Professor Steven Earl Jones is an American physicist. For most of his career, Jones was known mainly for his work on muon-catalyzed fusion. In the fall of 2006, amid controversy surrounding his work on the collapse of the World Trade Center (Jones produced alleged evidence showing the buildings were destroyed by controlled demolition during the September 11 attacks), he was relieved of his teaching duties and placed on paid leave from Brigham Young University. He retired on October 20, 2006 with the status of Professor Emeritus.
World Trade Center destruction controversy
On September 22, 2005 Jones presented his views on the collapse of the World Trade Center towers and World Trade Center 7 at a BYU seminar attended by about 60 people. Pointing to the speed and symmetry of the collapses, the characteristics of dust jets, eyewitness reports of explosions down low in the buildings, partially corroded beams, molten metal in the basements which was still red hot weeks after the event, and the notion that no modern high rise had ever collapsed from fire, Jones suggested that the evidence defies the mainstream collapse theory and favors controlled demolition, through by the use of nanothermite, traces of which were found in the dust as grey/red flakes. He claimed also that the thermite reaction products, aluminium oxide and tiny iron spheres were also in the dust. He called for further scientific investigation to test the controlled demolition theory and the release of all relevant data by the government. Shortly after the seminar, Jones placed a paper "Why Indeed Did the WTC Buildings Collapse?" on his page in the Physics department website, with a note that BYU had no responsibility for the paper.
He subsequently defended the research at Idaho State University, Utah Valley State College, University of Colorado at Boulder and University of Denver, the Utah Academy of Science, Sonoma State University, University of California at Berkeley, and the University of Texas at Austin.
On September 7, 2006, Jones removed his paper from BYU's website at the request of administrators and was placed on paid leave. The university cited its concern about the "increasingly speculative and accusatory nature" of Jones' work and the concern that perhaps it had "not been published in appropriate scientific venues" as reasons for putting him under review. The review was to have been conducted at three levels: BYU administration, the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, and the Physics Department. Jones' colleagues also defended Jones' 9/11 work to varying degrees, and Project Censored lists his 9/11 research among the top mainstream media censored stories of 2007.
Jones' placement on paid leave drew criticism from the American Association of University Professors and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. Both organizations are long time critics of BYU's record on academic freedom. Jones "welcomed the review" because he hoped it would "encourage people to read his paper for themselves," however the review was abandoned (contrary to Jones' request) when Jones elected to retire, effective January 1, 2007.
Jones has been interviewed by mainstream news sources and has made a number of public appearances. While Jones has urged caution in drawing conclusions, some believe that his public comments have suggested a considerable degree of certainty about both the controlled demolition of the World Trade Center and the culpability of elements within the U.S. government. In one interview, he asserted that the attacks were "an 'inside job', puppeteered by the neoconservatives in the White House to justify the occupation of oil-rich Arab countries, inflate military spending, and expand Israel." His name is often mentioned in reporting about 9/11 conspiracy theories.
Jones has published several papers suggesting that the World Trade Center was demolished with explosives, but his 2005 paper, "Why Indeed Did the WTC Buildings Collapse?" was his first paper on the topic and was considered controversial both for its content and its claims to scientific rigor. Jones' early critics included members of BYU's engineering faculty; shortly after he made his views public, the BYU College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences and the faculty of structural engineering issued statements in which they distanced themselves from Jones' work. They noted that Jones' "hypotheses and interpretations of evidence were being questioned by scholars and practitioners," and expressed doubts about whether they had been "submitted to relevant scientific venues that would ensure rigorous technical peer review."
Jones maintained that the paper was peer-reviewed prior to publication within a book "9/11 and American Empire: Intellectuals Speak Out" by D.R. Griffin The paper was published in the online "Journal of 9/11 Studies", a journal co-founded and co-edited by Jones for the purpose of "covering the whole of research related to 9/11/2001." The paper also appeared in a volume of essays edited by David Ray Griffin and Peter Dale Scott.
In April 2008, Jones, along with four other authors, published a letter in The Bentham Open Civil Engineering Journal, titled, 'Fourteen Points of Agreement with Official Government Reports on the World Trade Center Destruction'. In August 2008, Jones, along with Kevin Ryan and James Gourley, published a peer-reviewed article in The Environmentalist, titled, 'Environmental anomalies at the World Trade Center: Evidence for energetic materials'. In April 2009, Jones, along with Niels H. Harrit and 7 other authors published a paper in The Open Chemical Physics Journal, titled, 'Active Thermitic Material Discovered in Dust from the 9/11 World Trade Center Catastrophe'. The editor of the journal, Professor Marie-Paule Pileni, an expert in explosives and nano-technology, resigned. She received an e-mail from the Danish science journal Videnskab asking for her professional assessment of the article's content.
Scholars for 9/11 Truth + Scholars for 9/11 Truth & Justice
Jones was a founding member of Scholars for 9/11 Truth for approximately one year as co-chair with James H. Fetzer until Jones and a majority of the scholars members left the organization. From mid-November 2006 until the end of that year, Jones, Fetzer and a series of other researchers and individuals engaged in an open dispute about the direction the organization should take. Fetzer claimed that Jones wanted to suppress exotic weaponry theories about 9/11, specifically those of Judy Wood which suggested that the destruction of the WTC may have been caused by directed energy weapons. Jones and others examined the claims — such as the hypothesis that mini-nukes were used on the WTC Towers — and delineated empirical reasons for rejecting them.
In December 2006, Steven Jones and about 4/5ths of the members voted to leave the Scholars for 9/11 Truth organization to establish Scholars for 9/11 Truth & Justice, a group of conspiracy theorists who self-proport to use the scientific method. While Jones is not a committee member of Scholars for 9/11 Truth & Justice, his work is supported and documented by the group. By April 2010, that organization had grown to over 800 members.
Jones had been co-chair of Scholars for 9/11 Truth up until December 5, 2006. Following a dispute with co-chair James Fetzer over the direction the organization was taking, Jones resigned his membership and joined Scholars for 9/11 Truth & Justice.
Jones is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Jones has been described as "a devout Mormon."
Jones is co-editor of Journal of 9/11 Studies.