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January 23, 2013

Salon: 9/11 Trutherism Is Better Than Other Conspiracy Theories, Because It All Flows From One Unassailable Scientific Fact:
Fire.
Can't.
Melt.
Steel.

They took the post down -- but Twitchy has some screencaps and this "money graf:"

What concerns me about the repudiation of the [Sandy Hook conspiracy theorists] is that the 9/11 Truthers are being tarred with the same “crackpot” brush. Yes, many of the September Eleventh conspiracy theories are implausible, and too often veer, as conspiracy theories unfortunately tend to do, toward the anti-Semitic. But unlike with Sandy Hook, 9/11 conspiracy theories flow from a scientific fact: whatever the 9/11 Commission Report might claim, fire generated by burning jet fuel is not hot enough to melt steel. As with JFK’s “Magic Bullet,” the official version asks us to pretend that the laws of physics do not exist. This opens the door for alternative versions, however ridiculous, that must at least be considered...

Ahem.

Look, I don't mean to sound like a smarty-pants here, but here's a scientific fact this ignoramuses want to check out:

Many solids change suddenly into liquids as they hit their melting point. Water ice, for example.

But water ice is just one kind of solid. There is an entire class of elements -- we call these "metals" (and no I'm not trying to be silly-- they're really called "metals") which change from solid to liquid gradually and gracefully, rather than abruptly.

There is a sharp distinction between water ice and water liquid -- the things have entirely different properties. But metals transition slowly as heat as applied. Metals do not suddenly go from a perfect crystalline solid to a perfect amorphous liquid as water does.

Rather, at high temperatures well short of their actual melting point, they slowly begin losing some properties of a solid and start gaining some properties of a liquid.

For example: You can't bend ice. Ice does not bend. Ice breaks.

But you can bend metal. Metal is deformable, without actually breaking.

And as metal gets hotter, it becomes more and more deformable. It begins losing its rigid, fully-solid aspect and gains a more... well, let me put this in terms Salon can understand: Metal becomes bi-statal, or liquid-curious.

This is because metal atoms are not held together in a rigid crystal structure, in which one atom forms a bond with the next, as in water ice, but rather some kind of (and I admit my memory fails me) loose system in which electrons are shared like a river and one atom can float gracefully past the next, if external force or heat is applied.

I don't know why I have to explain this. It's been explained six thousand times before. The "melting point" of steel -- whatever it is, say 4000 C -- is the point at which steel becomes a pool of red-hot liquid.

But for "metals," that "melting point" is a sliding scale -- at 800 C, it becomes more pliant, and begins to sag and lose integrity, at 1200 it actually starts drooping if there is weight on it, at 1600 it might start drooping and buckling under its own weight, etc.

There are a lot of people who suddenly think they're Chemical Engineers but never got round to the part of the chemistry textbook -- and it's like chapter 4, not chapter 40 -- that explains that metals have all sorts of special properties, including, inter alia, conductivity, deformability, and, especial, gradual transition between solid and liquid forms.

You don't even have to work with metal to understand this: a perfectly common substance, called glass, has this same "liquid crystal" property, and will also buckle, warp, bend, droop, and deform when heat is applied, long before it actually pools into a liquid.

But carry on, Salon. You're... You're what you are. You're what you always have been: Dumb and arrogantly so.

I look forward to all the media coverage which will surely flow from this recent discovery, that whole swathes of the Dumb Left are prone to paranoid and ignorant conspiracy theories, and are also Anti-Science.

Any moment now. I can hear the water churning behind the floodgates.

Rebuttal:

Have you ever worked in the metallurgy profession, Ace? That's what I thought.

-- Terry Moran

Cleaning Up: I kept using the term "deformable" because, try as I might, I could not recall the correct terms.

The correct terms are "malleability" (capability to bend or deform to external force, rather than breaking and shattering) and "plasticity" (capability of slowly, gradually transitioning between solid and liquid). Metals have both; plastics and glass, for example, have only the latter. Glass and plastics are plastic, but not very malleable.

I think that's the proper chemical terminology, anyway.

Not to blow Salon's mind too much, but this property of "plasticity" is so common in the world that we actually named long-chain carbon molecules with highly plastic properties "plastic."

More Wit:

The Periodic Table is a living breathing document with emanations and penumbras

-- Jones in CO



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posted by Ace at 03:58 PM

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