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[cdn-nucl-l] FW: [NOVA] "Why the Towers Fell"
For those interested in the WTC fires... Looks like a good program
Sent: Friday, September 06, 2002 4:24 PM
To: NOVA Online Mailing List
Subject: [NOVA] "Why the Towers Fell"
NEXT ON NOVA
- NOVA Presents "Why the Towers Fell"
- Letter from Larry Klein, Producer of "Why the Towers Fell"
NOVA PRESENTS "WHY THE TOWERS FELL"
Broadcast: September 10, 2002
(NOVA airs Tuesdays on PBS at 8 p.m. Check your local listings as dates
and times may vary.)
For most Americans, the image of the collapse of the World Trade Center
towers was not only a scene of unforgettable horror, it was a moment of
unimaginable consequence. Who could have guessed that a steel behemoth
of such size and strength -- a building so massive that it had its own
zip code -- could actually be reduced to 150 feet of dust and rubble? On
"Why the Towers Fell," NOVA follows a blue-ribbon team of forensic
engineers and presents their conclusions in one of the most definitive
explanations yet seen by the American public of how and why the towers
Here's what you'll find on the companion Web site:
Towers of Innovation
A basement like a bathtub. A building like a tube. An
elevator system like a subway system. These are just some
of the engineering marvels that made the quarter-mile-tall
World Trade Center possible.
The Collapse: An Engineer's Perspective
In this interview, Dr. Thomas Eagar, a professor of materials
engineering and engineering systems at MIT, explains how and
why the Twin Towers survived the initial impact -- and how
and why they likely failed in the end.
Above the Impact: A Survivor's Story
Brian Clark was one of only four individuals to escape either
tower from above the floors where the planes struck. Here, Clark
tells his riveting, vividly personal tale.
The firefighters that raced up the stairwells of the doomed
towers carried several dozen pounds of equipment, everything
from axes and turnout gear to thermal imaging cameras and self-
contained breathing apparatuses. In this feature, equip fire-
fighters for a high-rise response.
The Structure of Metal (Hot Science)
Explore metal at the atomic level and discover how it's
structured, why it bends, and what happens when it heats up.
LETTER FROM LARRY KLEIN, PRODUCER OF "WHY THE TOWERS FELL"
After weeks of tense negotiations and bureaucratic roadblocks, we were
finally allowed to film the government-funded investigative team
studying the precise reasons for the collapse of the Twin Towers. The
investigation had been ongoing for about a month since the attack, and
we were losing valuable time if we were truly meant to track the team's
progress and discoveries. With clearances finally in hand, we left on a
beautiful clear day to film at Ground Zero and at a scrap yard in New
Jersey. The scrap yard is where the steel from Ground Zero is taken and
then cut into two-to-three-foot blocks for shipping to "re-smelters"
overseas. When I asked what this meant, I was told that one day soon,
the World Trade Center would come back to America, only this time, we
would be driving in it or sipping a Coke from it or screwing it into a
wall. Recycled World Trade Center metal. Wow! The knowledge was somehow
arresting, as if all this mangled steel now piled into mini-mountains
next to the Hudson was actually the bones of a deceased loved one being
picked over by vultures.
More disturbing, there was no visual relationship between these huge
metal mounds and the once-famous New York skyline landmark that had made
so many cameo appearances in movies, television programs, and print ads;
nothing that would let a casual observer know what the piles had been
and what had happened to them. Later that day, we went to Ground Zero,
and I was again struck by the extraordinary anonymity of it all. There
was not a discernable piece of furniture anywhere. No computers or books
or anything that would identify this massive wreckage field as having
once been several million square feet of office space. There was only
steel of various lengths and thicknesses twisted into bizarre,
pretzel-like shapes and an interlacing gray-brown matter enveloping
everything. I didn't need anyone to tell me that that gray-brown matter
was the contents and insides of the World Trade Center vaporized by the
The difficulty with finding any reliable information in all this mess
seemed daunting. Yet watching the American Society of Civil Engineers
investigative team scour the debris fields, gathering samples or
measuring and photographing steel fragments, was impressive. These
forensic engineers were looking for pieces of steel from areas of the
buildings where the planes had hit. When I asked how on Earth they could
know where a piece of steel actually resided in two 110-story buildings
that were now just countless tons of rubble, I was shown numbers etched
on the surface of a beam. The builders of the Twin Towers had marked
every piece of steel as to its floor and exact location in the
buildings. Like good crime detectives, these engineers came to the scene
knowing what to look for, and over the next several months they found
all the evidence they needed.
The NOVA program I helped produce will be the first official public
presentation of the results of this unprecedented investigation. The
investigation by the American Society of Civil Engineers was
commissioned by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), and the
fully written report, called a Building Performance Study, will be
released May 1.
April 24, 2002
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