Sergio Paneque

Sergio Paneque

Havana City Historian Eusebio Leal elected a member of AAA&S in US

Havana City Historian Eusebio Leal, one of Cuba's most recognized intellectuals, is now a member of the important American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAA&S).

Cuba's Ambassador to the United States, Jose Ramon Cabañas, attended on Leal's behalf on Saturday the initiation ceremony held by the Academy based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in which Leal became an International Honorary Member.

'It is an honor to represent Dr. Eusebio Leal Spengler at the initiation ceremony for new members,' the diplomat posted on his Twitter account, and described the award presented to the historian as a very timely recognition, as there remains just over one month before the 500th anniversary of the founding of Havana is celebrated.

It was revealed in April that the Cuban intellectual was a member of the list of 42 International Honorary Members from 23 countries chosen by the institution this year to highlight their outstanding achievements 'in the academic world, arts, business, the government and public affairs.'

In addition to the Cuban historian, other distinguished figures to have received this recognition are Sri Lankan parasitologist Nadira Karunaweera, Singaporean academic and former diplomat Kishore Mahbubani and British theologian Mona Siddiqui.

'We are pleased to recognize the excellence of our new members, celebrate their compelling achievements and invite them to join the Academy and contribute to its work,' David Oxtoby, president of the Academy founded in 1780 by John Adams, John Hancock and 60 other leaders and scholars, noted in a statement.

AAA&S, which concludes this Sunday a weekend dedicated to incorporating new members, is identified as an honorary society and an independent research center that brings together leaders from all disciplines, professions and perspectives to address significant challenges.

  • Published in Cuba

Hurricane Nicole sheds light on how storms impact deep ocean

In early October 2016, a tropical storm named Nicole formed in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. It roamed for six days, reaching Category 4 hurricane status with powerful 140 mile-per hour-winds, before hitting the tiny island of Bermuda as a Category 3.

Hurricanes like Nicole can cause significant damage to human structures on land, and often permanently alter terrestrial landscapes. But these powerful storms also affect the ocean.

Scientists have a good understanding of how hurricanes impact the surface layer of the ocean, the sunlit zone, where photosynthesis can occur. Hurricanes' strong winds churn colder water up from below, bringing nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus to the surface and stimulating short-lived algae blooms. However, until recently, we didn't know much about how hurricanes impact the deep ocean.

A new study of Hurricane Nicole by researchers at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL), Woods Hole, and the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS) has provided novel insight on those impacts. Nicole had a significant effect on the ocean's carbon cycle and deep sea ecosystems, the team reports.

Studying the deep ocean

The Oceanic Flux Program (OFP) has been continuously measuring sinking particles, known as marine snow, in the deep Sargasso Sea since 1978. It's the longest-running time series of its kind.

Before hitting Bermuda, Hurricane Nicole passed right through the OFP site, about 50 miles southeast of Bermuda. This gave the scientists a unique opportunity to study how hurricanes impact the deep ocean.


To study the deep ocean, the OFP strings scientific equipment, including sediment traps, at various depths on a mooring line that extends up from a 2,000-pound anchor situated on the seafloor (2.8 miles below the surface).

Key findings

In the new study, published in Geophysical Research Letters, MBL and BIOS scientists provide the first direct evidence that hurricanes affect the ocean's biological pump, a process in which living organisms transfer carbon from the surface to the deeper ocean layers and the seafloor.


High-velocity winds associated with Hurricane Nicole generated intense surface-ocean cooling and strong currents and underwater waves, some of which lasted more than two weeks. This significantly accelerated the biological pump, with the currents pushing nutrients into the surface layer, triggering an algae bloom.

The supercharged biological pump then rapidly funneled the organic material from the hurricane-induced algae bloom down into the deep ocean. This provided a big boost of food for marine life in the deep ocean where light doesn't reach.

The scientists found substantial increases in fresh organic materials in sediment traps at 4,900 feet and 10,500 feet below the surface. Algae growth measurements at the OFP site after Hurricane Nicole's passage were among the highest observed in October over the last 25 years.

"The surface and the deep ocean are really well connected in the aftermath of these powerful storms," explained Rut Pedrosa Pàmies, a biogeochemist and oceanographer at MBL's Ecosystems Center and first author of the study. "The material that is reaching those depths is crucial for the deep-ocean ecosystem."

Long-term implications

Since 1980, seven Category 3 or greater hurricanes have passed within 186 miles of Bermuda. These hurricanes affected a total of more than 32,800 square miles of surface water, an area greater than the state of Maine.


Current climate models indicate that hurricane intensity could increase as human-induced global warming continues. This could expand the area of ocean disturbed by hurricanes, with implications for the ocean's biogeochemical cycles and deep-ocean ecosystems.

Earth's last frontier

Due to the extreme conditions of the deep ocean, this remarkable biome has been notoriously difficult for scientists to study. Additionally, due to difficulties of shipboard data collection in extreme weather conditions, the direct impacts of hurricanes are not well understood. Sediment traps like those used by the OFP are crucial to understanding their influence on the deep ocean.

When the OFP began in 1978, scientists were only able to collect a single cup of sinking particles every two months. "Now, we have biweekly sample resolution and sediment traps at three depths," Pedrosa Pàmies said.

With the proliferation of new equipment and technologies to study the deep ocean, understanding this last frontier is finally within reach.

Vivian Kong becomes first Hong Kong fencer to win World Cup gold medal

Vivian Kong Man-wai became the first Hong Kong fencer to win a World Cup title after her success in the series in Havana, Cuba on Saturday.

Kong, who will turn 25 next month, overwhelmed France’s Auriane Mallo 15-8 in the epee final to clinch her maiden World Cup victory.

She cruised to a 15-6 win over Violetta Kolobova of Russia in the quarter-finals before putting up another good performance when she defeated Italy’s Nicol Foietta 15-7 in the semis.

Not only did her result meant that she has become the first Hong Kong fencer – man or woman – to win a World Cup title, it also boosted her qualification hopes for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. She is now ranked seventh in the world.

Kong was delighted with her World Cup maiden victory and said: “This is a good beginning of the year for the entire team who have been working very hard to get good results. I believe there will be more World Cup champions from Hong Kong in future.”

Kong’s form has been on the rise lately. She claimed a silver medal in the series in Tallinn, Estonia two months ago after losing to veteran Jung Hyo-jung of South Korea. She then returned home for the Hong Kong Open where she won the gold medal after defeating China national team member Xiang Yixuan.

The Havana World Cup is Kong’s first tournament of the year, the same event that saw her finish with a bronze medal in 2018 when she came back from a career threatening cruciate ligament injury.

And Havana proved to be her happy hunting ground as Kong this time went all the way through to the final before snatching gold.

Hong Kong sent four fencers to the tournament but Kong was the only one who made it to the knockout stage with a direct berth because of her world ranking.

She also hopes to help carry the Hong Kong women’s épée team to Tokyo, occupying ninth spot in the world. Hong Kong are competing for a direct Olympic entry qualification for Tokyo with Asian powers South Korea (third in the world) and China (fifth).

  • Published in Sports

Cuban Silva earns Silver Medal in Judo World Championships

Cuban Ivan Silva won the silver medal today in the individual event of the 2018 Judo World Championships Seniors held in Baku, Azerbaijan, after losing in the final of the 90 kilograms division to Spanish Nikoloz Sherazadishvili.

The Georgian –born athlete and number third in the universal ranking needed the golden score to beat Silva and thus became the first Spanish man to win the world title in judo.

The bronze medals went to Japanese Kenta Nagasawa and French Axel Clerget, the latter was Silva´s victim in semifinals.

This is, so far, Silva´s best performance in the international arena, while the also Cuban Asley Gonzalez, London 2012 Olympic silver medalist and 2013 world monarch, ranked seventh when losing to German Eduard Trippel (5th) in the repechage.

Cuba´s other best performance so far in this major tournament is the 5th seat achieved by Maylin Del Toro in the women´s 63 kg division.

Women Kaliema Antomarchi (78) and Idalis Ortiz (+78) and man Andy Granda (+100) will debut for Cuba today and tomorrow while the team mixed event will be on Thursday.

After these results, the Caribbean island ranks eighth in the standings, with a silver medal, a fifth and a seventh place.

Japan appears on top of the medal table with five gold, five silver and three bronze medals, followed by France (1-1-2), South Korea and Iran (1-0-1) and Ukraine and Spain (1-0-0 each).

  • Published in Sports
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