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Old 30th January 2008, 08:41 AM   #77
The Almond
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Just to be clear, I would like to list my criticisms of Jones's paper:
  1. In section 2 (Methods), the authors fail to specify whether the detector on the SEM is a silicon lithium Si(Li) detector or a silicon drift detector (SDD). This is actually quite important since the SDD has a high instance of coincidence peaking which can cause misidentification of certain elements. Looking at the spectra, it appears to be a Si(Li) detector, but that's an educated guess at best.
  2. On page 2, in the section "Results", the author states, "The spherules found in the WTC dust were predominately iron-rich" without supporting his contention with a statistical analysis of the iron content of the particles available for analysis. He might mean that the particles he analyzed were iron rich, but that indicates heavy operator bias in selecting particles.
  3. The author makes no mention of the particle correction routine used to determine the composition of the particles. He further makes no indication of standards collected, or of calibrations run to determine what the relative deviation of a standardless particle quant would be. This is an extremely important point. Jones is reporting "approximate" particle compositions to one decimal place, indicating that his analysis has a deviation of +/- 0.1%. It, of course, would be helpful if Jones were to actually report the actual two standard normal deviation, but I think we've already established that such considerations are for real research papers, not Jones's dreck. Anyway, J.T. Armstrong in Electron Probe Quantitation (pp 296) reported 2 standard deviations for particle analysis using conventional ZAF corrections as +/- 55% relative. In the case of the iron composition given as a caption in Figure 3, it should read Fe = 10.7% +/- 5.9%.
  4. The caption under figure 4 states "The Fe-S-Al-O signature is striking, nothing like the signature of structural steel." This is a particularly appalling statement intending to somehow imply that all of the iron rich spherules from his "dust sample" had to be from structural steel or gypsum. Similar to what Dr. Greening has already pointed out, we can't simply assume that the only source of iron in the WTC dust was from steel. Nor can we assume that the temperatures necessary to vaporize the individual constituent elements of those spheres is what caused them to form in the first place. I mentioned rice husk ash in an earlier post which has an abundance of iron rich particles despite rather low burning temperatures. Crazy Chainsaw has also provided information regarding the vaporization of molybdenum at temperatures far below those required to vaporize the pure constituent metal.
  5. The caption under figure 5 states "The O/Fe ratio of 1.5 suggests that Fe2O3 is present, iron (III) oxide." Regarding my analysis in point 3, Jones can not state with any certainty that the O/Fe ratio is actually 1.5. Furthermore, Jones seems completely unaware that hydrogen atoms are not fluoresced during XEDS. This means that Jones cannot, with any certainty, determine if the particles are Fe2O3 or Fe(OH)2,3,4 or any variant thereof.
  6. On page 4, Jones reports the following, "No explanation for the presence of these iron-rich and silicate spheres (which imply very high temperatures along with droplet formation) is given in the published USGS reports." This is further evidence that he simply rejects the possibility that fires caused this ash sample. The USGS report's purpose was not to comment on the source of the iron rich spheres. In fact, I can't imagine why any researcher, when presented with a sample of ash from a building fire would think twice about finding iron.
  7. On page 4, Jones reports, "A WTC dust sample acquired at 130 Liberty Street shows a “mean of composition” of “Fe spheres” of 5.87% which is very high compared with “Fe spheres” found in ordinary building dust of only 0.04% [1]." Ladies and Gentlemen, I submit to you that Jones has decided to compare apples to oranges. He has chosen to compare the composition of ordinary building dust to ash from a building fire. And he thinks it's strange. Lunacy.
  8. The next several pages operate on the following argument: Because the temperature required to vaporize a pure metal is really high, these spheres cannot form in normal office fires. Of course, this argument is completely useless unless you compare the results to a similar office fire or across a series of office fires. Jones is expecting the scientific community at large to believe that such elements are not found in office fires because he says so.
  9. Finally, the appendix notes where Jones got his samples from. I'm sorry, but I honestly can't understand how any legitimate scientist could possibly believe the validity of Jones's source. There is absolutely no reason to believe that Jones's "WTC Dust" samples are from the actual World Trade Center. Suffice it to say that such forensic handling would certainly not be admissible in any court.
Anyway, that's the nuts and bolts of it. Jones has done an excellent job of writing a report that gives the appearance of scientific validity with absolutely no science to back it up. He has utterly neglected standardized analysis methods, ignored forensic evidence gathering techniques, and has based his argument on nothing more than his personal opinion. There is absolutely no reason to accept any of Jones's conclusions or results.
"Perfection, even in stupidity, is difficult to achieve without a conscious effort."--pomeroo, JREF Forum Member

Last edited by The Almond; 30th January 2008 at 09:15 AM. Reason: On planet X, literally and figuratively mean the same thing
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