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9/11 Commission

Crumbling Skyscrapers

The smooth-wave explosions that shredded each of the Twin Towers into short pieces of metal and fine powder are frequently euphemized as crumbling. A commenter on a NOVA documentary described the towers as dissolving. These terms convey an important aspect of the event -- the rapid and thorough disintegration of the towers -- while failing to acknowledge the exploding dust clouds that obscured the centers of destruction as they descended the towers. Talk of the disintegration of the skyscrapers is acceptable on TV, whereas talk of exploding dust clouds is not. But even ignoring the dust clouds or the thoroughness of destruction, since when do steel structures disintegrate in seconds?

Progressive Collapse

Enter progressive collapse , the "theory" that explains how steel buildings can self-destruct.
Progressive collapse describes the process by which a structure destroys itself in a chain reaction of failures. The phenomenon can be demonstrated using loose elements, such as dominos or cards, but has not been demonstrated for structures where the elements are fastened to each other, except in terrorist incidents.


page last modified: 2009-03-19
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The South Tower at 2.5 seconds. This widely-circulated photograph was taken by Gulnara Samoilova, whose photographs from 9/11/01 can be seen at GulnaraSamoilova.com. Taken from within 1000 feet of the exploding South Tower, this photograph is a valuable piece of evidence in the investigation of how the Towers were destroyed.
The North Tower collapse at about 6 seconds.