Monday, January 28, 2013

The WTC Dust: Science and Replication

A few years ago a team of scientists studied the red/gray chips in dust samples of the World Trade Center buildings and came to the conclusion that they were the remains of an active thermitic material, which could have been used as explosives. Since then their claim has been disputed. But no one has tried to replicate their results. Science isn't just about trying to get peer-reviewed papers published. That's only part of the story. Once results have been published, it is then the job of other scientists to try to replicate the results, by doing the same experiments, though perhaps under more controlled conditions. NIST, for example, has dust samples of their own. They could conduct the same experiments and see what they get.

Meanwhile, Mark Basile, a chemical engineer and signer of the petition that requests a new, independent investigation into the events of 9/11, along with over 1,750 architects and engineers, is trying to raise funds to conduct a blind study of the dust samples. The fundraising is going slow. It hasn't been advertised in the two major 9/11 truther websites, which makes one wonder why. Is it distrust of Basile? Of the lab that he would eventually select? A fear that authorities would discover which lab it was and infiltrate, bribe, or threaten it to get negative results? That would be my fear. But whatever the reason, so far no one is trying to replicate the results of the original study. And so science (at least regarding the dust samples) remains at a stand still.


27 comments:

Oystein said...

Hello Bilbo,

you claim that "no one has tried to replicate their results". This is not true.

In late 2011, Colorado-based journalist Chris Mohr raised some money and secured the service of Dr. James Millette, owner and chief forensic scientist at MVA Scientific Consultants in Duluth, Georgia, a prestigious forensic labiratory with decades of experience in just that kind of material characterization. He submitted a preliminary report on his findings on february 29th last year, which can be found here:

Report of Results: MVA9119. Progress Report on the Analysis of Red/Gray Chips in WTC dust. Prepared for Classical Guide, Denver, 29 February 2012.

In a nutshell, Millette was asked to pull out red-gray chips from sampled of WTC dust by the same method that Harrit and his team did (a two-step approach: 1. Pull particles out that are attracted by a permanent magnet, 2. By visual inspection, select red-gray chips from thos magnetically attracted particles), characterize them by XEDS, and then select chips whose XEDS spectra matched those shown in Figures 6 and 7 of the Harrit paper (which I call "chips a-d"). He was then supposed to further analyse these chips.

From a close reading and careful appreciation of the Harrit paper, it was long clear that these chips a-d were most probably a paint containing kaolin clay (aluminium silicate, Al-Si-O signature, hexagonal platelets) and red hematite pigment (Fe2O3). It had been suggested (by myself and collaborators) that these chips may specifically be the primer paint that LaClede Steel company applied to the WTC floor joists on all 200+ office floors of the twin towers. This paint was specified to be made of red iron oxide pigment, Al-silicate and a bit of strontium chromate in an organic epoxy matrix. Out hypothesis was strengthened by the fact that Harrit, in a letter dated May 2009, had reported traces of both strontium and chromium in chip a.

Millette analysed such chips with competent forensic methods, specifically FTIR and TEM-SAED, and was able to confirm that the hexagonal plates, identical to what Harrit e.al. observed in chips a-d, are indeed kaolin clay, the small grains are indeed hematite (in an ordinary size for red pigment), and the organic matrix is indeed epoxy. So that confirmed most of our predictions and established as a certainty that these chips are really just paint. Millette specifically concluded that there is no elemental Al in those chips - which immediately rules out "thermite" 100%.

Some more info in my blog: http://oystein-debate.blogspot.de/

Kind regards
Oystein

Anonymous said...

Bilbo,

I'd like to inform you that your article is really "out-of date" and your sentence "But whatever the reason, so far no one is trying to replicate the results of the original study" is not correct.

Last year, respected forensic scientist James Millette replicated/verified the paper of Harrit et al and came to this conclusion:
"The red/gray chips found in the WTC dust at four sites in New York City are consistent with a carbon steel coated with an epoxy resin that contains primarily iron oxide and kaolin clay pigments.
There is no evidence of individual elemental aluminum particles of any size in the red/gray chips, therefore the red layer of the red/gray chips is not thermite or nano-thermite."

You can find the preliminary report of Millette here: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/64959841/9119ProgressReport022912_rev1_030112web.pdf

It basically means that according to this study, red layers of chips are red epoxy paints with usual pigments (iron oxide, kaolinite) and gray layers are scales or steel rust, as has been expected already for several years by qualified people.

And here you can find very extensive discussion of the results: http://forums.randi.org/showthread.php?t=231314 .

(Note: Kevin Ryan refused to give his samples of dust to Millette, so Millette analyzed his own samples.)

Regards
Ivan Kminek, Czech polymer chemist and member of JREF:o)


Anonymous said...

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/64959841/9119ProgressReport022912_rev1_030112webHiRes.pdf

Bilbo said...

Hi Oystein and Ivan,

Why do you think Millette didn't perform the DSC experiment?

Oystein said...

Hello Bilbo,

the actual reason why Millette didn't do a DSC test was twofold:
a) It was neither sufficient nor necessary to answer the question that was the objective of his study, namely: "Do these red-gray chips, presented as chips a-d in the Harrit paper, contain thermite?" Millette had shown, using competent and sufficient methods (FTIR, TEM) that the Al was bound as kaolin clay (Al-silicate) and checked through an intelligent XEDS mapping that there is no area of just Al anywhere in the chips. With zero unbound (elemental Al) present, the material cannot be thermite, by definition.
b) His lab simply does not have a DSC device (DSC is NOT a method used by competent, exoperienced forensic scientists to figure out the identity of materials!), and going to another lab would have cost money that none of us cared to waste


There are, however, more excellent reasons NOT to attempt to replicate the DSC as done by Harrit e.al.:

1. The DSC results themselves (Fig. 19, 29, the energy densities stated), in conjunction with XEDS spectra etc., actually prove that even the chips tested by Farrer for the Harrit study cannot have experienced a high-temperature thermite reaction

2. The test cannot be rep├╝licated, as there exists zero information which of the various different kinds of red-gray chips Farrer tested in the DSC. I hope you are aware that, by now, Jones, Ryan, Basile all admit that there are different kinds of red-gray chips. Basile states that the vast majority of them are actually paint! The Harrit paper has data that points to at least 6 different kinds of chips that they looked at. So which kind of chip should Millette test?

3. They did the DSC test incorrectly and inexpertly, such that its results cannot be compared to those of the LNLL nano-thermite researcher they cite. Those did the test under pure (inert) nitrogen. Jones has claimed for years that they contacted the LNLL and did the test under air like they did, but now admits, after being corrected by Farrer, that they don't in fact know how the LNLL team did it. But I know - I have been forwarded personal mails by Gash and Tillotson.

4. DSC is not well suited to measure the heat flow of truly powerful reactions.

Kind regards
Oystein

Bilbo said...

Not sure I understand all your points, Oystein, but replication means trying to conduct the same experiments. One may conduct additional experiments. But if one does not conduct the same experiments, it isn't replication.

Oystein said...

Bilbo,

let me boil it down to two points:

1. The DSC cannot be replicated. It is not possible to replicated it. This is because it is not known what material the test was done upon.

2. It is an incompetent nonsense test, incorrectly done.


To elaborate on 1.:
- Do you understand that the Harrit team was looking at several different kinds of red-gray chips in their study? And that (at least) some of these actually were paints? This is very important to understand!
- Do you understand that they did not document in any way at all which of the several different kinds of red-gray chips they tested in the DSC? Millette, too, found several different kinds of red-gray chips in the DSC. Which should he have tested? Remember that doing a DSC costs money if you don't have such a machine yourself. So you don't want to test a large number of chips at random, you need some criteria by which to choose chips. Such criteria do not exist, have not been provided by Harrit e.al.!
If you disagree on this, then please name the criteria!


Comments on 2.:
Suppose Harrit e.al., instead of doing a DSC, had swung a magic pendulum over the chips, because some other researchers have swung a gold pendulum over their probe, for a different purpose. But they had done that test wrong - used a rubber pendulum instead. Plus their results, properly interpreted, ruled out thermite anyway.
I think you could then agree that we should not repeat that rubber-pendulum swining, right? Because
- It is an incompetent test to start with
- Doing it with a rubber pendulum instead of a gold one is the wrong way to swing pendulums
- Harrit actually disproved thermite with it
It's really pretty much the same here: It's not the right test to do for the question at hand ("which material is this?"), it was done the wrong way (under air instead of under inert gas), and it didn't even produce the result Harrit wanted.

Would you really demand replicating that test? Stupidity ought not be replicated.

I have another question for you.
Millette did FTIR. And published results
Harrit's team did FTIR - and held back the results to this day!
Millette did TEM. And published results.
Harrit's team (Farrer) did TEM - and held back the results to this day!
Do you think Harrit's team should publish their data? Do you think FTIR and TEM are competent methods to identify such materials?

Bilbo said...

Yes, I think Dr. Farrer should publish his data. My only credentials are a B.A. in philosophy, so I don't know much about any of the tests. Since FTIR, TEM, and DSC tests were used by Harrit's team; agreed to as important by Prof. Jones new research partner; and are some of the tests that Basile wants the independent lab to conduct, then I would say that they are all important.

I wonder if we could just agree that more tests should be done, which is my main concern.

Oystein said...

If and what tests should be done would depend on what your ultimate objective is.

And it would depend on what is already known.

Why are we testing these chips in the first place? -> Because Jones made a claim that they are thermitic.

What is "they"? We have different types of red-gray chips, and some of these types are definitely paint. Well, one anyway.

AND there actually is NO good evidence that any are thermitic. All that Jones and his followers have is this observation of rounded shapes with more or less iron in post-combustion residue. What Jones doesn't understand, or denies, is that such spheres are found in many kinds of ashes and can form from a number of processes that don't require excessive temperatures. Now, I don't know how and when those that Jones found were created - really lots of bad, unsystematic data there.

So what do you want to find out?

"Are any red-gray chips thermitic?"
Or
"Which diffetent types of chips are there in the dust, and how can we distinguish them?"
Or
"Under what circumstance do which kinds of spheres form when we burn such chips?"

What Basile is proposing isn't bad in filling some of the holes that Harrit e.al. left, but I really don't know what the objective is, and I don't see that he has a plan to handle the differences between chips, and how he is going to select those to be tested (and who will be doing the selection??). That's the problem that I see.

I think he shouldn't start any tests before Farrer hasn't come clean with the data he holds back. I am sure Farrer has pretty good ideas on how to procede with regard to the questions I raise - he is really key.

Also, Jones is apparently holding back XRD data. It strikes me as strange that he (and Frank Legge) can't get any of that stuff published!

Bilbo said...

What would you add to Basile's proposal, that is to be carried out as a blind study by an independent lab?

Background:
Analysis of dust from a building fire, focusing on red/gray chips and their properties, composition and reaction products.
Proposal:
Sample Preparation:
- Red/gray chip separation using optical microscopy and magnetic attraction to assist in isolation of particles of interest.
- Optical images of collected particulates as collected at appropriate magnifications to record condition as collected.
Sample Analysis:
- SEM/EDX with elemental quantification of red/gray chips, both red and gray layers.
- FTIR analysis of organic components of red/gray chips, both red and gray layers.
- ESCA small spot technique with argon ion sputter for depth profiling to definitively establish the presence of elemental aluminum within the red layer of the red/gray chips. Scans of gray layer also to be taken to add to information base.
- DSC analysis of red/gray chips focusing on exothermic/endothermic reactions near 400 degrees C. Some chips to be scanned in inert atmosphere and some in air or oxygen containing gas stream.
- SEM/EDX with elemental quantification of residual products of DSC analysis of red/gray chips.
- Optical images of reaction products after DSC experiments.

Oystein said...

Before discussing methods and tests, I would add a clear actionable objective: The hypothesis to be tested, the question to be answered, top-level.

In other words: What is it really that Millette wants to find out when he goes to those labs?
If he wants to find out if there is any thermite in any of those chips, then he needs no DSC at all. But he does ask for DSC, what what is his objective? I am not sure I know.

Secondly, I would add a clear definition of the study subject: Yes, sure, red-gray chips from the dust - but which red-gray chips? All of them, including the "vast majority" that Basile himself believes to be paint? Or a subset - how would that then be defined and identified? Again, in actionable, objective, repeatable terms.

Bilbo said...

Basile doesn't want them to know what they are looking for. He wants them to test red/gray chips that are attracted to a magnet. If DSC isn't needed to identify thermite, why do Basile, Steven Jones' new research partner, and Jones' old team think that DSC is necessary? Did Millette use magnet to separate out the red/gray chips that he tested?

Oystein said...

Bilbo,

"Basile doesn't want them to know what they are looking for."
Sure, but he should be able to state for the donors to this study, potentially me, what HE is looking for!

"He wants them to test red/gray chips that are attracted to a magnet."
He said in his interview with 9/11 Free Fall (Bernie Suarez) on decembe 27 that the "vast majority" of these chips are paint. I am not sure thiis is really what he plans to do, but how can I know? He doesn't state it explicitly anywhere. Also, I'd like to know who will do the selction of chips from dust - he, or the lab?

Also, I would like to know before he gets started that Jones, Harrit, Farrer, Ryan, Legge approve of the selection criteria, and agree beforehand that Basile will produce the correct chips!

"If DSC isn't needed to identify thermite, why do Basile, Steven Jones' new research partner, and Jones' old team think that DSC is necessary?"
Ha! Good question! :D
In the case of Basile, well, I talked to him on the phone late in november. He is not convinced that the evidence we have so far points to thermite and nothing else. He is prepared to accept that perhaps there really isn't any thermite (Al + Fe2O3) there after all. But if that is so, then he is still puzzled by the observation of roundish, ironish particles in the residue, and he wants an explanation for those.

So that perhaps is Basile's objective, the question he wants answered: "Why do droplets containing iron form when I heat and ignite those chips?"
DSC is but one way to heat chips and make them ignite. I am not sure it is a necessary thing to do. To prove they resulted from a thermite reaction, you have to show thermite (Al and Fe2O3) were present before, and thermite products (Fe and Al2O3) after the reaction. No DSC needed to show that.

"Did Millette use magnet to separate out the red/gray chips that he tested?"
Yes. Find the link to his preliminary report in the first comments, above. He followed exactly the protocal described by Harrit e.al. in theor section on "Chip Isolation", which yields several kinds of red-gray chips. He went one step beyond that and selected chips that match Harrit's chips a-d (Fig. 5-11) in terms of visual appearance, XEDS spectra, and the presence of grains and plateletes on a 100 nm to 1 micron scale.

Bilbo said...

Basile states explicitly in his proposal what he plans to do. He plans to give the dust samples to the lab, have them separate out red/gray chips by means of a magnet (with looking under an optical microscope to help identify them) and then put them through the tests that he lists. The lab will then tell him what they find.

Apparently Basile considers this sufficient to find out whether the red/gray chips are thermite, which is what he wants to know.

You seem to be suggesting that this is insufficient, and that there are either preliminary procedures he should have the lab follow, or additional tests that should be performed, if he wants to know if there is any thermite in the dust.

I know that Steven Jones had mentioned some sort of resistivity test that he thought Millette should have performed first. Would that be relevant?

Bilbo said...

From his letter to the new researcher:


"Therefore, I am pleased that you propose to do DSC analyses along the lines that we preformed; as you noted, James Millette did NOT do DSC analyses at all for his report MVA9119. What a shame, really, and I hope you will do better as you propose.

The presence of reduced iron (less oxygen than needed for even FeO) in these spheres (see our Figures 20 and 21) implies that a transfer of oxygen has taken place, from iron oxide to aluminum. High temperatures are also needed for the formation of iron-rich spheres (spheres formed from liquid due to surface tension), further indicating a highly exothermic thermitic reaction.

When Dr Farrer burned epoxy paint in the DSC, it gave a very broad thermal trace, NOT at all like the spiked exothermic DSC peak in our Fig 19. This is one of the many tests he did to check things.

Also, we checked the electrical resistivity of several paints – consistently orders of magnitude higher than that of the red material. We reported the resistivity of the red material in our paper, page 27 in the Journal. Millette did not report any electrical resistivity measurements. This measurement is rather easy to do so I was surprised when he failed to do this straightforward test. There is a lot of red material of various types in the WTC dust, so one must be careful to make sure it is the same as what we studied, and not some other material.
"

It sounds like doing a DSC would reveal if there was reduced iron in the spheres. And by not doing the resistivity test, Millette again failed to replicate the original experiments.

Oystein said...

Bilbo,

"Basile states explicitly in his proposal what he plans to do. He plans to give the dust samples to the lab, have them separate out red/gray chips by means of a magnet (with looking under an optical microscope to help identify them) and then put them through the tests that he lists."
Yes, but these tests are to be done, e.g.
* DSC on "red chips of suspected primer from building dust" - by what criteria does he propose to isolate "suspected primer"? Will he do SEM/XEDS on "suspected primer"? How does he plan to account for the near-certain possibility that there are several different kinds of red primer? Is doing these tests on just 2 such chips suffiecient?
* ESCA on "two known thermitic red/gray chips" - by what criteria does he propose to isolate "known thermitic red/gray chips"?

I think this is all too vague. I am convinced that, if Basile's lab doesn't find evidence for thermite, then Jones and co. will again claim "oh, they, too, looked at the wrong chips".


"Apparently Basile considers this sufficient to find out whether the red/gray chips are thermite, which is what he wants to know."
Again, I am not sure that is really a good objective. If the objective is to answer the question "Is there thermite in any of such chips?", then he'd be better of scanning chips with methods to detect elemental Al and Fe2O3, and select those, before doing any DSC test. This search might come up empty, and no DSC would be necessary then. His demanding DSC no matter what they find in the chips suggests Basile wants to answer a different question.


"You seem to be suggesting that this is insufficient, and that there are either preliminary procedures he should have the lab follow, or additional tests that should be performed, if he wants to know if there is any thermite in the dust."
Yeah, sorta. See above.


"I know that Steven Jones had mentioned some sort of resistivity test that he thought Millette should have performed first. Would that be relevant?"
No. Red herring. Jones tested precisely one chip that way, and nothing is known about the elemental composition, or any other behaviour, of that chip. We can't know how it would have reacted in the DSC, whether or not it contains those platelets and grains, and if it has Al and Si associated ot independent of each other.
In other words: Jones did not himself use that method to isolate and select chips, and the sample size of one precludes any conclusion that all chips of interest would show this resistivity, and other kinds of chips another.

Oystein said...

Bilbo,

"From his letter to the new researcher:
...
The presence of reduced iron (less oxygen than needed for even FeO) in these spheres..."
a) Quantification of XEDS data is always to be taken with care. Other methods are available to ascertain the actual chemical compounds and elements present, such as XRD
b) The gray layer has never been properly characterized and studied by Jones or anyone else. It is rich in iron. Who is to say it didn't contain "reduced iron" to start with?

"(see our Figures 20 and 21)"
Do you have the paper handy to take a look at these two Figures? They are very interesting indeed: They both show clearly that the nano-sized iron oxide grains were largely NOT reduced and remained unchanged even after the burn:
- In Fig. 21 you can see many such rhomic, faceted grains, 100-200 nm in size, in the top and left. You also see the hexagonal platelets, apparently unchanged. The sphere itself appears "fuzzy" - it could simply be a ball of sintered iron oxide pigments.
- In all parts of Fig. 20 you see that the red color of all chips is still there, in red layers - the red layers did not burn up! They reason they are red is that Fe2O3 is a red pigment when 100-200 nm in size. So here, too, you can see that these nano-grains were mostly unchanged! The shiny spherical things however in many cases COULD come from the former gray layer (where is the gray layer in those pictures? Isn't it supposed to be imert?)

"implies that a transfer of oxygen has taken place, from iron oxide to aluminum"
No, it would at most only imply that oxygen has been transformed from the iron - but no conclusion is possible about where it was transferred to. Which aluminium?? Where is the Al-oxide?
Another possibility is: The organic matrix, upon thermal decomposition (epoxy decomposes around 400 °C...) may release CO and/or H2 (and/or perhaps benzene, if it's epoxy), all of which are capable of reducing iron oxide. I am not claiming this happened - all I am saying is Jones hasn't coonsidered this, and thus hasn't ruled it out.

"High temperatures are also needed for the formation of iron-rich spheres (spheres formed from liquid due to surface tension)"
No. Many processes not involving literal melting of iron and not requiring temperatures near the melting point of iron exist that create iron-rich spheres. Jones has not considered any of them, and has thus not rules any of them.

"When Dr Farrer burned epoxy paint in the DSC, it gave a very broad thermal trace, NOT at all like the spiked exothermic DSC peak in our Fig 19."
Jones is fooling you. Nothing in Fig 19 is particulary "spiked". All reactions took place over the course of many minutes, and a wide temperature range.
I would like to know exactly WHICH paint composition Farrer tested, whether or not that paint was also attached to a gray layer of oxidized iron, and I would like to so the resulting graph!

"Also, we checked the electrical resistivity of several paints – consistently orders of magnitude higher than that of the red material."
Again, were those paints attached to a gray, probably magnetic, layer of oxidized steel?
Fig. 3b shows something interesting: That the gray layer is relatively conductive, while the red layer is relatively resistive.
And again: They tested only one red-gray chip. That singular result cannot, under any scientifically valid logic, be extrapolated to all chips!

"There is a lot of red material of various types in the WTC dust, so one must be careful to make sure it is the same as what we studied, and not some other material."
Unfortunately, Jones' paper states no method beyond magnetic attraction and visual inspection for "red-gray, chips" to pick the "right" chips.

Oystein said...

"It sounds like doing a DSC would reveal if there was reduced iron in the spheres."
No, it would not - that is not what DSC does

"And by not doing the resistivity test, Millette again failed to replicate the original experiments."
As explained, it's a useless data point, and a red herring.

Bilbo said...

Oystein: "I think this is all too vague. I am convinced that, if Basile's lab doesn't find evidence for thermite, then Jones and co. will again claim "oh, they, too, looked at the wrong chips".

But then there would be two studies that did not find thermite, both using Jones's methods. Jones would need to specify a method that finds the right samples, or give it up.

" His demanding DSC no matter what they find in the chips suggests Basile wants to answer a different question."

Yes, I think he wants to find out what was causing the exothermic reaction in the chips that he tested.

Which makes me wonder what would have happened if Millette had performed the DSC test. Experimental science means performing the experiments, even if you think you already know what will happen.

Oystein said...

"But then there would be two studies that did not find thermite, both using Jones's methods. Jones would need to specify a method that finds the right samples, or give it up."
Right - he needs to specify that method already now, so why wait until after Basile's study?
Jones is already hand-waving and sluring Millette, what would be stopping him from hand-waving and sluring Basile? You don't actually suppose he'd give up? Jones has been going around with that therm(i/a)te hypothesis since at least 2007, perhaps 2006 or even 2005, and his Bentham paper has been out now for 4 years. It was obvious from the day they published, in april 2009, that they really did NOT find thermite, and instead showed paint chips, and how paint chips burn. That never stopped the entire TM from closing their eyes and hailing Jones as an infallible prophet and guru.


"Yes, I think he wants to find out what was causing the exothermic reaction in the chips that he tested."
He should state it thus then,

"Which makes me wonder what would have happened if Millette had performed the DSC test. Experimental science means performing the experiments, even if you think you already know what will happen."
Yeah, sure, I wonder, too, but that was not the question that we sppent 1000 dollars on. And anyway, since we can't know which chips Farrer tested in the DSC, any result differing from his would simply mean nothing!

So I have no problem with Basile wanting to do DSC, and am actually quite curious myself, but it would be pretty worthless without a good concept and plan to identify, characterize and categorize chips before they are burned. The categories of "suspected paint" and "known thermitic" chips are undefined, as far as I can see, and so it seems Basile doesn't have a good concept yet.

Bilbo said...

Jones might attack Basile, in which case Jones would lose credibility in the Truth Movement. Or he might just go back to the lab, which he is doing now, anyway.

Basile would have the labs determine if there is elemental aluminum before the DSC. If there isn't any, and there is still an exothermic reaction, then this raises new possibilities. If there is no exothermic reaction, then Basile would know the problem was in his previous tests.

Glad to hear that you wonder what would have happened if Millette had performed the DSC test. I wonder if the peer-reviewers are wondering also.

Oystein said...

"Jones might attack Basile, in which case Jones would lose credibility in the Truth Movement."
Won't happen just now. As a German saying goes: A crow doesn't poke out another crow's eyes.

Have yoe seen Jones, or Harrit or any of their co-authors or supporters, actually address Basile's test results so far? That he found only <2% total Al in his "lucky chip #13", yet shows plenty of greyish blobs that he believes could be the result of an aluminothermic reaction? It's plain impossible that this happened, and it's plain impossible that this little thermite could turn that chips's organics to gas.

"Or he might just go back to the lab, which he is doing now, anyway."
Who - Jones??

"Basile would have the labs determine if there is elemental aluminum before the DSC."
I hope he does for every chip that goes into the DSC!

"If there isn't any, and there is still an exothermic reaction, then this raises new possibilities."
Yeah. Basic curiosity of a scientist,

Would mean naught wrt 9/11 and "explosive demolition", of course.


"If there is no exothermic reaction, then Basile would know the problem was in his previous tests."
Wait!
Of course there is going to be some exothermic reaction - absolutely no doubt about that the moment you heat ordinary organic polymers to 600 or 700 °C. They all burn!

He might miss the creation of ironish blobs. O well, yes. Could then be a problem with his previous method; perhaps the chips git much much hotter on his steel strip than he thought, or something like that.

"Glad to hear that you wonder what would have happened if Millette had performed the DSC test. I wonder if the peer-reviewers are wondering also"
Again, it is just me and my curiosity wondering.
The peer-reviewers would not care one bit about DSC. Millette's study is an analytical one, the goal is to identify unknown compounds. DSC is simply not the right tool for that. Millette used the rught tools, identified all chemical compounds, and comes to a sound conclusion: No DSC in Harrit's chips a-d.
No DSC needed - after all, you don't know if Harrit e.al. ever DSCed any chips like a-d, or do you?

Bilbo said...

"Who - Jones??"

Yes, Jones.

"I hope he does for every chip that goes into the DSC!"

From the proposal, that sounds like what he wants the lab to do.

"Would mean naught wrt 9/11 and "explosive demolition", of course."

Amazing how much you know about the future. Psychic?

"Of course there is going to be some exothermic reaction - absolutely no doubt about that the moment you heat ordinary organic polymers to 600 or 700 °C. They all burn!"

But the proposal calls for heating them to 400 degree C.

"The peer-reviewers would not care one bit about DSC. "

Maybe. Maybe not. I'm not a mind-reader, either.

Oystein said...

Hello Bilbo,

I have transcribed Basile's December 27th, 2012 interview with 9/11 Free Fall (Bernie Suarez and Andrew Steele):

Basile_Interview_FreeFallRadio_Transcript_201212.pdf

Bilbo said...

Wow, thanks Oystein. That must have been a lot of work. I read the part where Basile talks about why he wants to use the DSC test in an inert atmosphere. I didn't quite understand his point, but he seemed to think that it would be one way of revealing if there was elemental aluminum in the chips. Did I understand him correctly?

Oystein said...

Hey Bilbo,

sorry for losing you from my radar for a month.

Yes, you understand correctly. When you melt or boil a substance, the process of turning a solid into a liquid, or a liquid to gas, eats up a significant amount energy at the melting/boiling temperature, and that shows as a pretty sharp peak pointing DOWN on a DSC plot (or, more properly termed, a sharp trough). So Basile argues that, unless the thermite reacts before the melting point of elemental aluminium is reached, then there should be a distinct trough at or just under 660 °C, the melting point of Al, if there is a significant amount of elemental Al in the chip.

If there is a strong exotherm reaction (a peak up) before that temperature, under an inert atmosphere, that would indeed indicate a chemical reaction within the substances that the chip is made of. That would not necessarily be proof of specifically the thermite reaction (could be, for example, organic polymer burning with an oxidizing agent such as ammonium perchlorate), but certainly most interesting, and I'd then admit that this can't be Tbemec or LaClede paint and is more likely some material that has been made with the purpose of burning vigorously - a suspicious agent, to say the least.

However, if, under inert gas, neither a strong exotherm occurs no a sign of melting Al near 660 °C, then this test would refute the hypothesis that these chips are a "thermitic" material containing elemental Al.

And thus, I am quite in favour of doing it. It's a good idea that Basile had that I didn't think of before I heard that interview.

Still, DSC is not really a way to positively identify substances, but it has merit in negatively ruling out some.

Bilbo said...

Thanks for getting back to me and for the info, Oystein.