How UCLA Students Came Close to Predicting Bin Laden's Hideout
By Chris on May 9, 2011
Excerpt from UCLA Today:
“They didn’t get his address quite right, but five UCLA undergraduates and a geography professor came fairly close to pinpointing the whereabouts of the world’s most wanted terrorist — and they did it more than two years before Osama bin Laden was actually found…
Cleverly, they did it using theories typically used by biogeographers to determine the likely location of endangered birds or plants, high-resolution satellite imagery, remote sensing data and an analysis of life history characteristics.
In a prescient paper that was published in MIT International Review on Feb. 17, 2009, geography students taking the class “Remote sensing in the environment” taught by Professor Thomas Gillespie came up with a probability model that pointed to a city in northwest Pakistan, Parachinar, as bin Laden’s most likely hideout. Although that location turned out to be 230 miles from Abbottabad, where he was found and killed Sunday, the UCLA researchers’ model turned out to be on track. Based on concentric circles identifying probability over large areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan, the model predicts that there would be an 88.6 percent chance that bin Laden would be found in the area where Abbottabad is located.”