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Now this is eerie.
September 14, 2001 11:43 AM   Subscribe

Now this is eerie. A discussion on Airliners.net from 2000, regarding a plane hitting the WTC. 'When the two towers that make up the World Trade Center were built, they were designed to withstand the impact of the largest airliner of the day, the Boeing 707 Intercontinental. The Empire State Building survived a B-25 medium bomber crashing into it on very foggy day. Anyone wanna bet that the World Trade Center could survive an 767-300 impact?'
posted by Atom Heart Mother (19 comments total)

 
I don't really think things like this are eerie.

You stick anything that big, that far up into the air you have to consider it being struck by something. As you said, the ESB was hit by a B-25 fairly early in its life.

It is only common sense to think that it could be struck, just not deliberately or in this fashion.
posted by dewelch at 11:52 AM on September 14, 2001


Just because most of us never considered the possibility that a plane could be flown into the towers, doesn't mean that many other people did consider it a threat. Jesus, why does everyone try to make something supernatural out of it.
posted by jpoulos at 11:58 AM on September 14, 2001


I was talking about the discussion that I linked to being eerie.
posted by Atom Heart Mother at 12:01 PM on September 14, 2001


Most of those comments are almost a year old. I wonder if the people who made them even remember discussing it...
posted by elvissinatra at 12:03 PM on September 14, 2001


jpoulos, have you got nothing better to do at this time that knitpick. Perhap 'eerie' wasn't the right word, but it is certainly something....
posted by Atom Heart Mother at 12:11 PM on September 14, 2001


Just a note. It wasn't the impact of the planes that brought down the towers it was the ensuing jet fuel fire
posted by bitdamaged at 12:26 PM on September 14, 2001


i remember posting about the building structure soon after the first planes hit, writing how they were designed to withstand an impact from a plane. this link reminds me of how large the planes were that hit the towers. ughhh...
posted by mich9139 at 12:27 PM on September 14, 2001


What puzzles me is that these buildings were designed to survive the impact of an airliner, and experts agree that they indeed survived the impacts, but not the jet-fuel fuelled fire that would surely result. The extreme heat from these fires was the ultimate reason these structures failed. Why design for the impact and not the fire?
posted by saturn5 at 12:28 PM on September 14, 2001


it was the ensuing jet fuel fire

and it was interesting reading the comments because the other people in that discussion, who I imagine are aviation experts (it's the "Aviation Forum"), didn't even consider the effects of the explosion and fire on the structure.

These f*@#ing terrorists did their homework.
posted by mattpfeff at 12:31 PM on September 14, 2001


In fact, each of the two towers did survive a *strike* by the aircraft. What they did not survive was the resulting fire, fed by full loads of jet fuel. From the reports I've read, the cause of the collapses was weakening of the steel structure by the heat of these fires.

I don't find this to be particularly eerie. These types of considerations are taken by structural engineers as a matter of course. I just wish this were all still in the realm of the theory.
posted by keihin at 12:31 PM on September 14, 2001


I heard on some news station that this had to have been planned for at least two years. It's another case of "Why didn't anyone notice". Where have I heard that before? Columbine perhaps?
posted by Katy Action at 1:15 PM on September 14, 2001


In fact, each of the two towers did survive a *strike* by the aircraft. What they did not survive was the resulting fire, fed by full loads of jet fuel.

Moreover, the terrorist purposely chose planes bound for distant locations so that they'd have extra fuel.
posted by RavinDave at 2:04 PM on September 14, 2001


so who won the bet?
posted by ...jon at 2:13 PM on September 14, 2001


saturn5 asks:
Why design for the impact and not the fire?

I imagine it would be pracitcally impossible to protect a building and people in it from such a strong jet fuel fire.

However, it is very important to remember that A LOT of people had the time to evacuate the building between the time the planes struck and the time the buildings collapsed. ( I think they lasted for about an hour?)

This is why it was important the the buildings survived the impacts. If they had been weaker and collapsed immediately or any sooner, the number of lives lost would have been much more.

I heard an architect at the firm that originally designed the WTC say that 95% of other buildings in the country would not have survived the impact itself of these planes.
posted by daser at 2:14 PM on September 14, 2001




Unless you use a material other than steel, you couldn't protect them from the fire. I think I read that jet fuel burns at around 1600 (F) degrees. Steel melts at 1500. In 1971-2, when the buildings were completed, I doubt you could find a material that would work.
posted by jpoulos at 2:18 PM on September 14, 2001


In another decade or so, carbon deposition on steel girders may become practical; some unknowable number of years after that, it will be economical. This would coat the steel girders with what amounts to a layer of diamond. Not much conducts heat better than diamond. Such a structure could withstand any temperature a fuel fire could create.
Of course, the walls and floors built on the girder structure would still be destroyed. The World Trade Center had load-bearing walls, but (as I understand it) most skyscrapers don't. The burning debris from the building would constitute a significant hazard in itself, even if the girders stayed up.
posted by Allen Varney at 3:18 PM on September 14, 2001


The problem was the building didn't have chemical fire extinguishers (i.e., form, not water), so they couldn't put out the av gas fire. At least that's what the news reported.
posted by yerfatma at 3:18 PM on September 14, 2001


The tasteless-in-retrospect reality is that New Yorkers thought about stuff like this every single day. Something as big as the WTC towers can't help but inspire a lot of "what if" scenarios. Somewhere out there is a web page devoted to an old college student physics project, where they attempted to prove that if the towers ever fell down, they'd cause a serious earthquake in Manhattan. (I seem to recall they were hypothesizing some sort of bizarre event at the base causing them to fall over horizontally, though.) Unfortunately, Google spiders so quickly now that I can't track the page down, because it's filled with disaster coverage pages.

(The resulting pseudoearthquake on Tuesday was only a 2.5, BTW.)

I heard an architect at the firm that originally designed the WTC say that 95% of other buildings in the country would not have survived the impact itself of these planes.

The fact that the towers were perfect squares made it a lot easier for the architects to build in a ton of safety redundancies. It is true that if it weren't for the fire, the towers would almost certainly still be standing today, though probably so damaged that they'd have to be torn down or imploded later on.
posted by aaron at 12:49 AM on September 15, 2001



Anybody else feel that the terrorists might have been surprised that they fell down? COuld they really have expected and planned for such a thing? Just because they picked planes loaded with jet fuel doesn't prove that they expected the girders to soften and for it to fall down. They could have just been hoping to blow up a few floors.

Perhaps they didn't take credit for the attack, deviating from standard operating procedures, because it was too successful?

Just some thoughts.
posted by fooljay at 2:39 AM on September 15, 2001


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