The 9/11 Conspiracy Hoax

The purpose of this page is to show why the only 9/11 conspiracy that ever existed was Al-Qaeda's. Click or scroll down for specific rebuttals. Go to the bottom for physics questions to ask the conspiracy folks, if you want to see them squirm.

First of all, conspiracy theories are all wrong. Americans are taught from an early age to be nice and especially not to commit murder. Some people miss this teaching, or think it doesn't apply to them, but those people get involved in crime at an early age and never amount to much. They never, ever rise to positions of great wealth and power as described by the 9/11 Conspiracy (C911) theory. They do not get elected to President unless large numbers of honest citizens believe they are electing honest leaders. Another large number of honest people -- the ones who voted for the opposing candidates -- would dearly love to find proof that the eventual winners are in fact not honest and good leaders, but however hard they tried, they did not succeed. That is an important and significant result.

C911 is nothing more than a blatant attempt to demonize President Bush. Half of the people in this country hate Bush, and they will stop at nothing to discredit him. The other half hated his predecessor, with similar efforts at discreditation. Last year the Bush-haters fabricated a "global warming" crisis to beat up on Bush. They could have complained about the much more immediate HIV crisis, but Bush happens to be doing very good things in that arena. It turns out that the Bush policy on global warming is also about the best that can be done, as the European Union is now discovering, so the Bush-haters have mostly left off complaining about that.

Some people probably don't care about 9/11 as much as they would have you believe, but C911 is a source of income for them. Look at their web sites, they are offering their information at a price: buy this report ($10), or subscribe ($55/year) to that service. They want your money, and if you are gullible enough to believe their fabrication, this is a way to get it.

What about the physics? Don't ask the C911 team, they are not qualified to answer that question.

Jeff King, one of their outspoken authorities, makes himself out to be an "MIT engineer" on their web site, but if you look around, you discover that he got a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering at MIT in the 1970s, and is currently in the medical business. He is neither professionally nor academically qualified to comment on the physical properties nor chemical structure of concrete.

William Rodriguez is a janitor quoted on the existence of a bomb in the basement of the tower where he worked. He tells us about "two explosions", the first coming from the elevator shaft before the plane hit the tower. He was not outside where he could actually see the plane hit the tower, he just heard two sounds, the first travelling at the speed of sound through the hollow elevator shaft (followed by a blast of burning jet fuel), and the second travelling more slowly through the structure of the tower, both from the same impact a quarter-mile away, but travelling at different speeds through different materials. Rodriguez is a janitor, not a physicist, and he does not understand these things. Nobody outside heard two explosions.

I'm not a physicist nor structural engineer either, but I'm not asking you to believe anything. Check it out yourself. Ask somebody who is qualified. Or just do the math. The C911 fabrication doesn't add up.

10,000 gallons of burning jet fuel, they tell us, is not enough energy to weaken the tower structure, there must have been thermite. Do the math: Wikipedia gives the thermal energy in thermite as "851.5 kJ/mol"; one mole is 159 grams of iron oxide, plus 53 grams of aluminum, total weight about a half pound. Elsewhere we find "There is approximately 45,000,000 Joules per litre of Kerosene," slightly less than 200 million Joules per gallon, which is 100 times the energy in a pound of thermite. If 10,000 gallons of jet fuel are insufficient to the task, then surely the same energy in a million pounds of thermite is also inadequate, right? How are they going to get a million pounds of any incendiary or explosive up that tower unseen? Where are they going to hide it? And that's not enough to do the job! Do the math.

You can tell you have a hidden agenda when the evidence they bring out to support their position is self-contradictory. The C911 story is particularly bad. They say it was not an airliner that hit the Pentagon, but they don't tell you what happened to that plane if it didn't. People were on that jet, people with real names and real families; where are they? Ask U.S.Solicitor General Theodore Olson what happened to his wife Barbara. Ask John Fahey, president of the National Geographic Society, what happened to Joe Ferguson, director of their geography education outreach program, along with three teachers and three students on an educational trip to the Channel Islands in California sponsored by the Society. If there was no plane, why are we told that Cheney knew about it when it was 50 miles out? If there was no plane, how could he know about it?

Sure, there are problems and minor discrepancies in the official 9/11 story, but none as bad as the problems and fabrications in the C911 story. In one case I know personally the guy responsible for the posting. He carefully and repeatedly refused to give me any indication that he had actually looked at anything on the subject other than the prepackaged C911 videos. It's like he's afraid if he looked at all the evidence, he'd have to give up either his fetish or his integrity. By refusing to look, he can pretend to be honest. Three months later, after he finally succumbed to my insistence that he look at something other than the C911 propaganda, he backed off considerably.

If there really was a conspiracy, the C911 people have an obligation to give us a credible scenario how it could have happened. Slandering the integrity of a few government officials or wealthy property owners does not count as a complete story, they need to tell us how much explosives were used, and how they got into place. Exact figures of the minimum quantities needed, not some vague theory about 23 hours when the power was down. Who is going to take these explosives up the tower when the elevators are shut down? How many people will it take to walk a million pounds of explosive up the stairs for 88 floors in less than 23 hours? Why are these people willing to do something so nefarious as planting bombs in an occupied office building? For the money? Who is going to pay them enough to overcome their natural disinclination to murder 3000 people? Developer Larry Silverstein had to share his $2B insurance settlement with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and he has a huge obligation to rebuild the towers that he lost ($1.3B just to rebuild WTC7, the smallest of the three); there's not much money left for paying off clandestine laborers. Besides, Silverstein is supporting Democrats for public office; why would he want to join some Republican warmongering conspiracy (assuming that's what it is)?

Specific Rebuttals

It doesn't take many of these to realize that the C911 fabrication just doesn't hold water. Here are some of the more obvious problems in the C911 story. I will add to this list as needed...

William Rodriguez heard two explosions
The concrete was pulverized into dust
Tall, slender objects topple over
Steel doesn't melt until 2800F
Thermate in the residue
Col.Shaffer's testimony

Physics questions to make the conspiracy folks squirm
C911 reply
Contact Me with your well-thought opinion

Concrete pulverized into dust

Jeff King, who is not a chemical engineer, wants you to believe that there was insufficient energy in the collapse to pulverize the concrete. If, as they tell us, the towers fell at "near free-fall speed" then after ten seconds the final velocity was over 200mph. Bringing a 100,000 tons of steel and concrete to a dead stop from 200mph has plenty of energy to pulverize whatever concrete was left when it got to the bottom, as well as melt the steel. Much of the dust was formed during the collapse: the energy to overcome the strength of the steel framework would have plenty left over to pulverize the concrete. The C911 folks agree with me there, but there's more they are not telling you.

Concrete consists of crushed rock glued together by calcium silicate in its hydrous state, essentially the same thing as limestone. In its anhydrous state, cement has no strength. Concrete is manufactured by heating limestone to drive off the water, and it is used ("set") by adding that water back in. Fireplaces are made of brick or tile, because concrete loses its strength when heated. Here you have 10,000 gallons of burning jet fuel heating up two or three tower floors to the point where they no longer can support the weight on them. So they collapse straight down to the next floor. One undamaged concrete floor might hold the weight of another landing softly on it, but this was rather sudden, a dead stop of all that concrete falling from ten feet above. Sledge hammers falling from six feet break concrete; this is a whole floor falling ten feet. If the first floor to crumble and fall was above (heat rises!) another heated and rapidly disintegrating floor, then the combined weight of two floors will hit the next one; even if its concrete is undamaged, the weight of the load suddenly stopping on it will break it. From there on down, there's only more weight, moving ever faster. The steel crossbeams can't even hold that, so pretty soon the whole structure is on its way down. The floor collapse happens before the steel core gives way, before the exterior sheath sees any stress, so you can expect popping sounds and dust plumes to preceed the visible structure collapse.

Tall objects topple

Tall, slender objects only topple over when their rigidity is uniform and exceeds the lateral force applied. The WTC towers were not uniform. The vertical beams were much thicker at the bottom than they were at the top, as admitted on the C911 sites. The lateral force of the jet planes hitting the towers was not enough to cause them to topple; otherwise they would have fallen over immediately. The impact of the planes destroyed some of the steel supports at the point of impact, but the structure survived the impact, as it was designed to do. The remaining steel beams continued to support the weight of the upper floors. The steel was also strong enough to retain its strength in the case of an office fire, giving the fire time to burn itself out. But this was no office fire, it was 10,000 gallons of burning jet fuel. That's enough energy to carry a jet plane all the way across the country. The heat from the fire damaged both the concrete (reducing it to its powdery anhydrous state) and caused the steel to soften and/or buckle, thus adding to the load on the remaining beams beyond their rated capacity. The force of the load was straight down, so that's the direction it fell when they gave way. This happens in milliseconds, much faster than the time it would take for the torque of the uneven load to convert the fall into a tipping motion of a mass as large as the remaining undamaged stories above.

I wrote the previous two paragraphs before I ever saw any video footage from 9/11 (I do not have a TV). That last sentence was a guess on my part based on the C911 claims. On further reflection, it seemed to me that the south tower, which the plane hit one corner rather than square on as in the north tower, should have shown some tipping in that direction as it started to collapse. I was utterly astonished to watch the C911 video of the collapse showing the south tower tipping exactly as I expected -- even while the voice-over was claiming it fell straight down. The C911 propaganda is a pack of lies. The north tower fell straight down; the south tower started to collapse in the direction of the weakened corner, but once the whole floor gave way, the additional energy of the collapse was distributed uniformly over the whole floor, and the rest of the fall was straight down. The north tower, without the differential stress imparting a tipping force, took longer for the fires to weaken its structure enough to precipitate the collapse. I searched and found the image on the right, evidently a snapshot from the video, on a site whose text denied the evidence plain in the image he posted. Lu Xinzheng, an engineer at Tsinghua University in Beijing, has done computer simulation; his results match the actual collapse, which he noted results entirely from the structural properties of the steel and the fire (he goes on to identify design changes that could mitigate the collapse).

Steel melts at 2800F, jet fuel burns at 1700F

True, but the steel does not need to melt into liquid to lose its structural strength. That happens at temperatures close to the ignition temperature of jet fuel, which is much lower than its normal burning temperature. Once the concrete has begun to collapse, the impact of the falling weight of the floors hitting the next floor down will generate a tremendous heat; the whole mass of steel and concrete moving in excess of 100mph and coming to a dead stop at the bottom will have enough energy to melt large quantities of anything.

The C911 folks consistently use worst-case scenarios to make their case look better. The fact is, you don't need to heat up the whole floor to get collapse, you only need to degrade the carrying capacity of enough of it to exceed the rated load on the rest of the floor. That could be several orders of magnitude less than the numbers the C911 folks bandy about. Don't take their word for it, do the math yourself.

Thermate residue

It is claimed that "Professor Steven Jones" ran electron microscope analysis of steel spheres from WTC site to prove thermate was used. Steven Jones' credentials are not given, but if he is qualified to run this kind of analysis, he is lying about the results. An electron microscope can tell you about the crystalline structure of a material, but not its chemical composition; one uses chemical methods (taught as "quantitative analysis" in college) or a mass spectrometer for that. He claims to have found sulphur in these globules. That's very interesting, because only a very small amount of sulphur is used in military grade thermate. According to Wikipedia, Thermate-TH3 has only 2% sulphur, but 29% barium nitrate. Jones said nothing at all about the barium content of these globules. The function of sulphur in thermate is to lower the inignition temperature; the sulphur itself burns off in the form of sulphur dioxide (a gas commonly used in curing dried fruit, and which combines readily with water to form battery acid). Lots of things -- even the human body -- have enough sulphur to make up a detectable residue in some of the meltdown products. Furthermore, even if enough thermate were used to actually bring down the towers -- itself beyond credulity, given the amount needed and the fact that nobody noticed -- the chance of finding identifiable and distinctive traces of it in millions of tons of rubble is exceedingly small.

One of the C911 folks has actually done some of the math on thermite. He was looking at where it could be hidden (the physical size of the incendiary needed), but in the process he showed that 762.5kg of thermite would be needed to melt one 12ft high steel column (actually, just a 1-foot section of it, which would be sufficient). That's 3/4 of a ton for each column on each floor, over 35 tons per floor! 3000 tons is an awful lot of contraban to sneak past every-day workers on site. At market prices, it would run into millions of dollars just for the thermite, not counting the labor to install it. It also does not explain why the alleged demolition conspirators started their destruction on the 88th floor, rather than at the top. In a private email the author responded to my critique, but inadequately.


Many C911 folks seem to think the collapse of WTC7 somehow proves their conspiracy. They don't seem to be listening to Irwin Cantor, one of the building's original structural engineers, who gives good engineering reasons for attributing the collapse to several large tanks of diesel fuel placed near the supporting trusses in violation of fire codes. Notice that the NY Times article gives specific numbers tied to specific facts; the C911 story consists only in vague and unsubstantiated innuendo. The simple fact is, WTC7 was empty when it collapsed; it is a very different category of destruction from the towers, which were specifically targeted for maximum loss of human life. C911 has no credible case.

Col.Shaffer's testimony

It is claimed that Lt.Col.Anthony Shaffer was silenced when trying to get someone in the government to prevent the 9/11 attacks based on his intelligence gathering in operation Able Danger. If you actually read the transcript of his testimony before Congress, it's not hard to see that Shaffer is a go-getter, and his superiors -- government workers all of them -- didn't like his activism showing up their incompetence. Anybody who has worked in civil service knows what kind of people populate the government agencies: Shaffer is the exception to the old saying that "there are two ways to do something, the right way and the government way." We don't really know if 9/11 could have been prevented if Able Danger had not been shut down, we only know that after the fact, there was this face in the list. Hey, we knew about Al-Qaeda before 9/11 too. That's different from knowing time and place. It's important to look at the dates in Shaffer's testimony: this all happened in 2000, long before the current administration was elected. If Shaffer's testimony proves anything, it is that there was no conspiracy tied to President Bush and his cronies.

Physics Questions

Get out your calculators, and see why C911 is bogus.
1.  How thick must a concrete floor be in a skyscraper be to support the weight of people and office furniture without breaking?

2.  What was the area of a WTC tower floor?

3.  Multiply these two numbers together to get the volume of concrete in one floor.

4.  Convert this number to cubic meters (divide cubic feet by 35.3).

5.  Multiply times the specific gravity of concrete to get the mass in metric tons.

6.  Given that the acceleration of gravity is about 10m/s2, calculate the terminal velocity of an object in free-fall for the distance of three meters (the approximate height of one skyscraper floor).

7.  Multiply this velocity times the mass (in tons) of the floor falling that distance, to obtain the energy released when that concrete stops on the next floor down, in millions of Joules.

8.  Notice how much greater this is than the total energy in 10,000 gallons of jet fuel, the estimated amount in the airliner that hit the tower. Now multiply this times 109 floors to get the energy released in the tower falling only ten feet. Or else multiply the one floor times distance it fell to the ground (264m from the 88th floor) to get the energy released by that one floor landing on the ground. Notice that we have not yet added in the mass of the structural steel; this is just the concrete.

9.  Do the same calculations for one floor's worth of steel columns. 47 columns, times 3 meters in length, times 4m in girth, times an average 5cm thick (perhaps only 2cm on the 88th floor, but 10cm near the ground), times the specific gravity of iron, gives the total mass of the steel columns for one floor (not including the trusses).

10. This next one is a little harder. Multiply the mass of concrete in that one floor times the heat of hydration in J/g, times the percentage of cement in the concrete, to get the energy required to completely reduce the floor to powder. This is significantly less than the total energy released by the falling mass.

11.  I leave the next one as an exercise to the diligent: How many billions of Joules are left over to melt steel? How many Joules does it take to melt a gram of iron/steel? Do the math. No explosives at all are needed, once the tower starts to fall.

A C911er "glanced over" and responded to this analysis, but not very carefully.

The Bottom Line

We have on the table a plausible account of how the two WTC towers collapsed, involving 19 Al-Qaeda hijackers and two commercial airline planes flown into the towers. Not all the details are known, but the personel requirements and physics are credible. We also have the documented in-court admission from the 20th hijacker that the story is essentially correct, and we have a video of OBL taking uncoerced and gleeful responsibility for it. The mechanics of the WTC7 collapse are irrelevant to this story, because it was not one of the four targets.

We have not yet seen a coherent alternative explanation of how the two towers collapsed, with credible personel requirements and physics. There is no point in telling us the official explanation is fundamentally wrong until we have a coherent alternative on the table, so we can evaluate their relative merits objectively. The C911 crock is so full of holes, inconsistencies, and flat-out lies, there is no way they can stick enough duct tape on it to make it hold together and look believable -- and they know it, so they don't even try. There is no valid reason to waste millions of dollars (which could, in Shaffer's thinking, be better spent on body armor in Iraq) reopening a closed investigation that has no feasible alternative.

With no coherent alternative, the official story -- despite whatever its problems may be -- stands unchallenged.

Ask the C911 folks to work through the physics with you. They will refuse. Ask them for a complete scenario; they have none. The proponents of the C911 theory will not answer your questions. They have put together a slick video to conceal the truth, and their argumentation basically consists in insisting that you watch (and believe) the staged, photoshopped, and animated propaganda job they spent so much money on. I try to encourage people to do their own thinking and not buy into the images somebody else fabricated. The C911 folks can't handle truth independently arrived at, and my experience with one of them suggests they will do anything to prevent anybody (including themselves) from seeing the real truth.

In every debate of any kind, people on either side present their best arguments first. After they run out of substantive arguments, they resort to ad hominem (insults). Be prepared: the C911 folks switch to ad hominem very early; all you have to do is question their video dogma.

Does anybody out there really believe the C911 story? Are you willing to discuss it intelligently with verifiable facts? Contact me (see below). I'm willing to consider the possibility that there is something to this story beyond the swiss cheese the guy who put me onto it was trying feed to me, but insults only tell me you have nothing to say. If that's all you have, please don't waste your time and mine.

Tom Pittman
2007 June 25, rev. Oct 1

I found a site that does a pretty good job of debunking the C911 hokum.

Contact Me

Since posting this page, I have received numerous responses from people with nothing original or worthwhile to say. If you are one of them, save your time and mine. Otherwise, please preface your remarks with one or more of the following evidences that I should read the rest of what you have to say:

a. Do the math. Show me your calculations.

b. Be original. I'm not interested in links to more copycat C911 websites. Give me your own thinking, not merely evidence that you did no thinking at all. My spam filter removes from my incoming email everything with links to web pages.

c. Since this is obviously a political thing, show that you agree with President Bush's politics -- such as your voter registration stub showing you are registered Republican. Please note, I am registered Independent, and I voted against Bush; I'm not defending Bush, I'm defending innocent American citizens impugned by C911 sites.

If you supply one of these items and have something new to contribute, Contact me. Otherwise don't waste your time and mine.

Postscript added 2008 October 7