The Jenga hypothesis, or how I learned to start worrying

This is the story of one man’s baptism in the September 11 truth movement.

Adri Mehra

For those of you inching further and further (read: younger) from my increasingly age-addled, 24-year-old cerebellum, I ask y’all to indulge my chronological license here.

Jenga is a popular Hasbro game from the 1980s.

It’s a game of skill in which small hardwood blocks are stacked in a tower formation – 54 blocks arranged in 18 stories – and players remove one lower block at a time from the body of the building and place it on the top of the tower. The player who causes the tower to collapse loses the game.

The idea of the structural integrity of tall buildings is well represented.

Anyone who’s ever played Jenga knows that if you take out a block or two, the building will not necessarily collapse right away.

That’s the point, and the continual self-renewing challenge, of the game.

Sure, the tower might distort or shift its weight to compensate for the chunk you just took out of it – visible in the form of shaking, or teetering – much like the redistribution of forces of stress in the steel columns of skyscrapers.

But even if a Jenga tower does indeed fall, it will topple over and to the side – it will NOT neatly collapse straight down without resistance into its own placement, and in a beautifully symmetrical fashion, like a certain cluster of humanity’s finest feats of structural engineering in Lower Manhattan were somehow wont to do on a crisp, clear morning nearly five and a half years ago.

Yes, when applied to the behavior of the World Trade Center towers after being struck by airplanes on Sept. 11, 2001, this, my friends, is my newly minted Fisher Price My First Theory of 9-11 Skepticism.

This product has been brought to you by the makers of Gravity and other popular titles in our Laws of Physics line, such as Conservation of Energy and that game Mom loves to hate – Momentum!

But I digress. The issues at stake here could not be more serious.

This unprecedented depiction of instantly initiated and perfectly executed total uniform collapse of unbelievably massive steel skyscrapers from proportionally isolated impacts and similarly localized fires is precisely what the U.S. government and mainstream media have attached to the rapid obliteration of three of the world’s strongest buildings on the same day of Sept. 11, 2001 – World Trade Center towers 1, 2 and 7, the last structure never even touched by a plane – despite a mountain of suspicious forensic structural evidence indicating controlled demolitions and thousands of questions being repeatedly raised by hundreds of academics and scientists the world over.

Knocking out a few Lincoln Logs in the side of the middle of the stack doesn’t turn the whole damn cabin into exploding sawdust, does it?

I apologize for the elementary metaphors, but in this no-brainer of an instance, even the crayon is mightier than the sword.

For many, doubts about the physical characteristics of the Twin Towers’ collapse began as it occurred before their very eyes.

My own recollection of the events very nearly brings me back to the days of Jenga, boxed wine safe for dorm smuggling, and roses, but not quite.

September 11 was my second Tuesday in college, and I can remember standing with at least a hundred fellow students in front of a hastily arranged TV projection in a classroom in Murphy Hall, completely disoriented by the nauseating pictures I was seeing.

As we watched in horror, the entire South Tower of the World Trade Center abruptly crumbled into dust, followed by the North Tower less than half an hour later.

It was clear that mere moments before their respective virtual implosions – nine to 10 seconds before in each case, actually – the 110-story steel structures had shown no signs of imminent collapse, such as characteristic sagging or tilting.

There were relatively sequestered fires visible in the crash impact zones – between the 78th and 84th floors of the South Tower, and between the 93rd and 98th floors of the North Tower, according to USA Today – but the towers stood stalwart as ever, with no worrisome leaning or shaking.

Then, suddenly, the buildings came roaring down, each floor exploding into dust one after the other, in roughly the same time it would take to drop a billiard ball from the roof of one of the towers and wait for it to hit the ground in free fall with only air resistance (calculated as 9.22 seconds by Dr. Judy Wood of Clemson University in 2005).

A graduate student in the University’s School of Architecture stood next to me, shaking his head.

“There’s no way those planes could have made those buildings come down,” he muttered in a Swedish accent, and he walked away, leaving his fall coat by my side.

I never saw him again, but since that eternally disruptive and epoch-darkening day, I’ve been trying to figure out what he meant. More next week.

Adri Mehra welcomes comments at [email protected]