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 Afghanista
The seven-member team of Geographers used distance-decay theory and island biogeographic theory to determine the town in which Bin Laden must be hiding. Having found the town, they then looked for the building:
Faced with the prospect of picking from more than 1,000 structures clearly portrayed in the satellite imagery of Parachinar, the team decided to come up with a short list of the criteria that bin Laden would need for housing, based on well-known information about him, including his height (between 6'4" and 6'6", depending on the source), his medical condition (apparently in need of regular dialysis and, therefore, electricity to run the machine) and several basic assumptions, such as a need for security, protection, privacy and overhead cover to shield him from being spotted by planes, helicopters and satellites.They found three structures that met their criteria. So they published their findings, concluding that US forces must examine (but not bomb) these buildings.
Then Scienceblog publishes the story. And then 3 Quarks Daily picks it up. And then the first comment on the Scienceblog posting points out one small problem with this theory: Bin Laden is a Sunni, who is responsible for the deaths of many Shiites; Parachinar is a Shiite town.
I believe this is known as a Kryten moment.