Monday, July 25, 2011

Van The BSer Romero: We Called It!

Awhile back, Pat Curley of the Screw Loose Change blog posted an entry entitled "Jesse The BSer Ventura: I Called It!" criticising Ventura for deceptive editing on the first 9/11 episode of his show Conspiracy Theory when it was revealed that he cut off the end of an experiment by explosives expert Van Romero where he painted "super-thermite," more formally known as nano-thermite, on a steel beam which in the end didn't fail structurally. I responded at the time by noting that blog contributor Scootle Royale and myself, also criticized the experiment from the beginning. Scootle stated, "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."

I noted that the "paint" hypothesis is just one of many and recommended comments after the show first aired 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

Now thanks to chemist Kevin Ryan we know the answer to that question.

Source URL:

So who is the real BSer?! Ventura may have chose not to show the end of the experiment because it was only a very small amount of "super-thermite" used and it was ludicrous to think it would cause the beam to fail. But Romero definitely knew he wasn't using true super-thermite.

As Wikipedia notes:

Nano-thermite, also called "super-thermite",[1] is the common name for a subset of metastable intermolecular composites (MICs) characterized by a highly exothermic reaction after ignition. Nano-thermites contain an oxidizer and a reducing agent, which are intimately mixed on the nanometer scale. MICs, including nano-thermitic materials, are a type of reactive materials investigated for military use, as well as in applications in propellants, explosives, and pyrotechnics.

What separates MICs from traditional thermites is that the oxidizer and a reducing agent, normally iron oxide and aluminium are not a fine powder [such as in Romero's experiment], but rather nanoparticles. This dramatically increases the reactivity relative to micrometre-sized powder 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.

Furthermore, the show mentioned super-thermite as being explosive several times before showing Romero's experiment, so it seems likely that they would have made him aware that this is the caliber of material they wanted tested. It is also probable that he was made aware of the nano-thermite paper published a little over a month before he conducted his experiment, especially because he has been involved in the 9/11 controversy since very early on when he initially stated the buildings looked like they were brought down with explosives.

Either way, he should know that in the scientific literature super-thermite is synonymous with nano-thermite. As Greg Henricks put it in a letter to, Romero is "a former director of the Energetic Materials Research and Testing Center at New Mexico Tech, which studies explosive materials and the effects of explosions on buildings, aircraft and other structures." And the center has been the testing ground for companies like Energetic Materials and Products Inc. for "nanoaluminum based technology," such as nano-thermite.

As to why Romero and the other experts at New Mexico Tech failed with thermite..​.
...maybe, just maybe, it had something to do with their funding.

Update 7/26/11:

Pat Curley has posted the new nano-thermite video, stating, "Obvious question for the Waterboy: Did the nanothermite burn for weeks, creating large pools of molten iron?"

As I've written before, Pat calls Kevin Ryan, who has a B.S. in chemistry from Indiana University, a waterboy because he worked as a chemistry lab manager at a premier water-testing laboratory.

Obviously the reason the material didn't burn for weeks is because it was a very small amount. A paper Ryan published in the journal "The Environmentalist" outlines pretty well how the emissions and high temps at GZ were very consistent with long occuring chemical reactions.

Related Info:

Van Romero, Vice President of New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, gained lasting notoriety for candid remarks concerning the collapses of the Twin Towers. In a September 11, 2001 article in the Albuquerque Journal, Romero was quoted as stating that the collapses of the Twin Towers were the result of explosive devices.

A scan of some articles from New Mexico Tech's website suggests a motive for Van Romero's about-face...