Well, already had some feedback from Jones and added some feedforward:
E-mail to S. Jones sent ~ 2:30 p.m. today:
Thanks for the rapid reply, but I don't believe your answers cover all of my questions!
First, while you have explained why you used magnetic separation on the WTC dust, you have not explained why your red/gray chips are magnetic. You suggest that the iron is present as ferric oxide, but the usual form of ferric oxide, alpha-Fe2O3, is non-magnetic. There is a magnetic form of ferric oxide - gamma-Fe2O3 - but I see no reson why someone would use this in a thermite preparation, do you? On the other hand, I can think of plenty of ferromagnetic materials that would have been present in the Twin Towers in very large quantities, and some of these would be in the form of films or laminated sheets.
As for the missing endothermic peak in the DSC, I am simply basing my comments on published DSC data for aluminum-iron oxide thermite reactions - see papers by J. Mei and R-H Fan in Scripta Materialia and Thermochimica Acta.
I think you are missing my point about Mn. I clearly stated my estimate of the abundance of Mn as being relative to iron. The presence of organic carbon in the sample has no bearing on this! So, as I say Mn is clearly present in the gray layer of your chips and the Mn/Fe ratio is close to the Mn/Fe ratio seen in EDAX spectra of A-36 steel. (I base this claim from comparisons to spectra I recorded back when I was doing EDAX of iron and zirconium alloys on a daily basis as part of my research for the Canadian nuclear industry.)
But finally, let's address the one point you really fail to answer in your reply to me and which poses many problems for the CD hypothesis alluded to in your paper - the question as to why your alleged thermite samples are very thin and as such would not be capable of heating massive steel columns more than 10 deg C. And while you may now argue that there may have been massive amounts of thermite in the Twin Towers - and the red/gray particles are just chips off a larger block - you suggest on page 26 of your paper that the thermite was probably present in the WTC as a "thin film". Indeed, you suggest that the chips are fragments of a coating applied to steel surfaces much like a paint. And yes, I understand Figure 30 perfectly well, but it is not relevant to my point. Let me ask: Do you understand that a 100-micron thermite film, (nano, super sol-gel or otherwise), does not have the capability to thermally weaken massive steel columns?
----- Original Message -----
From: Steven Jones
To: Frank Greening
Sent: Sunday, April 05, 2009 8:39 AM
Subject: Re: New peer-reviewed research paper published, in a Chemical Physics journal
I am glad you are reading the paper with interest. You have evidently overlooked a few important things, so I'm glad you asked. I'm including materials scientist Dr. Farrer and chemists Legge and Ryan who may wish to add to the replies I offer quickly this morning.
On Sat, Apr 4, 2009 at 10:22 PM, Frank Greening <email@example.com> wrote:
I have been reading with great interest your new paper with Professor Harrit et al. entitled “Active Thermite Material Discovered in Dust from the 9/11 World Trade Center Catastrophe.” While I have many questions about the results reported in this paper I would like, for now, to focus on just a few topics and would very much appreciate any light you are able shed on the following questions:
It is stated on page 9 of the paper that the red/gray chips are magnetic and were extracted from the WTC dust using a magnet. I am curious as to why the dust was subjected to magnetic separation and why the alleged thermitic material found in the dust would be magnetic. Does this unusual property not suggest many possible man-made sources for this type of unidentified magnetic material in the WTC?
I subjected the dust to magnetic separation because at the time I was looking for iron-rich spheres. I was surprised at the presence of these red/gray chips in abundance, along with the iron-rich spheres, and even more surprised when I examined the red material in the SEM/XEDS system. Of course man-made sources are implicated, especially given the rich 100 nm-scale structure of the red material.
2. You suggest that the DSC traces shown in Figures 19 and 29 are indicative of thermite reactions such as:
Fe2O3 + 2Al = Al2O3 + 2Fe
However, if this was true, the DSC traces should show a sharp endothermic reaction peak at 659 °C due to the melting of aluminium. Such a peak is absent from your traces. This, I think, seriously undermines your identification of the red/gray chips as some form of thermite.
Notice that that a sharp exothermic reaction occurs first, at about 430 C. This we identified as a thermitic reaction which would consume much or all of the aluminum, so why do you insist that an endothermic reaction due to melting aluminum should occur at 659 C?
The XEDS spectra for the gray layers of your samples, (shown in Figure 6 of your paper), exhibit a small peak at ~ 5.9 keV which indicates the presence of Mn. The height of this peak relative to the Fe peak at 6.4 keV shows that the Mn is about 1 % the abundance of the Fe. This surely suggests that A-36 steel is the most likely source of Fe in the gray layers of the chips, since A-36 steel contains about 1 % Mn. This is inconsistent with your proposed origin of the chips.
First, I don't agree that Mn is about 1% of the abundance of the Fe -- where did you get this number? Second, you are overlooking the presence of significant carbon which suggests an organic component -- although I say this requires further study to pin this down. Third, what are you saying is inconsistent with "your proposed origin of the chips"? I seeing nothing inconsistent here, but ask you to clarify.
You imply in your paper that some form of exothermic thermitic material was applied to critical steel surfaces in the Twin Towers, presumably to hasten their destruction. However, you also claim that the thermitic material was in the form of a coating that was typically less than 100 microns thick. To evaluate the maximum heating effect of a 100-micron layer of thermite on a WTC column one needs to calculate the heat energy released to a hypothetical thermite-coated column on one of the upper floors of the Towers, assuming most of the heat liberated by the proposed thermite reaction was absorbed by the column. The result of such a calculation shows that a temperature rise of less than 10 ° C is expected for full reaction of a 100- micron thermite coating on an upper floor core column. I therefore feel compelled to ask why anyone would bother to apply such an ineffectual coating.
First, two of the red/gray chips release more energy than thermite (more than 3.9 kJ/g) -- and indeed more than HMX, a conventional explosive -- have you understood Fig. 30? Second, we note that the chips found may be just thin material that has survived the destruction. Thicker material might have been present and consumed. There are other possibilities. The fact remains that this material exists in the WTC dust, and the central question to me is not HOW it was used, but rather WHO made the stuff and why?