JREF, Paint, Kaolin, Bentham and Media Coverage of the ‘Active Thermitic Material’ Paper by Erik Larson

The paper “Active Thermitic Material Discovered in Dust from the 9/11 World Trade Center Catastrophe” was published April 3, 2009 in The Open Chemical Physics Journal (Bentham.org)

It is currently the subject of much debate (mostly attacks) at JREF, beginning with this thread, now closed- it has gotten 1831 comments and 30,413 views as of this posting: 

[Closed]Active Thermitic Material Discovered in Dust from the 9/11 World Trade Center Catastrophe- JREF 


 Most of what the debunkers at JREF have come up with so far are insults to Dr. Jones, disparaging comments about Bentham, strawman arguments, and unsupported allegations that the red-gray chips are some kind of paint. This early comment by Dog Town is typical of the general mentality throughout the thread; “Old hat! Vanity published,paint chips,yadda,yadda,yadda! NEXT!”  forums.randi.org/showpost.php?p=4583452&postcount=2 

However, as much as Dog Town and others there may wish it, the questions raised by the experiments documented in the paper are not going to be dismissed so easily; these chips produce iron micro-spheres when heated to 700 C (and intense chemical reactions at 430 C)- like thermite, but unlike any known paint- iron melts at 1400 C. (pgs. 20-28) Dr. Jones and everyone else, including JREFers, are entitled to our own opinions, but not our own facts- as the saying goes. There may be problems with the new paper not uncovered by the peer review process, that will be discovered- and there may not. The research of the paper’s authors continues- future studies are discussed on pg. 28 of the paper. And, as Jones has noted, these important questions also remain: “What is high-tech explosive/pyrotechnic material in large quantities doing in the WTC dust? Who made tons of this stuff and why? Why have government investigators refused to look for explosive residues in the WTC aftermath?” 

Jon Gold suggested truth activists get the paper to professors at colleges and universities- people without ties to the Truth Movement or the government- for review and feedback. Imho, this is a very good idea- in addition to possibly getting valuable input, it will help raise awareness of 9/11 Truth issues. 

List of Physics Departments at Universities- worldwide

List of Chemistry Departments at Universities- worldwide

There may even be some legitimate and useful questions posed at JREF- they would do well to separate them out from the ones that simply make them look bad- see these new threads below (the titles incorrectly imply this is Dr. Jones’ paper; there are 8 other authors, and Dr. Niels H. Harrit is the lead author- According to Dr. Jones, Dr. Jeffrey Farrer should be the lead author, but this was not permitted by BYU): 

New Thread to Discuss The Excellent Analysis of Jones latest paper


(Ed) JREF Forum questions for prof Jones concerning his new paper


Sunstealer, prefacing another attempt to cast doubt on the paper, says “This post will form part of the rebuttal to Jones’ paper.” forums.randi.org/showpost.php?p=4607897&postcount=24 

JREFers can post all they want on their forum, but it remains to be seen whether any of them- or Zdenek Bazant, Ryan Mackey or anyone else, for that matter- can get a paper proving the red-gray thermitic chips are paint (or any kind of rebuttal paper) through an authentic peer-review process, and published in any refereed journal- open access or not. 

Peter Suber, Open Access Overview (definition, introduction) 

Directory of Open Access Journals; scroll down to “Open” to see the list of Bentham Journals, including the Open Chemical Physics Journal the current paper is published in, and the Open Civil Engineering Journal the Fourteen Points letter was published in. 

At the JREF forum, Ryan Mackey declined 911Files/John Farmer’s suggestion that they (along with Sunstealer) write up the JREF thread and “pay” to have it published by Bentham:


It’s true there has been criticism of Bentham, which as a startup in 2007 with an initial goal of creating 300 open access journals, sent out a great many email solicitations- annoying people in some cases, and possibly being careless in others. 

The Open Access Interviews: Matthew Honan [Editorial Director, Bentham Science Publishers] 

However, until a solid rebuttal paper is published, or actual flaws documented in the peer-review process for the “Active Thermitic Materials” paper, to claim that Bentham is a “pay to play” or “vanity” journal and the paper is bogus science- as has been done ad nausem on the JREF forum, including by John Farmer- is simply ignorant, or dishonest. Incidentally, in one such comment Farmer says, “There is evidence FDR knew Pearl Harbor was coming, LBJ “faked” the Gulf of Tonkin, but again, apples and oranges. Churchill also allowed an attack on civilans to go ahead without warning in order to keep the Enigma secret. But again, apples and oranges and I don’t see any evidence, including Dr. Jones little “pay to play” paper that indicates the government was involved in the WTC attack in any way what-so-ever.”


Farmer’s “conspiracy theories” aside, as Dr. Jones said, “IF it is so easy to publish in Bentham Scientific journals, or if these are “vanity publications” (note: there is no factual basis for these charges) — then why don’t the objectors write up their objections and get them peer-reviewed and published?? The fact is, it is not easy, as serious objectors will find out.” And “Debunkers may raise all sorts of objections on forums, such as “Oh, it’s just paint” or “the aluminum is bound up in kaolin.” We have answered those questions in the paper, and shown them to be nonsense, but you have to read to find the answers.” 

Results: 2. Test Using Methyl Ethyl Ketone Solvent. “…XEDS spectra (subsequent plots) were acquired from specific regions of high Si, Al and Fe concentrations. Focusing the electron beam on a region rich in silicon, located in Fig. (15e), we find silicon and oxygen and very little else (Fig. 16). Evidently the solvent has disrupted the matrix holding the various particles, allowing some migration and separation of the components. This is a significant result for it means that the aluminum and silicon are not bound chemically.” (18) 

Dr. Jones notes in a comment titled More responses… Tuesday morning 7 April 2009, in the thread for the “Active Thermitic Material” post at 911Blogger; “In kaolin and other substances which incorporate Al and Si, the Al and Si are bound chemically — that is, they will NOT separate under the action of a solvent such as MEK. That is why these MEK tests are so significant! WE thought of the possibility of an alumino-silicate early on of course, but then we did the MEK tests and were observed a separation of Al from other elements with this solvent – and this test RULES OUT strictly the notion that the aluminum which migrated is bound in an aluminosilicate.” 

Results: 5. Flame/Ignition Tests- “Tests were also performed with a small oxyacetylene flame” And, “After a few seconds of heating, the high-speed ejection of a hot particle was observed under the hand of the person holding the torch (Fig. 22).” And, “Several paint samples were also tested and in each case, the paint sample was immediately reduced to fragile ashes by the hot flame. This was not the case, however, with any of the red/gray chips from the World Trade Center dust.” (21-22) 

Discussion: 7. Could the Red Chip Material be Ordinary Paint? “Another test, described above, involved subjection of red chips to methyl ethyl ketone solvent for tens of hours, with agitation. The red material did swell but did not dissolve, and a hard silicon-rich matrix remained after this procedure. On the other hand, paint samples in the same exposure to MEK solvent became limp and showed significant dissolution, as expected since MEK is a paint solvent.” And, “If a paint were devised that incorporated these very energetic materials, it would be highly dangerous when dry and most unlikely to receive regulatory approval for building use. To merit consideration, any assertion that a prosaic substance such as paint could match the characteristics we have described would have to be accompanied by empirical demonstration using a sample of the proposed material, including SEM/XEDS and DSC analyses.” (27-28) 

JREFers can posture, bluster and attack, but evidence and arguments stand on their own merit, as the posters there with a science background know- as well as they know that disingenuous arguments and bogus evidence can be used to sway public opinion for a time: 

38 Ways To Win An Argument—Arthur Schopenhauer (thanks to Kevin Ryan for the link) 

The open public debate is good. No doubt, many who see how JREF handles the debate will be moved to take an honest and critical look at the “Active Thermitic Material Discovered” paper, and start doing their own research into 9/11. And JREF has helped create visibility; the forum is a highly-trafficked website (32K on Alexa, with 1851 sites linking in), and the thread has gotten over 30,000 views. 

The Deseret News is the only mainstream newspaper so far to report on the paper in the US, but it has been covered by media in Europe, and the news is spreading rapidly across the web. The search term “Active Thermitic Material Discovered” got 24,000 hits in a Google search the evening of April 11, and 216,000 in a Yahoo! search the morning of April 12, as a result of being linked from hundreds of sites, blogs and forums: 

Here is a list of ‘mainstream’ type media that have covered it, including web-based independent media: 

April 9

Active Thermitic Material Discovered in 9/11 Dust- Scoop.co.nz (repost of GlobalResearch.ca article) 

April 7

Scoperto materiale termitico attivo nella polvere proveniente dalla catastrofe dell’11/9 – MegaChip.info 

Dansker genopliver konspirationsteori om 11. September – Kristeligt Dagblad 

Mystik om WTC: Nano-termit i tårne – Ekstra Bladet 

April 6

Traces of explosives in 9/11 dust, scientists say – Deseret News 

9/11 Media Breakthrough in Denmark [Danish- TV2] 

Kevin Ryan interview – KPFK-Pacifica’s Access Unlimited 

Inside the Dust of the World Trade Center – AllGov.com 

Super-Explosive Found in WTC Remains: Scientists found an active high-quality ‘super-explosive’ in the dust collected after the attack on the World Trade Centre in 2001- Javno.com 

April 4

Study claims ‘highly engineered explosive’ found in WTC rubble- RawStory.com Editor’s note: This story has been updated and rewritten for balance and clarity. ? 

Active Thermitic Material Discovered in Dust from the 9/11 World Trade Center Catastrophe- Bellaciao.org 

Active Thermitic Material Discovered in Dust from the 9/11 World Trade Center Catastrophe- Mathaba.net – Links to 911Blogger.com 

Study: Scientists Discover Active Thermitic Material in WTC Dust – IndyBay.org (this was still in a Google News search as of April 11) 

Konspirationsteorier om 9/11 får nyt liv: En ny analyse hævder, at der var sprængstoffer i World Trade Center den 11. september 2001- Politiken.dk 

Forskere: Sprængstof i støvet fra WTC – JP.dk 

April 3

Active Thermitic Material Discovered in Dust from the 9/11 World Trade Center Catastrophe – GlobalResearch.ca 

Dansk forsker: Eksplosivt nanomateriale fundet i støvet fra World Trade Center – Videnskab.dk 

[Closed]Active Thermitic Material Discovered in Dust from the 9/11 World Trade Center Catastrophe- JREF


Also published in peer-reviewed journals:

October 19, 2008. “Discussion of “Mechanics of Progressive Collapse: Learning from World Trade Center and Building Demolitions” by Zdene? k P. Bažant and Mathieu VerdureJournal of Engineering Mechanics. (pg. 915)           

August 4, 2008. “Environmental anomalies at the World Trade Center: evidence for energetic materials”. The Environmentalist.

April 19, 2008. “Fourteen Points of Agreement with Official Government Reports on the World Trade Center Destruction”. The Open Civil Engineering Journal

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