Searching for an aircraft in the Indian Ocean is like searching for a sesame seed in Yosemite


If this conversion made sense, that sesame seed would weigh 20 lbs and have over a gallon of jet fuel with it.

Edit: and just to be clear, I understand this article is trying to make an area to area conversion, which is fine. But the use of 3-D objects (like sesame seeds) after converting makes no sense, in my example nor the article’s.

Finding the plane will be a whole lot less of a “miracle” if they can narrow down the part of the Indian ocean where they need to look. Even at the start of this they aren’t searching the entire thing. Of course, that isn’t to say that this to scale comparison isn’t awesome.

Also, maybe I’m not reading the right articles, but are they really sure it crashed and didn’t go land somewhere?

If it’s piracy, then they should be searching for anything that looks like a clandestine homebrew airfield, or old unused landing strip anywhere within range of the fuel supply. If it crashed in the ocean, we may never find it, and if it was pirated then we have a much bigger problem looming.

Patrick Smith, the guy behind @AskThePilot answered a number of real questions about transponders, ATC radar and why it’s hard to find them. In this updated piece.

Okay, so let’s say we manage to narrow the search area down to just 0.6%. Now we’re looking for a single grain of salt in the Mission District. Still sounds like a pretty big task.

The author apparently forgot to compensate for area and length scaling differences - for example it says the aircraft is 200 feet long, the indian ocean is 105 times as large (using an area comparison) as Texas, and then that it’s equivalent to finding a 2 foot airplane in Texas, when in fact that would be 20 feet.

I’m guessing this error carries through the rest of the steps, though I will confess I didn’t take the time to calculate it beyond the first two.

Well there are a whole bunch more grains of salt in San Francisco and red blood cells at Burning Man. There are probably a number of large metal objects in the huge search area - but no where near the as many as the analogies given. Rough estimate i get is 1x 10^18 other red blood cells at burning man.

Did he bitch about how nobody appreciates how hard his job is, and how it totally couldn’t be done by a computer, like he normally does?

It would probably be easier if the Malaysian government wasn’t seemingly incompetent. The mainstream media isn’t helping things by reporting every asshole’s random guess as “insider sources suggest”.


Did this post disappear off the BB home page? I’m not seeing it there anymore…

Fair enough.

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