Hogan's Alley

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Rosie, Don't Look!

Scientific studies have never had any impact on conspiracy theories. Explain the physics of the "single bullet theory" to an aficionado the Oliver Stone view of the Kennedy assassination and their eyes glaze over. After all, any scientist can be bought or intimidated into finding evidence for the conspirators. No need to even think about their studies. With a little "thought" some question can be raised about the study. Any question, even tiny ones, will do to discredit the work to the believers.

So it will be with the latest study by engineers at Purdue University, as reported by the AP. Their findings, accompanied by computer video simulations of the event, is that the initial impacts and the explosion of the jet fuel stripped away the crucial fireproofing material, allowing the heat of the fire to soften the connecting points of the steel frame.

The report concludes that the weight of the aircraft's fuel, when ignited, produced "a flash flood of flaming liquid" that knocked out a number of structural columns within the building and removed the fireproofing insulation from other support structures, Hoffmann said.

The simulation also found that the airplane's metal skin peeled away shortly after impact and shows how the titanium jet engine shafts flew through the building like bullets.

Ayhan Irfanoglu, a Purdue professor of civil engineering, said half of the building's weight-bearing columns were concentrated at the cores of the towers.

"When that part is wiped out, the structure comes down," Irfanoglu said. "We design structures with some extra capacity to cover some uncertainties, but we never anticipate such heavy demand coming from an aircraft impact. If the columns were distributed, maybe, the fire could not take them out so easily."

The video is available at the AP link above.

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