Getting a head start: Gurley showing a computer depiction of the search area for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370. -AFP
RESTON: Math wizards who pinpointed the final resting place of a doomed Air France jet deep beneath the Atlantic stand ready to do so again for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.
No one has yet asked Metron, a scientific consulting firm, to join the search for the missing Boeing 777, but that hasn’t stopped it from getting a head start, using the few nuggets of data currently in the public domain.
“We’re trying to get our hands on all the publicly available data so we can start doing an independent assessment,” Van Gurley, head of Metron’s advanced mathematics applications division, said on Wednesday.
As that assessment evolves, “we’ll provide it to anyone who’s interested”, added Gurley at Metron’s head office in Reston, Virginia, a suburb of Washington.
Founded in 1982, with a staff of 170 that includes experts in applied mathematicians, Metron conducts highly specialised mathematical analysis for US national security applications, such as sonar systems.
But it has also developed a much-used search and rescue protocol for the US Coast Guard based on a theorem developed by early 18th century English statistician, philosopher and Presbyterian minister Thomas Bayes.
“It’s a structured method that forces you to look at all the available information about a problem and then apply a confidence factor - how confident you are in any piece of information,” Gurley said.
Malaysian authorities said that “122 potential objects” had been spotted by satellite in recent days – with not a single piece of confirmed debris since the jet went missing on March 8.
“Everybody wants to know where it is, and the answer is: we don’t know,” said Gurley. — AFP