Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Updates Sept. 6, 2007


Sept. 6, 2007 San Rafael- We’re back home exhausted and nearly unpacked. I’ve included some posts here that I was never able to send because of a tenuous internet connection at Black Rock, partly due I believe to the daily onslaught of dust storms interfering with satellite communications. As mentioned below, we made what I believe was a safe and smart decision not to place our thermite cutter charges on the sign itself, rather ignite them beneath the sign on a hunk of steel we obtained from another artist. We talked to many people about 911 Truth, the use of controlled demolition on the World Trade buildings and of course, thermite and what it does to steel. Richard Gage, on hand for the event, gave a stirring talk about the melting temperature of steel, the numerous fire fighter observations of molten metal in the basements of World Trades 1.2 and 7 and the use of controlled demolition techniques to bring the buildings down. We remotely ignited about 75 lbs of thermite for the event. A huge arc bright fireball resulted that was seen all over the desert. The slag samples that were produced by this reaction are saved and some will be shipped to Steven Jones for a comparative analysis with samples from the actual twin towers. Though this art event didn’t fit our original plan, we feel that it was a great success nonetheless. I contacted most of the major controlled demolition companies in the US and even one in Japan, to solicit bids for using thermite cutter charges to bring the sign down. I heard back from none of them. This left me, a novice in the field, to devise the devices myself. The federally licensed pyro crew at Burning Man congratulated me on the safety and success of this rather large thermite burn. Cost was a factor as well. I did get one bid from a shadowy tech person with ex-defense contacts in Virginia to build 2 sol-gel thermate cutter charges. The price was $10,000.00 per charge.

As I wanted to pull this event off, I had to scale the cost, size and scope of it down a bit. Working with a skeleton crew of volunteers including KPFA radio’s Guns and Butter’s Yarrow Mahko, we were able to pull off a very difficult task, on time, close to our revised budget estimates, and with extreme safety measures given the often wild and unpredictable nature of events and people at the Burning Man festival.

So the sign lives on and will be displayed at various locations. I have two commitments from art exhibitors at this point and must work out additional transport and heavy equipment set up. This is a lot of work and it’s left me a little beat up but deeply satisfied all the same. We have some very decent video of the erection of the sign and the ignition of the thermite and Richard Gage’s talk. Editing is in process and I hope to have at least a teaser film with the ignition ready by this weekend.

My plans are to continue exploring the use of thermite or thermate cutter charges to bring down a substantial piece of steel in a monitored environment, as a protest demonstration to illustrate how the twin towers and building 7 were most likely brought down.. After having successfully experimented with the stuff, I can tell you that I have a strong understanding of thermite’s violent effect on steel. The burn stayed hot for at least an hour after we ignited it early Sunday morning, the 3rd of Sept. around 2 am. In all cases I have worked under the supervision of licensed professionals and plan to obtain the proper permits and work within the boundaries of local and state laws regarding future tests. I don’t plan on sharing how I rigged my devises. The technology is too dangerous.

I invite any Truth supporters to contact me with future ideas or suggestions for the sign. It will be made available for any 911 Truth event where possible. And yes, I still need to recover some of the costs of producing this event. Please see my blog for more info on that.

Thanks to all my supporters and volunteers, Architects and Engineers for 911 Truth, Richard Gage and the crews and staff at Burning Man for helping making this art-demonstration vision a reality.

John


August 31,2007 Black Rock- Last night at 11 pm we successfully ignited a pot of thermite on a piece of ¼” U-channel similar to the one holding up the Truthburn letters. The 20 lbs of thermite created an enormous, bright as the sun fireball that burned through the ¼ “ steel like, well, butter. The flowing streams of molten metal stayed very hot for about ½ an hour afterwards. Our crew cleaned up the steel residue after everything cooled down. Steel melts at about 3000°. TruthBurn is aimed at duplicating a possible technique used in the controlled demolitions of World Trade Centers 1, 2 and 3. Rivers of molten steel were observed by fire fighting crews in the lower levels of the collapsed buildings many weeks after September 11, 2001. Only an incendiary like thermite can raise steel to these temperatures. Last night we saw this first hand. The test caused me to re-evaluate our plan to bring the huge steel letters down using this method. In our test, the thermite flowed down the channel, and though it mostly cut the channel in half, there was an element of uncontrollability about the way the molten metal flows. Specifically I am concerned with safety. If the thermite charges don’t completely sever the channel holding the letters the structure can become dangerously unstable and pose a significant problem to already overtaxed Burning Man Department of Public Works (DPW) crews. Also the bolts that hold the upper structure together, may become fused thereby making disassembly very difficult. We have to take this giant 30000 lb structure down at the end of Burning Man and truck it back to the Bay Area. As a consequence, I’m working on a back up plan, that would still entail burning our themite, but this would happen underneath the structure, in three separate pots to symbolize the controlled demolition of all three World Trade Buildings. This after all an art project. We are not professional demolition people, though I was amazed at how relatively easy it was to setr up and remotely ignite the stuff. Licensed pryo tech personnel from Burning Man supervised the test and helped provide crowd control. Richard Gage, AIA, founder of Architects and Engineers for 911 Truth will be arriving tonight and we’ll consult about how to proceed.

John

Saturday, September 1, 2007: Black Rock City

There were two powerful dust storms that swept through the playa yesterday, making even the simplest effort a supreme challenge. The storm blew in Architects and Engineers for 911 Truth’s Richard Gage and Bill Donnelly. Yarrow Mahko of Guns and Butter also showed up. Great to see these guys here and plans are afoot to do some media show at the Truth sign, tonight and tomorrow night.

We have decided to burn the thermite beneath the TruthBurn sign because of safety and mechanical reasons. We will burn three pots of thermite in honor of the three World Trade buildings.

Yesterday also brought to the playa the most beautiful rainbow I think I’ve ever seen. Yarrow and I were taking a bucket load of photos of the sign framed by this incredible rainbow. Truly magical and thoroughly amazing. This morning, at the media tent where I “try” to establish an internet connection, I was greeted by a very beautiful black hen. Yes, some one of the guys here actually brought his pet chicken to the playa. It was neat seeing this in the desert.

John

13 comments:

Mark Roberts said...

Welcome back. I notice that you said it was a successful demonstration AT the sign, not OF the sign. I assume you're referring to the smaller demonstration earlier. Did the big burn not go as anticipated?

James B. said...

Based on your experience with 80lbs of thermite and a 20 foot tall sign, approximately how much thermite would you estimate would be needed to demolish two 110 story skyscrapers?

I am just asking because I thought it might be, err... somewhat relevant...

Howard Roark said...

Is the sign going to "go on tour" now? Where is it? can you post pictures of it?

Howard Roark said...

John, you state:
“Rivers of molten steel were observed by fire fighting crews in the lower levels of the collapsed buildings many weeks after September 11, 2001. Only an incendiary like thermite can raise steel to these temperatures. Last night we saw this first hand.”

And they you state:

“The burn stayed hot for at least an hour after we ignited it early Sunday morning”

Based on your observation of the effects of ignition of 20 lbs of thermite (which will only produce 1/2 liter of molted steel), how many tons of thermite you estimate would be needed to produce “rivers of molten steel” that would flow “many weeks” after it was ignited?

Howard Roark said...

John, you wrote: “In our test, the thermite flowed down the channel, and though it mostly cut the channel in half, there was an element of uncontrollability about the way the molten metal flows.”

Isn’t that the crux of the problem? You have brought into the theory that thermite was used to cut the columns of the building, yet your own experiments have proved that it is exceedingly difficult, if not impossible to make a horizontal cut of the sort that has been postulated.

I hate to say this, because I know that you have invested a lot of time, money and emotions in the truthburn project, but isn’t it time to face the fact that the thermite theory is wrong?

911_truthiness said...

So I take it a horizontal piece of steel was cut and not a vertical piece as would have had to be done at the WTC.

johnp said...

truthiness...check out sol-gel thermate cutter charges. My crude device did direct the flow of molten thermite quite well and I now know that it wouldn't be too hard for me to make a shaped device that cut horizontally.

Howard Roark said...

”I now know that it wouldn't be too hard for me to make a shaped device that cut horizontally.”

How? You need oxygen to cut through steel, and thermite won’t generate that, the oxygen from the iron oxide is used to oxidate the aluminum. That is what produces the heat. You might soften or melt potions of the columns, but all that will accomplish is to weld the pieces together.

johnp said...

not true Howard. The test pieces I got all were sliced right through. Photographic evidence to follow.

Howard Roark said...

thin pieces with the thermite on top.

How about trying your test on 1.5" thick verical pieces?

johnp said...

can be done

the artist said...

I loved your piece! I have a picture of it at http://www.flickr.com/photos/amaniellen/1340138738/in/set-72157601633448895/

I didn't know it was going to burn, or what its significance was, but it touched me nonetheless. thank you!

I just recently learned that my roommate's son is to be deployed to Baghdad in December, and this piece means that much more to me now. thank you so much.

johnp said...

Thanks..the artist. Your comment meant alot to me.