Feb 17 2009

Can Biology Find Bin Laden?


An interesting bit of news has come out on the hunt for Bin Laden. Some researchers at UCLA decided to apply some statistical models to the problem of determining where Bin Laden may be hiding out, and have concluded he may be hiding in one of three possible buildings in a large town near the Afghan border and the Tora Bora region:

While U.S. intelligence officials have spent more than seven years searching fruitlessly for Osama bin Laden, UCLA geographers say they have a good idea of where the terrorist leader was at the end of 2001 — and perhaps where he has been in the years since.

In a new study published online today by the MIT International Review, the geographers report that simple facts, publicly available satellite imagery and fundamental principles of geography place the mastermind behind the Sept. 11 attacks against the U.S. in one of three buildings in the northwest Pakistan town of Parachinar, in the Kurram tribal region near the border with Afghanistan.

The full report is here. I would guess some folks in the intelligence community are preparing some serious investigations to see if science has solved one of the biggest ‘cold case’ files of modern times.

Addendum: Some interesting details from the report:

At a regional scale, we overlaid the distance-decay map on the city islands to identify cities with the highest probability of bin Laden’s occurrence based on island biogeography theory. At a local spatial scale, we systematically searched the city with the highest probability of occurrence – that is, the highest probability of hosting bin Laden –to identify structures that match his six life history characteristics.

When we applied a distance-decay model to his last known location from 2001, the FATA – or Federally Administered Tribal Area – of Kurram had the highest probability of hosting bin Laden (98%) 

May God smile down on their math models!

4 responses so far

4 Responses to “Can Biology Find Bin Laden?”

  1. Frogg says:

    Using math to make predictions? It wouldn’t be unheard of. Ever hear about Bruce Bueno de Mesquita?

    The New Nostradamus

    Words By Michael A.M. Lerner
    Photos By Ethan Hill

    Can a fringe branch of mathematics forecast the future? A special adviser to the CIA, Fortune 500 companies, and the U.S. Department of Defense certainly thinks so.

    If you listen to Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, and a lot of people don’t, he’ll claim that mathematics can tell you the future. In fact, the professor says that a computer model he built and has perfected over the last 25 years can predict the outcome of virtually any international conflict, provided the basic input is accurate. What’s more, his predictions are alarmingly specific.


  2. Redteam says:

    the outcome of virtually any international conflict, provided the basic input is accurate. so you’re saying, GIGO

    But isn’t that true of anything. I could predict almost anything if I knew every aspect of it 100%. But no one can know ahead of time. Let me present a scenario. Ask me if stock xyz is going to go up or go down. So for input I need: Is the market itself going up, or down; is every member of management honest? Is the market for that particular stock going up, or down? and 100 other questions. assume all indicators are favorable, so I predict it will go up. but it goes down. why? turns out one detail was not 100% accurate and that was that the CEO was a crook.

    Isn’t that how all predictions are made? there’s always a caveat.

  3. kathie says:

    AJ I posted this on your earlier discussion, don’t know if you saw it.

    Found this at Gateway Pundit, I can’t believe it!
    Wednesday, February 18, 2009
    Obama Secretly Backed “Shariah Law For Peace” Deal With Taliban
    Could Dear Leader be this naive and sinister at the same time?
    The Telegraph, via ROP, is reporting the Team O actually backed the “sharia law for peace” deal announced in Pakistan this week.
    Read the rest.
    Is it possible that Obama could undo all the work our military has done in the last 7 years, because he hates George Bush that much?

  4. WWS says:

    Why would Obama want to find him now? So that we can formally surrender to him?