Anthrax Envelopes of late 2001 - An Analysis

Shortly after 9/11/01, my very good friend Peter Jennings (Anchor of ABC Nightly News) aired a story about a number of envelopes that had dangerous Anthrax powder chemicals in them that had been mailed to a number of notable people, but the FBI was not getting anywhere in trying to identify the sender of the envelopes.

I contacted Peter and informed him that EVERY person causes a cloud of countless thousands of microscopic scalp and skin particles in the air of the room they are in. If Peter wanted to mail a letter, he would need to either lick or moisten the glue on the envelope flap, for a second or two. I pointed out that many of the microscopic particles of Peter's scalp or skin were floating around in the air of the room, and some of them might easily become stuck in the briefly moist glue.

The mailer had to seal the envelope. If he licked it, then DNA from his saliva would be in the glue that dried to seal the envelope. Due to the great danger of the Anthrax powder, that seemed unlikely. If he did NOT lick it , then he needed to use a sponge or some other method to wet the glue. For a few seconds, that wet glue was exposed to the air in the room he was in. It is well established that in the air around every person (including you right now!) there are microscopic scalp and skin particles suspended in the air. Each of those tiny particles contains your DNA.

Regarding the envelopes I thought that some of the perpetrator's DNA might be (sealed) in each envelope! Peter LOVED it!

He immediately called the FBI and they told him that they had not checked that! They assured Peter that they would immediately do such testing and let him know. When Peter first got back to me, he was nearly giddy with excitement, for having explained such a concept to the FBI experts!

A few hours later, the FBI told Peter that they had not found any such DNA. Personally, I did not see how the FBI could have had enough time to microscopically examine each of the millions of square millimeters of area of the many envelopes to carefully examine all of the glue on each envelope, and then chemically analyzed every particle that they found, but I was in no position to argue with what they told Peter!

In any case, I still believe that an extreme microscopic analysis of the glue on each of the envelopes might then provide some DNA of the unique person who sent the letters. I mentioned this to Peter Jennings, and he thought it was an interesting thought. In his position, he was able to immediately call the FBI to ask if they had done such testing. They had not! But during the next few hours, they apparently did, and they reported their findings to Peter, since he was the one to alert them to the possibility. The FBI told Peter that they did not find any scalp or skin cells embedded in the glue. Peter quickly informed me, and it was clear that he was really feeling good about having alerted the FBI to a concept that they had not even thought about. From then on, Peter seemed to take my e-mails and other contacts as extremely important and valuable!

I believe the FBI, of course, but it seems amazing that there was NOT EVEN ONE such microscopic particle anywhere in the glue, because there are so many millions of such particles constantly in the air around each person that I would think that there should have been many thousands of possible cells, all too small to see with the naked eye.

I note that PBS programs in 2011 (ten years later) describe that the FBI had been wrong about who they first insisted had mailed the envelopes, and then again regarding who their second alleged culprit was. They clearly have never done any THOROUGH microscopic examination as I had recommended in 2001, a process that probably would have taken at least two months to complete.

In fact, the FBI still has no idea who sent those Anthrax envelopes in 2001, and I STILL believe that those envelopes must still exist, where the two-month effort of a true analysis might even now be done, to finally identify who sent those dangerous envelopes in 2001.

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This presentation was first placed on the Internet in April 2012.

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C Johnson, Theoretical Physicist, Physics Degree from Univ of Chicago