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The Great Demolition Debate, Pt. 2: Niels Harrit vs. Denis Rancourt

Tuesday, November 9th, 9-11 a.m. Pacific (noon-1 pm Eastern) on, to be archived here a few hours after broadcast…

Special two-hour debate: chemistry professor Niels Harrit, lead author of the “smoking gun of 9/11” nanothermite paper, vs. physics professor Denis Rancourt!

On last Saturday’s show (read about it here, and listen here) physics professor/activist Denis Rancourt and I spent the first hour amicably discussing 9/11, and mostly agreeing with each other. During the second hour, we had a heated debate (temperatures almost high enough to vaporize steel!) about what happened to the Twin Towers: I argued that the controlled demolition hypothesis best explains the facts, while Denis, who admits that WTC-7 was a controlled demolition, claimed that the Towers could have collapsed due to plane crashes and fires as the government says.

But wait – what about the unexploded nanothermite chips (making up as much as .1 percent of the WTC dust) found by chemistry professor Niels Harrit and eight other scientists? While I don’t know much about chemistry, I’m good at judging arguments. Those who have attacked Dr. Harrit’s paper have used such blatantly bad arguments as to have made a prima facie case that the paper is unassailable. Let’s see whether Denis Rancourt, who knows something about nanotechnology, can do any better! (I wonder whether he thinks it’s a coincidence that much of the NIST cover-up crew, who pretended they had never heard of nanothermite, were in fact nanothermite experts!)

Niels Harrit is an Associate Professor at University of Copenhagen. He is an expert in organic chemistry, photochemistry, fluorescence, and nanotechnology, and the lead author of a potentially historic scientific paper on nanothermite residues in World Trade Center dust.

Denis Rancourt was a tenured professor of physics at the University of Ottawa. His activism on many issues, including the conflict in Occupied Palestine, led to his being fired and dragged off campus in handcuffs by police – an amazing moment in Denis’s ongoing academic freedom struggle.

19 Thoughts to “The Great Demolition Debate, Pt. 2: Niels Harrit vs. Denis Rancourt”

  1. Anonymous

    Hmm, the show is on November 9 (11/9) from 9-11am. Are you trying to say something Kevin? 🙂

    p.s. show is noon-2pm Eastern I assume(2hrs)

  2. Wow! 9-11 Pacific on 11/9/10. Told you it was a historic debate! I wish I could say I planned it that way just to tweak the illuminati's nose.

  3. Anonymous

    Today is a definite red zone day for an Israeli terror attack against the United States, just like they false-flagged the USS Liberty. They mass murdered Americans then, and they'll do it again if given a chance. They must be stopped by law enforcement and military members who honor their oath of service and revere the Declaration.

    The date code is ominous: 11/9/10 is 9/11/10 in Israel. Kabbalah and Freemasonry omit the zeros, so today is a variation of 9/11/01, and they do love their numbers. They used the same coding when they have executed Timothy McVeigh on 6/11/01 (flip the six to make a nine).

    Captain Eric H. May, CO,
    Ghost Troop Cybercavaly

  4. Anonymous

    Denis Rancourt continues to discredit himself.
    Used "endothermic" incorrectly (opposite of correct sense), and demonstrated his Google Scholar incompetence. Limiting the search on Niels Harrit to the past 10 years as he suggested, I get about 2820 hits; rather more than 3.


  5. Anonymous


    Thanks for arranging the Harrit vs. rancourt debate. I listened to a good bit of it and will have to catch all of it over the weekend.

    I think Denis was being somewhat disingenuous with the energy argument as was Ryan Mackey when I debated him on Hardfire last year. I think you understood that his argument had problems and your counter about the mountain was a good analogy. The problem he won't touch is how the energy was released and what has to happen for it to be delivered in a way which could destroy the structure below, which is designed to support several times the mass above it. I have to reiterate that a large deceleration is necessary to provide an amplified (dynamic) load. Without this deceleration the energy cannot be transmitted to the lower structure in a way sufficient to cause collapse of the lower structure.

    The gravitational energy has to be delivered very rapidly to work on a structure designed to handle several times the load above it. Explosives work because they are brisant. In reality a chocolate chip cookie of the same weight as a stick of dynamite has eight times the energy. I am not kidding here and you can look it up. However, the reason the chocolate chip cookie won't explode is that it can't give up its energy in millionths of a second like the dynamite can. It takes many hours for the chocolate chip cookie to be metabolized and release its energy.

    This past Monday AE911Truth published a short article they asked me to write for them on this issue. A link to it is here

    You should familiarize yourself with this issue. Don't forget to view the links to the videos at the end. They are quite well done by professional civil engineer Jon Cole and David Chandler.

    Tony Szamboti

    I found a good physics tutorial on energy relavent to what I was saying. It is here

  6. Denis Rancourt writes:

    I solved my problem with the Google Scholar search.
    "NH Harrit" gives 3
    "Neils Harrit" gives 56

    I wrongly assumed that you would always have used your middle initial as in the nanothermite paper. Scientific authors are usually careful about that?

    Sorry for the misunderstanding. You did clarify that it was wrong.

    It had a good side benefit to get web discussions aware of Google Scholar, etc.

    Therefore, no need to send me a list of your papers, as I have found them now.


    Niels Harrit responds:

    I don't believe you since you have spelled my first name wrong all the way.
    The person Neils Harrit does not exist.

  7. Denis, if you're going to use Google Scholar search results to try to imply that someone is not a competent scholar, you should at least make sure that you yourself are competent at Google Scholar searches! This kind of botched ad-hominem attack doesn't help your credibility.

  8. Anonymous


    I listened to the debate between Harrit and Rancourt. Very interesting.

    For what it's worth — I have a couple of comments. Someone should have confronted Rancourt with the fact that the WTC columns were progressively thicker and stronger as you go down each tower. This was the case for obvious reasons — because the lower columns had to support more weight. So if a pile driver was operative — the rate of collapse should have slowed — and at some point been arrested. You would expect a partial collapse.

    But this is not what happened. The collapse was total — and continued at approximately the same rate — until the dust obscured our view. Even the largest columns in the lower floors were destroyed. Rancourt cannot explain this. Only explosives could do this.

    Also — a structural collapse would have been asymmetrical — not perfectly symmetrical. Again — only explosives can do this.

    You did a good job moderating.


  9. I'm happy that someone actually stepped up to the plate and debated Harrit! Rancourt's criticisms of the Nanothermite paper must be faced; they are the first I've heard worth considering. The more I learn about 9/11 and the push to uncover what actually happened, the more obvious it becomes that we need engineers and architects to really drill down on WTC 7, for Jon Gold and others to continue amassing non-CD evidence, and for activists to change tactics (suggested by Rancourt here: to focus more on the censorship of open discussion about 9/11.

  10. Anonymous

    To Anonymous:

    "The last half hour was more confusing, as Niels didn't seem to answer the claim by Denis that the red-grey chips could be natural."

    Harrit did answer the claim. He brought up the example of the match. Now if one believes you can throw the chemical elements that make up a match into a fire to produce a match "because fires are complex and anything could happen" there is really nothing one could say. It is clear to honest people that things like that do not magically happen. That 'nanothermite' which takes a lot of engineering skill and knowledge to create doesn't just make itself. Or one could use Gordon Ross' cake example. Where one tosses some flour, sugar, eggs, milk etc into a collapsing building expecting a cake to appear.

    The red-gray chips are found in all samples of dust, from all parts of Manhattan and have essentially the same composition and properties. Random events do not produce consistent results like this. The chips are intimately mixed on the nanoscale which allows them to have such a strong peak in the DSC and the peaks are comparable to or better than previously published work on nanothermite. If one could make nanothermite by tossing some aluminum and rusty steel into an oven, then scientists wouldn't be spending so much time and effort into engineering the material. And anyone who has actually taken the time to study the red-gray chips in detail (e.g. Mark Basile) has come to the same conclusion. That this is a highly engineered material.

    Rancourt's comments only show that he is intellectually dishonest or ignorant.

  11. Anonymous

    I just searched Niels Harrit in Google and Scholar and it came up with 3,300 hits, with dates up to the present. Rancourt was really out of line there.

  12. Anonymous

    Listening to the archived show I agree Niels did well, and Denis was often just blowing smoke. The last half hour was more confusing, as Niels didn't seem to answer the claim by Denis that the red-grey chips could be natural. Overall, Niels did win the debate, but it wasn't a knockout. Denis was still jabbering away to the last.

  13. Anonymous

    I listened to most of the debate between Niels Harrit and Denis Rancort.

    I was stunned by the complete lack of understanding of physics concepts from a former physics professor – Rancort. That was really shocking. I could tell by Niels Harrit's responses that he was completely shocked as well. Some of Rancort's responses were beyond belief. If I was a betting man, I would say that Rancort is a paid spook – his answers were as lame as the pack of lies that we have gotten from NIST. Either that or he studied "fantasy physics" in college. Truly unbelievable.

    Does he not understand that structural engineers have used concrete and steel to build bridges and buildings because of their incredible strength? Does he not understand that because these structures are so strong that it is necessary to use high powered explosives to bring them down through controlled demolition? Does he not understand that an object falling through the path of greatest resistance cannot accellerate at the same rate as a free-falling object?

    Is he a moron, or is he still wallowing in cognitive dissonance?

    If he truly believes that all of the steel frame buildings in the world could easily collapse at free fall accelleration at any instant, then he should start his own "controlled demolition" company and poke his finger at these mighty structures to try and get them to collapse. His responses were insane.

    Please ask Mr. Rancort to perform a simple experiment. Get two identical books. Drop them from the same height at the same time. Drop one over a table and the other one over nothing. Which one hits the floor first and why? This is how simple this discussion is as Richard Gage has readily pointed out.

    Also, a word of caution, please be careful with these debates. It's difficult to have this kind of discussion over the phone. While Niels Harrit is extremely qualified from a technical perspective, he was at a disadvantage due to the language barrier. Rancort tried to dominate the discussion failing to see his own "straw man" arguments. The problem though, is that some listeners will hear this drivel and might believe in "fantasy physics". I think it would greatly help to have either David Chandler or a well qualified structural engineer in the 9/11 Truth movement debate Mr. Rancort so that they can easily point out his mistakes. It would also be good to have all the people in the same room to use visuals if needed.

    Anyhow, just some feedback on the debate. Thanks for continuing all the great work that you do!


  14. I agree that Harrit was at a disadvantage, not only due to English not being his first language, but also because there was a one-second delay on his line. Both factors facilitated Rancourt's attempts to dominate the discussion through interruptions, putting out more words than his opponent, etc. But I think Rancourt pushed this too far, especially with his attack on Harrit's credentials based on a Google Scholar search with a misspelled name. Rancourt came off as extremely partisan and not very careful or thoughtful. He would have been much more effective had he taken a more generous attitude, giving Harrit credit where it was due and pointing out perceived flaws in Harrit's case in a more respectful and collegial way. Had he done that, I would have found it easier to believe that what Rancourt perceives as flaws really ARE flaws. As it stands, I don't have confidence in Rancourt's judgment as he displayed it in this debate. But I do have confidence that this kind of debate is a useful exercise both in publicizing Harrit's paper, and in exposing any alleged weak points in it and in the Twin Towers demolition hypothesis. Through ongoing debate, the paper and the hypothesis will either be strengthened or abandoned. Personally I strongly suspect they will be strengthened – but in any case, let the truth prevail!

  15. Anonymous

    Denis you need to explain how the gravitational potential energy would have been released in some level of detail as it has been shown that the NIST analysis does not provide for overloads anywhere near sufficient to cause failure of the east and west perimeter walls or core columns of WTC 1.

    You also need to explain how it would have been transmitted to cause a natural collapse. The upper sections of the buildings can't be transmitting their kinetic energy to the lower sections while continuously accelerating.


  16. Toward the end of The Great Demolition debate Part 1, Denis Rancourt claimed that "the great majority of professional scientist are incompetent and are serving their bosses, so they're politically neutralized arse kissers and they're incompetent, and I include academic scientists in that."

    Having just listened to Part 2 of the debate, I think we can safely assume that Denis Rancourt fits that category.

    Where did you find him, Kevin? I'm curious to know, did he approach you first, or did you approach him?

    The way Rancourt refers to "the truth movement" suggests to me that he is of the mindset that views the movement as some sort of monolithic entity that must be combated – this attitude is typical of those who actively defend the official dogma and use the "smear and sneer" tactic to ridicule and deride any who question the official narrative.

    Rancopurt is attempting to gain credibility as a 9/11 truth seeker by conceding that 9/11 was a "black-op" but I suspect his true motive is to confuse and obscure the issue with pseudo-scientific postulations and appeals to his own expertise.

    He obviously doesn't know what he is talking about, he hasn't studied the subject, his contribution to the debate serves only as an example of what Sunstein would call "cognitive infiltration" of the 9/11 truth movement.

  17. Anonymous

    I thought Rancourt argued his points very well, and don't understand some of the more insulting comments towards him. His mistake regarding mispelling Harrit's name was unfortunate, but not a great tragedy. I think it'd be great if Dr. Rancourt would write out all his criticisms of the nano-thermite paper, and post them at That forum has the correspondence between many of the nanothermite paper authors, and Dr. Greening, "Email Correspondence on Active Thermitic Paper (abridged)", here:

  18. Anonymous

    This guy lives in Canada, but must have never cut down a tree.

    Wood has a lot of energy in it and keeps me warm all winter. However….

    Rancourt believes that you could cut into a tree, then have it turn into sawdust and fall in a pile at your feet.

    Every tree I've ever cut down has choosen to fall sideways through the air. And gravity is the force behind it.

    This guy is an insult to practical intelligence every where, and so obnoxiously self-righteous about it.

  19. Anonymous

    I've just listened to your debate between Rancourt and Harrit and all I can say is that the deeply troubled world of academia is immeasurably better off without Mssr. Rancourt. But now, Denis must find a real job — preferably one without perfectly hard surfaces, so that when he's bounced again, he won't be injured.

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