Conjuring Genghis Khan: Explorer Albert Yu-Min Lin
Picture the young explorer, standing in his StarCAVE, searching for the tomb of Genghis Khan. Picture the world around him, the wilderness stretching away in all directions. Picture him stooping to inspect some rocks near his feet, rocks that together form a suspiciously tidy rectangle, a rectangle that stands out for its orderliness amid the surrounding chaos of green lichen and gray talus. Picture him making a note to himself, then turning toward a faraway peak topped by an ancient shrine and launching himself toward it at several hundred miles an hour.
It’s an illusion, of course. The StarCAVE, this five-walled Cave Automated Virtual Environment, is a trickster, a dream-bringer. It squats in an earthquake-proof room in a laboratory at the University of California, San Diego, and allows its users to immerse themselves in huge three-dimensional projections of computer-generated molecules or architectural CAD blueprints or, as now, high-resolution satellite imagery of northern Mongolia. The explorer squats to examine pixels, not rocks, and when he flies away, he’s standing still. None of this is real.
Except for the explorer.
He’s as real as it gets. Read the story and watch the video >>
Three weeks ago we announced the 2009 Adventurers of the Year, selected for their extraordinary achievements in exploration, conservation, action sports, and humanitarian work. Now, for the first time ever, you can vote for the Readers' Choice Adventurer of the Year. To help you get to know them, we are going to highlight a different adventurer daily. You can only vote once, so make sure to check out each adventurers' profile, video, and photo gallery, before firing up our voting machine.