1. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    This article was written in 2012. A more up-to-date discussion of where the iron microspheres came from can be found at:

    The iron microspheres (as evidence for thermite) were debunked years ago, but they keep coming up. The bottom line is:

    • Iron Microspheres form from condensed vaporized iron or from molten iron
    • You can melt iron by igniting it with a Bic lighter, if the pieces of iron are thin enough.
    • There are several other sources of iron microspheres
    • Iron microspheres were expected in the WTC dust
    Here's an iron-rich microsphere found by the USGS, who did not consider it at all suspicious: (it's about 30µm, 0.03mm, in diameter)

    If you ignite some steel wool with a hydrocarbon flame, then you get lots of iron spheres, some of the same size as these microspheres. Note this is not from the flame melting the steel, but from the steel itself burning, and melting itself. This is only possible with a sufficiently large surface area to mass ratio - i.e. with very small or very thin particles.


    The below debunking is by Dave Thomas of NMSR, JREF, and others. I'm collating it here to allow easier reference via Google, and so we don't have to keep going over the same ground.

    Another experiment by Dave Thomas, simply burning some beams in a wood fire:

    The following is extracted from a JREF forum thread with extensive discussion of the objections. Please read at least the first three pages of that thread to see if your personal objections are covered.
    http://www.internationalskeptics.com/forums/showthread.php?t=264234 (archive: http://archive.is/ypm04)

    Burning some scrap primer painted steel
    in a wood fire in a barrel:
    made iron microspheres:

    Iron Microspheres can also created from a high energy collision or friction between iron oxide (rust) and aluminum. As seen by this classic science experiment using two rusty iron cannonballs, one coated with aluminum foil.


    Given the high energy of the collapsing building and the large amount of aluminum cladding in close contact with a large area of steel, then there would certainly be some microspheres created via this mechanism.

    Other in-thread references:

    RJ Lee Reports:

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Oct 15, 2018
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  2. Hitstirrer

    Hitstirrer Active Member

    Yes Mick. I've seen those arguments before. And as before there are many counter arguments. The 'fly-ash' suggestion is the most plausible as it is the only one capable of producing the sheer volume of microspheres discovered.

    (Somehow I can't imagine that you are really supporting the view that many tons of steel wool was stored in the buildings. And melted wires and filaments from computers are hardly likely to amount to tons of material.)

    The 'fly ash' idea stems from the theory that fly ash would contain many iron microspheres from the process that the ash was recovered from. Then, that ash, as a waste product, with its embedded microspheres, was sold as an ingredient for the lightweight concrete used to pour the floor systems in the towers.

    When that concrete was pulverised by gravity, those microspheres already embedded in the concrete were then released, to be found in the dust in Manhatten by RJ Lee.

    As I say, plausible.

    Until you look closer at microspheres that can occur in fly ash and compare them microscopically with the microspheres in the WTC dust. As I understand it they differ quite markedly. I don't have the papers to hand showing that research as it was some years since this aspect was before me, but no doubt your own resource database may find it and be able to confirm or refute that 'difference' as being relevent.
  3. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    The same RJ Lee who also says the spheres would have been formed in the WTC fires. Something that AE911 seriously misrepresented:

    So AE911 are either lying, or misinformed. And this falsehood has been on their site for years, even though it has been shown to be false. The very same source they quote has directly refuted them.

    Last edited: Oct 12, 2013
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  4. Hitstirrer

    Hitstirrer Active Member

    This debate has raged for years and I see no merit in a 'groundhog' debate.

    But I did note your spin on one line.

    RJ Lee quote :- "RJ Lee notes that the microspheres were “created during the event."

    Mick quote :- "RJ Lee who also says the spheres would have been formed in the WTC fires."

    You spun the 'created during the event' words to mean 'fire', when equally the 'creation during the event' could have been by 'thermite'.

    RJ Lee's words could be interpreted either way, by either side of the debate.

    Don't you just love the way words can be picked apart to suit any argument.

    But there is one extra snippet that is rarely mentioned. That of microspheres of Molybdenum being found in the dust, and Molybdenum has a very high melting point of 2617ºC. Far beyond office furniture fire temperatures. Hmmmm.
  5. Jazzy

    Jazzy Closed Account

    Microspheres of iron are created by the condensation from vapor of iron molecules.

    This occurs when fly ash is created, when sparks are struck with steel by friction. If oxygen is available these spheres should be partly comprised of oxygen, and what you're looking at is iron oxide. But it isn't impossible in the collapse of a large building for there to be no temporarily available oxygen, and then the microspheres will be pure iron.

    The only difference will be the effect the cooling time will have on the degree of oxidation. Fly ash should be more oxidized.

    Either way, using microspheres of iron is no way to prove some point about (shall I put this in?) thermite.

    Best try alumina, Al2O3, the BIG waste product from burning thermite. Bright, white, easy to track. Was there any? Pfft...
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  6. Jazzy

    Jazzy Closed Account

    Friction generates higher temperatures than that. Several steels contain molybdenum. Hmm.
  7. Hitstirrer

    Hitstirrer Active Member

    And I understand highly volatile, and the vapour dissipates rapidly, thus leaving no trace. As you so accurately say Pfft...
  8. Hitstirrer

    Hitstirrer Active Member

    Friction? You sure? Please support that claim by evidence.
  9. Jazzy

    Jazzy Closed Account


    It's a refractory material used to make sandpaper. Like white sand.
  10. Jazzy

    Jazzy Closed Account

    Frictional heating falls between many stools, and has very few references.

    So I'll implore you to use your brain. The amount of frictional heat energy one can impart into the surface of a material can always be made to exceed the amount causing it to dissociate into elements and turn into a plasma, after which event there is no friction possible (although other forces remain).

    Don't waste my time. Spend more of your own considering what happens to meteorites. And what temperatures they reach.
  11. kawika

    kawika New Member

    Has it been determined with certainty that fly ash or slag was even used at the WTC in 1969? The WTC towers used Type 1 cement in its lightweight concrete floors. WTC7 used regular weight concrete. Type 1 isn't found under the Blended Hydraulic Types that include ash/slag.

    See this link:


    Looking further I see this about slag. Does this mean it has no iron in it?

    Blast-furnace slag, or iron blast-furnace slag, is a nonmetallic product consisting essentially of silicates, aluminosilicates of calcium, and other compounds that are developed in a molten condition simultaneously with the iron in the blast-furnace.


    Also see this about fly ash.

    Fly ash, the most commonly used pozzolan in concrete, is a finely divided residue that results from the combustion of pulverized coal and is carried from the combustion chamber of the furnace by exhaust gases. Commercially available fly ash is a by-product of thermal power generating stations.


    The United States uses a relatively small amount of blended cement compared to countries in Europe or Asia.

  12. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Not really. He quite clearly says that the WTC fires would have created microspheres from the iron (steel) in the building.

    Last edited: Nov 20, 2013
  13. Hitstirrer

    Hitstirrer Active Member

    Agreed. When its manufactured as a composite material.

    But when its just been vaporised inside an extremely high temperature thermetic reaction it doesnt hang around to make sandpaper.

    The vaporised atoms are dissipated rapidly and form a minute portion of the total volume of dust and other vaporised material.
  14. Hitstirrer

    Hitstirrer Active Member

    Are you being serious ?

    You are trying to compare gravitational friction between steel items accelerating downwards together, and with therefore almost zero differential speed in respect to each other to cause any friction at all - and to then compare that with plasma events and meteorites ?

    And that such tiny possibility of friction can produce billions of iron rich microspheres spread over miles of Manhattan.

    Come on.
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  15. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Why don't the vaporized atoms of iron dissipate rapidly?

    You are going to find aluminum oxide everywhere anyway. A better question (raised many times elsewhere) is why there's no aluminum in the red chips? (which are almost certainly paint chips).
  16. Hitstirrer

    Hitstirrer Active Member

    No aluminium ? Of course thare was aluminium there or the investigation would have halted at that point.

    Page 12 of the Bentham paper :-

    "The chemical signatures found in the red layers
    are also quite consistent (Fig. 7), each showing the presence
    of aluminum (Al), silicon (Si), iron (Fe) and oxygen (O), and
    a significant carbon (C) peak as well.

    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 20, 2013
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  17. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    My mistake, I meant actual pieces of pure aluminum. Like you have in thermite.
  18. Landru

    Landru Moderator Staff Member

    Evidence Bentham Science Publishers articles are not true peer reviewed.


  19. Hitstirrer

    Hitstirrer Active Member

    I thought that it had been explained. Ordinary thermite has particles of Al that have been ground down from a larger piece of Al. Nanothermite is built upwards from atomic level rather than ground down. The Al is there at nano particle level. You wont see "actual pieces of pure aluminum" like you can in thermite.
  20. Hitstirrer

    Hitstirrer Active Member

  21. Landru

    Landru Moderator Staff Member

    That's why there are footnotes. From http://videnskab.dk/teknologi/chefredaktor-skrider-efter-kontroversiel-artikel-om-911

    Of course I'll use Google translator.

    Please try to be less snarky. It can often lead to a violation of the politeness policy.
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  22. Jazzy

    Jazzy Closed Account

    The laws of evidence say it does. Iron microspheres do, so why not aluminum oxide?

    Nothing SOLID "dissipates" in such a way as not to be present at all.

    There is no such thing as gravitational friction. Just friction.

    High speed isn't necessary to generate great frictional energy.

    You really have a different way of reading...

    There are 1.1 *10^22 atoms in a cubic centimeter of iron. If there are a billion atoms in a microsphere, that still allows for ELEVEN THOUSAND BILLION microspheres from the equivalent of a stainless teaspoon.

    Come on.


    There is iron in coal. The plants that made the coal contained some iron. Doesn't chlorophyll contain iron?

    I bet you can chemically test for it, though. :)
  23. Hitstirrer

    Hitstirrer Active Member

    Yes. I apologise. I will try to refrain from that. But you are plain wrong in claiming that the paper wasn't properly peer reviewed. I answered the question about peer review in a different thread, and gave a link to a blog by one reviewer where his credentials were given.

    Of course I was already aware of that resignation event. Academia does tend to close ranks. Don't you think that this is a case of 'Ad Hom' though. Such entries as yours focus on the messenger rather than the message. You are dismissing many scientists agreement to the information in the paper, on the grounds that you dont like the means of getting that message out.

    If someone resigned after receiving flack for allowing such a controvertial subject to be published on her watch that is not relevent to the peer reviewed paper. And don't forget that up to date that paper has not been debunked and forced to be revoked.
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  24. Hitstirrer

    Hitstirrer Active Member

  25. Hitstirrer

    Hitstirrer Active Member

    Yes and that was my point to Mick
  26. Landru

    Landru Moderator Staff Member

    She resigned because of that paper. Her field is thermite.
  27. Hitstirrer

    Hitstirrer Active Member

    But she didn't publish a paper that was peer reviewed debunking the paper did she. Why not ?
  28. Hitstirrer

    Hitstirrer Active Member

    Surely if she disagreed so strongly with the content to resign her post she would have given the reasons why she so strongly disagreed with the contents of the paper.
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  29. Hitstirrer

    Hitstirrer Active Member

    That leads me to think that it wasnt the content but the subject.
  30. Landru

    Landru Moderator Staff Member

    No it was the fact that it was a bad magazine.


    Google translation:

    *[Admin Translation note snigløbet = Danish for "angribe på en lumsk og overraskende måde" = "attacked in a treacherous and surprising way" = "stabbed in the back". source: http://www.dsn.dk/ro/ro.htm]


    Google translation:

    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 13, 2013
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  31. Landru

    Landru Moderator Staff Member

    They also print phony science papers for $800.


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  32. MikeC

    MikeC Closed Account

    AFAIK Alumina Al2O3 is not highly volatile a all - it is a solid, and extremely stable! It is the skin on every "bare" aluminium surface, and the abrasive compound on most "sand" papers.

    This paper discusses the phase of the products of thermite reactions - and as far as I can tell the aluminium product is liquid and solid.
  33. Hitstirrer

    Hitstirrer Active Member

  34. Hitstirrer

    Hitstirrer Active Member

    Seems that I screwed up inputting my text. Obviously only the first few words there are Landru's quote. The rest is my own input. sorry guys.
  35. Jazzy

    Jazzy Closed Account

    You can re-edit it easily, you know.

    Nope. Until it is respectably peer-reviewed it has no validity. That's how it works.

    A feeling I happen to agree with you about. About some of your compatriots. Might there be a balance, there?
  36. Hitstirrer

    Hitstirrer Active Member

    So you are questioning the credentials, motive, and personal credibility of the reviewer who has broken convention and identified himself ? And also feel able to say that others involved in the peer review process have no 'respectibility' - even though you have no idea who they are. I find that position somewhat untenable bearing in mind that the world and his wife have been desperately trying to debunk that paper, on technical grounds, for years, and failed.
  37. Landru

    Landru Moderator Staff Member

    There is no ad hominum attack. You presented the journal as a peer reviewed platform and a voir dire of the journal clearly shows that it is not a recognized peer reviewed journal. As Ms. Pileni says"

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  38. Hitstirrer

    Hitstirrer Active Member

    I did not present the journal at all. I presented the scientific paper that was printed in there. You have decided that because you don't like the cyberpaper it was 'printed' on that you can ignore the message in that scientific paper.

    The paper itself has subsequently been submitted to the most rigorous 'peer review' imaginable by being exposed to every scientist with equal or superior qualifications in the world, and no one has yet been able to refute it by publishing their own peer reviewed rebuttal. The ultimate peer review has thus taken place.
  39. Landru

    Landru Moderator Staff Member

    That's not how it works. No one is going to waste time rebutting something that was published in a vanity publication. The more telling thing is that no other reputable journal quotes it.
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  40. Hitstirrer

    Hitstirrer Active Member

    You really havn't thought this through have you. Do you not realise that many people are fiercely trying to rebutt it. They have reached out in all directions to do that. But failed. And you still focus on the messenger rather than the message.
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