Publicity stunt damages Word Heritage Site, enrages Peruvians

Red lines depict damage done to Nazca Lines
Picture shows iconic Hummingbird in the protected archeological site of the Nazca lines. Red lines show area damaged by Greenpeace activists step’s and banner. Photo credit: Cap. Juan Carlos Ruiz

The Nazca lines are shallow scratches in the sand, made just deep enough to uncover a bright-colored sand that contrast beautifully with a dark top layer of sand and gravel. The most attractive of the lines depict animals that are only distinguishable from the air, but the most intriguing ones are large geometrical forms and mile-long lines pointing to specific directions, signaling to things important for the indigenous population thousands of years ago, but that we have not completely deciphered yet.

Last Monday, December 8th, a group of members of Greenpeace from seven different countries (none of them Peruvian) entered a protected archaeological site surrounding the figure of ” El Colibrí” (the hummingbird) to install a banner visible from the air. They did it without authorization, without proper inspection of local archaeologists, and without wearing the obligatory protective gear (think snowshoes but designed for the Nazca sand).

Nazca Line protective gear:

Proper protective gear to work near the Nazca lines (
Proper protective gear to work near the Nazca lines (

As a publicity stunt probably bodes very well for Greenpeace, it is timed with the COP 20 in Lima, Perú. And every single newspaper in Perú will be covering it. But they damaged a beloved symbol for the Peruvians, declared a World Heritage Site by the Unesco. The stunt is not gaining popular support for their cause in Perú, specially because a protest with a banner in a foreign language placed  in one of the most recognized national symbols rubs the wrong way to many Peruvians. The fact that they damaged the lines by ignoring the proper procedures to treat such a valuable archeological site makes their stunt very risky, as they may face legal prosecution.

This is not the first time the lines are damaged in modern times.  Clandestine mining, the perils of continuous tourist overflights, and recreational vehicles circulating around the figures have taken a toll in the protected area. Keeping the lines intact for the future generations is a constant battle. The María Reiche foundation is one of the Peruvian institutions trying to preserve the lines, and they have a very simple response to Greenpeace: “To protect our environment doesn’t mean to destroy our heritage”.

Hopefully this latest damage would bring enough attention not only to Greenpeace, but to the Nazca lines, a wonderful cultural heritage of humanity that needs more attention, and better protection.

Update 12/10/2014. For people not familiar with the state of the lines before the banner, here is a link to a picture taken on April 2014.

Useful links (in Spanish):

COP 20: Greenpeace hace protesta en las líneas de Nazca



Mincul: Greenpeace cometió una infracción en las líneas de Nasca

Los geoglifos de Nasca y Palpa (Ica-Perú). Tres Factores que contribuyen a su destrucción paulatina y constante.

VIDEO: Giant Greenpeace protest banner set up beside ancient Nazca Lines – no comment TV

My Ten Most Popular Twitter Links of 2013

A list of what you thought it was worth to click on the link

It is that time of the year when we look back to find the most important past events and gain some insight from them. This list has the links that my Twitter audiences found most interesting from March 2013 to December 2013.


Year 2013 on Twitter

About the list: I have shared over a thousand links on Twitter, a lot of them never get opened, but some of the links get big responses just because they are re-tweeted by users with audiences in the tens of thousands, or because they are well tuned to the interests of the people who follows me on Twitter. I used BitLy to find the 10 most popular links of 2013, here you have the list starting with number ten and ending with number 1, the most opened link of 2013!

#10 Vote for University of Washington’s Engage Science Seminar Series!

Sometimes when you ask people to help you advertise a cause, they help you a lot. Engage Science is a student-run seminar that helps young scientists improve their communication skills. Engage was participating in the NSF Graduate Education Challenge and needed votes to have their proposal funded. Thank for the re-tweets and for the people who clicked the link to find how to vote for Engage (Total of 19 clicks).

 #9 EPA profiles of Latinos (En Español)

Not a lot of people knows that EPA has a very active social media feed in Spanish, one of their profiles of EPA employees that I shared made it to the top ten more clicked links: Evelyn Rivera-Ocasio, a compliance inspector in charge of wastewater treatment plants in Puerto Rico (Total of 19 clicks).

#8 News from Perú investing in Science

Perú tripled its investment in science and innovation this year, and CONCYTEC started an aggressive campaign to promote science education and research in the country. This is a link to a English translation of a short post I wrote in Spanish for my SalsaDeCiencia blog (Total of 19 clicks)

#7 Developing a National roadmap for communication training in STEM graduate programs

Meetings happen behind closed doors in Washington DC everyday, but some of them encourage participants to share their content on twitter. #GradSciComm participants were so generous with their sharing that I was able to write a blog post about the meeting without attending it. (Total of 20 clicks)

Blogger and scientist DNLee (@DNLee5) started a Twitter list of Diverse Science Writers, she crowd-sourced the names online, and a lot of people was interested on the list. Thank you for including me on it! (Total of 21 clicks).

Perú tripled its investment in science and innovation this year.This is the link to the original blog post I wrote in Spanish (Total of 21 clicks).

#4 Science communication for Spanish-speaking audiences event

Thank you again for helping me promote this event last November in Seattle. We had a wonderful panel that shared their first-hand experience engaging Hispanics (Total of 44 clicks).

SpanishSciComm#16:: Engaging the Invisible Americans: Science communication for Spanish-speaking audiences

There is a huge American audience with a language of its own, have you heard of it? Hispanic Americans make up 17% of the population, and…

More about science communication in Spanish

If you are interested in Spanish-speaking audiences please check the following link for the event’s recap and video. It had a total of 119 clicks, but those didn’t come from my Twitter links, so it didn’t make it on this list.

#3 Two science communication training programs featured in newspapers last March

The Seattle Times featured Engage Science from University of Washington, and the Long Island Newsday featured the Center for Communicating Science of Stony Brook University (Total of 48 clicks).

Science communication training: raising the bar inside and outside academia

#2 Proyecto Ciencia para todos (En Español)

“Ciencia para todos” showcases ongoing efforts to reach the massive Spanish-speaking audiences in the USA (and Globally). As part of this effort, I started a public opt-in list that may help science communicators match local Spanish-speaking communicators and a growing public Twitter list with more than 150 resources worldwide in Spanish. (Total of 131 clicks).

Additionally a total of 74 people click on the Twitter link for the form to opt-in on the list (and only half actually subscribed) and 65 people have consulted the Twitter link for the list already

Ciencia para todos El proyecto Ciencia Para Todos es en principio muy simple: busca ayudar a que los esfuerzos de la comunicación de la ciencia -que existen…


#1 Invited post, Scientists are Humans too

In the age of PowerPoint it is hard to remember that you are the presentation, not your slides. This invited blog post talks about my struggles as a scientist to give engaging presentations, and the lessons I learned during the Engage Science Seminar at University of Washington. Effective science communication training in academia is possible, Engage even includes a talk in front of Town Hall Seattle, a great public venue, but programs like it are still diamonds because they are difficult to find in the current graduate education landscape (Total of 148 clicks).

Student Post: Scientists are Humans Too Fernando Gonzalez is Colombian/Peruvian scientist living in Seattle, Washington. He also blogs at Science Salsa, a blog about science tha…

Thank you!

I want to thank you for sharing those links and for reading them. The year 2013 doubled the number of people following my accounts on Twitter (@gonzalezivanf in English and @salsadeciencia in Spanish) and I like to believe it is because you found the content pleasant and useful. It has been a little over a year since I started learning how to become an effective science communicator, thank you for coming along with me and helping me grow, thank you for your patience and your support.

Have a wonderful 2014 and I hope to keep enjoying the privilege of your company on Twitter!

About BitLy:

BitLy is a service that offers URL redirection with real-time link tracking. I have used BitLy on Twitter since March of 2013, and to this date it has helped me track the usage of over 1,000 links. I made this list of My Ten Most Popular Twitter Links of 2013 based on their statistics, selecting the links with the largest number of clicks. To visit my BitLy account please follow this link:

 Ivan Fernando Gonzalez | Public Profile


Perú invierte en ciencia, investigación, y desarrollo

Peru’s national council of science, technology, and technological innovation (CONCYTEC) announced last week a plan to stimulate scientific and technological research to close the gap in investment in science, development, and innovation compared to other countries in the region while at the same time investing in the human capital that will conduct this development. – See English translation by Latin American Science: Perú invest in science.

Screenshot from 2013-12-01 00:27:49
Pagina web de CienciActiva, CONCYTEC Perú.

El consejo nacional de ciencia, tecnología, e innovación tecnológica del Perú (CONCYTEC) anunció esta semana un plan de estímulo a la investigación científica y tecnológica que busca cerrar la brecha en inversión en ciencia, desarrollo, e innovación comparada con otros países de la región, y al mismo tiempo invertir en el capital humano que llevará a cabo este desarrollo.

La buena noticia la había dado Gisella Orjeda Fernández -presidenta del CONCYTEC- al anunciar que la institución había más que triplicado su presupuesto anual de funcionamiento–de 15 a 46 millones de soles para el 2013– y había logrado conseguir que el presupuesto de la nación incluyera una cantidad importante para ciencia y tecnología

Que es CienciActiva?

Esta semana conocimos los detalles. El proyecto de cinco años se llama “CienciActiva” e invertirá 217 millones de soles (77,5 millones de dólares, o 0.20% del presupuesto fiscal anual de la nación) en cuatro iniciativas de estímulo a la ciencia y tecnología en el Perú. Esta cantidad de dinero es bastante importante para el país sudamericano, ya que se estima que la inversión total anual en investigación y desarrollo es de sólo $380 millones de dólares (0.15% de su producto bruto interno). Aunque la suma anunciada por el gobierno peruano no nivela la proporción de inversión de los países vecinos como Chile (0.50% del PBI) y Brasil (1.16% del PBI), si cubre varios puntos importantes que permitirán generar un clima más propicio para la investigación y desarrollo en el Perú.

El primer punto es el capital humano. El CONCYTEC calcula que en el Perú hay un déficit de 17,000 científicos e ingenieros. Para lograr más peruanos con maestrías y doctorados invertirán 86 millones de soles en becas para estudiantes peruanos en programas doctorales en ciencia e ingeniería de universidades reconocidas mundialmente. Cada estudiante recibirá hasta 500,000 soles (179,000 dólares) para sus estudios.

A nivel nacional, el CONCYTEC financiará seis programas de maestría y doce de doctorado, con 1,6 y 2.5 millones de soles respectivamente, para proveer matrícula, estipendio mensual y seguro médico para los alumnos. Las universidades tendrán financiamiento para la continuidad de sus programas de formación y para proyectos donde los alumnos puedan desarrollar sus tesis de investigación.

Y después de graduarse qué?

Educar el talento nacional no es suficiente si al graduarse no hay condiciones para hacer investigación en el país. Para ello se planea promover la colaboración científica en el Perú y financiar grupos de investigación que formen una comunidad que optimiza los recursos y pueda acoger a los nuevos graduados en un contexto de trabajo colaborativo. El financiamiento de círculos de investigación será de 18,7 millones de soles por cuatro años y financiará a doce equipos de investigadores.

La innovación también proviene de la investigación aplicada, y el CONCYTEC planea financiar esfuerzos de investigación en Salud, Medio Ambiente y Agricultura por medio de un esfuerzo de 29,4 millones de soles que financiará 40 proyectos (hasta 300,000 soles cada uno para prueba de concepto) y 10 proyectos en la segunda fase si cuentan con financiación privada (recibirán hasta 2,6 millones de soles).

Como una manera de promover el envolvimiento de la empresa privada en la investigación y desarrollo, el CONCYTEC planea invertir 83 millones de soles en cuatro consorcios tecnológicos. En estos consorcios la empresa privada define los problemas y aporta una cantidad de dinero similar a la del estado (veinte millones de soles), la academia peruana aporta los investigadores y un instituto extranjero brindará soporte a la investigación y aportará dinero, su experiencia en gestión del conocimiento y comercialización de los productos y servicios que se generen.

Todos esos esfuerzos tienen validez y de cierta manera reflejan políticas exitosas utilizadas en otros países para promover la investigación y desarrollo. Como siempre la gestión de estos recursos del estado determinará de manera final qué tan efectiva es la inversión de este dinero. Definitivamente la idea de los consorcios es riesgosa y requerirá de una visión administrativa y comercial que le permita al CONCYTEC encontrar socios adecuados y que puedan poner el hombro para llevar los consorcios adelante. Por último, la inversión más importante que va a hacer CONCYTEC es en el capital humano, y en eso dudo mucho que nos podamos equivocar. Bienvenida la “CienciActiva” al Perú!

Esta iniciativa va más allá del beneficio inmediato para profesionales peruanos buscando educarse, industría, o científicos en ejercicio. Espero que “CienciActiva” también ayude a derribar barreras mentales y económicas que impiden obtener doctorados a los peruanos. Acá les dejo un video para despedirme, una muestra del capital humano que espero sea ayudado a crecer con futuras iniciativas como éstas.

Fuente del Video: CONCYTEC Perú


ESTE POST HA SIDO CORREGIDO. Originalmente decía que el CONCYTEC había duplicado de 15 millones de soles a 30 millones de soles, cuando la suma correcta es 46 miilones de soles.

Please save the Jicamarca Radio Observatory

English: The Jicamarca Radio Observatory (JRO)...
The Jicamarca Radio Observatory (ROJ), near Lima , Peru, is the premier scientific facility in the world for studying the equatorial ionosphere. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you think the ionosphere is something we don’t need to care about? Think again. Television signals, military tactical communications, and GPS satellites require a good understanding of this area of our atmosphere to operate properly.

A key facility to study the ionosphere, the Jicamarca Radio Observatory (ROJ) is on risk of becoming unusable due to the private interest of a landfill owner. Please help us protect the observatory by signing this petition for the Peruvian congress (petition translated in this post).

During the early days of space exploration the US National Bureau of standards required a facility to explore the ionosphere from the earth’s surface. They needed a unique extended flat location near the magnetic equator, with moderate weather year-long, isolated from lateral radiation, and close enough to a mayor city to get the material and human resources needed for its construction and maintenance. They found the ideal place in the coastal mountains of the Peruvian desert. The Jicamarca valley is a short drive away from the city of Lima, it is ideally surrounded by mountains, and it is just kilometers from the magnetic equator. This great observatory is the biggest of its kind worldwide and it has provided about 90% of what it is known from the equatorial ionosphere. For fifty years it has been a beacon for scientific progress in Peru and the launching pad for science projects in the region, like the MeriHill Optical observatory. The research at ROJ produced over 700 published papers and 54 international PhD dissertations.

Unfortunately, its location near Lima is getting to be a problem. Urban sprawl became a clear menace to the proper functioning of the observatory and in the year 2002 the Peruvian congress approved a law to protect the area surrounding the observatory.  A private company that has the monopoly of trash management in Lima has fought the execution of the law for over nine years in the tribunals, to keep their landfill expansion inside the protected area. Last May the Jicamarca observatory was inexplicable removed from a list of investment projects with national priority that would have allowed the nation to expropriate the land in dispute, and now is on risk of losing the legal battle with the trash mogul. We need your help to tell the Peruvian congress that this observatory is an invaluable scientific resource that needs to be protected. Please sign the petition at the end of this post!

The main facility at Jicamarca Observatory: The 49.9MHz incoherent scatter radar.

The truly unique facility build in Jicamarca sends a high-power radio-wave pulse perpendicular to the magnetic field of the earth, and uses an extended antenna array of 64 separate modules of 12 X 12 crossed half-wave dipoles to measure the incoherent scatter coming from the ionosphere (300m x 300m area, see photo above for scale). I added a very dated video to give you an idea of the setup for the observatory, the facility is mostly the same except for  the modern acquisition systems and the new 1.5 MW transmitters that replace the old set of four described on the video.Start on minute 1:

If you want to help, please visit the link to the petition: Save the Jicamarca Science Observatory (in Spanish, see translation bellow)

Petition for the Congress of Peru

Let’s save the ROJ (Radio Observatory Jicamarca). Please execute approved law #27816.

Created by Ernesto Cabral, Lima, Peru. Translated by Ivan Gonzalez, Seattle, WA, USA.

The Jicamarca Radio Observatory is one of the biggest radar arrays in the world devoted to scientific research; the world’s pioneer facility for ionosphere studies.

The ROJ measured the moon’s surface in preparation to the Apollo XI landing, but its contributions continue today. More than fifty doctoral dissertations, 14 of them from Peruvian scientist, come from the discoveries made at ROJ. This facility is managed by the Peruvian Geophysical Institute (IGP), in collaboration with Cornell University and the NSF (USA).

Nevertheless, this Peruvian scientific asset is on risk of stopping operations due to the interference of a private landfill owner. He has delayed the execution of a law protecting the area near ROJ for over nine years (law number 27816, approved in 2002). The law protects and area of 1,900 Hectares (~1/5 of Manhattan area) surrounding the observatory in the district of Lurigancho, Chosica. This development-free area is necessary to avoid electromagnetic interference on the radiotelescope measurements, originally in the middle of the desert for that reason.

The landfill owner is using judiciary tricks to delay the process and making unfunded accusations against the director of the IGP to try to stop the execution of the law, putting on risk the more of 30 million dollars invested in this truly unique scientific facility. It is time to execute the law #27816.

Signed by several members of the Peruvian National Academy of Sciences and faculty from prestigious Universities and institutes.

Please join us and sign this petition to protect the Radio Observatory of Jicamarca. The little science made in Peru due to lack of economic resources depends on this facility to keep growing. Click here: Save the Jicamarca Science Observatory.

Watch this video from the MeriHill Optical Observatory that shows the mountains of Jicamarca in need of protection and the city of Lima getting closer to the facility.