At the University of Havana, Ernesto Altshuler spends pennies on his microgravity experiments—and gets million-dollar results.

At the University of Havana, Ernesto Altshuler spends pennies on his microgravity experiments—and gets million-dollar results.

LISETTE POOLE

Feature: Cuban science comes in from the cold

A handful of Cuban scientists are keeping science alive by cunning and daring in an isolated nation trapped in a time warp. Their chief impediment is the U.S. embargo in place for a half-century. It stymies the import of equipment and supplies made in the United States or with U.S. components, and it has turned Cuba into a cyber-backwater with excruciatingly slow Internet speeds. But at long last, Cuban science is poised to join the modern world. Revised travel rules ease visits to Cuba for U.S. scientists, and the U.S. Commerce Department now allows scientific equipment to be freely donated to Cuba, as long as it does not have potential military applications. And in a critical way, Cuba is about to join the scientific mainstream. In the coming months, the government is expected to establish an agency akin to the U.S. National Science Foundation that will distribute research funds through competitive, peer-reviewed grants.

To read the full story, see the 15 May issue of Science.

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