Claim: Jim Hoffman's "9/11 progressive collapse challenge" can't be met

Mick West

Staff member
If you just describe the model, we know how it's going to respond.
That's ridiculous. I built the model, after extensive experimentation and discussion, and until I pushed the top 1/4 off its supports I did not know how it was going to respond.

It's bizarre that you claim to have total understanding of what a verbally described model will do, but no understanding of what the WTC did (despite having a detailed explanation of the construction of the building, and video of the event). Once again, you come across as trolling.

Build a model that you know will replicate my model. Video the first test. Email me when you have the video, and we can resume the discussion at that point.


Senior Member
We imagine a WTC tower on a windless sunny day before 9/11. My thought experiment proceeds in stages. First, we magically remove all floors except the "mechanical floors". We will leave the core in place. This will, of course, remove the lateral bracing the floors provided (I don't deny that they did provide such bracing) but it will also remove their gravity load. While the effective length of the columns (for purposes of doing a Euler buckling calculation) will be longer, they are also under considerably less strain.

My gut tells me that the combination of the (effective) lengthening of the columns and reduction of gravity loads puts the tower in an overall stronger position, not a weaker one. In this configuration it would be better able to handle a hurricane or an earthquake. The structure is doing much less work than it was designed to.
I don't think anyone responded to post #251, which contains a number of errors of imagination, but here is the most important:

Thomas failed to understand that, while removing consecutive floors reduces the load proportional to the number of floors removed, it reduces column capacity proportional to the square of number of floors removed.

And thus, his gut gets it on its head: The ability of the tube to resist buckling goes down faster than the load as you remove floor after floor.

Jeffrey Orling

Senior Member
I don't think anyone responded to post #251, which contains a number of errors of imagination, but here is the most important:

Thomas failed to understand that, while removing consecutive floors reduces the load proportional to the number of floors removed, it reduces column capacity proportional to the square of number of floors removed.

And thus, his gut gets it on its head: The ability of the tube to resist buckling goes down faster than the load as you remove floor after floor.
Please explain why floor removal reduces capacity to the square of the number of floors removed?

So... the process was top down... and if one looks at say 2 column lengths of loss of floors... 6 floors as the columns were 36' tall...
the floor mass of those 6 floors is no longer being applied as loads to the sides of the columns of the tube at the top. But those columns would then only be supporting themselves... so they would be 72' tall with no lateral bracing. Admittedly weaker than if the bracing were in place. but would a 6 story column of that cross sectional area... self buckle? Up at that level the wall thickness were the thinnest... being 1/4" at the top and as thick as 1/2" at floor 92-99... the box columns were 13 1/2" x 14". I think that that column 6 stories tall would not self buckle with the bracing removed. Just a hunch.


Active Member
Please explain why floor removal reduces capacity to the square of the number of floors removed?

Susceptibility to Euler buckling. Stable load ~ 1/L^2, where L is length of the unbraced column (with fudge factors depending on degrees of freedom that will be constant for each of the elements in a large tower, so don't change the proportionality relation).

This is kinda what I was trying to communicate in my wire example. I was hoping that was something tangible that anyone could get a real feel for, but that seems to have been taken in the wrong context, and misunderstood. My bad. (I now have the thought experiment of comparing the difficulty of bending short wires between each consecutive finger with the ease of bending a single wire of 3 times the length between little and index finger, but perhaps this analogy is a dead duck and I should give up on it.)

Of course, this only makes a difference one slender columns are the weakest link, it may never make a difference in some structures, as it never gets a chance to be relevant. And this is one of the problems with scaling - the failure modes change in annoying ways, and anything that is set up to replicate behaviour from one perspective may well be completely unable to reproduce another component of the full-scale behaviour, or dominated by a behaviour that the full scale model wouldn't be affected by.

Jeffrey Orling

Senior Member
I am just about the get into a real world project related to stiffness. I have to put a new teak trim on the hull of my boat. The length of the trim is about 35' long. The profile of the teak is 1 1/2" wide x 2 1/2" tall and 12'-5" long. The lumber is quite stiff.

I intend to make 2 - 14" long lap joints glued and epoxied and create one piece the full 35' length. I intend to attach it at the bow end which is reasonably straight and screw it working to the stern at about 6" oc. I think I can use the long lever and the power of the screw to pull the teak to the curve of the hull. Each "increment" will be a rather small "bend"... a fraction of an inch. Leverage will make it possible to bend the wood.


Senior Member
I don't think anyone responded to post #251, which contains a number of errors of imagination, but here is the most important:
And thus, his gut gets it on its head:
That is one specific example of what was his persistent generic problem. Trying to analyse a situation by starting from a model which was only distantly related to the real issue THEN trying to work back to the actual situation BUT repeatedly getting distracted by side tracks.

Somewhat analogous to the endemic problem affecting many engineers and left brained technocrats...

... "How many leaves on the seventh branch of the fourth tree?" is meaningless when you are in the wrong forest. He so many times had the debate onto remote analogies of bits of paper when it would have been a lot easier to simply explain/understand the original issue.

Jeffrey Orling

Senior Member
The 5 Hoffman challenges:

1 and 2 - are trivial and simple to model
3 - my proposed model may meet the challenge
4 - forget the 100 mph wind - can't scale wind pressure
5 - same reason as 4 - not happinin'

Mick's model demonstrated top down progressive collapse
To achieve the facade falling away cannot be done with a single homogeneous sheet... it has to be made from "panels"or separate columns... The model I described might show this depending on the strength or weakness of the glue between columns.

Out on a limb!

Jeffrey Orling

Senior Member
For sure if the model has all the key elements of the structures and they behave in a similar manner a model with slo mo videos would help people see what happened in the collapse phase. But the real world videos were all researchers needed to understand the collapse phase/process (dubbed ROOSD)... what can't be seen in real world and a collapse model won't help... is how the static building began to collapse top down.... the creation (freeing up from the structure) of the driving mass (for ROOSD).

Can the "initiation" be modeled?


Senior Member.
You see, I don't actually believe that. With your past threads, you have established a history on these forums of misrepresenting your experience with and views on these topics and so I believe you are more likely trying to use this thread to demonstrate that you believe Hoffman was correct. The way you dismiss, ignore or nitpick at legitimate criticisms to your approach here, which isn't consistent with a "trying to learn and get it right" mindset, reinforces that. As such, I am just pointing out the flaws in your methodologies along the way so that the ultimate conclusion you are working towards remains in proper context.
Thank you for saying that. I almost wrote something similar
(though mine would've focused on the many, many attempted false equivalences of "debunker and truther" positions) about 5 times, but wasn't sure I could say it within the politeness policy...

NorCal Dave

New Member
Does anyone think a model will "convert" truthers to the fact that the collapses on 9/11 were not CDs?
When I first started to read this thread I was excited that, as a not overly bright Contractor, I could make a meaningful contribution to the forum. I was going to head out to my shop and make a model along the lines that you spelled out Jeffery Orling....But, to what end? It's time I can use elsewhere right now. It seems most of the truthers I've interacted with are all about the conspiracy. The "evidence", like the failure of non-truthers to complete the model challenge, is just one of many floating goal posts. As Mick said above, it may help a few on their journey, but most would reject any model, no matter how accurate.
Still, if I get some spare time on my hands. And I would not drop something on it, I'd light off one of the floors with diesel fuel and see what happens.


Senior Member
Does anyone think a model will "convert" truthers to the fact that the collapses on 9/11 were not CDs?
Probably not for a single stand alone model. "Conversion" is not simply a matter of technical argument. It involves multiple aspects of the "truthers" psychology of belief. The two main ones probably are - first - the persons willingness to learn - to be "converted" which is itself complex. The second is somewhat more transparent. Understanding the collapses requires some cognitive ability to "visualise" what is being understood. Some people are better at visualising than others. And there is a small subset who cannot visualise without 3D models. Others can visualise 3D from 2D graphics. Still others can visualise without any graphic or visual aids. But only a small portion of the population actually "needs" - must have models and cannot comprehend without them.

Then I would suggest that the key aspect of ROOSD as shown in my graphic from 2007 and modeled in dynamic 3D by Mick is actually the easiet part of Twin Towers to both visualise and model. BUT that creates a big problem for the target group of those truthers who need 3D models. It is only 1/3rd of the progression stage. That stage is itself only one of three stages which involve very different mechanisms. AND stand alone whether my graphic or Mick's model still requires further visualising to "see" how it fits into the full progression stage mechanism. And the target group is people who by definition are not good at visualising. Catch 22.

As Mick said " It will help some people understand the collapses more accurately, which is a helpful step in their overall journey."
.. but the limitations are in "some", "helpful step" and "journey". Don't expect miracle cures and don't think that a technical explanation will change deeply embedded beliefs.
Can the "initiation" be modeled?
I doubt it can be modeled to serve any useful practical purpose in "converting truthers". Aside from the problems of cognitive psychology there are fundamental technical problems with models. Models fall broadly into three classes viz (a) Models which "look like" the real thing visually but will be of limited quantitative value - you cannot "measure" anything useful; (b) Models suited for quantified measurement of engineering data but which will usually be scale distorted therefore poor visual representations AND (the rare option) (c) Those which successfully combine "a" and "b".
And the predisposition of most truthers - if presented with a "look like" model they will question quantification data OR if presented with quantified valid modelling they will question "doesn't look like". Remember one of the key marketing tricks of the Hulsey farce - fudging the alleged simulations to make them "look like" becase the valid NIST simulations dont "look like".

Plus the "initiation stage" is inherently complex 4D (3D plus time). It is relatively trivial to model bits of it. I've done it in series of simple graphics. BUT the big issue remains - truthers esp those who cannot visualise - will by definition face difficulties "visualising" where the simplified elements fit into the overall scheme. Here - one diagram which can be used to clearly illustrate heat driven cascading failure of columns. THE "key" feature of initiation.
It is not hard to see why a "must have models" visual person would have difficulty putting that simplified element into an overal scheme. And - yes - the graphic could easily be translated into a physicsal model. With a suitably flexible "Top Beam", stress/strain gauges in columns C thru G and an Oxy torch turned on A and B
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