The Real Weapon

Date: Fri Sep 21 2001 - 04:50:18 BST

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    Subject: The Real Weapon
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    Thanks, Anne.

    Unfortunately, I don't think that Dawkins identifies the main weapons, at
    least not as used in New York. The main weapons used in New York were the
    trade center towers and surrounding sky scrapers themselves. They were the
    source of most of the energy that did the mass killing. I suspect that the
    planners of this attack actually carried out the calculations of destructive
    power before the attack, and that running the calculation again may give a
    view of their mind set.

    As a trigger device, the Boeing 767 derived most of its energy from the on
    board fuel. Its fuel capacity is about 90,000 Litres, which would weigh about
    80,000 metric tons. That is, 0.08 killotons of reducer, which comes to about
    0.15 killotons of something such as TNT (trinitrotoluene), which has 6 oxygen
    atoms per 7 carbon atoms.

    Estimates of the amount of rubble released by the collapsing towers ranges
    from 600,000 tons to 2,000,000 tons. The energy released is equal to the mass
    m times the gravitational acceleration at Earth's surface g times the height
    h by which the center of mass was dropped. Assuming the center of mass came
    down by 200 meters, and putting g at 10 meters per second per second, we get
    E = 2000m in Joules. The Merck index lists the energy content of methane as
    burned in oxygen at 13,300 killocalories, which comes to about 55,000
    killojoules. So the energy of the building's collapse, expressed in terms of
    weight of methane, is 2000/53000 times mass m, or 0.037m. Assuming that it
    would take 13/7 times as much TNT to produce the same energy, we get E =
    0.07m. For m = 600,000 tons, or 600 killotons, the energy released becomes
    0.07 times 600 or 42 killotons of TNT equivalent. That is equal to about the
    combined energy released by the two nuclear weapons used during World War II.
    The collapse of the buildings even happened as a chain reaction of floors
    hitting floors.

    It is also reasonable to suppose that the killers wanted to kill all 50,000
    people who worked in the World Trade Center. One thing that kept the 42
    killotons "yield" from killing hundreds of thousands is that the energy was
    mostly directed down into the earth, where much of it became localized heat
    that continues to help make the ruins smolder, and most of the rest raced
    away as an underground shock wave. Another thing that kept the death toll
    from going into the 6 figures was the energy release happened over the
    "lengthy" span of at least 9 seconds, the time it takes for the highest floor
    to reach the ground in a 400 meter fall. A nuclear blast wave is deadlier
    because its energy mostly hits in a split second. Nevertheless, it seems very
    likely that the killers wanted their weapons to be about as deadly as nuclear

    The scale of the attack, along with smuggled messages from Osama Bin Laden
    himself indicate that provoking an all out war was the objective. The
    apparent intention to target the White House and perhaps the Capitol Building
    further suggest that this is the case. Anyone who intended to collapse the US
    civilian government must be seen as wanting to cause an emergency military
    takeover in the USA. Such people might have expected and even desired vast
    escalations, including actual nuclear war. If they had gotten all the trouble
    they wanted, the potential loss of life would be far into the millions, not
    only in the USA, but also in any Muslim lands that US generals might have see
    as aggressors. I am not sure that even Dawkins has fully stated the level of

    Even with the worst scenarios not being realized, there remains the danger
    coming from the fact that the idea of using a jetliner as a trigger device
    for political and structural collapse has now been widely disseminated.

    As to the evolutionary origins of the danger, I have put in my book Thought
    Contagion some discussion of religious warfare, including the violent variety
    of jihad, and the ideas of martyrdom for those who die fighting for Islam.
    The book also contains some discussion of the evolutionary factors that can
    make some religious movements jingoistic while others are pacifistic.

    --Aaron Lynch

    In a message dated 9/15/2001 7:42:15 PM Central Daylight Time, writes:

    > Subj: Dawkins View
    > Date: 9/15/2001 7:42:15 PM Central Daylight Time
    > From: (Anne.)
    > Sender:
    > Reply-to:
    > To:
    > Here is the link to the Dawkins piece!
    > Anne.

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