05/03/2011 04:52 pm ET Updated Jul 03, 2011

UCLA Geographers Predicted Bin Laden's Possible Location In 2009

According to the Science Insider, UCLA geographers semi-accurately predicted the position of Osama bin Laden's hideout way back in 2009.

In a paper that appeared in the MIT International Review, Thomas Gillespie, his co-worker John Agnew and a gaggle of undergraduates hypothesized there was an 88.9% chance that bin Laden had absconded to a metropolitan area about 300km from his last known location in Tora Bora.

Abbottabad, Pakistan, the site of bin Laden's last hideaway, fits that description. The researchers, however, pinned bin Laden in Parachinar, Pakistan, more than 200 miles from Abbottabad.

The Science Insider has more:

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. Their prediction of a town was based on a geographical theory called “island biogeography”: basically, that a species on a large island is much less likely to go extinct following a catastrophic event than a species on a small one.

“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.”

The class also theorized that bin Laden would be living in a house with multiple rooms and electricity.

Although the class ultimately estimated bin Laden's location inaccurately, they were definitely onto something.

They weren't the only ones. On a 2008 episode of Real Time With Bill Maher, Christiane Amanpour also predicted Bin Laden was in a "nice comfortable villa" in Pakistan.

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