Monday, May 01, 2006

Loose Screw #4

Loose Change, along with the other conspiracy theories, claims that the fact that the towers collapsed "straight down" as proof that it was a controlled demolition. In an effort to sound scientific they often also add "into its own footprint." Now personally I thought this whole "straight down" thing was resolved several hundred years ago by a famous Englishman, but I guessed I missed something.

One thing they can't explain is, how else is a building supposed to collapse? Straight up? Sideways? Spin around a few times and topple over like Ted Kennedy after a cocktail party? Well they can't answer it, but there is one person who can, MIT engineering professor Dr. Thomas Eagar for the PBS Nova show titled "Why the Towers Fell?"

NOVA: The Twin Towers collapsed essentially straight down. Was there any chance they could have tipped over?

Eagar: It's really not possible in this case. In our normal experience, we deal with small things, say, a glass of water, that might tip over, and we don't realize how far something has to tip proportional to its base. The base of the World Trade Center was 208 feet on a side, and that means it would have had to have tipped at least 100 feet to one side in order to move its center of gravity from the center of the building out beyond its base. That would have been a tremendous amount of bending. In a building that is mostly air, as the World Trade Center was, there would have been buckling columns, and it would have come straight down before it ever tipped over.Have you ever seen the demolition of buildings? They blow them up, and they implode. Well, I once asked demolition experts, "How do you get it to implode and not fall outward?" They said, "Oh, it's really how you time and place the explosives." I always accepted that answer, until the World Trade Center, when I thought about it myself. And that's not the correct answer. The correct answer is, there's no other way for them to go but down. They're too big. With anything that massive -- each of the World Trade Center towers weighed half a million tons -- there's nothing that can exert a big enough force to push it sideways.

Of course, in following Rules of Conspiracy Theories: Rule #4, an engineering professor for the most prestigious technical school in the world could not be a credible authority. He must be in on the conspiracy!


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