Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Sounds of Loud and Clear

A little while back Pat Curley of the Screw Loose Change blog posted excerpts of a discussion at the forum about the scientific paper published by Steven Jones and others in April 2009 that reports to have found chips of nano-thermite/super-thermite in dust from the WTC.

He first quotes John Albanese,"Has Jones submitted his paper, along with samples, to independent labs for verification? no - he has not."

He then quotes Victoria Ashley, "Actually they have. Several different researchers have verified the findings."

Then Pat was happy to report that "The Sounds of Silence" were the only sounds around. That is until Ashley responded and he posted this in an update, "Victoria Ashley points to this 'independent' confirmation by a chemical engineer... I can see no direct confirmation of "nanothermite"; just talk about the iron microspheres and the red and grey chips."

You can see no direct confirmation huh? Did you miss this part where Mark Basile describes the materials as having the same physical structure and chemical composition as nano-thermite?:
So we can look at these chips and say "Oh, they're rich in iron, they're rich in carbon, oxygen", whatever there is that's in them, aluminum, silicon, you can see those elements...

...Now in nano-thermite, in these particular chips that we found, basically, what's a little bit different here is, that the way these have been .. Well I can't tell you exactly how these were made, but.. uhm.. If you go to the literature and look at how people are typically making them these days... What they do is they basically take an iron, for instance if we were going to do it with iron or aluminum again.. They would take iron and take a salt of it for instance, like iron nitrate or iron chloride, whatever the case may be, and they would uhm.. with a base basically, convert the iron into like an iron hydroxide or an iron oxide type form, in solution, but then they basically add some materials to make this almost like a gelatin form or a gel... ...but it basically allows you to get this nano-structure and that's the beginning of it.
Maybe you did miss that, but here is something I know you didn't miss...

Remember when Scootle told you this, Pat?:
As I said, they blew up skyscrapers with nanotechnology back in 2001. Another fact! You debunkers can deny it all you want but the fact is basic chemistry proves that the red material is thermitic. This stuff ignites when heated to 400-450°C and after ignition we find molten iron. Since iron doesn't melt until 1500°C, this ignition temperature of 400-450°C couldn't possibly melt iron. So the fact that we find molten iron is proof that some kind of chemical reaction has occurred.
And you responded:
Okay, can somebody see the problem here? Scootie claims they found thermitic material that does not get the temperature high enough to melt steel. Therefore, they must have melted the steel with something else! The mind boggles.
Then Scootle responded:
I have no idea what he's on about here. I think he's saying that I'm claiming that the thermite burns at 400-450°C.

What I was actually saying was, 400-450°C is the temperature that TRIGGERS the reaction. Obviously it burns much hotter, that's the point. We find molten iron afterwards, so heat energy must have been released during the reaction. 400-450°C goes in, 1500+°C comes out!
Basile states during his radio interview:
But the other interesting thing about these chips that really kind of shows you that they are the nano-thermite, (Pat must have missed that too) is that when you take these small little chips and you ignite them... If you woulda take one and grind it up beforehand; just the red layer... There is no free iron in it. When I say free iron, like, you know, little beebees of iron metal, that exist in these. You know it's iron oxide, it's not free iron. But when you ignite one, and then you break it up afterwards, you basically find these little droplets, although they're not actually I mean, as a portion of the total volume of the chip they rather significant, but they're still small because these chips are small. But you basically produce molten iron, which then when it cools down again becomes these droplets of iron. As well as the whole the nanostructure that I talked about there, kind of gets destroyed in large part during this combustion process, but some of it at the end is still there and all these inner chambers basically are coated with a very thin metallic layer after it freezes again, so... There is few interesting things that go on in them...

I basically have a setup where I have a stainless steel resistive heating element, that I basically use that's ... oh... what is it... It's about little less than a quarter of an inch across and I basically.. you know... using tweezers and micromanipulators or whatever put the chips basically in the center of the strip, and then by controlling the amount of electricity that flows through the strip, I can heat it up to pretty much any temperature that I want. I don't bring them, you know, anywheres near, you know, the temperatures to do anything harmful to them, but just up enough to basically get them to ignite, and they ignite in the region of... oh... somewhere a little over 400 degrees centigrade typically, and uhm.... When they ignite, you know, I basically have just recorded them burning and then after the fact you can open them up and look inside for these uh.. these iron droplets and films that I spoke of earlier.
One of the interviewers, George Corrette, adds:
Now one of the things that we've heard; these kind of crude critiques of this study is: 'Well all these red and gray chips, well how do you know they're just not paint chips'. What would one expect with Sherman-Williams exterior coat paint if you were to do the exact same thing with this: take those paint chips, put them on this quarter inch resistance heater that you have, and ignite it if you will, heat it up to a point of ignition...
Basile responds:
...If I have a thermite fire and I were to put that rod in there it would melt, be.. you know, if I had sufficient material there to do that, so... it's just the level of energy release, so, yep, there'd be an energy release, but I wouldn't expect say if within that paint chip there was iron oxide as one of the pigments that they put in there, I wouldn't expect to open that paint chip afterwards and find, you know, molten iron has been produced and now there would be iron droplets inside the residue of that chip.
To summarize, the chips have the same physical structure and chemical composition as nano-thermite and produced a high temperature chemical reaction and iron-rich spheres which are a by-product of a thermite reaction. Now, Pat would have us ignore the actual findings and just focus on the fact that Basile is a member of Scholars for 9/11 Truth & Justice and Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth, and thus not independent.

First off, in an exchange of emails with Robert Erickson, producer of the September 2009 National Geographic special on 9/11, Steven Jones suggested that he attempt independent confirmation and gave recommendations as to how this could be achieved, Jones states:
I urge you to contact Los Alamos National Laboratory and request at least three "prototype" samples of super-thermite matches.

Ask two independent laboratories to do SEM/EDS and DSC analyses as described in our paper on the super-thermite material contained in these matches. The results would then be compared carefully with those already obtained on red chips found in the WTC dust.

Such analyses are worthy of scientific publication in a peer-reviewed journal (unlike placing bags of commercial thermite next to steel columns).
So the idea that Steven Jones has not sought completely independent confirmation is bunk. In turn it is also bunk to claim, as is often the case, that a sample of his material is required to confirm his work.

The only argument that could still emerge in light of these facts is the claim that the chain of custody wasn't clearly established. First off, it was. As Jim Hoffman has explained "each of the samples was collected by a different individual who has described the time, place, and methods of collecting and storing their sample." Victoria Ashley pointed out that "the handling of the samples was done no differently then typical scientific studies, and much research out there on the dust uses the same methods and no police were involved."

Pat Curley counters with an admission:

And in a sense, she's right. Nobody cares where the USGS or the EPA (which she mentions later) got their samples. But there's a crucial difference here. The chain of custody matters precisely because the Troofers are claiming this is evidence that nanothermite was used to bring down the towers. Presumably they would like to use this as evidence in a court of law, which has very strict standards for chain of custody.
But what is Pat trying to say? As Scootle has pointed out, questioning the chain of custody is "effectively accusing the scientists and the citizens of conspiring to fake evidence by manufacturing high-tech nanocomposites." Conspiracy theory anyone?

Back to Basile. Independent is defined as being "free from the influence, guidance, or control of another or others." How interesting it is then that Steven Jones made this comment regarding the interview:
This is the first that I have heard of Mark Basile's radio program. Thank you, Snowcrash, for posting this interview.

I congratulate Mark for giving this interview and going on record about his own independent observations.

We have exchanged emails which have proven very helpful. Mark was the first to observe iron-rich spheres in the post-ignition residue of the red-chip material. I need to emphasize that. With that encouragement from Mark, we went back to our own samples and immediately found iron-rich spheres in the post-ignition residue also-- ours were ignited in a DSC. (Mark used a different method of igniting the red material, which he explains in his interview above.) This discovery, of iron-rich spheres in the post-ignition residue, was in fact the last piece of convincing evidence that we needed to assure ourselves that this indeed a thermitic reaction -- for it demonstrated the reduction of iron-oxide to iron AND very high temperatures at the same time, both characteristic of the thermitic reaction.
It certainly doesn't sound like he was taking any marching orders, but rather was doing truly independent analysis.

Pat points out that French researcher Frédéric Henry-Couannier was unable to confirm the findings in the paper, however, this is only partially true, as Ashley points out, "He was able to confirm several aspects of the experiments, such as the presence of microspheres and the presence of red/dark gray chips and chemical composition of layers."

Couannier does state that "eventually the presence of nanothermite could not be confirmed." This was due to him not being able to ignite the chips in his samples, but he notes a distinct difference:
In my samples the red-red chips replace the red/gray ones reported to be found in other samples...
except for, may be, one exceptional red/gray chip i found and described elsewhere...

So, may be, the red-red chips are just fragments originating from red-grey chips that already reacted at the WTC and for this reason cannot react anymore.
The one red/gray chip he was able to find "could not be recovered for an ignition test."

Pat thinks this distinction is inconsequential, stating, "Although he mostly found red chips instead of red and gray ones, that doesn't matter, because Jones claimed that it was the red portion that showed the thermitic reaction."

Well first off, as was pointed out, it wasn't "mostly red chips instead of red and gray ones," it was all but one, which was apparently so small that he wasn't able to recover it for testing. So it certainly does matter that his chips were different from the ones we know did react? Here are two videos of chip ignitions:

As a comment on Pat's blog pointed out, "What did Mark Basile find though? Funny, again no mention of that in this piece. It's as if Basile doesn't exist, but Couannier does."

Couannier notes that the red/red chips have "many shiny gray metallic spots at the surface." Again, this is evidence that the reaction has already taken place and created microspheres.

Victoria Ashley also believes that Couannier did not have the equipment needed to do the ignition test properly. Pat on other hand believes that heat is heat.

As Jim Hoffman has pointed out, nano-thermite requires "highly specific conditions for detonation." The nano-thermite authors used a Differential Scanning Calorimeter for their ignition tests, Basile used a stainless steel resistive heating element which he passed electricity through, and Couannier used a furnace. It could be that the heat in his furnace was not sufficiently focused to initiate detonation.

Pat covers his ass with Plan B by again playing the "not independent" card because Couannier has pages on his website that question the official 9/11 story. I guess this is why he only confirmed what he could based on the empirical data he gathered then, right?

It must be pointed out that Niels Harrit, who is an expert in nano-chemistry and an Associate Professor of Chemistry at Copenhagen University in Denmark, was the first author of the paper. Critics often act as if Jones wrote the paper alone. As Ashley pointed out, "Niels Harrit is not in Utah and did not start off working with Steve. They have different labs and both found the same things. Harrit walks a reporter through his lab in one of the videos."

Pat of course ignores this tid bit that Ashley points out concerning independent confirmation:
This was an article in Denmark media that is google translated. The journalists tried to find someone to confirm the work and they do confirm that the methods are correct -- have tried to check the content of the article from independent scientists working with nanotechnology.Professor of inorganic chemistry Jens Ulstrup Technical University of Denmark (DTU) know like the other sources not nanotermit, but he did skim through the article and felt that assessments are made on the basis of 'very suitable' test by current standards.

Another person in the article doubts the work but admits he does not work with nanotechnology.
She also points out, as did Basile, that official reports from the US Geological Survey (USGS) and the RJ Lee Group "basically confirm the products of nanothermite," most namely, the iron-rich spheres, she adds, "But they were not looking for it themselves. You aren't going to find people at those orgs that want to lose their jobs to expose nano-thermite. As it is, we only have a handful of people who have been willing to put their careers on the line for this."

Most importantly she noted that publishing in a peer-reviewed journal is independent. When she was fielded the argument that the "conclusion that this is a thermitic material is not justified based on the data," she replied, "But you won't see that coming out in a paper anytime soon because they are making false claims. They can critique his method, as anyone can critique any study's methods, but they won't be able to show that it isn't thermitic material. When these claims are published, we can talk about it again."

Furthermore, the work of the official investigators at the National Institute for Standards and Technology has not been peer-reviewed! And they refused to run the proper tests that the USGS study alone should have prompted:
On August 30, 2006, the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) posted on their website a list of fourteen frequently asked questions (FAQ) and answers to them."

"Q: Did the NIST investigation look for evidence of the WTC towers being brought down by controlled demolition? Was the steel tested for explosives or thermite residues?

A: NIST did not test for the residue of these compounds in the steel.
I think the evidence is clear and have demonstrated this thoroughly in a recent blog, which debunks every criticism short of what is in this blog. I also think that much due diligence has been exercised by the authors of the nanothermite paper. I in turn think more could be exercised if they had more material to work with, Basile made this clear in his interview when he stated:
I think there's a lot more things that could actually be learned about the material, uhm.. but one problem is just scarcity of samples.

So uh.. anybody out there who has access to samples and ..uh... you know would like to submit them to be looked at, I'd be more than happy to look at anything anybody could send me, but eh... the number one problem is sample.
The government can surely obtain these samples very easily, perhaps they are the ones that we should be pushing to independently confirm these findings through a blue ribbon-panel of experts.

Update March 4, 2011:

Here is an interview with Basile from October of last year, which Pat has not addressed where Basile again states that he has unequivocally confirmed the findings and throws down the gauntlet for anyone to refute him by doing experiments.
I have independently seen thermitic activity within two independent samples of World Trade Center Dust. [...] I would really like to stress that we need a lot more people involved in this work than just the few of us that are doing it right now.

My work with this has brought me to feel that this material is too big of an unanswered question and it really brings us to demand a new investigation. This is hard evidence that can not be refuted.

Anyone can replicate the work that’s been done and confirm that this material is there.

Mark Basile, chemical engineer

Update March 30, 2011:

Here is a presentation by Basile brought to our attention by YouTube user Lietuvispartizan. At around minute 38:00 he discusses his analyzation of the red/gray chips.