The National Geographic Adventurer of the Year 2010 will speak in Singapore about his cutting-edge archaeological pursuits.  


American research scientist Albert Lin lives for the pursuit of ancient mysteries like a real-life Indiana Jones.

Just like our archaeological hero from the cinematic realm, Dr Lin is known for his grit, bravery and an insatiable appetite for adventures and discoveries. But beyond that, the 35-year-old is one of the first who applies cutting-edge remote sensing and 3D immersive technologies in archaeological fieldwork,which makes it possible for his team to chart previously uncharted territories.


Albert Lin is one of the first who applies cutting-edge technology into archaeological fieldwork


The co-founder of crowdsourcing platform Tomnod also engages tens of thousands from the online community to assist with his fieldwork. In one of his best-known projects, Valley of the Khans, 28,000 netizens joined him in his search for the long-lost tomb of Genghis Khan as they helped scan a large volume of satellite images to tag potential discoveries.


The location of the 12th century conqueror’s tomb remains a mystery to this day as excavation of burial sites is prohibited in Mongolian traditions. But with Dr Lin’s high-tech and non-invasive surveying and visualization techniques, his team stands a good chance at unearthing the mysteries even if they can’t enter the no-go zone. Throw in the collective wisdom of the online community, and his search may well yield an answer – or at least a close estimate – at last.

With the advanced technology,  Albert Lin manages to unearth the mysteries Genghis Khan’s tomb


The Emerging Explorer of the National Geographic Society, who’s named Adventurer of the Year by the renowned magazine in 2010, will be in Singapore to share compelling findings from his explorations in Mongolia and elsewhere. The ticketed talk, titled “Chasing Ancient Mysteries”, will be delivered at the Esplanade’s Concert Hall on August 30, at 7:30pm.


The UrbanWire caught up with Dr Lin over email before his arrival in Singapore. Read on to find out more about the son of an astrophysicist and a former Hong Kong movie star as he opens up about his childhood aspirations, early career struggles and future work plans.


UrbanWire: What was your job aspiration as a child? What fueled your passion in exploration?


Albert Lin: As a child I wanted to be a park ranger. I have always been fundamentally at home in the mountains. At an early age my parents encouraged that by constantly supporting my path into the wilderness, if not through camping trips then through climbing lessons.  Then there was the addition of wonder that was brought into all aspects of the wilderness with the scientific world of my father’s astrophysics career. This was a natural recipe to become a lifelong explorer.


UrbanWire: Your biography mentioned that you chose your passion over life’s expectations. What were some of these expectations?


Albert Lin: The natural expectations after finishing as much school as you can possibly do is to get a job.  What I realized was that I would never want a regular job, but rather was hungry for a lifelong adventure.  I had a few encouraging friends, and took a couple of charismatic movies too literally and decided to sell everything I had, move into my car, and pursue the most audacious of dreams… the fundamental, 100% committed pursuit of my own curiosity.


UrbanWire: Now that you’ve succeeded in your pursuing your passion, could you name some of the most memorable / encouraging moments and comments that you’ve experience?


Albert Lin: My first project (the Valley of the Khans Project) will always be my favorite.  Hard to explain why in a few words.  I think we all strive for genuine experiences, and there was nothing more pure and genuine then the events that transpired throughout those years of exploration into the most sacred and forbidden mountains of Mongolia.


UrbanWire: How much progress can be achieved in the field of technology-enabled archaeology 20 years from now?


Albert Lin: I think we have the potential to “move the dial” exponentially. We are going to get more powerful sensors and larger data sets with which to understand the world, as well as how we network our collective brain power (and machines) to make sense of it all.


UrbanWire: What other upcoming projects do you have in mind?


Albert Lin: To create an artifact of humanity crowdsourced from the billions of people on planet earth.


Check out the Valley of the Khans video here: