National Geographic special on 9/11, exchange of emails with Robert Erickson, producer (3/2009)


Posted by Steven Jones at

A special on 9/11 has just been shown on the National Geographic Channel, produced by Robert Erickson. Robert also conducted interviews with me and others. In March 2009, Prof. David Ray Griffin and I and Gregg Roberts exchanged emails with Robert Erickson which demonstrate our efforts to get Mr. Erickson and his team to be accurate and fair in their treatment of our scientific work regarding 9/11 — particularly the evidence for the use of explosives in the World Trade Center destruction. For the record, then, I have pulled together our exchanges of emails.

Robert Erickson, emailed David Ray Griffin on 3/27/09:
“if Jones is surprised that we just placed bags of thermite around the column…what else would Jones have suggested? ”

I was informed of the question above and I responded on 3/28/09 as follows:


Bags of commercial thermite set against a steel column — what a pathetic “experiment.” Not anywhere close to representing my views, as you must know, from our discussion about the red/gray chips and the crucial distinction between ordinary thermite and super-thermite! What a terrible and unfair straw-man joke you are evidently trying to pull.

Why can’t you get a sample of super-thermite? I think you can, if you will actually try. Or are you like NIST which refuses to look?

Super-Thermite Electric Matches

The principal application is in the entertainment industry, which uses fireworks displays for a variety of venues, such as sporting events, holiday celebrations, and musical and theatrical gatherings. Secondary applications include

? triggering explosives for the mining, demolition, and defense industries,

“technologies and can be applied to a multitude of related products –anywhere there is a need for sophisticated and accurate ignition control with lower risk of misfire at lower cost. ”
Development Stage:
Working prototype available for demonstration purposes.
Patent Status:
Patent pending Non-Provisional
Licensing Status:
LANL is seeking partners to help commercialize this product which is available for exclusive or non-exclusive licensing.
Contact: Michael Erickson, 505-667-8087
Technology Transfer Division

I urge you to contact Mr. Erickson at LANL and request at least three “prototype” samples of super-thermite matches. Since his interest is in “commercializing”, I would recommend telling him that you are doing a special which addresses super-thermite and that this will give his product “free advertising”, or something like that… I emailed him several months ago, but I lacked an approach that would help with his “commercializing” the product, which was his interest. I think you could succeed if you tried.

Next, if you succeed in getting a few of the “super-thermite matches,” I propose to send you the complete paper that we have — which includes a discussion of these matches along with their potential usage on 9/11. I think that super-thermite “matches” of this type could very well have been used to trigger more conventional explosives such as C4 in the WTC buildings.

Next step would be experiments, well-founded and relevant experiments, such as:

1. Ask two independent laboratories to do SEM/EDS and DSC analyses as described in our paper on the super-thermite material contained in these matches. The results would then be compared carefully with those already obtained on red chips found in the WTC dust.
One of these labs could be BYU/Dr. Farrer if you wish, since he has analyzed the red chips found in the WTC dust and could act very quickly. (BYU requires that he be paid for any 9/11 research now.) Such analyses are worthy of scientific publication in a peer-reviewed journal (unlike placing bags of commercial thermite next to steel columns).

2. A real demonstration would involve a C4 shaped charge applied to a steel column, with the cutter charge ignited by a highly-reliable super-thermite match (in turn triggered using a remote radio signal).

These experiments would test my hypothesis.

Best wishes,
Steven Jones

Note that this is just a few days BEFORE the appearance of our Active Thermitic Material paper, but I had given Mr. Erickson much information from the forthcoming paper.

Next a reply from Mr. Erickson on 3/30/09:
…Dr. Jones, I respect your work and would love to pursue the experiment you outlined… But alas — no product. No nano-thermite.

My budget does not provide funds for me to travel to Livermore labs. I just have a small television production to deal with.

My attempt was never intended as a “strawman joke” that I’m trying to pull on anyone. I don’t even see where or how to put this measly commercial grade Thermite into the “shape charge” device suggested by Richard Gage. Other than a picture — where do I find a thermite shape charge? And since its not done with nano-thermite that experiment would suffer from the same pathetic criticism.

I’m sorry that Richard and David didn’t tell you that the program they watched included a demonstration of a C-4 shape charge. These were readily available and the effect was amazing. I asked demolition experts about setting off charges with radio signals. They said it was very feasible. Everyone seems to agree to the viability of radio signals setting off explosives. That would eliminate some of the primer cord.

But the problem is very complex.You didn’t find any C-4 residuals in the dust (at least that I’ve heard you or anyone talk about) so why are talking about C-4? And certainly whatever radio device used to trigger whatever the explosion — those radio items would have been found in abundance. Before shipping anything off to China the WTC materials were combed for personal affects etc. No curious radio transmitters were found.

It seems to come back to the CALL for a new investigation. With enough $$ to pursue the experiment you suggest. My company doesn’t have the money.
And apparently — even if I’m willing to look… No nano-thermite is available.

If we can just get scientists to look at the case… That are willing to address the nano-thermite that aren’t the nano-thermite experts at NIST. Those guys are unwilling to look and yet ironically know all about nano-thermite.

Robert Erickson
Producer, Creative Differences

[I thought that was very interesting from the producer of the National Geographic documentary, and I replied: ]


…One should not be surprised at the difficulty in getting the [nanothermite] material, but there are photos, including photos of ignition of the material. Both LANL and LLNL have made the material — I will try to send the Nanotech journal article proving this shortly…

Found it — hope you find this report on an April 2001 conference enlightening (starts I think on page 43).
[I sent him the PDF of the nanotech article, Miziolek AW. Nanoenergetics: an emerging technology area of national importance. Amptiac Q 2002; 6(1): 43-48. Available from: ]

[Note in Figure 1 of this Department of Defense journal article the shaped-charge in the lower right-hand corner. In this Figure, the “nanointermetallics” — aka nanothermite — is the blue “initiator” to the right, a reliable initiator for the more conventional explosive to the left (shown in yellow). This is what I meant when I told Robert above, “A real demonstration would involve a C4 shaped charge applied to a steel column, with the cutter charge ignited by a highly-reliable super-thermite match”– Steven Jones]

..As you can see from the NanoTech magazine, super-thermite/nano-thermite has been available for years [before 9/11/2001]. You may wish to contact Tillotson at LANL — he has answered some of our questions and may be cooperative. Perhaps he could even give you a small sample.

About C4, we have not yet looked for residues and indeed these will be difficult to find UNLESS there was a taggant, which is unlikely (if my hypothesis of out-sourced production of C4 and probably super-thermite matches is correct…)


[On the same day, 3/30/09, Gregg Roberts of wrote the following to the NGC producer. Earlier, Robert Erickson had written:
“ Before shipping anything off to China the WTC materials were combed for personal affects etc. No curious radio transmitters were found.”]


It is not transmitters that would have been placed throughout the buildings to set off the charges, but rather receivers. Those could have been made exceedingly small, as well as disguised.

Again, rather than putting all this burden on us to answer detailed speculative questions, a fair approach will focus on the more than 100 blatant contradictions and gaps in the official story, which are extremely well documented by Griffin’s books, essays by Kevin Ryan, Dylan Avery’s film, and so on. Why should we as citizens put up with having such contradictions and gaps in the very foundation of the War on Terror, the expenditure of more than a trillion in defense spending, and the trampling of the Constitution? Even if all we skeptics had ever done was point to those problems, without suggesting an alternate explanation, it SHOULD mean that the US government has a lot of explaining to do. Instead, for some reason we are constantly being asked to speculate about things that other people KNOW the answers to.

Producing a video with any sort of “History’s Mysteries” or “conspiracy debunking” feel to it, as I am starting to get the impression this one will have, will be a grave disservice to the facts of the matter. Ideally it would have more of a 60 Minutes feel to it, and it’s the planners (executive branch) and funders (Congress) of the War on Terror who ultimately should be under the hot, bright light, being asked to explain how this and how that — not us. They’re the ones with the resources and responsibility to perform a full-bore, fully funded investigation with subpoena power and [presumably] no conflicts of interest. They’re the ones who have failed on four out of four occasions to do perform any such investigation. Instead they have spent thousands of times the money such an investigation would have required, invading and occupying two resource-rich nations, and bullying and buying their way into others.

Hmm, what’s an objective person to make of that? How much time would an objective, balanced documentary spend questioning us, as opposed to questioning them?


[And here is Prof. Griffin’s 3/30/09 response to Robert Erickson’s note that he had no budget to pursue getting a sample of nanothermite.]


Imagine that you did not know that it was possible for someone such as Babe Ruth or Barry Bonds to hit a baseball out of a ballpark.

You are told by some baseball fans (or “fanatics,” as you call them) that this is indeed possible.

So you decide to test it.

But you don’t have a baseball or a baseball bat, only a wiffle ball and a wiffle bat. And the Babe is dead and you can’t get Barry to come over, so you try it yourself.

With camera running, you apologize to the audience for the fact that you don’t have quite the right equipment, and that you’re not quite as muscular as Barry (you haven’t been taking your steroids), but you explain that you must do the best you can with what you’ve got.

With camera rolling, you show your audience, after repeated attempts to knock the wiffle ball out of the park with the wiffle bat, that the idea that anyone could hit a baseball out of the park is absurd. The fanatics are discredited.


[And my final note to the producer Robert Erickson, on 3/30/09 — I find no replies from Mr. Erickson to these last emails from Gregg, Prof. Griffin or me.]

Good point that just simple radio receivers would be needed, Gregg, and a very helpful analogy, David.

I hope the point is not missed that the debunkers such as Prof. Eagar at MIT must now explain the presence of ton-quantities of super-thermite (not ordinary thermite or paint) in the WTC dust. It will not be satisfactory to obfuscate this discovery and its independent verification simply by asking “exactly how was this used in the destruction”?

The question is, “What are ton-quantities of high-tech super-thermite doing in the WTC dust?”


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