Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Reply: Jesse The BSer Ventura: I Called It!

Update - 7/25/2011: Chemist Kevin Ryan published a video of an experiment proving that Van Romero was not using super-thermite in his experiment.

Update - 10/11/2010: Civil Engineer Jonathan Cole published a video of experiments he carried out proving that thermite variants can demolish vertically standing steel beams.

Pat Curley of the Screw Loose Change blog called it!:

Remember back in December when the Governator had his Conspiracy Theory Show on the 9-11 Fruitcakes? There was a segment where Van Romero painted superthermite on a steel beam and lit it on fire.
(starts about 40 seconds into this clip):

Note that Romero asks the question, 'Does it burn long enough and hot enough so that we have structural failure?' at about 1:50 into the video. Hilariously, Ventura cuts off Romero at that point. As I said at the time:

"And we see that while the unpainted beam did not catch fire, the painted beam did seem to light up. But will it fail structurally?"

Well, no kidding they skip right over that part. Apparently the idea that the steel caught on fire, however briefly, is enough to convince Jesse that this was how they did it. And nobody stops to mention that the claim is that they destroyed columns (vertical) not beams (horizontal), and that we haven't seen the beam actually destroyed in the video by any means. It's another TrutherBurn fiasco!"

Well guess what Pat, Scootle Royale of the Debunking the Debunkers blog called it too! As he said at the time:

The superthermite demonstration was a bit crap .. and they didn't even show the ending so I'm assuming the beam didn't break. To be honest I'm not sure it was superthermite, the documentary did mix thermite and superthemite a few times. Also it was never explicitly stated whether the particles in the demonstration were on the nano scale. However it did appear to burn longer than ordinary thermite. Which is interesting because it's consistent with the fact that ground zero cooked for several months after the event.
Scootle adds, "I also highly doubt that there was any organic material in the so-called superthermite in that demonstration. Which is what creates the explosive force."

Indeed, the authors of the April 2009 scientific paper that found nano-thermite in the WTC dust quoted an April 2000 report by Gash et. al. which states the following about the sol-gel process, "Once dry the (hybrid inorganic/organic energenic composite) material burns very vigorously and rapidly with the evolution of significant amounts of gaseous species."

The authors note the following of the material found in the dust, "The carbon content of the red material indicates that an organic substance is present. This would be expected for super-thermite formulations in order to produce high gas pressures upon ignition and thus make them explosive."

I called it too! As I said at the time, "Pat does have a point concerning the thoroughness of the experiment... ...The 'paint' hypothesis is just one of many. Steven Jones thoroughly detailed this during a debate with Dr. Frank Greening in April-May, 2009."

Among the things Jones mentioned was using nano-thermite in shaped charges to cut through steel explosively as suggested in Fig. 1 of Miziolek AW, 'Nanoenergetics: an emerging technology area of national importance.' Amptiac Spring 2002; 6(1): 43-48. Available from:

In addition to noting all of this, I also recommended comments at the time where it is questioned why Ventura cut off the clip, if the beam failed, and whether the material in the experiment was genuine nano-thermite.

Although super-thermite and nano-thermite are interchangeable terms, thermite with additives such as sulfur and/or barium nitrate known as thermate is also sometimes incorrectly referred to as super-thermite. Case in point, the definition of thermate contains no mention of it being called super-thermite or it being explosive like the thermite talked about in the show.

Mechanical Engineer Tony Szamboti noted that it might have been nano-thermite, but pointed out in his comment that, "Nanothermite is tailorable as far as it's brisance by varying particle size. Additionally, some energetic materials like gun powder need containment to quickly generate very high pressures and become explosive, otherwise they just burn. In the case of the open air placement on the beam the nanothermite burned but it was obviously quite energetic."

Pat, if you really have the cahones to take on the nano-thermite issue then write a detailed rebuttal to my recent blog. Or you can just act like you've debunked something because a steel beam wasn't destroyed by a few strokes of a paint brush.