Rosie O’Donnell said fire melting steel is “physically impossible”

September 12, 2014

Physics

Rosie O’Donnell let her politics defy physics.

“I do believe that it’s the first time in history that fire has ever melted steel. I do believe that it defies physics that World Trade Center tower 7—building 7, which collapsed in on itself—it is impossible for a building to fall the way it fell without explosives being involved. World Trade Center 7. World Trade [Center] 1 and 2 got hit by planes—7, miraculously, the first time in history, steel was melted by fire. It is physically impossible.

– Rosie O’Donnell in 2007 reigniting the conspiracy that the Bush Administration arranged or had prior knowledge about the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Let’s give her the benefit of the doubt and assume she meant that steel had never been melted in a fire caused by a plane crash.

No one is claiming that the fire melted steel.

First of all, we can obviously agree that fire can melt steel. Steel’s melting point is around 2750 degrees Fahrenheit. However, steel can lose structural integrity at as low as 400 degrees. At only 1000 degrees Fahrenheit steel as already lost around 50% of its structural integrity.

Analysis done by Popular Mechanics finds that debris and fire resulting from the attack weakened the steel structure. There were key support columns in the building supporting up to 2000 sq. ft. of each floor, and their investigation showed that if these were damaged the vertical structural integrity of the building could have been fatally compromised.

The Bush administration made some questionable policies relating to science, but that doesn’t excuse ideologically motivated scientifically inaccurate accusations that distract us from real issues.

For comparison:

When an undamaged empty soda can is placed on the floor, a person can usually stand on it with the can supporting their weight.

But, if you dent the can, it will collapse under that same weight.

You didn’t need to heat the can to its melting point to cause a structural failure.

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About jslachman381

I'm a Yale graduate who majored in History of Science, Medicine, and Public Health.

View all posts by jslachman381

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