his hindmost nether-regions. Even Steve Nass, the man with one N too many, whom I have cheerfully described as a moonbutt, does not have a head as empty, as putrid, and as deeply ensconced in his own posterior, as does my esteemed colleague the good Doctor Orwellian." Barrett then politely refused to speculate about what Professor Orwellian's initials might stand for.

Judging that Professor Orwellian's "fruitcake" argument had thus been convincingly rebutted, Dr. Barrett moved on to examine the assertions on which that argument was based. Dr. Barrett began with Professor Orwellian's claim that Dr. Barrett is unqualified to teach a Religious Studies course on Islam because he is a Muslim. "The idea that professing a particular religion or religious position makes one unqualified to teach Religious Studies courses will be news to every single member of the American academy besides Dr. Orwellian," Barrett pointed out. "Everybody who teaches religious studies has some religious position--be it atheism, agnosticism, or affiliation with a major or minor religious tradition. Likewise, philosophy teachers have their own philosophy. The idea that an atheist existentialist could not teach existentialism, an atheistic philosophy, because he or she happened to be an atheist and existentialist, is too ridiculous to contemplate. And the idea that we should fire almost the whole Jewish Studies department because most of its members are Jewish--or the African-American Studies program because most of its members are African-American--is insane. Obviously the good Professor has taken leave of his senses."

Dr. Barrett next took up Professor Orwellian's implicit claim that nobody without a Ph.D. in physics is competent to judge anything involving the laws of physics. Dr. Barrett--citing Samuel Johnson, who had refuted Bishop Berkeley's idealist position by kicking a stone--replied to Professor Orwellian's "physicists-only" argument by intoning "I refute it thus" and kicking Professor Orwellian sharply in the latter's gluteus maximus. "According to the law of angular momentum," Dr. Barrett pontificated, "my foot just described nearly one-quarter of a complete arc around a fixed reference point in the general location of my hip joint. And according to the law of conservation of momentum, it would have tended to continue in that direction unless acted upon by an outside force--in this case, the soft, flabby hindquarters of Professor Orwellian. But you don't really need to know that to understand that I have just kicked him in the ass."

Barrett then proceeded to take issue with Professor Orwellian's professional qualifications. "Professor Orwellian apparently believes that the large amounts of molten steel produced by the WTC collapses, documented in photographs, videos, and eyewitness accounts of 'rivers of molten steel' in the rubble, were produced by fires whose only fuel was hydrocarbons--namely, jet fuel, which is kerosene, and office materials such as paper, wood, plastic, and so on. Yet the melting point of steel is universally agreed to be in the neighborhood of 2800 degrees f., while hydrocarbon fires cannot exceed 1800 degrees f. even under laboratory conditions. Professor Orwellian is one thousand degrees short of a full melting point. I demand that he resign from his physics post forthwith, and return to his true calling, which is autoproctology."

The courteous scholarly debate between Dr. Barrett and Professor Orwellian elicited a decorous ripple of applause from Academic Senate members.

* * *

(See also:  "Groucho" Onellian: Who Are You Gonna Believe, Me or Your Own Eyes? and This Is an Orange)

* * *

The full World Net Daily article:

Physics prof calls 9/11 conspiracist 'fruitcake'

'Since he can't evaluate the evidence presented, he shouldn't have an opinion'

World Net Daily | September 6, 2006: http://worldnetdaily.com/news/printer-friendly.asp?ARTICLE_ID=51858

A University of Wisconsin professor who works with 9-11 conspiracist Kevin Barrett says he's a "fruitcake" who is too biased in favor of Islam to teach a class on the subject.

Barrett, a Muslim convert, was recently cleared by the college to teach a course this fall titled, "Islam: Religion and Culture." Like many Muslims, he contends the 9-11 attacks were an "inside job" carried out by Bush administration officials and not Islamic terrorists.

Specifically, Barrett argues Bush officials rigged the World Trade Center with incendiary devices to bring it down and start a war against Islam.

"He's a fruitcake," says Marshall F. Onellion, a physics professor at the University of Wisconsin. "He has no education in any engineering or science area pertinent to how, or whether, buildings fall down when hit by airplanes. Since he can't evaluate the evidence presented, he shouldn't have an opinion" that will influence students.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology recently released a report on the WTC collapse that rules out such conspiracy theories about the use of controlled demolitions. It concluded the collapse resulted from structural damage to the buildings caused by the impact from the two Boeing 767 jetliners hijacked by Muslim terrorists.

The unusually large amounts of jet fuel from the planes ignited multi-floor fires reaching temperatures as high as 1,000 degrees, and significantly weakened the floors and columns "to the point where floors sagged and pulled inward on the perimeter columns," the report said. "This led to the inward bowing of the columns and failure of the south face of the WTC 1 and the east face of WTC 2, initiating the collapse of each of the towers."

The independent 9-11 commission also concluded after some 1,200 interviews that Muslim hijackers were to blame.

But Barrett, who heads a group called "Scholars for 9/11 Truth," speculates that pro-Israeli neoconservatives led by Vice President Dick Cheney toppled the Twin Towers with secretly planted explosives or incendiary devices such as thermite rods. It's a popular theory in the Muslim community. The anti-Bush left has also embraced it.

Barrett, who converted to Islam 13 years ago, teaches a course on Islam that critics say whitewashes the 1400-year history of jihad against the West.

His Wisconsin colleague Onellion says Barrett is not qualified to teach the course because his doctorate is in Arabic studies, not Islamic studies. And as a Muslim activist with an ax to grind against the U.S. government, he says he is incapable of teaching the course objectively.

"I simply do not believe that an adult convert to Islam is capable of objectively teaching, or objectively grading, a course on his religion," he told WorldNetDaily. "Never would such a person be objective."

University officials, however, are persuaded that Barrett can teach Islam objectively.

In a July letter to Barrett, Wisconsin provost Patrick Farrell wrote, "I have accepted your assurance that you could control your enthusiasm for your personal viewpoints on the top of 9-11 and present them in class in an objective and balanced time frame and context."

Onellion, who is co-authoring a book on science and religion called, "Seeking truth: Living with Doubt," says about half the members of a Wisconsin faculty group for academic freedom sided with the decision to keep Barrett on staff and let him teach the controversial course. The other half disagreed with the decision.

5 comments:

  1. Rancourt's argument is a perfect illustration of the logical fallacy known as "argument from ignorance." "We don't know for certain what might happen under such conditions, therefore we must not accept the only hypothesis that explains all the observations."

    ReplyDelete
  2. I didn't see this discussion from the beginning, but I had another conversation recently where the available potential energy argument was made (in that case applying it to molten steel). I don't know if it is relevant to this discussion, but it may be, at least tangentially.

    Some people have said molten steel was possible in the rubble pile due to the high potential energy of the building. But look at the collapse mechanism. Would any single piece of steel melt due to falling the height of the tower? Most people would agree this wouldn't happen. (I'm sure things have been dropped from the tower and didn't turn into a molten puddle.) If no single piece would melt, how could any of it melt if a lot of pieces fell side-by-side (in parallel). If they collide on the way down they exchange momentum and some energy back and forth, but the argument still stands. A falling building won't melt due to potential energy release, no matter how much potential energy is available.

    --David Chandler

    ReplyDelete
  3. I have a simple thought-experiment that I find useful in talking about the twin towers:

    The total gravitational potential energy of each tower should, of course, have been the only significant source of energy for destruction. If one of the towers were to tip from its base and fall all the way, uninterrupted, down to the streets below, THAT would have been approximately the quantity of damage to expect. You can picture: lots of broken building, most at the top (almost none at the bottom), but nothing like what we see!!!!

    You have handled this nicely and respectfully, both on-air and afterwords, but I can't help but think Denis Rancourt was really let go from his position because he is not a good physicist!

    Best - and thanks for the great shows which are a staple for me.

    ReplyDelete
  4. great show Kevin !

    did you heard about these 'ET' disabling nukes in UK and american bases ? Well we are entering in the final scene before the arrival of their master, Dajjal or Antichrist...

    La garde avancee du Dajjal se montrerait ?

    Wa Allah alam

    ReplyDelete
  5. Kevin

    You might ask the physics Prof Rancourt,

    what law of physics caused steel beams to be ejected sideways several
    hundred feet;

    what law of physics caused symmetrical collapse;

    what law of physics caused collapse at near free fall speed through the
    path of greatest resistance?

    Enver

    ReplyDelete