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In the second term of every academic year since 1986 Darwin College, part of the World renowned University of Cambridge, has organised a series of eight prestigious public lectures. Each series has been built around a single theme, approached in a multi-disciplinary way, and with each lecture prepared for a general audience by a leading authority on his or her subject. On 6th March 2020 our friend and colleague Dr Albert Yu-Min Lin delivered the last lecture in the current series (and possibly the last one for a while in this pandemic world) and presented an astonishingly wide-ranging and challenging discourse titled Archaeological Mysteries. 

Dr. Albert Lin is an Associate Research Scientist at UC San Diego and an award winning Explorer of the National Geographic Society. An engineer by training, he has spent the last decade developing and applying technologies towards the exploration of our shared humanity. This journey has taken him from the Arctic Circle to the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and from the deserts of the Middle East to the jungles of Central America. For this work Lin has received numerous recognitions including National Geographic’s Adventurer of the Year, the United States Geospatial Intelligence Academic Achievement Award, the Explorer’s Club’s Lowell Thomas Medal, and the Nevada Medal (as the youngest ever recipient). An avid science communicator Lin has created nearly two dozen National Geographic and BBC documentary films, and currently hosts a National Geographic Channel series titled Lost Cities with Albert Lin. Visualskies are proud to have been asked to apply our unparalleled experience and bespoke approach to 3D scanning, both on the ground and in the air, landscape interpretation and spatial data visualisation to realise the ambitions of National Geographic for the series. We worked closely with Albert to develop a narrative based upon a scientific approach to the collection of spatial data, revealing secrets from the past long forgotten by the passage of time. The result is a series of ambitious programmes that deliver powerful, emotional stories with our hi-tech imagery to bring the mysteries of the past vividly into focus in the present. 

Albert’s talk aimed to address the fundamental enigmas of our individual and collective imaginations. During the course of the 90 minute lecture he outlined how modern technologies have given birth to a new “golden age” of exploration, allowing us to go further, digitally stripping away the vegetation, and peer into the earth to reveal stories hidden beneath layers of time. From this ongoing work emerges a catalogue full of the various experiments in human understanding, expression, and imagination. Visualskies were delighted to be able to attend the lecture (unbeknownst to Albert until after the talk) and add their inside knowledge to the post-lecture discussions. It is a testament to the collaborative nature of Albert as a scientist, explorer and academic that he gave full credit to all those who have enabled him to undertake his unique blend of adventure and science and present the results of all our work in this most public forum.


Lost Cities With Albert Lin



What We Did

Attended the lecture

Visualskies Ltd Darwin Lecture Poster

See how we feature 

Watch the entire lecture Here

The team

Who we worked with

We collaborated with an incredible group of archaeologists, researchers, camera crews, sound technicians, directors, producers, fixers and local guides across the series.

Reviewing our data 'on camera' in the back of an SUV - We're becoming pretty expert at this


Albert and Duncan reviewing data on site


Albert with Archaeologist Dr Mohammad Najjar and Duncan and Joe from Visualskies


What we used

Our expertise was called upon to decide exactly the most apposite equipment for each episode. We then flew with this technology around the globe to enable our site teams to capture, process and visualise the new discoveries in some of the most remote places on the planet.

Duncan checks the status of the Leica P50 LiDAR scanner


Our aerial LiDAR rig in action


AR was utilised to visualise sites


What we found

Throughout the series the team made a number of spectacular new discoveries. Brought into sharp relief for the first time were human made terraces in the Colombian jungle, hidden islands constructed in the sea in Micronesia and a network of water storage cisterns in Jordan.

Islets in Micronesia


Cisterns in Jordan


Terraces in Colombia

Find out more here Here

Working with Visualskies has been one of the best experiences in my professional career. Over the course of a year filming the National Geographic series Lost Cities with Albert Lin we found ourselves in some of the most remote and gruelling environments in the world. Under any conditions the Visualskies team was ready and able, conducting extensive scanning in deserts, oceans, jungles and mountains with not only technical excellence but a smile and can-do-anything attitude that is so important when trying to pull off something as audacious as a year long expedition around the globe to find lost archaeological sites using drones, helicopters, and ground based laser mapping. Furthermore, their positivity and ability to communicate the meaning of their data was so infectious that their role in our work expanded to onscreen performance for our television series. I could not recommend them more highly, and look forward eagerly to working with them again myself.

Albert LinNational Geographic Explorer

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Duncan Lees