Tuesday, July 25, 2006

an Open Letter to Professor Jonathan Barnett


Months ago, I was involved in a brief correspondence with Jonathan Barnett, a professor of Fire Protection Engineering at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Dr. Barnett (along with others from WPI) performed the 'Initial Microstructural Analysis of A36 Steel from WTC Building 7', the results of which became FEMA 403 Appendix C (pdf).

The correspondence began after I discovered a mis-attributed quote in one of Dr. Frank Greening's papers at 911myths.com, 'Sulfur and the World Trade Center Disaster' (pdf), which seemed to suggest that FEMA Report 403 had blamed 'acid rain' for the extreme sulfidation and erosion of structural steel at WTC7.

Once it had been determined that the quote actually came from an interview in the Spring 2002 edition of 'Transformations', WPI's alumni newsletter, the 911myths paper was updated and I subsequently received the following email from Professor Barnett:

The major issue Mr. Skeptical is that you ASSUME the worst.

Dr. Greening is a thoughtful scientist. Instead of celebrating his work you zeroed in on a minor point.
The world would be a far better place if we assumed people meant well and that what you see is what you get.
Even your penname, is a reflection of strife and lack of trust in people who have done nothing to earn this view of them. I feel sorry for you and others like you who go through life like this.
One of the reasons I spend a lot of time in Australia is that by far the vast majority of Australians assume you are fair dinkum unless you prove otherwise. You might try starting over and work from that viewpoint.
You'll find it refreshing, your health will improve, and the world will be a better place.

Until then, you will have my prayers as I pray that you find peace in your soul.



I wrote the following reply to Professor Barnett, including what seemed to me a series of simple, straightforward questions regarding WPI's analysis. That was three months ago, and Prof. Barnett has still not replied, leaving these questions unanswered. After re-sending the email last week, I decided to also post it here so that anyone else who's interested can follow up with WPI, NIST, and/or FEMA...

Professor Barnett -

I appreciate your sentiments, and I share your wish for the world to be a better place than it is.

True, the world might actually be better off if we all assumed that people meant well. Especially if there were some grounds upon which to base such an assumption. But in the absence of any proof that people mean well, assuming that they do just lulls you into a false sense of security. And assuming that ‘what you see is what you get’, when there’s little or no reason to do so, will accomplish the same thing – to foster an unwarranted sense of well-being and complacency.

Frankly, if the last five years have shown us anything, it's that far too often what you get is what you DON'T see.

For instance, in the 'WYSIWYG' world that you describe:

- It would not have taken the angry, tearful insistence of 9/11 victims' families to convince the President to launch an investigation into the events of September 11th.

- President bush's initial choice to head the 9/11 investigation would not have been Henry Kissinger, the man who once said "It is not a matter of what is true that counts, but what is perceived to be true..."

- Sibel Edmonds would not still be under a gag order imposed by former US Attorney General John Ashcroft, preventing her from disclosing to the public what she discovered while working as a translator for the FBI.

- In the minutes following the 1st WTC impact, FBI Special Agent Coleen Rowley's request for a warrant to question Zacharias Moussaoui, or to examine his laptop, would not have been denied on the morning of 9/11, during which time she claims to have been told "we were to do nothing in Minneapolis until we got their (HQ's) permission because we might "screw up" something else going on elsewhere in the country..."

- We would not still be waiting, five years later, for VP Cheney to disclose the participants in, and details from, his infamous "Energy Task Force" meetings.

and, most recently,

- DHS would not have just cut my city's anti-terror funding by 40%, with no explanation and no transparency into the decision-making process.


I know that in your capacity as a Professor of Fire Protection Engineering @ WPI, the above examples are outside your bailiwick. I also realize that they fall outside of the scope of Dr. Greening's papers.

I only mention them to illustrate the present culture of obfuscation and suppression of information, particularly re: 9/11, that has descended over the country since the bush Administration took office. The same culture that has given rise to the skepticism I share with a host of others, among them 'thoughtful scientists', retired military officers, former government officials, etc.

In fact, my 'penname', skeptosis, is nothing more than a combination of Greek elements meant to signify 'the process of thinking'.* Just to be clear, it's the 'strife' that has led to the 'thinking', not the other way around.


The 'lack of trust' which you observe in my statements was initially prompted by Dr. Greening's mis-attribution of the 'acid rain' quote. This would've been innocuous enough had that quote not served as one of the main points of introduction in his paper, "Sulfur and the World Trade Center Disaster", a paper which seems to shout "ANYTHING BUT THERMITE!".

My initial reaction to the mis-attribution appeared in a heated exchange on a weblog, in which I claimed incorrectly that the quote was 'fabricated' and 'falsified', and that Dr. Greening 'lied'. I have since revised my statements, both on the blog in question and within this correspondence.

However, my skepticism was compounded by the fact that Dr. Greening has chosen to publish his papers exclusively on a website devoted to debunking 9/11 'myths' (911myths.com), rather than publishing them in ANY scientific journal, whether in America or Canada. Were these papers to undergo a rigorous peer review, and then find their way into such a publication, I (and many others) would certainly be 'celebrating his work'. Unfortunately, the fact that these papers appear NOWHERE ELSE on the internet besides 911myths.com has led me to question the merits of his papers' assertions and conclusions.


Lastly, while I appreciate your concerns for my health, and your offers of prayer, my skepticism would be considerably diminished if you could instead answer the following questions, which should hopefully demonstrate that the only 'agenda' i'm pursuing is the truth:

(1) What became of the sample of A36 steel from WTC7, which was used in your (WPI's) initial microstructural analysis?

(1a) Was it transferred to a Federal Agency?

(1b) If so, to which Agency, and when?

(1c) If not, why was it not released to NIST, which states in NCSTAR 1-3 that “no steel was recovered from WTC7”?

(2) Doesn't NIST's reliance on "literature and contemporaneous documents", rather than actual samples of the eroded steel from WTC7, severely hamper the Institute's ability to investigate the true cause of the collapse of WTC7, and call into question the validity of the Institute's (as yet unreleased) findings?

(3) If, in fact, acid rain or ocean salt are to blame for the sulfidation of the steel beams of WTC7, at what point would these beams have been exposed to these elements in such quantities to have compromised the structural integrity of the entire building?

(Professor Biederman's quote in the Spring 2002 Transformations article, "a lot of water on a burning building will cause sulfuric acid...", seems to imply that there was a significant amount of water on or around WTC7 on 9/11. I live in Manhattan, and was here on 9/11, and can assure you that there was no precipitation on that day, acid or otherwise. Additionally, according to FEMA Report 403, Chapter 5, "due to lack of water, no manual firefighting actions were taken by FDNY" at WTC7. So i am curious as to the proposed source of the 'lot of water' in this case.)

(4) If, in fact, ASTM Grade A36 steel is so astonishingly susceptible to sulfidation in the presence of ocean salt, why on earth is A36 Steel the (API RP2A) standard construction material for steel plates and structures in offshore oil platforms, which are totally and constantly exposed to ocean salt, and, to a lesser extent, sulfur compound (SO2) emissions?

(4a) Has steel from the many offshore platforms which have burned over the years ever exhibited the post-eutectic 'Swiss cheese appearance' observed in the WTC7 sample?

(5) Is WPI's 2002-03 Stoddard Fellow Erin Sullivan still examining the WTC7 sample as part of her graduate studies, as was suggested by the Spring 2002 Transformations article?

(5a) If so, when will the results of this additional analysis be published?

Thank you again for your time. Regardless of the outcome of this correspondence, I appreciate your taking the time to reply to my emails, and I am eagerly looking forward to the day when I can write under my own name rather than a pseudonym.



* technically, if 'the process of thinking' was what i was going for, i would've chosen the name 'cogitosis'. 'skep' as a root is more accurately look/consider/examine. which is even more appropriate than i'd originally hoped.


no_slappz said...


Despite the entry that purports to have come from the pen of Jonathan Barnett, there is no credible indication that he wrote it.

Since you are a proven liar, I must conclude you wrote the entry for your own purposes.

In any case, if he wrote it, he has expressed his belief that you are a nut, a sentiment I share with him, or whomever wrote the note.

Perhaps, as I said, you wrote the note. Perhaps there are two minds inhabiting your skull and one mind has determined the other is insane.

A battle may well be underway between these two opposed factions within you. As your alter-ego -- Barnett -- has suggested, a long rest might do you some good.

skeptosis said...

w0w, you're even more mentally unhinged than i had first suspected.

i'd forward his email to you but of course your reaction would be "for all i know you concocted this 'hotmail' thing out of thin air"...

i'll give you 24h to show where i am, as you put it, a "proven liar", after which your comment will be deleted as a baseless accusation.

skeptosis said...

the 24h has come and gone, but i suppose i'll leave the previous comment as evidence of the mental challenges faced by some 'debunkers'...

E2W&B said...

I think the whole issue of WTC-myths is placed enuf emphasis...whaatever we do the fact is that the Jet-collision was the prime reason for collapse... WTC7 was and still remains a serious contender for the Doubtful-but-neverthless-true cases.

Kudos to skeptosis for pursuing it to the hilt - as the brits say !

coilGcoyle said...

Thanks for your well reasoned research. Remember, there is no statute of limitations for murder, we shall have the truth before long.

Patrick said...


I work with Mr. Barnett and I am quite certain that he has more constructive and important things to do than to respond to your posting. (Such as being interviewed by the BBC)

As for the "conspiracies," I hope we can agree that the collpase of towers 1 and 2 is wholly because of the plane impacts and ensuing fires. The collapse of WTC 7 is not as obvious to me, but given the construction of the building, with long transfer girders to get columns out of the way for the ConEd station, the loss of certain elements (transfer girders) could conceivably bring down the entire structure at once.

Enough of the tech talk though. You guys get too wrapped up in little details that you really, and nobody really, will fully understand. You need to take a step back and look at the whole picture. Which is, in my opinion, that it is completely possible that a handful of people within the US Government could have known about the attacks and not prevented them. However, from an engineering standpoint, it is essentially impossible that any of the building collapses were the result of anything other than the plane impacts.

Thank you,

Patrick said...

Also, why did nobody make any of these claims within the first couple years? It seems to have crept up much more in the past few years.

I hear that is what happened when JFK was shot...

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Anonymous said...

"A combination of an uncontrolled fire and the structural damage might have been able to bring the building down, some engineers said. But that would not explain steel members in the debris pile that appear to have been partly evaporated in extraordinarily high temperatures," Dr. Jonathan Barnett 2001


pomeroo said...

The crackpot Chris Sarns has raved for years about nonexistent concrete cores in the twin towers. Leslie Robertson was gracious enough to supply me with a statement declaring that neither WTC 1 nor WTC 2 had a concrete core.

Predictably Sarns accused me of fakery. I suggested that he contact Robertson's office for confirmation.

Sarns ran away.

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Dan Plesse said...

Professor Jonathan Barnett was apart BPAT Oct 5th too late team to Sept 11th.
NYC Rushed Evidence Removal of World Trade Center before FEMA BPAT https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=klaLuk1Aq-M

Dan Plesse said...

"A liquid eutectic

mixture containing primarily

iron, oxygen, and sulfur formed

during this hot corrosion attack

on the steel."

Is the liquid iron molten?

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Dan Plesse said...


You forgot a few things. First NEW Blueprints for WTC 7 "First design meeting in April 2000" by Larry S.

April 2000 Blueprints made for Building 7, Explosions at WTC 7

I also counted 38 flashed right before 5:20

CNN also edited out the WTC 7 and WTC 7 blueprints had elements missing.

Dan Plesse said...

I also found this
"The FEMA report calls for further metallurgic investigations, and Barnett,
Biederman and Sisson hope that WPI will obtain NIST funding and
access to more samples. They are continuing their microscopic studies
on the samples prepared by graduate student Jeremy Bernier and Marco
Fontecchio, the 2001–02 Helen E. Stoddard Materials Science and
Engineering Fellow. (Next year's Stoddard Fellow, Erin Sullivan, will take
up this work as part of her graduate studies.) Publication of their results
may clear up some mysteries that have confounded the scientific

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