In 2006 a physics professor from BYU, Steve Jones, made a public appeal for samples of dust from the destroyed WTC towers. As a result he received several such samples, which are all detailed in Harrit et al below. On examination of the samples Jones claims to have noticed small iron spheres and tiny chips, red on one side, grey on the other. For obvious reasons these latter became known as the “red-gray chips,” and they would end up generating considerable controversy.
This is our first look at the complex imbroglio that is the saga of these “red-gray chips”. We’re initially setting out a brief summary of the principle sources of information – viz the Harrit et al paper, the Millette study and Harrit’s rebuttal of the primer paint suggestion. We’re uploading copies of these documents here and making them available for interested readers to do their own study. Just click on the inks below to download the PDFs.
So, the major documents in the case are as follows:
1: Harrit et al(2009): Active Thermitic Material Discovered in Dust from the 9/11 World Trade Center Catastrophe
Allegedly peer-reviewed (some have queried this), and published by the Open Physics Journal, this paper was authored by three BYU physicists (including Jones, the original finder of the chips), a professor of chemistry, and others. It claimed that the tiny “red-gray chips” found in abundance in the dust from the WTC collapses exhibited inexplicably high energy and other indications that pointed to them being unignited “thermitic material.”
Thermite in its broadest sense is a mix of iron and a “fuel” (often aluminium) that creates a powerful pyrotechnic used for such things as welding and in various other military and civilian capacities. The question of its historical use in controlled demolition has become controversial, mostly as a result of this paper. Linear thermite charges are available for use in controlled demolition, and thermite has apparently been used in the demolition of other buildings such as the Skyride Tower in Chicago in 1936.
Whether one accepts its use in modern controlled demolition or not, however, thermite is profoundly not a substance that ought to be present in normal building material. So, if its presence in the WTC dust can be established, this would be an overwhelming case for additional and intentional foul play on 9/11 over and above the hijacking and crashing of the planes.
Harrit et al went further and claimed the fine-mixing of the elements in the red-gray chips was consistent with “nano-thermite fabricated at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and elsewhere.”
This study was commissioned by Chris Mohr, a self-confessed non-scientist and proponent of what he called the “natural collapse” theory. Mohr commissioned EPA scientist James Millette to reproduce the experiments done by Harrit et al. Millette in his capacity with the EPA, had previously been engaged in analysing samples of the WTC dust in connection with public health issues. Given this background some have questioned his impartiality and suitability for Mohr’s study. Harrit et al refused to give Millete samples of their own red-gray chips, so there is some controversy over whether the red-gray chips examined by Millette were really identical to those examined by Harrit et al. These problems have never been resolved.
Mohr claimed in 2012 that the Millette study would soon be “published in a peer-reviewed journal”, but to date this has not happened, and all we have are the “progress reports” issued by Millette in 2012. Mohr also released a video backing up the Millette study, but that video has now been taken down or made private.
Millette’s initial but unpublished findings were that the red-gray chips were “consistent” with primer paint (the WTC primer paint used on the steel girders was indeed red), and showed no evidence of being thermite or even energetic.
Millette’s failure to publish as promised has raised obvious questions about his faith in his own conclusions.
It probably should also be said that the EPA ’s work on the safety of the WTC dust – unconnected with the thermite question, but with which Millette was associated – has been the subject of allegations of fraud by Cate Jenkins. We must emphasise that no such allegations have been made in connection with his work on the red-gray chips however.
3: Harrit(2009): Why the Red/Gray Chips Are Not Primer Paint
This was produced by Harrit in 2009, and not as a rebuttal to Millette. It was not published in a journal to our knowledge. In it Harrit claims the primer paint was identified in the NIST report and its known chemical composition is markedly different from that of the red portions of the red-gray chips. He also claims the primer paint is thermally much more stable than the red-gray chip and – unlike the chips – shows no tendency to ignite fiercely at 430c.
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These are the main sources of we know about in connection with the red-gray chips and the thermite question. If we have missed anything important please let us know. We’ll be looking at some of these claims and the background to them more closely in future articles.