Monday, May 9, 2011

Finding Osama with Mr. DNA and Google

I'm absolutely eating up all of this Osama (Fox: Usama) talk and simply must write one more post on the topic. For this post I'm going far beyond my area of expertise (hobby) and for that reason it's important you not allow facts, incorrect math or easily disproved thoughts to get in the way of the point- if you can decipher it. I would at this point insert the rules read by a member of the audience from "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me" but I cannot, for the life of me, find the text. Curse you Google!

I have heard the phrase "hiding in plain sight" far too often this week, but it got me thinking about how common an occurance it must have been for random Google Earth users to unknowingly look at Osama's compound (and you know SOMEONE is looking into that data). The pictures we usually see of the compound show about a quarter square mile of area. So what are the odds of someone looking at this area or how long might it take to look through ALL of the Google Earth imagery at that scale?

I was reminded of the great Mr. DNA movie from Jurassic Park talking about the length of the human DNA sequence.

Google search delivered this time:

So the question is simple. Using Mr. DNA's logic, looking at screens as he described how long would it take to find the compound. This of course would only work if there was a picture of bin Laden on top of the compound ala Col. Sanders.

So if DNA has about 3 billion base pairs (don't worry I had to look it up too and am probably wrong despite it) reverse engineering leads us to a number of about 142 things being displayed per second...or as Mr. DNA says "screens like these".

142 things * 60 per minute * 60 per hour * 8 hours * 365 days * 2years. That was fun to figure out.

Let's use what we just learned.

Assuming we could comprehend 142 images of quarter square mile areas once a second (we've already skipped out on reality) for eight hours a day and just looked at areas covered by land. It would take us...

228000000/142/60/60/8/365 = .15 years or about two months.

If only the compound looked like this.

Good thing we have SEALs

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