Posted: 9:46 PM- OREM - For most of the American public, the dust has settled over how the World Trade Center fell Sept. 11.
But seven years later, former Brigham Young University physics professor Steven E. Jones remains perhaps the most famous proponent of so-called "alternative theories" surrounding the Sept. 11 attacks.
Almost two years since BYU placed him on paid leave following controversy over his claims that the WTC towers did not fall due to the collision of passenger jets alone, he's still studying dust samples gathered near ground zero.
The man can also pack a small lecture hall, as he did Wednesday afternoon during one of the weekly physics colloquiums sponsored by Utah Valley University's physics department.
"I'll see if I can prepare you all to be whistle-blowers," Jones told the hall of some 100 people who came to hear his presentation titled, "9/11/2001: Forbidden Questions, Explosive Answers."
Many in the crowd identified themselves as doubters of accepted explanations for why the WTC towers fell, but declined to be named. Others were not shy.
"He's really on to something," said Brett Smith, a 25-year-old UVU student of behavioral science producing a documentary film about Jones, which he will later submit to film festivals. "There's so much that doesn't add up."
Using a Power Point presentation, Jones argued that basic laws of physics matched with careful observation of the motion and circumstances of the towers' collapse point to a missing cause behind their fall. After his analysis of dust samples from the attack site, which he said show high concentrations of aluminum, sulfur and silicon, he believes explosive materials were placed at the underground base of both buildings.
Critics of Jones' theory have long pointed out the absence of any evidence that the tons of explosives needed to fell both towers had slipped past building security, and that seismic readings recorded throughout the attack show no record of ground-level explosions. Jones, however, said his dust analysis points toward evidence of an ultra-fine, composite form of highly explosive thermite that could have been painted onto the inside walls at the underground base of both buildings.
Jones said before the lecture that whoever painted the explosives onto WTC walls could have done so to initiate the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. "But of course we don't know for sure until we identify the perpetrators," he said. "What I'm trying to identify is the science that might lead to a criminal investigation."
Although placed on paid leave from BYU in September 2007 pending a university review on whether or not the "increasingly speculative and accusatory nature" of his claims had been properly vetted by authoratative scientific review, Jones retired voluntarily before the review could begin.
Since then he's sold a few family properties to keep afloat financially, but said he will look for a new teaching position early next year. Whatever his new job, he said he will never abandon his ongoing research on the Sept. 11 attacks.
Jones recited a Book of Mormon verse from III Nephi as a parallel to those who might try to persuade him otherwise: "Lachoneus was a just man who could not be threatened by the demands and threatenings of Gadianton robber," Jones told the crowd.
The citation drew applause, but some left undecided.
"At the very best it made me think," said Cary Dortch, a 26-year-old physics major at UVU. "I found him a bit narrowly focused in his presentation, but he did well in at least picking apart some of the accepted arguments."