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9/11, Steven Jones, and Me — Part 3

From LDS PATRIOT [1]

Don’t you just love egg nog? Me too.

For part 3, I would like to tell the sto­ry of what hap­pened when I went to one of Pro­fes­sor Jones’ pre­sen­ta­tions at UVSC (Utah Val­ley State Col­lege) that was held on Wednes­day, 1 Feb 2006, at 7:00 pm. UVSC is about a 15-minute dri­ve from BYU. At the time of this pre­sen­ta­tion, I had already had email inter­ac­tion with Pro­fes­sor Jones, as described in part 2.

I knew that there was going to be a ques­tion and answer peri­od at the end of the pre­sen­ta­tion, so I typed up the best ques­tion I could think of: Why demol­ish WTC 7 when it was going to fall down on its own any­way? And then I pro­vid­ed the tes­ti­mo­ny of the fire­men and the tran­sit data, etc. that I cov­ered in part 2. In prepa­ra­tion, I also print­ed up our entire email con­ver­sa­tion and made notes as to ques­tions I might ask him dur­ing his pre­sen­ta­tion.

I arrived and found that two of my friends were there. One was the guy I men­tioned before who intro­duced me to Pro­fes­sor Jones’ work and the oth­er was video­tap­ing the pre­sen­ta­tion. You can prob­a­bly find that pre­sen­ta­tion video online some­where — I’m the one whose head explodes about 1 1/2 hours into it. ;-)

I sat down in the mid­dle of the audi­ence and they announced that the ques­tion and answer peri­od would be at the end and that Pro­fes­sor Jones would not be tak­ing any ques­tions dur­ing the pre­sen­ta­tion. Oh, and the ques­tions would be writ­ten and hand­ed in, reviewed, and then giv­en to Pro­fes­sor Jones. Cool — I already had mine typed up, so I hand­ed it in and sat back to soak in the con­tent of the pre­sen­ta­tion.

I was annoyed by the num­ber of times “WTC 7 wasn’t even hit by a jet” and “no oth­er steel high-rise has ever col­lapsed because of fire” were repeat­ed, but I got over that. He brought more polit­i­cal and reli­gious infor­ma­tion into his pre­sen­ta­tion than he does in his paper. I’m ok with peo­ple hav­ing an opin­ion on polit­i­cal and reli­gious issues, but when billed as “Pro­fes­sor Jones — physi­cist”, I expect­ed more mate­r­i­al that deals with his area of exper­tise.

I saw one slide that had the infa­mous pho­to of the “col­umn cut at an angle” on it. Pro­fes­sor Jones said that it’s still under inves­ti­ga­tion but the mes­sage I got as he talked about it was that this was one of the core columns that was cut with ther­mite at an angle so that the build­ing would come down. The peo­ple all around me were full of “ooh’s” and “aah’s” and were just gid­dy about how this was sure­ly the smok­ing gun that would blow the cov­er off the offi­cial gov­ern­ment sto­ry. I believe it was at this point that I fig­ured out that I was prob­a­bly in an audi­ence of most­ly “true believ­ers” of gov­ern­ment con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries.

Well, I had seen that diag­o­nal­ly cut col­umn before but hadn’t real­ly looked into it. Since then, I have. It turns out that exca­va­tion crews cut steel columns at a diag­o­nal because the melt­ing steel runs down, pre-heat­ing the cut so that even though it’s a longer cut, it cuts faster. I then found this page [2] that has oth­er columns being cut at a diag­o­nal by exca­va­tion per­son­nel.

This is what both­ers me so much about con­spir­a­cy the­o­rist meth­ods. They dig deep enough to find some­thing that looks like it match­es their beliefs but then they stop dig­ging. Did they go so far as to ask an exca­va­tor if that would be a nor­mal cut? Did they Google around to find the page that the pho­to in ques­tion orig­i­nal­ly came from?

So, I think it was sched­uled to be a two-hour pre­sen­ta­tion with a lot of time for ques­tions at the end. Pro­fes­sor Jones was going into detail about how the gov­ern­ment went around telling peo­ple that the air at ground zero was safe to breathe when it real­ly wasn’t — fair enough — put those peo­ple in jail. He seemed to be pick­ing out what­ev­er he could to sell the audi­ence on the idea that we couldn’t trust the gov­ern­ment and so there was one more rea­son to believe in a demo­li­tion the­o­ry. I thought this was going to be about physics.

He took up so much time talk­ing about all of this oth­er non-physics stuff that he only left a few min­utes at the end for ques­tions. There was a guy read­ing through the ques­tions and hand­ing them to Pro­fes­sor Jones. Mine was on an 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper and the rest were on quar­ter page sheets, so mine stood out. It con­tained details about the fire­men tes­ti­mo­ny and so it was longer than the oth­er ques­tions, but it was still only about a quar­ter page of text.

I watched the guy read­ing through my ques­tion and hand­ing Pro­fes­sor Jones oth­er ques­tions over and over again until they were out of time. It was a bit frus­trat­ing. So I went up after­ward and got my print­ed ques­tion from “the ques­tion guy” and went up to Pro­fes­sor Jones and wait­ed for him to get done talk­ing to some peo­ple who were also ask­ing ques­tions.

It was final­ly my turn to talk to him. At this point, Pro­fes­sor Jones didn’t know who I was and that I had been con­vers­ing with him via email. This was the first time we had seen each oth­er face to face. I told him about the var­i­ous fire­men tes­ti­monies of severe dam­age to WTC 7 and the tran­sit data and how they had set up a col­lapse zone hours before it col­lapsed on its own. I read a lot of tes­ti­mo­ny to him. He said — no lie — “I don’t think there was that much dam­age.” What? I said that these were fire­men stand­ing at the base and inside of WTC 7 on that day telling us what they saw. I asked him on what basis did he think there wasn’t that much dam­age. We were being rushed out of the room at that point since oth­ers had reserved the room. I think my head explod­ed again in the car on the way home — I can’t remem­ber for sure.

I didn’t hear from him for sev­er­al months after that until about two months ago when he con­tact­ed me again ask­ing if I had any oth­er unre­solved issues with his paper. It was a bit strange. I asked him a few ques­tions about chain of cus­tody and he replied with a par­tial chain of cus­tody that didn’t include dates or names. I then asked him a few more ques­tions and gave him new links to video and pho­tos of the bad­ly dam­aged south side of WTC 7. He didn’t respond. I sent it again. No response. I received deliv­ery receipts for both emails and so I’m pret­ty sure he got them.

So, that was a strange sto­ry, eh? It left me puz­zled about what was going on in his mind to so flat­ly reject rel­e­vant tes­ti­mo­ny about the con­di­tion of WTC 7. It does go against the demo­li­tion the­o­ry and he’s heav­i­ly invest­ed in that the­o­ry being true but I don’t know if that’s what’s caus­ing him to ignore this tes­ti­mo­ny. Hope­ful­ly, he’ll reply again and I’ll find out what’s going on.

In part 4, I will go through the cur­rent ver­sion of his entire paper and bring up any oth­er unre­solved issues I see. I’ll be post­ing that soon. See you then.