Retarded Potential

Potentially Retarded

Physics vs The Big Lie(s)

Posted by Aledrinker on January 17, 2011

So far, the hardest part about writing this blog was hand-picking the absolute worst comments and discussions that would end up being featured here.  As it turns out, there are a lot of people out there who mistakenly believe that their (hopefully) drunken ramblings about “the physics/evolution/science/truth/conspiracy” deserve more of an audience than that which their immediate family can provide.

Deaf ears are all-too-common in society, where individuals who possess “real knowledge” must often share the road with others who possess “actual knowledge”.  This intermixing and subsequent rejection of knowledge tends to temper one camp and hinder the other, allowing all of us to live together with a nice festering chip on our shoulders.  However, every once in a while, certain special individuals will throw away all of their rhetoric against science and technology for a moment.  In these scarce few seconds of clarity, reasoning, and sobriety, they discover the internet.

“Oh!  The INTERNET! Now I can tell everyone!
[punctuation and spelling altered for clarity]

The champion of the common man.

"I've been probed. Have you? How can you tell me that I don't know what I'm talking about? You're all just part of the conspiracy!"

You see, on the internet, there are entire groups of people who would never have had the chance to bump into a like-minded individual before being publicly ridiculed and eventually learning from the errors in their judgement.  The logistical constraints that geography introduces to every-day life are a key reason for why this happens. Technology can overcome geography.  Technology can overcome many things.  Technology, in fact, can be used to overcome itself. Technological advances in communications in recent history finally gives these groups the ability to band together against technology with a degree of organization and coherence rivaled only by a herd of frustrated felines clamoring to find a mate.

And so it begins.

Fortunately for me, sorting through the best prospects for this blog takes time. In that time, some audacious gentleman decided that he needed to email the entire Physics department at my university. Seeing how this email was shotgunned out to graduate students, faculty, and staff alike, I am going to assume that this was meant to be redistributed.  Furthermore, judging by this individual’s two websites devoted to this topic, I am certain that he would love the additional attention.  Without further ado, the email.  I have inserted a comment in bold.

From: Dave <email removed by request>
Date: Sat, Jan 15, 2011 at 1:10 AM
Subject: Physics vs The Big Lie(s)
To:  <suppressed list of approximately 170 email addresses>

Dear fellow physicist,

As an intellectual giant, do you ever denounce, or even question, or even notice the physically-impossible lies of the U.S. government?  (Recall that intellectual capacity is not guarantee, or even indicator. of intellectual integrity).

Remember Galileo?  He suffered mightily so that we could have knowledge of gravity (and so much more)…

s = 1/2 * g * t * t             (in a vacuum)

The twin towers were ~ 1355 feet high

p.305 of the 9-11 Commission Report says that the S. Tower “collapsed [sic] in 10 seconds”  [1]

DO THE ARITHMETIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Gravity has trouble pulling objects to the ground from that height in 10 seconds through AIR!  Gravity can not pull objects to the ground from that height in 10 seconds through water.  Can you name any solid that does not have appreciably more resistance to falling objects than do those fluids?

Can you discern when a hijacker-blaming official government conspiracy theory violates the laws of physics?

Have you ever asked your students (or, for that matter, yourself) how a rifle bullet fired from behind and to the right of JFK’s head could possibly have caused his head to go back and to the left?

I believe that with knowledge comes responsibility.  Are you a keeper/hider of “the forbidden knowledge”?  Are you some kind of intellectual prostitute (apprentice)?  Do you hide knowledge under the guise of professing it?  Is that what you are paid to do?

Are you helping to kill We The People, and thus the U.S. Constitution?

If you know that the government is lying, and your physics-challenged neighbor doesn’t, whose fault is that?   …all it takes for evil to succeed is for (otherwise-)good physicists to say nothing.

– Dave
evidence: (facts are stubborn things…)
analysis: (the dots only connect one way…)

[1] Yes.  Incidentally, he quoted “collapsed” as correctly as it was spelled in the 9/11 Report.  An impressive feat for the man capable of authoring this email.

Oh boy!  Hi Dave, and welcome to my blog.  I hope you enjoy the immortality that you will find here, as I have serious concerns that “” and “” have just happened to slip by the U.S. Government’s highly suppressed information infrastructure despite your best attempts to conceal its existence by only revealing it to your trusted shotgun-network of “keepers of forbidden knowledge” and “intellectual prostitutes.”  The government is probably hot on your tail, and I am here to help you spread your nonsense.

If. Only.

Between you and I, I am only calling it nonsense so that the government does not suspect me, either.  Your secret is safe here with me and the rest of my internets.  Also, if you want to impress your ‘fellow physicists’, make sure that you credit Newton when you reference his work.  Mr. Galilei should not be given credit when credit is not due.  I can see your dilemma.  After a night of daunting analysis, equipped with only a cot from aisle twenty and a Cliff-Notes: Physics sheet inside your local Wal-Mart, you determined that, in fact,

s = (1/2)*g*t*t.

However, the esteemed researchers and faculty seemed to be hush-hush on the topic!  They didn’t even respond!  What elitist jerks, right?!  I’m willing to believe that it’s probably because of the aforementioned citation error.  They’re all about publications and citations, you know!

So, being a sucker for proper spelling and punctuation, I immediately saw your challenge to

“DO THE ARITHMETIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

And I did.

Let’s assume that we don’t know how tall the tower was, and your quotation of “10 seconds” from The 9/11 Commission Report holds.  using g=32 ft/sec^2 and t = 10 sec, we can trivially calculate that an object falling to the ground in free-fall, in vacuum, will fall about 1600 ft in 10 seconds.

Since you quoted only one significant figure, I’ll assume that the time was no less than 9.5 seconds, as whoever reported this time may have rounded the number to the nearest whole integer for publication in a non-technical text to be read by a non-technical crowd.  So, assuming that we have an unsupported mass that’s allowed to fall for at least 9.5 seconds, in vacuumn, and with no initial velocity, what is the minimum distance it would be allowed to fall?  I dunno.  But this handy Physics equation sheet is still here.  Let’s see what I can come up with.

s = (0.5)(-32 ft/sec^2)(9.5 sec)^2 x = 1444 ft

So Dave, I’m starting to get a little concerned here.  This number is already far from the stark contrast from physical reality that I was expecting when I received an email that you deemed to be important enough to draw my attention away from my research on understanding how to more efficiently kill cancer cells in humans.

I want to let you in on another government secret.  It’s called English.   In fact, the U.S. Government’s ties with Britain throughout the history of this country have made us unwitting “slaves”, if you will, of their language.  Why don’t we get to speak American?  Why do they get to name their language “English”, lose a major war to the U.S., and yet continue making the U.S. citizens speak English?  How selfish!

Can you believe that our government is actually embedding information in words, clauses, and sentences?  Furthermore, only people that have some fundamental knowledge of how these object fit together can deduce the encoded message!  Finally, just to add insult to injury, they don’t even do it in American! Politics aside, there is a key rule of the language that needs to be laid out for you.  The following paragraph is a key piece of how the government is keeping your fellow physicists silent.

The constructions “ten seconds” and “10 seconds” mean completely different things.  Each statement implies a different precision of that measurement.  If someone tells you that something lasted “ten seconds” either in colloquial speech or in print, it is a safe bet to take a second or so off each end of that measurement, i.e., it probably took between 8 and 12 seconds, unless they tell you otherwise.  Writing “10 seconds” implies that you have a measurement accurate to one significant digit, which is where I made the assumption that whoever measured your “10 seconds” could have been off by as much as 0.5 seconds for a bare-minimum estimate of the fall time.


I’m willing to bet that The 9/11 Commission Report reports the fall time of the South Tower as “ten seconds”, not “10 seconds”, as people who publish books generally tend to understand the meanings of the words that they slather all over paper.  Further compounding this with the government’s conspiracy to use proper grammar, and the fact that they wrote the book, and you are going to be in for some serious rule-following.  It is precisely this authoritative command of the English language and the proper reporting of measurements that have allowed this conspiracy to be swept under the rug for almost ten years!

Armed with this new information and my trusty Physics cheat sheet, I am now poised to blow this conspiracy wide open, and give “We The People, and thus the U.S. Constitution” your full-blown analysis of the time it took the South Tower to hit the ground if, as you have asserted with your choice of equation,  it stood as a point mass in vacuum about 1355 ft off the ground and fell only with the force due to gravity:

if s = (1/2)*g*t*t, then
t*t = 2*(s/g), and
t = (+/-)sqrt(2(s/g))

Here we can see both the positive and negative roots of time are the solutions that we seek.  Since we know that the tower fell in reality and not some screwed up time-reversed super-secret alternate universe (I smell another conspiracy that you might want to jump on, Mr. Dave), we’ll take the positive time.  And now, the unveiling of the government conspiracy, to shine like a beacon and wake the American citizens from their false sense of security:

t = sqrt(2*1355ft/(32 ft/sec^2))
t =  9.2 seconds

Wait.  What?  This?  How can this be?  I wasted so much time responding to you because I was certain that you were on to something!  You even used all capital letters!  Surely you checked your math!  But, “9.2 seconds” is consistent with the “ten seconds” listed in your sources!  In hindsight, why did I even bother explaining how printed numbers work?

I’ll tell you why.  I bothered to do all of this because I wanted to show my readers an example of what kind of brainless drivel I have to wade through in my own inbox.  This, however, has the unfortunate position as the low-hanging fruit.  It’s not a “time-cube,” it’s not “here’s my poorly-translated Russian website about how the hydrogen atom does not exist along with 250 pages of chicken-scratch and dividing by zero to prove it.”  I did not have to wade through crazy ramblings to offer a clear explanation of why this guy is flat out wrong.  I did not have to bang my head against the desk until my IQ became so low that I stopped seeing colors just so I could lose enough self respect to type out a response to you.

If you're not brave enough to visit his website, this illustration distills all of the relevant information on which his theory is based. Throw in some gibberish about a falling cat, and you've got one convincing case against the government!

After a glance at your Pulitzer-worthy website, I see that your claim is that one of the towers should have fallen more slowly than they would have in vacuum.  Why, then, do you  not find it reassuring that the building fell only 85% of its theoretical vacuum fall height in the amount of time that you yourself allowed?  It is very clearly falling more slowly in reality than it would have been in vacuum.

So the question becomes “How much more slowly is slowly enough for you?” Please teach me how to draw up some of these rock-solid arguments from whatever it is that flows out of your ass.  This would be very useful for me.

There are a number of details that you will need to answer to begin a proper calculation of how long this building should have collapsed.  Starting with the three simplest:

  1. the drag force on each oddly-shaped piece of the building after it started to crumble
  2. the structural integrity of the steel after being weakened by whatever mix of burning materials was present in the building
  3. how much any support steel bent after a friggin’ airplane crashed into it

As for me, I’m willing to accept the simplest answer until someone shows me something with a little less faux logic as (and I kid you not): Humans have a terminal velocity of 120 mph, Cats have a terminal velocity of 60 mph.  Therefore, air resistance alone will make it take longer than 10 seconds… .

Yep.  Cat did it.  This is the linchpin of the entire conspiracy theory.  You know, the one that eventually ends at “fissionless nuclear fusion devices.”  Totally believable.

So one of my colleagues has much larger testicles than I do, and he decided that he would offer you a more dignified response:

From:  <Suppresed sender information>
Date: Sat, Jan 15, 2011 at 12:54 PM
Subject: Re: Physics vs The Big Lie(s)

To:  Dave <email removed by request>

Hi Dave,

What value did you use for the acceleration due to gravity?  It’s about 32 ft sec^(-2).  If you plug this into your equation, you’ll find that in 10 seconds, an object in free fall in vacuum can fall about 1600 feet.  If the top of the tower only fell about 1400 feet in this time, that’s likely because it wasn’t in vacuum and it wasn’t in free fall as it was collapsing onto the material below it.  You are not among my fellow physicists if you aren’t able to see this.  Please don’t spam the entire <XXXX> physics community in the future with your incredibly sub par evaluations of complicated physical situations.


Harsh, but short and sweet.  Of course, this wasn’t the end of it.   I have edited the quotations of the previous email in the attempt to limit the size of this email.

From: Dave <email removed by request>
Date: Sat, Jan 15, 2011 at 11:35 PM
Subject: Re: Physics vs The Big Lie(s)
To: <Bro-Dawg>

Hey, [Bro-Dawg]!
Thank you very much for having taken
the time to read my email and to respond.

[What  did you use for the acceleration…]

32 ft/sec/sec is sufficiently accurate/correct to see, as shown in the calculations within

(did you visit the 1 URL within the body of the msg to which you replied?), that it takes 9.2 secs to FALL (from rest) from the towers’ former
height to the ground, IN A VACUUM.

Air resistance at ~sea level makes it at least 10 sec.  (Please read the page at the above URL!)

Obviously, steel resistance would make it take longer (as in FOREVER, as it turns out, but that’s not the point — the point is not to say how long it should [sic] [he loves this word!] have taken, but to reality-check the lying government’s claim(s) for that bizarre and fateful day).

YOUR ARITHMETIC IS ERRONEOUS.  That is why you came to a contrary conclusion.  So perhaps it is not a coincidence that you are the only one who replied?  (Everyone else KNOWS that the govt is lying and that they are intellectual prostitutes [or apprentices], and that all of
our institutions are lying to We The People! Many are ashamed, or in denial, regarding their own complicity in the ongoing covert domestic
subversion of the U.S. Constitution!)

[You are not among my fellow physicists if …]

No, it is you who has failed to exhibit the requisite arithmetic skills to be a physicist.  (I also reject your misuse of the word “spam”.)  Please check your work (and in the future try to keep your mistakes private), and get back to me, and recant, along with your apology, or I will consider sharing your junior- high-school-level(?) error with the entire <XXXX> physics community, and possibly beyond!


BTW, it turns out that the energy surplus at “”Ground Zero”” was remarkable for its intensity as well as its quantity.  EVIDENTLY, GZ was a
working demonstration of a new energy paradigm (most probably fissionless nuclear fusion), one with the potential of solving virtually all
of our civilization’s energy, economic, and ecological concerns (and, therefore, the hiding of this knowledge amounts to a crime against
not just humanity, but against all of Earth’s living creatures):

As Orwell said, lies of omission are the worst!

But we physicists are capable of seeing right through some such lies…  The question is, once some little Toto dog has pulled back the curtain
for you, will you be a brave Dorothy, and pay attention to the man behind the curtain (and tell others about him), or will you be a cowardly Dorothy, who goes on living her life in fear of “flying monkeys”?

Here’s to the open and honest exchange of ideas and information,

– Dave

PS: If you remain convinced that you are right and I am wrong, and cannot recant/apologize, then kindly, instead, tell me how a bullet fired from behind and to the right of JFK’s head could possibly have made his head go bck and to the left.  Perhaps you have a “magic bullet theory” that’s more convincing than the original?  (But I warn you, if you can do that, I’ll be so impressed that I’m liable to ask you to
also correct the govt-damning OK City blast pressure calculations of General Benton K. Partin…)


Will you be a cowardly Dorothy, or a brave Dorothy?

Dorothy can teach everyone a thing or two about "steel resistance." Â Oh, by the way, there's a man behind the curtain.

Well Dave, after considering all of your points, especially the “steel resistance” and the intensity and quantity of energy at ground zero, I think you’re on to something.  Furthermore, I can’t wait to receive another email to see exactly how any of his numbers were incorrect.  Perhaps he actually came to the same exact conclusion that you had, except the government intercepted his email  and they altered the content to shield you from the truth!  Have you even considered that?  It happens all the time because of the Patriot Act.  In fact, I am sitting here with an official government memo on this topic. There is a list of names under a heading of “Information Blackout”.  For my own safety, I’m not going to post who is on this list, but I can tell you that your name is in the first 10% of names written on here.

Oh, and thanks for the quick blurb on JFK and the OK City bombing.  That really sold me on your credibility.  I wasn’t sure if I should have believed the nuclear devices claim, but this really is the glue that holds it all together.  Isn’t it weird how all of these events are interrelated?

Proof. Clearly since I can draw this up, it exists, and is relevant to the current argument. If your name is on this list, I'd start fashioning a tin-foil hat, pronto. Your old one must have stopped working.

In all seriousness, you bothered to spam over 170 researchers at my university, and seeing how this got through my spam filter, you wasted at least half a man-day of time — largely my own, for writing this response, and a few fellow researchers for corresponding with you.  Every other researcher only spent a couple seconds clicking the delete button on this email because experience has taught them best;  many conspiracy theorists are only searching for confirmations of their “theories” (although it pains me to call them theories at all, since the improper use of the word has already spurred so much unfounded skepticism in all branches of science.)

What makes it so easy for somebody who can barely even hammer out a legible email to jump to a conclusion that these answers even exist, and furthermore, that the government has them and covers them up?  Then, as if this guy really wants to expand on the utter void of logic that went into his email, he has the audacity to claim that somehow all physicists have this “forbidden knowledge” and that we are “intellectual prostitutes” of the government.  By this paradigm, we’re all guilty, just as all McDonald’s employees are guilty of making Americans fat.  Any naysayers among us are clearly just paid off by the government, and the ones who do not respond to him are just too scared of Uncle Sam.  Yes.  Clearly that’s the simplest possible answer to why people ignore him.

Skepticism is healthy.  People should never take anything that anyone says to them at face value, unless that person is an expert currently active in the field in question.  Even then, corroboration with current research or another expert in the field is critical.  Just as you would never visit one doctor for a major surgery, you should also be skeptical of any professional’s opinion.  But as with nearly everything else in life, more is not better.  Too much skepticism is like taking too many painkillers:  it will impede your ability to function.

Let us pretend that your entire family had the flu over the course of the last few weeks, as well as your shift manager, three of the cute cashiers, and that snobby little sixteen-year-old that always takes your spot at the drive-thru order window.  You come in to see your doctor, complaining of body-aches, chills, and a fever.  You also tell him about everybody around you who has recently had the flu.

In response, your doctor says, “Nope.  I think we should run tests.  You might have strep, you know!  We should also run a test for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and I wouldn’t dare recommend you leave here with pertussis untreated!  Also, I went ahead and ordered up a couple hundred dollars worth of STD tests.  What?  You say you and your wife have been faithful for decades?  Well how do I know that, and how do you know for sure?  I ask you, fellow American, what cost would you pay for certainty?”

Well?  Do you know for sure?  No.  However, you do have a good guess by eliminating statistically insignificant possibilities, including those that have no supporting evidence.  There is an excellent saying I’ve learned from a friend in the medical profession that goes something along the lines of  “Don’t search for zebras amongst the horses.”

These ridiculous hypotheses and the people who champion them are exactly the reason why experts are often unavailable when people have legitimate concerns and questions to ask.  A great many of the researchers that received this email spend their time in the basements of science buildings, constructing equipment and taking measurements for their next experiment. Why bother reading any emails at all when you’re trying to relax after working all day if this is the kind of crap that you need to sift through?  These researchers know just as much “truth” about what happened as Dave does; I suppose he just chooses to ignore the answers that he so desperately seeks because they do not mesh well with his beliefs.

So… 80/100?


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