Shakespeare and the Physics and Mathematics of NIST (National Institute of Science and Technology)

O Lord, sir, it were pity you should get your living by reckoning, sirBIRON. By Jove, I always took three threes for nine.
COSTARD. O Lord, sir, it were pity you should get your living by reckoning, sir.

(Love’s Labours Lost, act 5, sc. 2)
O Lord, sir, it were pity you should get your living by reckoning, sir

Comment. As it often happens, when an earth shattering episode becomes a myth, no rational discourse is any longer possible. This is the case with the events of 9/11. Here we will NOT discuss or advance presumed conspiracy theories or equivalent. Rather, we will deal briefly with the report and the explanation by NIST on the collapse of the Word Trade Center Building #7. This was the 47 story skyscraper not hit by a plane that crushed to the ground 7 hours after the towers did.
At the end of the blog I will add the link to a video that covers the NIST exchange – it is not very long but I recommend it to the visitors of “Your Daily Shakespeare”. It is both educational and amusing. If you watch or if you saw pictures before, building 7 crushed in a free-fall mode indistinguishable from that of a controlled demolition. Again, it is NOT the intent here to speculate on motives, just optical, factual observations.
NIST published its preliminary report in Aug 2008, seven years after the event, with the final version issued in November of the same year. I will summarize here the main points of the video, so that you can enjoy it better when you watch it.
1. The Lead Investigator is a Dr. Shyam Sunder who, in a clear and unambiguous pronouncement (you will find it in the video), states that the building could have NOT collapsed in free fall. Why? Because that would mean that there was no support at the base, whereas the structure existing at the base counteracted the force of gravity slowing the downward motion of the building.
Any reader who has watched a controlled demolition knows that free-fall is exactly what the demolition achieves by removing within fractions of a second all the support columns at the base of a building. This way the structure can pancake on itself, thus reducing to the minimum any outside spillage which could damage adjacent buildings, obstruct streets etc.

2.  David Chandler, a Physics Teacher and member of the Physic Teachers Association of America posed a question. Namely, the time (detectable by frame-by-frame analysis – which you can watch in the video) for the building to collapse coincides with the time of an object descending in free-fall.  Yet in the NIST investigation the time given for the collapse is 40% longer than free fall. How come? (his question).
Listen to the answer (here transcribed after the question has been repeated) and the teacher’s comment.
Shyam Sunder. “Well, the… first of all… gravity is the loading function that applies to the structure, applies to everybody, all bodies on this particular … on this planet… not just on ground zero.”
Teacher’s Comment. “Wow, I am used to responses like these in a physics exam, when the student hasn’t even bothered to open the text book, but this is NIST… but let’s continue”

In the continuation, immediately afterwards, Shyam Sunder makes the statement that free fall was impossible, because that would mean that there was no support at the base. However…. to make up for the glaring inconsistency what does NIST do? They add another 1.5 seconds to the collapse time, when the 1.5 seconds, as you will see from the measurements, do not exist.
To better visualize this, imagine that your car can accelerate from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 10 seconds. Now imagine that you rev up your engine for 1.5 seconds before the car moves. And further imagine that you add these 1.5 seconds to the acceleration, so that instead of going from zero to 60 miles in 10 seconds you report 11.5 seconds. Car manufacturers (and you), would laugh at the conclusion, simply because when you rev up the engine, the car is still. At car races the drivers rev up the engines all right but the start-time is when the signal man lowers the flag, not when the drivers fire up the engines.

Let’s return to NIST. When the Physics Teacher, David Chandler, shows unequivocally that the building collapsed in free fall for 3.9 seconds there is an interesting event.  Another member of the audience asks why NIST assumed or concluded that the fall happened at constant speed whereas it is plain by the measurements that the speed was not constant but that the building accelerated (at the acceleration of gravity) as it collapsed.

The response by John Gross, another leading investigator of the collapse is bewildering. He has a PhD in Structural Engineering from Cornell, has taught at the University of Colorado, has a massive curriculum. Is it possible that he does not know the difference between speed and acceleration?  – asks the Physics Teacher in the video. An yet this is what the Professor does in the video in order to cover his tracks.

But this is not the end. After some quibbling, somebody steps in and says that there is an error, the report has to be corrected. And between August and November 2008 they indeed correct the report – it was a mistake, they meant “acceleration” when they wrote “speed” (!). (We are talking about the cream of the scientific crop involved in a massive report that took years to prepare – the “error” is meaningful). Now they admit that the building came down in free fall, which Shyam Sunder, earlier on in the video states as an impossibility. But to make their argument fit their computer model, NIST adds some time to the measurement – time during which, as you can see from the very clear, very well explained video, the building is perfectly still. Meaning that this added time does not exist.

Now for NIST the building collapsed in free fall but it does not matter, because by adding some totally invented and non-existent time it is as if the building had fallen down at constant speed (!)

This conclusion would indeed prompt our good Costard to tell NIST or their Shyams or Grosses, “O Lord, sir, it were pity you should get your living by reckoning, sir.”

The other conclusion is that twisting out of reality something so obvious to all leads to the reasonable question as to why and as to who tries to cover his or whomsoever else’s tracks.

Tips for Use. Ironic comment when someone makes an error in calculations.

In the play. Biron and Costard exchange some banter.


This entry was posted in After Dinner Quotes, Amusing Shakespeare, Best Shakespeare Quotes, Chances Quotes, Fighting your Adversary, Insults Shakespeare-style, Philosophical, Psychological & Historical Considerations, Presentation Ideas, Sayings about Life, Social Exchanges Shakespeare style and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.