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Old 22nd April 2010, 09:40 PM   #726
The Almond
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Join Date: Nov 2006
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Originally Posted by jay howard View Post
Are you saying that none of the scientists are working within their area(s) of expertise?
What an interesting question! Let's look at the authors, and define their expertise based on 4 criteria, shall we?

1) # of papers published in peer reviewed, mainstream, high impact factor journals dealing with forensic analysis, composition of dust/ash, paint/pigment analysis, X-ray analysis, quantitative particle sizing, differential scanning calorimetry, automated particle analysis or thermite demolitions.

2) Dissertations or theses published to UMI database or listed as part of CV whose topics or methods were relevant to any of the above subjects.

3) Employment at a prestigious, well respected institute, company, academy, think tank or book club whose primary purpose is to research and conduct analyses in one of the above mentioned topics.

4) Membership in a professional society whose aim is to foster understanding of one/some/all of the above mentioned topics.

Now I'll list each author with 4 scores in each of the above categories, and I'll include myself in the list, for comparison.
1) Niels Harrit 1*,1,1,1

2) Jeffrey Farrer 1*,0,1,1

3) Steven Jones, 1,0,0,0

4) Kevin R. Ryan 0,0,0,0

5) Frank M. Legge 0,0,0,0

6) Daniel Farnsworth 0,0,0,0

7) Greg Roberts 0,0,0,0

8) James R Gourley 0,0,0,0

9) Bradley R Larsen 0,0,0,0

10) The Almond, 4,1,1,1

*I'm giving Farrer and Harrit a bonus credit for publishing extensively in fields not directly related to the above disciplines. Both have impressive publishing records in the areas of nano-technology and semiconductors/ceramics. Farrer especially is well published in Electron Backscatter Diffraction (EBSD), a technique that would have been very useful given the subject matter in question, had it been used.

I think this exercise shows that most of the authors are operating wildly outside of their realm of expertise. The two most qualified scientists, despite being subject matter experts in areas unrelated to this particular paper, have never published or shown that they have researched the areas covered in the paper.
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What do these claims of "failure" really amount to? Some people don't "like" the way the statistical data was presented
There were no statistical data presented which could be used to established the relevancy of the data.
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or they don't "believe" the conductors of the tests knew how to conduct them.
Their methods were wrong. The conclusion is that they're incompetent.
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These kinds of claims ultimately boil down to saying "I don't believe you."
Incorrect. It's the equivalent to saying to Jones et al, "You're all idiots, start over."
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That's kind of you to share your opinion, but unless you have reason (beyond the psychological incongruities produced by their conclusions) it's simply an opinion--an opinion expressed by someone that almost undoubtedly knows less about the field in question that the researchers themselves.
See above. My master's thesis was on quantitative analysis of cementitious materials using SEM-EDX. My dissertation is on quantitative automated particle analysis of fly ash, bottom ash, ground granulated blast furnace slag and other supplementary cementitious materials. I eat, breathe, sleep and poop X-ray analysis, hyperspectral imaging, image processing, multivariate statistics, and surface chemistry. For the last 10 years, I've been doing nothing but XRF, XRD, EPMA, SEM, ICP-MS, LA-ICPMS, Auger/X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy. I know way, way, way more about this stuff than all of the authors combined, and I'm far more handsome, stylish, clean shaven, good smelling, pleasant and humble than they are.
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Take The Almond's criticism of the size of the iron oxide particles. After claiming time and time again that he "closed the case" on their ubiquity in nature, it was pointed out that they do NOT exist in nature at that size in any construction material known to exist now or up to when the towers were destroyed.
It is unfortunate that your summary of the argument misses so many of the salient points and inaccurately summarizes the exchange. Iron oxide particles do exist in nature as a common component of dust and ash and within the size range you have arbitrarily defined. Iron oxide particles were identified in a 1967 book on pigments as being as small as 100 nm and were identified as an ocher pigment. Presented with references refuting your claim, you countered that it is difficult to make "uniformly" sized iron oxide particles based on your vast experience as a professional paint and pigment manufacturer (oh wait...). It was pointed out that a protective, anti-corrosive coating was applied to every major structural element in the tower, and that the manufacturer noted the specific use of iron oxide as a colorant. That was where the debate ended.
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Still not convinced of this, he "does the real work" and goes to the public library where he finds reference books that talk about wavelengths of light in the 600-630 nm range as some kind of argument that these particles should be found in pigments.
This, too, misses many of the salient points of the previous debate. I went to the library in order to do research for a paper I'm working on. Having completed my more important tasks, I went over to the section on paints and pigments and selected, from among 100 or so texts, the 3 I thought would be easiest for you to find. All three texts confirmed the existence of iron oxide in the size range you identified and provided interesting (for me, at least) insight into the materials science of pigments, especially those comprised of iron oxide. It confirmed that uniformity in particle sizing is necessary for consistent colorization since the wavelength of the emitted light from the particles varies with their average diameter. Have you looked up the references yet? Or did you decide to shell out $600 for the McCrone Particle Atlas?
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After having it pointed out that there is not even a contender material that these chips might be
False. The contender material is the material applied to every major structural member in the twin towers. It's up to Jones et al to eliminate it from consideration.
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he claims that the pictures showing relatively uniform 100 nm iron oxide particles from 4 different samples of the chips from the WTC dust, are NOT actually 100 nm. How?
Because particle sizing at the length scales of 100 nm is not trivial and scale bars applied to SEM images are an educated guess at best. I know this because I've been working with electron microscopes for the last 10 years. You don't know this because you haven't.
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He claims the size reference bars in the pictures are not up to his high scientific standards.
Nor the standards of any of the journals I've published in. My scientific standards were developed and tempered by participation in the scientific community. It's sad that Farrer and Harrit are so ready to fling their process and method to the wind in order to further their demented world views.
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(He is "only prepared to discuss scientifically relevant, valid, statistically robust data.")
The more important question is, why are you ready to believe that which is irrelevant, invalid and statistically questionable?
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And apparently, the reference bars in the corners of the SE, BSE images are not scientifically relevant or robust enough because the authors don't state how those reference bars were calibrated.

At this point, I need to know from you: do you think this is a justified concern? That they need to demonstrate how they calibrated their reference bars in the electromicrographs?
Only if they think the particle sizing is important. They need to calibrate the bars and do an actual particle size analysis, with random sampling across a statistically relevant number of particles. They need to produce a histogram, determine the error budget and calculate the particle size distribution curve.

Unless, of course, Jones doesn't think the particle sizing is important. Then what? If it's not the smoking gun, what is?
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Right. And there are some I certainly agree with: I would like to see what happens when they perform ignition experiments in an oxygen-free atmosphere. But whatever issues you have with their methodology, (unless you think they are outright liars), their other results are not automatically invalidated.
The issues with the methodology make their data irrelevant. Irrelevant. Irrelevant. It is the author's job to establish relevancy. The data do not speak for themselves. This is the first thing you learn in graduate school when you start writing your thesis. We do not just throw a bunch of numbers in the air and say, "Make up your own mind!" The author establishes relevancy by means of appropriate experimental design, adherence to accepted methodology and the production of valid data from valid samples. Without that, the relevancy is not established.
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None of it changes the fact that the by-products of the heated chips were iron and silicate microspheres. Nor do methodological criticisms change the fact that the chips ignited at around 430C and demonstrated violent exothermic reactions. This is demonstrable from the time-temperature curves. There is no getting around these facts. There is no getting around the fact that XEDS graphs demonstrated areas with high concentrations of Al and low concentrations of O and Si.
This is where your reasoning gets squirrely. The question for all of these supposed "data" points is, "So what?" So what if the chips ignite at 430 C? Most carbonaceous material will ignite at approximately that temperature in an oxygen rich environment. So what if it "made" microspheres? Such microspheres are a very common component of dust and ash. So what if their wildly inaccurate XEDS analysis showed more aluminum? Who cares?

What do these supposedly irrefutable data prove about the collapse of the WTC towers? The DSC data prove that the material can't be thermite. So then what?
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Again, unless you think they are just straight scamming everyone, the kind of incredulity that passes for legitimate criticisms here are nothing but psychological dissonance packaged in nice words.


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False choice fallacy. Also, repeating the same arguments over and over again is boring.
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