A Fire in Teheran Threatens Conspiracy Theory

NBC News reported today  on a fire in the first high-rise building in Teheran, the capital of Iran.  The building collapsed in the course of a fire, killing “dozens” (I put it in quotes because it is very likely that the toll will be higher than is first reported, as is usually the case in these tragedies) of firefighters as well as, one must assume, occupants.

This brings up the collapse, on 11 September 2001, of Building 7 of the New York City World Trade center, a building that was not hit by an airliner.

The conspiracy theory which has arisen as a result of the shameless white-wash of an investigation following that spectacular terrorist attack put a great deal of emphasis on the collapse of Building 7.  No steel-reinforced high-rise, the dissenters and skeptics from the official narrative said, has ever collapsed merely as a result of fire.  That is point number one in the link provided, for instance.

I do not have independent confirmation of the steel reinforcing of the 17-storey Plasco building in Teheran, but it would appear at the moment that that statement is no longer true.  Indeed, the collapse of high-rise buildings due to fire would be expected to be more frequent as the engineers responsible for erecting them get more confident in their skills.  The historian of technology Henry Petroski has emphasized in his published analyses of engineering failures of bridges how, when the technology is new, engineers typically allow for greater margins of safety; then, when those are found to work, they trim them back in order to save the resources and money needed to erect the structures.

About M. Meo

Worked as translator, museum technician, truck lumper, lecture demonstrator, teacher (of English as a Second Language, science, math). Married for 25 years, 2 boys aged 18 & 16 (both on the Grant cross-country team). A couple of scholarly publications in the history of science. Two years in federal penitentiary, 1970/71, for refusing the draft.
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