Thursday, November 11, 2010

Editor in Chief resigned over the Harrit et al. nanothermite paper

[See latest (January 10, 2011) on Harrit et al. paper HERE.]

A Second Editor in Chief Resigned: "in no way do I agree with its conclusions"

by Denis G. Rancourt

I was asked by 911 Truth movement researcher and radio host Kevin Barrett to debate Niels Harrit about nanothermite in WTC dust. I agreed and a two-hour live debate was held on November 9th, HERE.

In preparation I read the 2009 paper of Harrit et al. (Open Chemical Physics Journal, 2, 2009, 7-31). I found many scientific errors and concluded that the editorial and/or peer review had been done very poorly. I tried to address some of my concerns with Harrit during the radio interview. Those concerns which I had time to express were mostly confirmed rather than alleviated.

Many members of the 911 Truth movement use an "appeal to authority" argument in advancing Harrit's paper as "peer reviewed" and Harrit himself as a scientific authority with relevant expertise. Anyone using "appeal to authority" arguments must expect that the authority in question can be questioned.

Even more boldly, some 911 Truthers, including Kevin Barrett, advance that since the Harrit paper has not formally been contested in any peer reviewed scientific article then its methods and conclusions must be valid. I don't know the name for this particular sophistry but I know that many papers on important topics are wrong, believed to be wrong, and are never contested. This relates more to the social careerism of science than anything else.

I accept that the 911 Truth movement is an important societal movement and for that reason I decided to help clean up some of this crap.

I wrote an expert critical peer review of the Harrit paper HERE.

Harrit was immediately informed and has not yet provided any substantive response.

There are a lot of very bad peer reviewed articles out there but it is so unusual for an editor of a peer review scientific journal to allow tenuous and extreme claims and elaborate suggestions that do not follow from the data that I decide next to contact the Editor in Chief of the journal.

Here is what I sent the Editor in Chief on November 10th:
Professor Lucio Frydman
Department of Chemical Physics,
The Weizmann Institute of Sciences

Editor in Chief,
Open Chemical Physics Journal

Re: Peer review concerns, Harrit et al., OCPJ 2, 2009, 7-31, "nanothermite in WTC dust"

Dear Editor Frydman,

As an expert in the relevant areas, I have written a criticism of the above-cited paper that was printed in your journal.

I have posted my report publicly on the web here:

My report is also critical of your journal in this matter.

On the face of it, it appears that the peer review process for this article was significantly flawed, to the point of professional irresponsibility or worse. This, in a matter of vital public and political interest.

Please clarify your journal's peer review of this article, the number of reviewers, their relevant expertizes, whether any changes were requested, etc. You will understand that the article is of such substandard quality as to give rise to serious questions about its review. What was your own involvement in accepting this article it its final form?

Please indicate when you will be able to respond.

Denis G. Rancourt
Former professor, University of Ottawa
Ottawa, Canada

This was the former editor's immediate response:

From: Lucio Frydman
Date: Thu, Nov 11, 2010 at 12:46 AM
Subject: Editorial concern, Open Chemical Physics Journal, possible fraudulent peer review
To: Denis Rancourt <>
Cc: The Open Chemical Physics Journal , Shehzad , Editorial

Dear Prof. Rancourt

What you describe is indeed very worrisome indeed. To be frank, however, I should clarify to you two points that will probably derive this discussion through alternative channels

1) I was not editor of the journal at the time the manuscript you refer to was received and processed. I was not involved in its handling, and in no way do i agree with its conclusions. In fact i do not even know how the paper's peer reviewing was handled - or if it was reviewed at all. The journal never wanted to disclosed this matter to me

2) What may be even worse - noone seems to be at the helm of this Journal. Months ago -simply after becoming acquainted with the article you mention, its possible misshandling, etc- i submitted my immediate resignation as editor to the open chemical physics journal. As you can see from the email below, my letter of resignation was received and acknowledged. However, i still appear as the journal's editor - in fact i'm still receiving manuscripts to handle (which i naturally ignore).

To be frank, noone seems to be at the helm of this floundering ship...

I am hereby using the opportunity to copy the journal managers and publishers both of your concerns, as well as my renewed request that they officially and finally relieve me from any duties and/or relationship in connection to this journal

I hope this clarifies your concerns - at least in what they relate to my role in this sad story

Lucio Frydman

Dear Dr. Frydman,

Thank you for your email. Your resignation will be forwarded to the higher management for consideration.

Maryam L. Shaikh
Ms. Maryam Legasto Shaikh
Asst. Manager Publication
The Open Chemical Physics Journal
Bentham OPEN



From: Lucio Frydman
Date: Thu, Nov 11, 2010 at 11:14 PM
Subject: Re: Editorial concern, Open Chemical Physics Journal, possible fraudulent peer review
To: Denis Rancourt

I appreciate the copying of the correspondence.
While i sympathize with your arguments, I have noticed with worry, however, that you have posted in an open web site my email response of yesterday to you and to the journal. While i stand behind what i wrote, i sent that email under the reasonable assumption that i was corresponding with you in privacy. A privacy that i see violated by your posting of my message in a blog without asking for my prior consent. Please remove it from your blog site -together with any comments you have associated with that message
Thanks in advance and please confirm these actions have been taken
> Dear Prof. Frydman,
> Thank you for this prompt and informative reply.
> I have followed up with the Publisher and put you in cc.
> Denis Rancourt

My Reply:

Dear Prof. Frydman,

I wrote to you in your official capacity as a university scientist and as an editor on a matter that I explicitly stated was of "vital public and political interest".

Your response therefore is also of public interest.

I deny your request to remove your email message "together with any comments you have associated with that message".

I am also surprised by your request and I will make it public on the same blog post.

Denis Rancourt


Anonymous said...

I would like to correct all of Mr Rancourt's errors.

He contradicts himself astoundingly. He claims that the education and spread of information is counter-productive that only activism is effective.
(amazingly, he briefly acknowledges it as a lever but then goes to say it's counter-productive!!!)

Yet, one must have the education and spread of information to provide the ammunition and initiation of the activism.

Rancourt devotes an unneccessary amount of time debunking the ridiculous directed energy weapons and holograms, in doing so lending credence to the idea that these absurd theories are a serious part of the movement

Rancourt claims the planes crashing into the buildings without demolition is more than enough justification for the wars. Wrong. The complete destruction of the buildings and the death of thousands is important for the enormous psychological trauma required for the massive world changing 'Pearl harbour' effect. Well done interviewer for calling him on this.

Rancour uses a superconductor example to claim saying "something couldn't have happened". This is not correct. He says it is simpler than a collapse scenario. WRONG! Particle behaviours are much less predictable than large scale mechanisms based on known laws of physics. E.g. newtons laws and relativistic laws of gravity agree on large scales but break down on small scales because of the unknown , unpredictable nature of nanoscale behaviours.

There is no getting past the acceleration through a net upward resistance.

Rancourt's gatekeeper status is especially obvious in his key objections to the towers' collapses.


Construction errors would cause the collapses. Wrong. The physics of load bearing is not affected, it's still built to support more than the weight of the load above it. The net positive resistance in the upward direction MUST slow it down. It CANNOT accelerate downwards through the path of greatest resistance...period.
Also any construction failures would leave the solid core standing, i.e. pancaking.

He says there was a jolt but does not back this up. He has not read Gordon Ross's paper proving through measurement of the videos that there was no jolt. When confronted by the physics problem of no deceleration he falls back on the old fallacy of a 'complicated collapse' without explaining.

Pulverisation/vapourisation requires every object to have explosives in it. Wrong. Overlapping blast fields are sufficient.

Top down demolitions are not done. WRONG! His arguments are extremely naive. Once again the interviewer nails him.

UNBELIEVABLE! He commits the fallacy of claiming the building crushing causes the nanothermite!

There is no way random building crushing pulverisation could cause distribution of uniform nano scale aluminium and iron oxide particles intimately mixed and embedded in a silicon matrix!!! Is there a magical elf that moves at the speed of light mixing all the elements uniformly and CREATING LAYERS!?

Also his analysis of the south tower was completely flawed. He claims the cessation of angular momentum is due to counteractive torque applied by the top section's contact with the lower section's surface.
Firstly, the pressure destroys the surface assymmetrically on the leaning side and according to Newton's laws is itself equally destroyed on that side destroying the torque producing obstruction. Secondly if it arrests the momentum temporarily, it is still an off centre leaning mass which means any destruction caused by further pressure will exponentially create asymmetric damage and accelerate angular momentum.

Denis Rancourt said...


If you identify yourself, make one clear critique at a time, give the source of your claim about my statements, quote my exact statement in context if from radio, and if possible number the stated steps in your argument, then I will respond.

Otherwise, I probably will not respond.

Kevin Barrett said...

Denis, your sloppy scholarship on verbal matters does not inspire confidence in your scientific work. First you insult Niels Harrit's scientific credentials because you can't spell his name and therefore can't find his publication record. Then you write: "Even more boldly, some 911 Truthers, including Kevin Barrett, advance that since the Harrit paper has not formally been contested in any peer reviewed scientific article then its methods and conclusions must be valid." I most certainly did not say such an idiotic thing. I may have said that there is a prima facie presumption in favor of the paper's assertions until it is answered by another paper, or something similar. That is very different from "must be valid." I do think that if the paper's conclusions were wrong, NIST would have quickly provided WTC dust samples to its many accomplice scientists - or offered them to any and all scientists - and easily scored its first-ever PR victory against the truth movement. That this has not happened suggests that the Harrit paper's conclusions are correct (or, at minimum, that there are other proofs of demolition in the dust samples NIST is concealing from the world).

Denis Rancourt said...


I have already informed you that my Google Scholar error searching "NH Harrit" was not due to a spelling error. You should provide your evidence (on your blog) for believing this before continuing to state it.

Your radio statements were recorded and are archived for all to hear. I believe I have not misrepresented your false logic. Indeed, your statement above reaffirms your position.

Also, your above stated theory about how NIST would have released samples if it believed the Harrit paper was wrong is up there with hologram planes in my book.

The latter is based on physics ignorance while the former is based on institutional, governance, and propaganda ignorance. Both are tenuous and bold claims to support ridiculous proposals: no planes in one case and tonnes of thermite explosives in the other.

Anonymous said...

To clear things up, wouldn't be great if you would contact Mark Basile and get some dust for yourself to study ( to do the experiments in a correct way ) and then you could draw the conclusions based on your experiments. Because this is a fight without ending...

Denis Rancourt said...


The errors and omissions in the Harrit paper are so large and stunning to any materials scientist that there is no reason to repeat experiments because there is no credible evidence for nanothermite.

Now that this has been expertly exposed, the burden is on the original authors to explain themselves and/or to perform the missing experiments, especially mineral diffraction.

There is also a burden on the journal to explain itself for such sub-standard "review" and to allow conclusions that do not even follow from the incorrect data interpretations.

Scientist don't normally repeat junk results and interpretations that are conclusively shown to be wrong. Once something is shown to be wrong, one moves on.

My credentials and internationally recognized expertise in this area are not in doubt, for example:

Anonymous said...

Denis, come on. You yourself acknowledge that WTC-7 was brought down by controlled demolition. There is more than enough suspicion to investigate the collapses of WTC-1 and 2. To relegate the matter back to the authors of a poorly-written paper is nonsense. If you have first-class expertise in this area certainly the world can gain from that expertise by having you perform some experiments of your own.

You have demonstrated only two things:

(1) The Harrit paper is poorly-written.

(2) There is a plausible physics explanation for the collapses of the towers.

If the scientific community relied solely on plausible explanations without experiments, then we would still be burning modern-day Galileos. Many theories look good on paper until they are contradicted by experiment. You have only put forth a theory, and it is only that: a theory.

That WTC-7 was brought down by controlled demolition (as you believe) and the production of the 9/11 Omission Report, the more plausible theory seems to be controlled demolitions of WTC-1 and 2.

Perform the experiments yourself. You have put forward a theory of your own. Therefore, you're not off the hook by just relegating matters back to Harrit. Prove your own theory correct.

Denis Rancourt said...

I agree that the TT collapses should be thoroughly investigated in a public and transparent inquiry.

I have shown the Harrit paper to be wrong. It contains fatal scientific flaws and presents no valid evidence for the presence of nanothermite. In addition I have proposed a likely/plausible explanation for the measurements of Harrit et al.

I have no lab or resources to perform the needed correct experiments on WTC dust samples. I can work with any researchers who will do this to provide my expertize, including the Harrit team.

It is the responsibility of authentic truthers to pressure Harrit to do the needed work to answer my review of the Harrit paper. Or to obtain their own expert's testimony that will collaborate the validity of my criticisms of the Harrit paper.

I would be prepared to give a public talk explaining my review of the Harrit paper in detail for non-experts. The paper is wrong. That's why TWO Editors in Chief of the journal have resigned over it.

SM said...


Viualize this bro....

Visualize this bro....
Put you math off to the side………
Think of the ! as a story in the building, we are down to 9 stories designed to hold the weight of 90 stories above it, there is only a cloud of dust and few bits of steel above floor 9. Yet it still falls at almost the speed of gravity where is the mass pushing it down..


Anonymous said...

Does none of the falling mass have residual velocity?

Bill said...

"Put you math off to the side………"

translation: Ignore the science and listen to my armchair scholarship while I take a tug off this blunt.

Sitting-Bull said...

Denis, Prof. Harrit does not have the time to address every claim you made. But I do.

Points 1-5: All without merit. If any of the aspects was not a given, that would mean no thermitic reaction, no iron-rich spherules. I especially don't understand how you arrive from your first sentences in 1+2 to the conclusion the elements were not related.
If Al and O were related, there would be no reaction, if the 0xid layer was too thick. No reaction. If Al was not elemental. No reaction. If not the right stoichiometric conditions are given. No Reaction.

Point 6: There are in fact many ways of different thermitic aluminuthermics, esp. in regard to the metal oxide. There may be more than 2000 different kinds of aluminuthermics. I'm sure not all of it have the same ignition temperature. Your claim that nanosize doesn't change behaviour of material is false. A great deal was made of nanoscience BECAUSE of different physical or chemical behaviour in nanoscale materials. This applies to nanothermite too. "Rapid spallation", "Best of two worlds" are hints. So both of your arguments are nonsense.

Point 7: As Al02 reach probably its melting point and flies away as gas, it's not necessary to find Al traces everywhere. In fact it's more likely not to find Al traces because of that mechanism.

Point 8: There are still many experiments to be made with this stuff, but I see no point in further testing, certainly no other hypothesis will emerge from that, in case you do not agree, you should suggest what we have instead of an aluminothermic. And made tests your own, instead of making plain false statements.

Point 9: Which other reaction can produce temperatures well over 1500 Centrigrade, necessary for this kind of iron-rich spherules? So uniform in all the dust samples?
This is a smoking gun evidence, e.g. similar spherules can be found in common thermite reactions. Don't say the energy of the collapse, this is bunk, other scientist did already conclude that the potential energy of the collapse could only have raised the temperature of the building materials by some degrees Kelvin. (search for Prof. Thomas Cahill Delta Team study)

Somewhere I read that you think the buildings collapse does form rust and at the end some nanothermite alike. Sure that's way over the top, but good for you that this is an unprovable, as nobody can verify or dismiss that- the conditions of the rubble not repeatable. But as this did happen never before and most probably never again, this is junk science.

Lately the referee-reviewer has come out and made his role public, it's Prof. David Griscom, I do have his peer review, as I can say it was proper.

All the Benthams resignations can easily be explained with outside pressure. They certainly got immense pressure for the political implication of their publishing.

As I'm no cheminal nor physical engineer, but can refute every one of your claims easily, what does that mean?

So please tell me: What's your mission?

Anonymous said...

Denis Rancourt,

I have listened to your debate/discussion with Kevin Barrett and I wanted to ask a few questions.

Firstly, I don't believe it was an inside job at all, to get that out of the way. I used to, but then I started looking up claims and found them to be wrong, incompetent or just lies. I always find it interesting when I find "truthers" arguing against other truthers regarding demolition which is why I find your stance interesting.

I wanted to know what you think of Kevin Barrett now, after having a chance to review his claims.

For example he says NIST says the collapse was only about 9 seconds, you said you would have to review this to see how long the collapse took. I wanted to ask if you had checked to see what NIST actually said? NIST didn't give collapse times! The time they gave and what Kevin is talking about was for the first pieces of debris to reach the ground. I don't believe that Kevin hasn't heard this before, so I believe he is just lying and knows it but ether way, he is wrong.

Second, Kevin also says that steel was thrown "up". No, again, steel was not thrown up. There is a picture that truthers like to use that looks like pieces of steel is being thrown up, but what it actually is the light weight aluminium cladding and if you watch the video you can see them billowing in the wind.

I could go on but I think I'll leave it there, so I was wondering if you had a chance to check any of that out and what you think of truthers have are so wilfully incompetent/dishonest?


Anonymous said...

Anonymous wrote:

"All the Benthams resignations can easily be explained with outside pressure. They certainly got immense pressure for the political implication of their publishing. "


Except before the Harrit/Jones paper was published Bentham was not a respected journal and was in disrepute for lax and dodgy practises for some time.

This is the best the truth movement have come up with in nearly 10 years. If you want to say the paper is peer reviewed then be prepared to be judged on the respectability, legitimacy and competence of the journal it was printed. Otherwise, you might as well say you don't care about peer review and stick to your fake ones like the Jof911Studies (which is just as legitimate as the Creationist one, "Answers Research Journal".)

It also confuses me as to how truthers can be so excited about this paper because its published in a journal (even a crappy ones) when they ignore the hundreds of papers published on the collapses since 911 and none support their conspiracy theories.

The Masked Writer said...

Mr. Rancourt"The errors and omissions in the Harrit paper are so large and stunning to any materials scientist that there is no reason to repeat experiments because there is no credible evidence for nanothermite."

As a layman, I have to ask, wouldn't the examination of the dust itself, other samples, forensic testing, etc. prove one way or another evidence for nanothermite? How in the world does one claim "NO NANOTHERMITE" based upon a paper that one disagrees with?

It would seem to me in order to make that blanket statement you would have to obtain samples and replicate the tests yourselves in the pursuit of science.

I believe that NIST used the same logic when examining the controlled demolition theory.
"We see no evidence of explosions in this area of the building prior to collapse initiation, therefore no explosives were used anywhere."

Your logic appears to work the same,"I see no evidence of nano-thermite in the dust because of this paper." yet you didn't even look at the dust itself.With the excuse that you do not have the resources to conduct the tests. I can understand that, however, your initial blanket statement should really be changed.

The best part about your posts here is your willingness to work with the Harrit team.

I also look forward to your response to Sitting Bull's points as well.

Anonymous said...

The Masked Writer wrote:

"We see no evidence of explosions in this area of the building prior to collapse initiation, therefore no explosives were used anywhere."


That's not an exact quote from NIST though, is it?

The point is, if we have no reason to believe there were explosives or nano thermite, or any kind of thermite was used, if the idea that it was used is contradictory, incoherent and almost always absurd in the extreme then that's a very good reason not to believe it was used.

If Dr Jones wants to submit his samples to one of the many labs around the country that can perform definitive tests necessary to determine whether his samples are thermite or not then we are all waiting for that to happen.

But Jones hasnt done that and has shown he was incompetent in performing the tests he did do. Even in the paper they admit the findings don't match thermite, but then start theorising about a kind of super thermite they don't know anything about instead of questioning their methods or whether it was thermite to begin with. He then submitted it to a dodgy journal no one cares about and under the circumstances we have no idea what sort of peer review it went through, if anything at all. There is no excuse to present the paper as a peer reviewed paper in a legitimate mainstream journal. It is not and they are deceiving people every time they claim as such.

As a lay person we should ask how we are meant to understand all the ins and out of the science. When in this situation we should look to other things the parties concerned have said, for example Steven Jones believes that nano thermite can be painted onto steel and that when dries becomes a high explosive. This is absolutely made up out of nothing. Nano thermite is not an explosive, never was, especially not when you apply it as paint and would be impossible to use to demolish any building. This is something that is easily understandable by someone that is not trained and speaks to the competence of those individuals. Steven Jones also believes HAARP can cause natural disasters, that should say it all, but I suspect many truthers believe that also.