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Bin Laden's location: UCLA geographers named Parachinar as likely hide-out 2 years ago [Updated]

May 3, 2011 |  9:41 am

This post has been corrected. See the note at the bottom for details.

Did a team of UCLA geography professors and undergraduates correctly predict the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden two years ago?

No, but a blog post at Science Insider calls the crew's efforts "none too shabby."

UCLA geographers Thomas Gillespie and John Agnew and a class of undergraduates published a 2009 paper predicting the location of Bin Laden and guessing he would be in a large town rather than a cave.

Photos: Osama bin Laden dead

The paper named the city of Parachinar as his most likely hide-out, and the model the researchers used said there was an 88.9% chance Bin Laden was in Abbottabad, Pakistan, according to the blog by the publishers of the journal Science:

The Bin Laden tracking idea began as a project in an undergraduate class on remote sensing that Gillespie, whose expertise is using remote sensing data from satellites to study ecosystems, taught in 2009. Based on information from satellites and other remote sensing systems, and reports on his movements since his last known location, the students created a probabilistic model of where he was likely to be.

“The theory was basically that if you’re going to try and survive, you’re going to a region with a low extinction rate: a large town,” Gillespie says. “We hypothesized he wouldn’t be in a small town where people could report on him.”

So Gillespie said he was not surprised to hear U.S. forces had found Bin Laden in a larger town. But he told the blog Bin Laden could have made a better choice in real estate: “An inconspicuous house would have suited him better," he said.

[For the Record, 1:05 p.m. May 3: An earlier version of this post, and its headline, indicated that the UCLA team had named Abbottabad as a likely hide-out for Bin Laden. The team named the city of Parachinar as his most likely hide-out.]

RELATED:

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-- Tony Barboza

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