In 2009 I wrote a paper called "Metatheory and the NIST Report: A Study in Theoretical Adequacy." I never put my name to it because I was looking for a job at the time and thought I'd likely be put on a list on which it's best not to be. Anonymity is priceless. The security apparatus scares the shit out of me, but I still have my job. A consolation for this paranoia.
It felt a little over-the-top, even at the time, but I trusted my paranoia. It is the little voice whispering advice at dark times. It's not always right but always in the right vein. Between Snowden spilling the beans and the implementation of cryptocurrency, I find vindication. This is where the paranoid minority get to say "I told you so." Psychopathology as survival mechanism.
I didn't read the entire NIST report. I read a lot of boring data, term-defining and copied-and-pasted paragraphs that recounted the anecdotal versions of the opening pages in hopes of finding a theory underlying the official explanation of the events in NYC on that clear fall day in 2001. The closest version was to be found in the Finite Element Analysis models--the small-scale simulations of steel under heat and load.
They basically said that the part of the floor structure that was bolted to the wall had to get to 700 degrees Celsius (1292 Fahrenheit) for 30 minutes in order to fail in the ways predicted in the official theory.
Two questions must now be addressed: 1. Was it possible temperatures got that hot for that long? and 2. If they were, is that what happens to the floor structure in the real world under those conditions?
The short answer to these questions is "Not likely" and "It does not fail," respectively. We know these answers by virtue of the other tests commissioned by NIST. Under their commission, office burn tests demonstrated the substitutability of office materials with hydrocarbon surrogates. It also yielded the energy release rate--a very predictable curve. The biggest factor in the energy release rate was whether the furniture, et. al was arranged neatly or clustered in piles (as on the crashed floors). It demonstrated a maximum temperature of about 1000-1100 Celsius for about 10 minutes.
One might inquire whether the simulation team was asked to perform this simulation to calibrate their fire models, but as far as public information is concerned, I do not believe this was done.
Another important question: "What does steel do at 1100 degrees Celsius in the real world?" and "How hot can steel get when exposed to 1100C for 30 minutes?" If it's less than 700C then the simulation is wrong. If it doesn't fail, the simulation is wrong. There is only one set of conditions that could vindicate this FEA version of the Official Conspiracy Theory, but it does not seem to obtain in any circumstance except the simulation.
At any rate, a testable version of the OCT eludes me to this day. The "Metatheory" paper was an exploration into the nuts and bolts of a PR report that is the product of many peoples' efforts, but sharply edited by a small group to appear to support some vague hypothesis about heat and the "inevitability of global collapse" as if it were a foregone conclusion by virtue of the spectacle alone.