13. NIST’s Failure to Show Visualizations

An article in the journal New Civil Engineering (NCE) lends support to concerns about the NIST analysis of the WTC collapses. It states:

World Trade Center disaster investigators [at NIST] are refusing to show computer visualizations of the collapse of the Twin Towers despite calls from leading structural and fire engineers, NCE has learned. Visualizations of collapse mechanisms are routinely used to validate the type of finite element analysis model used by the [NIST] investigators. The collapse mechanism and the role played by the hat truss at the top of the tower has been the focus of debate since the US National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST) published its findings….

University of Manchester [U.K.] professor of structural engineering Colin Bailey said there was a lot to be gained from visualizing the structural response.

“NIST should really show the visualizations; otherwise the opportunity to correlate them back to the video evidence and identify any errors in the modeling will be lost,” he said….

A leading US structural engineer said NIST had obviously devoted enormous resources to the development of the impact and fire models.

“By comparison the global structural model is not as sophisticated,” he said. “The software used [by NIST] has been pushed to new limits, and there have been a lot of simplifications, extrapolations and judgment calls.” (Parker, 2005; emphasis added.)

Here we have serious concerns about the NIST WTC collapse report raised by structural and fire engineers, augmenting the arguments raised here by a physicist.

The thirteen points above provide scientific data and analyses that support my call for an immediate investigation of 9/11 events, while challenging the official story. A few other considerations provide further motivation for the proposed urgent investigation.


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Some Additional Considerations


“Burning Questions that Need Answers”

I agree with this urgent yet reasoned assessment of expert fire-protection engineers, as boldly editorialized in the journal Fire Engineering:

Respected members of the fire protection engineering community are beginning to raise red flags, and a resonating theory has emerged:

The structural damage from the planes and the explosive ignition of jet fuel in themselves were not enough to bring down the towers....


Fire Engineering has good reason to believe that the “official investigation” blessed by FEMA and run by the American Society of Civil Engineers is a half-baked farce that may already have been commandeered by political forces whose primary interests, to put it mildly, lie far afield of full disclosure. Except for the marginal benefit obtained from a three-day, visual walk-through of evidence sites conducted by ASCE investigation committee members- described by one close source as a “tourist trip”-no one’s checking the evidence for anything.

Some citizens are taking to the streets to protest the investigation sellout. Sally Regenhard, for one, wants to know why and how the building fell as it did upon her unfortunate son Christian, an FDNY probationary firefighter. And so do we.

Clearly, there are burning questions that need answers. Based on the incident’s magnitude alone, a full-throttle, fully resourced, forensic investigation is imperative. More important, from a moral standpoint, [are considerations] for the safety of present and future generations…

(Manning, 2002; emphasis added).

This editorial does not mention the controlled-demolition hypothesis, but rightfully objects to the rapid destruction of the structural steel which would provide crucial evidence from the crime scene. We agree that such destruction of evidence is wrong, and that a thorough investigation is imperative.

For more than three months, structural steel from the World Trade Center has been and continues to be cut up and sold for scrap. Crucial evidence that could answer many questions about high-rise building design practices and performance under fire conditions is on the slow boat to China, perhaps never to be seen again in America until you buy your next car.

Such destruction of evidence shows the astounding ignorance of government officials to the value of a thorough, scientific investigation of the largest fire-induced collapse in world history. I have combed through our national standard for fire investigation, NFPA 921, but nowhere in it does one find an exemption allowing the destruction of evidence for buildings over 10 stories tall.

(Manning, 2002; emphasis added).

In an editorial in Fire Engineering, September, 2004, Bill Manning criticizes the 9/11 Commission report and renews his call for a new investigation, the major goal of this paper also:

The recommendations contained within Chapter 9 of the 9/11 Commission Report, the chapter dealing with emergency response, are disappointingly sparse in details. Surely, the largest and most tragic emergency response in history demands a more intensive, more critical investigative effort, especially since the 9/11 Commission touts its effort as the “definitive account” of the incident. More importantly, the response community, the public, and the fallen heroes and their families deserve the naked truth, whatever that may be.


To obscure the truth for political motivation is contemptible in itself. To use our fallen brothers to accomplish that political sleight-of-hand is nothing short of monstrous.

The 9/11 Commission’s treatment of the emergency response component is a disgrace. The fire service and the public must demand that a new investigative body be assembled to launch a full, complete, and politically impartial investigation into the emergency response issues leading up to and including the 9/11 disaster. Or don’t we have the stomach for it? To do anything less would be a disservice to the 343 brothers and all the other good people who perished that day, a disservice to our nation, and a disservice to ourselves.

(Manning, 2004)

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Analysis by Whistleblower Ryan

Kevin Ryan, the whistleblower from Underwriters Laboratories, did his own brief statistical analysis in a recent letter regarding the NIST report, arguing that probabilities of collapse-initiation needed to be calculated (Ryan, 2005). NIST nowhere provides such a likelihood analysis for their non-explosive collapse model.


Ryan’s estimate is that the probability that fires and damage (the “official theory”) could cause the Towers complete collapse is less than one in a trillion, and the probability is much less still when the complete collapse of WTC7 is included:

To follow the latest “leading hypothesis” [of NIST], what are the odds that all the fireproofing fell off in just the right places, even far from the point of impact? Without much test data, let’s say it’s one in a thousand. And what are the odds that the office furnishings converged to supply highly directed and (somehow) forced-oxygen fires at very precise points on the remaining columns? Is it another one in a thousand? What is the chance that those points would then all soften in unison, and give way perfectly, so that the highly dubious “progressive global collapse” theory could be born? I wouldn’t even care to guess.


But finally, with well over a hundred fires in tall buildings through history, what are the chances that the first, second and third incidents of fire-induced collapse would all occur on the same day? Let’s say it’s one in a million. Considering just these few points we’re looking at a one in a trillion chance, using generous estimates and not really considering the third building (no plane, no jet fuel, different construction [for WTC 7]).


How convenient that our miraculous result, combined with several other trains of similarly unlikely events [no interception of hijacked planes by the military on 9/11, etc.], gives us reason to invade the few most strategically important lands for the production of oil and natural gas…”

(Ryan, 2005).

Nor does NIST (or FEMA or the 9-11 Commission) even mention the molten metals found in the basements of all three buildings (WTC 1, 2 and 7).

So where does that leave us?

I strongly agree with Kevin Ryan when he says, This [“official”] story just does not add up…. That fact should be of great concern to all Americans…. There is no question that the events of 9/11 are the emotional driving force behind the War on Terror. And the issue of the WTC collapse is at the crux of the story of 9/11.

(Ryan, 2004; emphasis added.)

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Faculty Support Investigation

I presented my objections to the “official” theory at a seminar at BYU on September 22, 2005, to about sixty people. I also showed evidence and scientific arguments for the controlled demolition theory. In attendance were faculty from Physics, Mechanical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Psychology, Geology, and Mathematics – and perhaps other departments as I did not recognize all of the people present. A local university and college were represented (BYU and Utah Valley State College).

The discussion was vigorous and lasted nearly two hours. It ended only when a university class needed the room. After presenting the material summarized here, including actually looking at and discussing the collapses of WTC 7 and the Towers, only one attendee disagreed (by hand-vote) that further investigation of the WTC collapses was called for. The next day, the dissenting professor said he had further thought about it and now agreed that more investigation was needed. He joined the others in hoping that the 6,899 photographs and 6,977 segments of video footage held by NIST plus others held by the FBI would be released for independent scrutiny; photos largely from private photographers (NIST, 2005, p. 81).

Therefore, I along with others call for the release of these data to a cross-disciplinary, preferably international team of scientists and engineers.


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Inconsistencies in “Official” Models

Finally, and by way of review, we consider the variations and inconsistencies in the fire/damaged-caused collapse models with time. The earliest model, promoted by various media sources, was that the fires in the towers were sufficiently hot to actually melt the steel in the buildings, thus causing their collapse. For example, Chris Wise in a BBC piece spouted out false notions with great gusto.

“It was the fire that killed the buildings. There’s nothing on earth that could survive those temperatures with that amount of fuel burning… The columns would have melted, the floors would have melted and eventually they would have collapsed one on top of the other.”

(quoted in Paul and Hoffman, 2004, p. 25)

But as we have seen from later serious studies, most of the jet fuel burned out within minutes following impact. And recall the statement of expert Dr. Gayle refuting the notion that fires in the WTC buildings were sufficiently hot to melt the steel supports:

Your gut reaction would be the jet fuel is what made the fire so very intense, a lot of people figured that’s what melted the steel. Indeed it did not, the steel did not melt.

(Field, 2005; emphasis added)

Then we have the model of Bazant and Zhou, which requires the majority of the 47 huge steel columns on a floor of each Tower to reach sustained temperatures of 800 oC and buckle (not melt) – at the same time. But as we’ve seen, such temperatures are very difficult to reach while burning office materials, in these connected steel structures where the heat is wicked away by heat transport. (Paul and Hoffman, 2004, p. 26) And then to undergo failure at the same time for straight down collapse, well, no, this scenario is far too improbable.

That approach was, understandably, abandoned in the next effort, that by FEMA (FEMA, 2002). The FEMA team largely adopted the theory of Dr. Thomas Eagar (Eagar and Musso, 2001), which was also presented in the NOVA presentation “Why the Towers Fell" (NOVA, 2002).


Eagar expresses the view that,

“the failure of the steel was due to two factors: loss of strength due to the temperature of the fire, and loss of structural integrity due to distortion of the steel from the non-uniform temperatures in the fire.”

(Eagar and Musso, 2001)

Instead of having the columns fail simultaneously, FEMA has floor pans in the Towers warp due to fires, and the floor connections to the vertical beams break, and these floor pans then fall down onto the floor pans below, initiating “progressive collapse” or pancaking of one floor pan on another. Very simple.


But not so fast – what happens to the enormous core columns to which the floors were firmly attached? Why don’t these remain standing like a spindle with the floor pans falling down around them, since the connections are presumed to have broken away?


This interconnected steel core is founded on bedrock (Manhattan schist). FEMA does not totally ignore the core:

As the floors collapsed, this left tall freestanding portions of the exterior wall and possibly central core columns. As the unsupported height of these freestanding exterior wall elements increased [no mention of the huge central core anymore!], they buckled at the bolted column splice connections and also collapsed.”

(FEMA. 2002; emphasis added)

This approach finally fails to account for the observed collapse of the 47 interconnected core columns which are massive and designed to bear the weight of the buildings, and it has the striking weakness of evidently requiring the connections of the floor pans to the vertical columns to break, both at the core and at the perimeter columns, more or less simultaneously.
That didn’t work out, so NIST goes back to the drawing board.


They require that the connections of the floor pans to vertical columns do NOT fail (contrary to FEMA’s model), but rather that the floor pans “pull” with enormous force, sufficient to cause the perimeter columns to significantly pull in, leading to final failure (contrary to objections of ARUP Fire experts, discussed above). Also, NIST constructs a computer model—but realistic cases do not actually lead to building collapse.


So they “adjust” inputs until the model finally shows collapse initiation for the most severe cases. The details of these “adjustments” are hidden from us, in their computerized hypotheticals, but “the hypothesis is saved.” NIST also has Underwriters Laboratories construct models of the WTC trusses, but the models withstand all fires in tests and do NOT collapse. (See above for details.)

We are left without a compelling fire/impact-damage model, unless one blindly accepts the NIST computer simulation while ignoring the model fire-tests, which I’m not willing to do. NIST did not even do the routinely-used visualizations to validate their finite-element analysis model (point 13 above). And none of the “official” models outlined above accounts for what happens to the buildings AFTER the building is “poised for collapse” (NIST, 2005, p. 142) – namely the rapid and nearly-symmetrical and complete collapses.


Reports of explosions, heard and seen, are not discussed. And they ignore the squibs seen ejected from floors far from where the jets hit – particularly seen in WTC 7 (where no jet hit at all). Finally, what about that molten metal under the rubble piles of all three WTC skyscrapers and the yellow-white hot molten metal seen flowing from the South Tower just prior to its collapse?

Remarkably, the controlled demolition hypothesis accounts for all the available data rather easily. The core columns on lower floors are cut using explosives/incendiaries, near-simultaneously, along with cutting charges detonated up higher so that gravity acting on now-unsupported floors helps bring down the buildings quickly.


The collapses are thus near-symmetrical, rapid and complete, with accompanying squibs—really very standard stuff for demolition experts. Thermate (whose end product is molten iron) used on some of the steel columns readily accounts for the molten metal which then pooled beneath the rubble piles as well as the sulfidation observed in steel from both the WTC 7 and Towers rubble piles (points 1 and 2 above).

I believe this is a straightforward hypothesis, much more probable actually than the official hypothesis. It deserves scientific scrutiny, beyond that which I have been able to outline in this treatise.


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I have called attention to glaring inadequacies in the “final” reports funded by the US government. I have also presented multiple evidences for an alternative hypothesis. In particular, the official theory lacks repeatability in that no actual models or buildings (before or since 9-11-01) have been observed to completely collapse due to the proposed fire-based mechanisms. On the other hand, hundreds of buildings have been completely and symmetrically demolished through the use of pre-positioned explosives.


And high-temperature chemical reactions can account for the observed large pools of molten metal, under both Towers and WTC 7, and the sulfidation of structural steel. The controlled-demolition hypothesis cannot be dismissed as “junk science” because it better satisfies tests of repeatability and parsimony. It ought to be seriously (scientifically) investigated and debated.

A truly independent, cross-disciplinary, international panel should be formed. Such a panel would consider all viable hypotheses, including the pre-positioned-explosives theory, guided not by politicized notions and constraints, but rather by observations and calculations, to reach a scientific conclusion. If possible it would question, under oath, the officials who approved the rapid removal and destruction of the WTC steel beams and columns before they could be properly analyzed.

None of the government-funded studies have provided serious analyses of the explosive demolition hypothesis at all. Until the above steps are taken, the case for accusing ill-trained Muslims of causing all the destruction on 9-11-01 is far from compelling. It just does not add up.

And that fact should be of great concern to Americans. (Ryan, 2004). Clearly, we must find out what really caused the WTC skyscrapers to collapse as they did. The implications of what happened on 9/11/2001 clearly supersede partisan politics. Physics sheds light on the issue which we ignore to our peril as we contemplate the wars that have been and may yet be justified on the basis of the 9/11 tragedy and its “official” interpretation.

To this end, NIST must release the 6,899 photographs and over 300 hours of video recordings – acquired mostly by private parties – which it admits to holding (NIST, 2005, p. 81). Evidence relating to WTC 7 and its mysterious collapse must not be held back. In particular, photos and analyses of the molten metal observed in the basements of both Towers and WTC7 need to be brought forth to the international community of scientists and engineers immediately.


Therefore, along with others, I call for the release of these and all relevant data for scrutiny by a cross-disciplinary, international team of researchers. The explosive-demolition hypothesis will be considered: all options will be on the table.


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In writing this paper, I call for a serious investigation of the hypothesis that WTC7 and the Twin Towers were brought down, not just by impact damage and fires, but through the carefully planned use of explosives/incendiaries. I have presented ample evidence for the controlled-demolition hypothesis, which is scientifically testable and yet has not been seriously considered in any of the studies funded by the US government.

At the same time, I acknowledge that other notions have sprung up in the near vacuum of official consideration of this very plausible hypothesis. These notions must be subjected to careful scrutiny. I by no means endorse all such ideas. A March 2005 article in Popular Mechanics focuses on poorly-supported claims and proceeds to ridicule the whole “9-11 truth movement” (Chertoff, 2005). Serious replies to this article have already been written (Hoffman, 2005; Baker, 2005; Meyer, 2005).

William Rodriguez has sent important information (private communications, November 2005) which I append in closing:

“Thank you so much for coming out with a report questioning the “official Story” of 9/11. I read with a lot of dedication your paper and I distributed it widely to all the Victims and survivors of that day (I am the leader of the families and the last person pulled from the rubble from the North Tower).


You are just missing my experience. I told the 9/11 Commission about the explosions and the events on the sub-basement on that day. They did not put it in the final report. Please check the internet under “William Rodriguez 9/11”. I am trying to raise the same questions. Since I am a respected figure internationally, I noticed how my testimony has been presented unedited all over the world.


But in the USA, I am edited and even though I have a lot of respect from the media, I am asked constantly about other subjects and issues but nothing about the explosions of that day. Congratulations from the side of the really affected on that day. Keep up your investigations.


William Rodriguez

Hispanic Victims Group,

9/11 United Services Group,

Lower Manhattan Family Advisory Counsel

I thanked Mr. Rodriguez and asked him how he could say the explosion came from the subbasement below him, rather than far above (where the plane hit), also regarding the timing of the explosions.


He replied:

About my experience. My basis was, like I told the Commission, there was an explosion that came from under our feet, we were pushed upwards lightly by the effect, I was on basement level 1 and it sounded that it came from B2 and B3 level. Rapidly after that we heard the impact far away at the top. My assertions are [that] my 20 years experience there and witnessing prior to that many other noises [enable me] to conclude without any doubt where the sounds were coming from.


2ND- Some of the same people that I saved gave testimonies in interviews of the same experience prior to my actually being reunited with them after the event!!! Like I explained, some of these survivors stories were told in countless [interviews] of coverage, but in SPANISH!! I have the actual recordings available of some of the Television Specials that featured our stories.

Mr. Rodriguez worked for years in the building and his perception of sounds cannot be overlooked. He is a reliable witness. Above (and elsewhere) he records that the explosion in the sub-basement was followed “rapidly after that” by the sound of an impact far above. This assertion is remarkable for it strongly suggests that the colliding plane or its fuel could not have caused the (earlier) explosion in the sub-basement. William Rodriguez and other witnesses may shed additional light on the explosions in the Towers on 9/11/2001.

After reading this paper, you may wish to sign the petition calling for release of U.S. government-held information regarding events of 9/11/2001: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/929981172?ltl=1141667399 (Click on “See full petition” before signing.)

Reader comments on this paper and research


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I gratefully acknowledge comments and contributions by Jim Hoffman, Alex Floum, Jeffrey Farrer, Carl Weis, Victoria Ashley, William Rodriguez, Derrick Grimmer, the scholarly teams at

and Professors Jack Weyland, David Ray Griffin, James Fetzer, Richard McGinn and Paul Zarembka.


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