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MAGAZINE OF SCIENCE JOURNALISM UNIVERSIDAD DEL NORTE ISSUE 003 · Year 2018 www.uninorte.edu.co/intellecta

A BRIDGE THAT CONNECTS WITH THE PAST

Page 35 - 59

Construction materials made from residues - Page 9-

Tile identity - Page 64-


The way to

transformation

PRESENTATION

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evealing a university from its research and the knowledge produced is fascinating. This immersion allows the identification of its agenda priorities, the pertinence of its knowledge areas, the degree of orientation towards society and the existing technical resources and infrastructure. Through research, it is possible to approach faculty and researchers, their abilities, their nets and national and international links to reach their goals. It is also an approximation to the ideas that trying to change the world for our own world. In the present edition of Intellecta, the successful experience in the technological transformation of Uninorte is evidenced along with a new result of the studies that have been developed by the Immunology and Molecular Biology research group, classified as A1 by Colciencias. Thanks to its discoveries and its relations with the pharmaceutical industry, the group will

release to the market a new product to eliminate mites located in human eyes. The interdisciplinary research which transcends Colombian borders and is connected to international nets and centers, is a daily practice in this institution. This time we also include a special issue with four researches developed in Panama with the participation of archeologists, geologists and paleontologists whose findings contextualize the origins of the first Spanish settlements in a city which was strategic for the empire or which help to understand how were animal migrations when the isthmus was formed and allowed the exchange between the Northern and the Southern part of the Americas. This has been my experience in the first six months as President of Universidad del Norte; a journey towards the knowledge produced in its different academic areas and research groups. Here, Basic Sciences are also present. Far from being abstract sciences as they are usually considered, in our university, they are at the service of the navigability of our Magdalena River, beaches and coasts recovery and mercury extraction of our water sources. The projects we present in Intellecta and many others, without any doubts make Universidad del Norte not only a pertinent, inclusive and environmentally responsible thinking center, but also they confirm the commitment of its researchers and faculty to make visible projects with transforming impact leading to benefits for the region and the country. Having research groups, getting patents, having good researchers and publishing scientific reviews is not enough. The real transforming power of research is its contribution to improve society´s wellbeing, the generation of new knowledge for the productive development of industry, conceiving new ways to protect and conserve the environment, among others. I invite you, as I did myself, to know at first hand, the capability of our university. The task to positively transform our reality and that of the people corresponds to all of us. So, my call is to work as a team together, from the role each of us performs, bearing in mind this objective. Adolfo Meisel Roca President ameisel@uninorte.edu.co

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Pág. LAS SECUELAS INVISIBLES DE LA VIOLENCIA CONTRA LA MUJER

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EL ÁCARO QUE VIVE EN NUESTRAS PESTAÑAS

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CIENCIA PARA LA VIDA

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EL OLEAJE OCULTO DE LOS PROCESOS COSTEROS

UN VISTAZO AL FASCINANTE MUNDO DE LAS TIENDAS DE BARRIO

INFRAESTRUCTURA VERDE PARA PROTEGER LAS PLAYAS

LA PRIMERA VEZ QUE EL MUNDO FUE GLOBAL

ESPECIAL PANAMÁ

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LA HUELLA DE LOS PRIMEROS ISLEÑOS DE CENTRO AMÉRICA

OPINIONES

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MATERIALES DE CONSTRUCCIÓN HECHOS CON RESIDUOS

¿QUIÉNES PROTEGEN LOS BOSQUES SECOS DEL CARIBE?

CONTENT

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Pág. DETECTIVE DEL PASADO PROFUNDO

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EL IMPACTO DEL CONOCIMIENTO CIENTÍFICO

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Pág. EL TESORO VEGETAL DEL CAMPUS

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LA JUBILACIÓN ¿ANHELADA?

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PARTÍCULA DIMINUTA PARA UN TRABAJO GRANDE

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IDENTIDAD DE BALDOSA

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+ CIUDADANÍA RURAL - GUERRA

LA VERDADERA CARGA DEL SAN JOSÉ

SECRETOS QUE ARRASTRA EL MAGDALENA

NEGRITAS PULOY: TRANSFORMACIÓN POPULAR DEL COLOR Y LA MÁSCARA

EL EXPERIMENTO NATURAL MÁS GRANDE DE LA HISTORIA


MEDIO AMBIENTE

Who protects the

caribbean dry forest? A look at the most endangered ecosystem of the country and the work developed by national and international researchers to better understand and preserve the last hectares of vegetation and biodiversity in the region. By MarĂ­a Margarita Mendoza Journalist medinamm@uninorte.edu.co

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ue to its name, you would think that we are talking about a desert, an arid ecosystem with little water resources, but the truth is that in the Colombian tropical dry forest more than 2600 species of plants, share this environment including from lianas to cactus, herbs and fruit varieties that have learned to adapt to the long drought periods. During these periods, many of them shed their leaves and when the first rains of the year appear, treetops become green again and turn into food and shelter for hundreds of birds and mammals and among them, the cotton-top tamarin, a small primate who only inhabits this ecosystem. Less than 10 years ago, the tropical dry forest was the most endangered and most unknown ecosystem in the country. National scientists were aware that it was deteriorated, but the lack of basic research about its flora and fauna didn´t allow them to determine its total extension, the regions involved or the extent of the damage caused by human activity. Tree cutting, forest fires, intensive agriculture, animal hunting and urban expansion have been some of the reasons why in Colombia there are only 720000 hectares of the original 9 million which covered the national territory. That is, we only have 8% of the original forests. The damage to their vegetation has fragmented it into green patches distributed in six regions of the country. In the Caribbean we find it the most with 73% of this ecosystem. Experts, such as Marcela Celis, professor and researcher of Chemistry and Biology at Universidad del Norte, consider that another reason for the degradation of this ecosystem is ignorance. “Many people ignore the local ecosystems of their region. They don’t know what dry forests are or what their importance is”. She added that the fragments of the tropical dry forest (BST) are nearer than what they seem and in cities such as Barranquilla, they can be found in the suburbs and next to the roads; but they are ignored because they are not assumed as part of a natural system, but as weeds, bushes or dry plants and therefore, people ignore many of the uses offered daily for the survival of people and other organisms. “Their importance is related to their capacity to regulate the weather and water, for being the habitat of different species and also for providing food and medicinal plants”, stated Celis in order to highlight some of the services rendered by this ecosystem which is characterized by long periods of drought and for having a flora and fauna which have adapted to it.

Knowing to be able to preserve

Facing the challenge of continuing losing forests hectares, Celis and other national scientists have devoted to their study and socialization. The new data compiled in less than 10 years and the interest to share them, has allowed the BST to stop being the most unknown ecosystem in the country, although it is still the most endangered followed by the wastelands in the interior of the country. One of the projects which provided the most knowledge has been the Caribbean Node of the Net of Permanent Areas of Dry Forests where Professor Celis participates representing Uninorte, along with biologists Beatriz Salgado and María Cristina Martínez; other 11 regional institutions belong to this Node, such as the Cotton-top Tamarin Foundation, the Colombian Dry Forests Foundation, Universidad del Magdalena and Universidad del Atlántico.

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MEDIO AMBIENTE

Celis explained that this is an initiative created by the Alexander von Humboldt Institute which expects that scientists of these institutions assume the monitoring and inventory of the plants present in more than 40 permanent areas with an extension of up to one hectare. These areas function as small scale tropical dry forests of the region and they have allowed experts to develop a careful study of the state of conservation of the flora and the reactions of the ecosystem due to human activities. This is a significant task, having into account that the more than from 700 000 hectares of forests left in the country, only about 22 000 are under some kind of state protection. So, besides the Caribbean Node, there are other nodes in the different regions of the country that still contain areas of BSTs. In the Caribbean, the permanent areas have been monitored for less than two years, but thanks to the research developed there, the first research article has been produced which reveals new information about the state of lichens in the Atlántico tropical dry forest, particularly in the reserves located in Usiacurí and Piojó. 61 species were found there, of which four were new discoveries at world level; another 13 species have been reported for the first time in the country and 37 had never been reported in the department. Lichens grow on trees´ cortex as a result of an association (symbiosis) between a moss and an alga. According to Celis, their importance is due to the fact that they are biological indicators of air quality and the healthy conditions of forests. “The variety of lichen species in a forest tells us about its state of conservation; having found these new species in the Caribbean indicates a lack of studies about them because traditionally, they have been studied in the high Andean ecosystems”, stated Celis. The purpose now is to continue developing research in these protected areas and use these results to help understand the real state of the tropical dry forest of the region.

An ecosystem of international interest

The need to preserve the remnants of the dry tropical forest has not only been understood by national scientists; since 2014, a group of researchers from the Botanical Garden and the Berlin Free University in Germany, have been hiking through hectares of this ecosystem in the Caribbean region in order to study the main ecological, geographical and social factors which menace this ecosystem in order to develop solutions that will protect its resources and biodiversity. In this task, the Germans participate in a Project called COLBIODIV, where along with researchers from Universidad del Norte and the Botanical Garden in Bogotá, they explore the wide vegetal variety of the tropical dry forest ecosystem, while another line of research is focused on the wastelands. For the Caribbean phase, national and international experts have concentrated in four research lines: identification of the organisms present in the ecosystem, better understanding of the flora composition existing in the BST, understanding the use given to soils and finally, the relationships between the population and the natural environment. To develop this task, they selected the municipality of El Morro, in Tubará and the natural reserve El Palomar, both in the Atlántico department as representative areas of the forest in the region. The samples of leaves, stems, flowers and fruits collected during fieldtrips in both areas in 2017 have been of key importance for the work of these researchers. For example, this genetic material allows Astrid Mestier, biologist and PhD student of Berlin Fee University, to detail the differences and kinship between the vegetation of the BST. In this moment she is focused on the Capparacea family, where many species in the BST belong, such as calabacillo, naranjito, ají and níspero de monte.

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Researchers from Uninorte and the Free University of Berlin during a field trip in an area of tropical dry forest in Piojó, Atlántico.


WHO PROTECTS THE CARIBBEAN DRY FORESTS?

At the same time, she is also working with other plants of the Salicacae family which are very representative of the Caribbean and therefore, “can be useful to trace the history of the plants of the region”, she said. On the other hand, biologist Óscar Rojas, a PhD student and professor at Universidad del Norte has been interested in studying the strategies used by the deteriorated BST in order to recover, particularly the way in which seeds contribute to this process. “We analyze them from the point of view of functional ecology, we observe their dispersion strategies, how they can remain in the soil and we will reach for their germination requirements; all of this will be developed in the forest with different recovery years which will allow us to know to which extent, the seed characteristics contribute to the reestablishment of plants during the ecosystem regeneration”, Rojas explained.

Soil and human activity

The soil and the changes suffered through time, also speak of the state of ecosystems so, another research of COLBIODIV Project focuses on this aspect and it is coordinated by the German geographer and PhD student Henry Schubert and the Colombian geographer Andrés Caballero who is a professor in the Architecture and Urbanism Department at Uninorte. Both of them study how for thirty years the soil use has been changing in the area of El Morro, which is immersed in the BST ecosystem. Among the crucial factors being analyzed is the risk of erosion in this area and understanding how this acts in the landscape sustainability. In doing this, they have used satellite images, maps and the study of soil samples. Schubert has even taken this material to Berlin to study the nitrate content and other organic material in the soil of the BST in the Atlántico. “This is important to understand the biodiversity of the dry forest because there are areas with more nutrients and different soil components; some are drier and others are more humid and having understood this, we can propose which need a different treatment”, stated the geographer. “We are using the soil as a way to understand what is happening with the landscape”, said Andrés Caballero. And added “Of the 8% of the remaining BST in the country, very few hectares are well conserved so, analyzing how the soil of these remnants have changed due to activities such as agriculture or urban expansion, will be a contribution to make visible the fragmentation that has occurred in the ecosystem. It is expected that this collaborative alliance between the Colombian and German institutions participating in COLBIODIV will end in 2022 and until then, the scientists of both countries will continue working into the knowledge of this ecosystem and generating information and data which will allow decision makers and surrounding population the implementation of more appropriate measures for the conservation of the tropical dry forest that still survives in the Caribbean.

Adaptados a la sequía Los bosques secos tropicales en Colombia se caracterizan por crecer en tierras cálidas, donde el promedio de temperatura supera los 25 grados centígrados, y en ciertas épocas del año alcanza los 38. Otro rasgo distintivo son sus escasas precipitaciones anuales, en donde la temporada seca puede extenderse hasta por siete meses. Por esto los animales, árboles y arbustos que los habitan desarrollaron mecanismos de adaptación para sobrevivir a falta de líquido, al calor y a las demás condiciones retadoras del ambiente.

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Biodiversity and distribution of the tropical dry forest in Colombia Most of the still-preserved hectares in this ecosystem ate concentrated in the Caribbean region.

2600

plant species grow in the national dry forests and 83 of them are endemic which means that they only exist in this ecosystem.

230

bird species inhabit this ecosystem and 33 of them are endemic.

60

mammal species have been found in the Colombian dry forest. Among them, 3 are endemic.

Tropical Dry Forest Source: Alexander von Humboldt Institute of Biological Resources Research

How is the vegetation of the tropical dry forest? These are some of the adaptations that make plants in this ecosystem so particular:

To avoid water loss due to transpiration, the tallest species shed their leaves during the drought season.

Other species develop thorns on trunks and branches to keep predators away.

Dry forest species have also developed deep roots which allow them to reach water during the driest months.

Others, such as the roble morado (Tabebuia rosea) have flying seeds which rotate with the wind to be able to reach more distant areas.

Main species

Ceiba blanca Hura crepitans Maraùón Astronium graveolens

Totumo Crescentia cujete

Roble morado Tabebuia rosea

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Carreto Aspidosperma polyneuron

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Source: Alexander von Humboldt Institute of Biological Resources Research


INFRAESTRUCTURA

CONSTRUCTION MATERIALS

made from residues Applying circular economy to the industry and human consumption residues has open alternatives to make more sustainable one of the key sectors of modern societies and one of the most contaminant: construction. By Edwin Caicedo Ucros Journalist ucrose@uninorte.edu.co

“London bridge is falling down, falling down… build it up with iron bars… my fair lady… “ Iron bars? No. Egg shells. Carlos Pacheco, professor and researcher of Institute for Sustainable Development (IDS) of Universidad del Norte took this children song seriously and found the way to incorporate egg shells which normally end up in the trash, into the cement used in construction. But not only egg shells, residues of industrial PVC and the toxic blasting are also used. Carlos and his students were determined to replace indispensable elements used in the manufacturing of construction materials. Egg shells for the cement, PVC for the mortar, blasting for the mortar and concrete. A classic example of circular economy. All this, because construction pollutes. “The infrastructure sector is one of the greatest responsible of Carbon Dioxide emissions in the world”, says Pacheco. “This is why we want to contribute to fix this problem”. Cement industry alone produces more than 5% of this gas worldwide according

to the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. There are only two processes which surpass these numbers: fossil fuels obtaining and earth exploitation. We are running out of time, the planet needs solutions to mitigate the damage to the environment, but it is improbable that constructions in cities will stop since this sector is an economy driving force; in fact, according to an International Monetary Fund report, in 2018 it will be of vital importance for the growth of Colombian GDP. The question then is: How to build more and contaminate less. Carlos Pacheco presented this problem in one of his engineering classes and with the help of professor Andrés Guzmán and a group of students, this idea starts to materialize in real options. And it is easier than it looks: replacing the cement mix with its agro-industrial wastes. Countries such as Germany have developed research in that area, but in Colombia, only five universities are currently working on this. Uninorte is the only one in the Caribbean. According to Pacheco not all the cement is used for the same purposes. Basic cement, the commonly known gray powder, is obtained from three elements: Calcium oxide, silicon and aluminum. From this basic cement two fundamental materials for construction are produced; concrete and mortar. Concrete, which is usually used as the solid base for any construction is a mixture made of cement, water, fine aggregate (sand) and thick aggregate (pebbles and gravel). Mortar, which is exactly the same combination without the thick aggregate is used as a mixture to put bricks and tiles together or for making paving stones. With the help of the IDS (Institute for Sustainable Development), students and even alumni, Pacheco´s initial project was to replace cement for egg shells.

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Common egg shells.

Egg shell

Egg shells after being burned to 550 degrees centigrade.

This was the first research where the Project of material replacement came out. In 2015, in a Civil Engineering class of Pacheco, the students Estiven Frías, Francisco Gómez and Viandy Bravo proposed a project based on circular economy to reuse resources that are currently disposed of. The young students were trying to replace basic elements which are part of the cement mixture and they succeeded. After an incineration process to eliminate organic residues from the egg shells, they were able to replace 5% of the calcium used to make cement without affecting the properties of the mixture. And although it may seem a little, in a macro-industrial process, the impact is great. Only last year, 13.827 million eggs were consumed, a number which ranks Colombia as the third egg consumer in Latin America, only surpassed by Mexico and Brazil, according to FENAVI (National Federation of Poultry Farmers). All these shells end up in sanitary domestic wastes although their useful life is not ended yet. Additionally, extracting calcium from the soil implies its exploitation in big limestone quarries, a process even more contaminating than construction itself, which not only causes great damage to the environment, but also it starts with the extraction of a non-renewable resource that with time, has been destroyed by indiscriminate extraction. “We destroy a whole mountain to construct a building and that generates a big environmental impact such as deforestation, change of superficial waters, river pollution, and exposition of the population to particle material”, explains Pacheco.

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Egg shells after being burned to 800 degrees centigrade and ready to be added to the cement mixture.

This research, still under way, was granted a meritorious recognition in the 20th National and 14th International Encounter of Research Clusters developed in Barranquilla from October 12th to 15th, 2017 and it was the winner of the best presentation in the Engineering International Conference Ingenio 2018. The work that follows is as complex as the one before: to be able to replace for other agro industrial residues the other elements used to make cement. Although being almost ready for graduation, the researchers are concentrated in this next part of the Project with the support of the IDS. In this moment, the tests aim at getting 15% of replacement in the cement mixture. Gómez adds that after finding calcium in egg shells thy will focus on a residue that can provide silicon, which gives resistance to concrete. Among others, they want to test pineapple peel, banana peel and rice shells as their first pilot tests.


CONSTRUCTION MATERIALS MADE FROM RESIDUES

Industrial PVC. A material that does not degrade. The production of industrial PVC residues ended up making this Project real. The problem, presented to Pacheco by Tecnipozos company, was that when cutting the high density pipe for drinkable water that was going to be installed in Barranquilla, fiber-like residues would be generated and due to their composition, they would not degrade. The professor brought the problem to the classroom and with students, that by now have developed their Master degrees with emphasis on environmental engineering, developed the solution. After several tests, they were able to replace 30% of the mixture to make mortar, changing the fine aggregate (sand) for this residue. Nevertheless, in this case the PVC residues didn´t work to be incorporated to the concrete because resistance decreased too much, affecting the quality of the mixture. Pacheco explains that in spite of that, the impact is great because a residue that seemed to be useless, can now be used in the production of floor tiles for blind people. “With this Project we did several positive things: we gave some more useful life to an element which otherwise would have ended up in a landfill site. We solved the problem for a company by reducing their environmental impact. Now, we need to continue with the massive use of the process and check the question of abrasion and erosion. This is why we are looking for students who want to join the final phase of the research”, added the professor.

Students Francisco Gómez and Estiven Frías test a cement sample made of egg shells residues.

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What elements are replaced by using residues? ent componen m ts Ce

6-8%

Uses Columns and structural elements for buildings, blocks for lane separation in roads, anchoring electric towers, counterweight cubes.

Concrete

iron oxide

Mortar

6-12%

Aluminum

45-60%

Uses Sidewalks construction, division walls, floor tiles and brick pasting

calcium oxide

15-30% Silicon

It is the result of mixing Cement + Water + fine aggregate + thick aggregate (gravel, pebbles)

It is the result of mixing Cement + Water + fine aggregate (sand)

Cement is a powder that is never used alone. It is always mixed with other elements

Abrasive granules results Replacing up to 30% of the mixture with blasting, but substantially increasing its weight. The result can be used in elements that require dense concrete such as anchoring for suspension bridges.

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Egg Shell results Replacing 5% of the mixture with egg shells substituting the calcium oxide. Right now we are looking for other residues that can substitute silicon and provide 10% of replacement.

P.V.C. results Replacing 30% of the mixture with industrial PVC residues instead of fine aggregate. Blasting can replace up to 30% of the mixture.


CONSTRUCTION MATERIALS MADE FROM RESIDUES

Blasting, a dangerous residue

contaminate it. After different tests in the laboratory where we tested for leaching – the process by which we find out if a liquid can cross a solid and dilute its components- we found out that there wasn´t any problem.

Blasting is a complex residue for its high polluting content which can even be harmful for your health. The material, which is an abrasive in the form of small metal chips used to clean smelting pieces and to cut granite blocks. After its use, it contains rests What comes next? of paint, grease and oil which make it highly polluFinding important solutions to develop a sustainating. Nevertheless, after a washing process, researchers ble construction model is a topic that is nowadays crufound out that it not only could be used, but also that cial for the government, the academia, pro-environit had a high content of replacement not only for mormental organizations and industry likewise. In 2017, tar, but also for concrete. for example, in Paris took place the International SymThe idea of reusing it came from the Master thesis posium ”The future of cement”, organized by UNESCO. in Environmental Engineering of Hernando Cabrera, a Experts and researchers of different countries met to former student of the industrial PVC project that after discuss alternatives with having completed his unrespect to the efficient dergraduate studies, deciand sustainable production ded to focus on this area. RESEARCHERS WERE of concrete. Pacheco explains that ABLE TO SUCCESSFULLY Colombia must start to what is generally done with worry. Infrastructure deveREPLACE 5% OF THE blasting is to encapsulate it lopment is currently one of in tanks with cement and CALCIUM USED TO MAKE the pillars of economy, but dispose them in security CEMENT WITHOUT the contamination producells or salt mines, where AFFECTING THE ced by these new tasks they will remain forever.“ can lead the country to MIXTURE PROPERTIES We started the metal rethe inability to meet complacement process and we promises such as, 20% refound out that it had up duction of its greenhouse 30% of replacement with very good resistance”. gases emissions before 2030 which was agreed on by With this result, two big questions emerged. The 2030 in Paris Agreement about Climate Change. first one was the weight of this metallic element adPacheco and Guzmán keep working with different ded to the mixture. They solved it restraining its use for projects, such as mortar made from yucca. There is small elements only where a dense concrete is neestill a lot to research with the egg shells and the inded like anchoring in suspension bridges. Using it in dustrial PVC. Concerning blasting, it is only necessary the building structure would be impossible due to the the intention to industrialize the process to make conheavy columns crete or mortar replacing the mixture with this resiThe second one was to know if at the moment to due. Meanwhile, environmental consciousness keeps place the mixture in the soil, the cement could degrowing worldwide. grade and the elements present in the blasting would

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INFRASTRUCTURE

GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE

to protect beaches The Sustainable Development Institute of Universidad del Norte plans to develop a Project to restore beaches through the construction of four sediment traps between the sector of Bocas de Ceniza and Punta Roca with the participation of students and fishing groups of the area. By José Luis Rodríguez Journalist rodriguezjl@uninorte.edu.co

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Different from human actions, ecosystems – although complex internally- work in a simple and practical way. While human actions search for contingency, environmental reality always searches for adaptation. An example is Ciénaga de Mallorquin whose origin is based on the modification of the coastline due to the construction of the Bocas de Ceniza breakwater with some effects that are nowadays perceived in the beaches of Puerto Colombia. In the process of adaptation to the changes imposed by humans, a coastal wetland which today, serves as a protection mechanisms against flows. The Magdalena river mouth demonstrated its resilience, and through an apparently incipient reconstruction, once in a while a coastal arrow (a sandbank made of sediments that extends to the open sea and parallel to the coastal line) appears two kilometers from the Ciénaga coastline. In terms of adaptation the appearance of this sandbank has a big importance for this swamp since it protects the coastal line of this water body as it reduces the wave energy and avoids erosion processes. But, is it possible that this coastal barrier regenerates and develops its protection role for many years or that due to human actions it could disappear? After a research work of four years trying to understand how this coastal area of the Atlántico Department works, results make evident a negative reality for the past 30 years with the loss of two kilometers of coastal line and a not so positive future facing climate change. The Institute for Sustainable Development (IDS) established a restoration strategy for the coast associated with Bocas de Ceniza. This effort is called implementation of green structure in Ciénaga de Mallorquín for the restoration of interconnectivity of coastal processes. The project aims at implementing strategies to help mitigate the effects of human activities on the beaches of the area between Bocas d Ceniza and the coast of Punta Roca-Sabanilla. Through the design of awareness and inclusion strategies for the implementation and maintenance of structures, four sediment tramps in the area of the dunes and the washing area (the area where the flow of water oscillates in the beach with ascent and descent of sea levels) are planned, taking advantage of the wood brought by the river and pulled by the coastal current to the beach.

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INFRASTRUCTURE

“We have been changing the intervention perspective. We are working with communities such as fishing groups and beach restaurant owners of Sabanilla. We want to propose a socio-productive value chain that favors the economic development of the restored area, since the area of influence is within La Playa district whose families depend mainly of fishing activities”, explains Professor Rivillas.

A resilience impulse Professor Germán Rivillas Ospina, from the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department and IDS director, has a plan: to help nature do what she knows better: adapt and recover from the radical changes we have imposed on her. He is offering different initiatives, changing the protection paradigm and cultural practices in the topic of intervention in the coast, which has been historically evidenced by the construction of groynes, concrete barricades or levies and replace them by sand accumulation, marine weed ecosystems, mangroves and damping areas. It is to give a complement to grey and rigid infrastructure and replace it by coastal vegetation in order to mitigate the excessive energy of waves. It is to give a hand to the natural environment so it can form rear beaches and dunes again and can functionally recover with time.

What is green infrastructure?

Green infrastructure is a solution which responds to the economic, social and development demands and assures the integrity of the ecosystem functioning. In Rivillas´ words, this is a very wide concept which can be understood as the development of natural, semi-natural or artificial infrastructure to contribute to the conservation of diversity and the improvement of the ecosystemic services. This concept starts with the establishment of connections between human actions and the ecosystem balance which allows the conformation of a reference frame for the conservation, restoration and development that benefits nature and the population. Green infrastructure would mitigate the impact of natural processes producing effective results in the short and the long term given scientific rigor, inclusion and social appropriation. “if with the application of this type of infrastructure positive effects are observed on the beach, the next activity will be in making a

Ubicación de de las trampas de sedimento Ubicación las trampas de sedimento

Playa

Las trampas de sedimentos estarán ubicadas en estos 4 puntos entre Bocas de Ceniza y Punta Roca, en Sabanilla. Serán construidas por los estudiantes y grupos pesqueros de la zona con maderos arrastrados por las corrientes costeras, previamente recolectados. Bocas de Ceniza

Mar Caribe Vista lateral

Mar Caribe

P4 Punta Roca

P3

P2

P1

Rí Ciénaga de Mallorquín

oM

ag

da

len

a

Estructura de madera Vista frontal

BARRANQUILLA


GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE TO PROTECT BEACHES

restoration of the coastal area with the reinforcement of the mangrove forest which will allow the stabilization and retention of sediments in the dune area”, added the IDS director.

Restoration project

The Project for restoring the beaches has been developed in four stages which include the compilation of primary and secondary information, preliminary studies and designs, working with the communities and presentation of the project to government entities, specifically the Atlántico Regional Autonomous Corporation (CRA) and the Maritime General Direction (DIMAR) in order to assure the sustainability of the project, its implementation, surveillance, maintenance and evaluation. For the pilot area Coastal Cell Ciénaga de Mallorquin, the best option in terms of restoration is “to apply ductile type sediment traps, that is to say, capable of changing and transforming their shape against the impact of waves”, explains Rivillas, which will allow the adaptation of the structure in accordance to the system, especially during storm season. “The traps do not interrupt coastal processes; they only have the function to regulate sediment through the establishment of turbulent flow which reduces the velocity of coastal current and allow the recovery of the beach current and of the beach width”, adds Rivilla. The four sediment traps planned, will be monitored to evaluate the impact and the adaptation capability of the green structures in the coastal system, validate if they allow the balance recovery of the beach evidenced by its increase and characterize the perception and participation of the communities during the development of the initiative. An analysis based on coastal cells is developed to allow the observation of the integrity of the beach ecosystem, identifying the sediment sources, characterizing the geomorphological configuration of the beach and the different sedimentary environments and making inferences of

the possible spots where the sediments are getting lost”, emphasized the researcher who announced that the CRA already authorized the environmental feasibility and he is waiting for DIMAR´s approval to start the project.

Beach watchers

Among the strategies that have been key in the research process of the project is the program Beach Watchers created by the IDS with undergraduate and graduate students. Every semester, its members collect and segregate the solid residues found in the Punta Roca beach. This task has the collaboration of universities, student groups, ONGs, enterprises and citizens. During the last cleaning activity on September 15th, about 1,08 Tons of residues were collected from the beach. Students, fishermen and locals from the areas where the Project will be implemented, will work together in the construction of the sediment traps, the maintenance and management of the ecosystem, the evaluation of the implementation and the selection of plants that will be able to reproduce independently for the mangrove plantation.

Key aspects before installing a green infrastructure

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SALUD

Mites living in our

EYELASHES Experts at Universidad del Norte, Clínica Oftalmológica del Caribe and Procaps develop a Project that is expected to improve the life quality of blepharitis patients, a disease produced by two species of mites of the Demodex genus.

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Universidad del Nor te

By Jesús Anturi - Luis Navas Journalists anturij@uninorte.edu.co - cohenl@uninorte.edu.co

A

lthough they live very near from the human eye, we can´t see them. They are tiny, microscopic and are about 0.4 mm long. They have four pairs of short legs, are colorless and their body is long like that of an earthworm, although they have no relation with worms. They move slowly, but constant in the interior of hair follicles of the eyelashes, where they move as if they were on a road and leave their eggs distributed along the eyelids. They are the mite species belonging to de genus Demodex (from the Greek demos: grease and dex: larva). It was discovered in 1841 and its excessive presence in the eye can be linked with the manifestation of cutaneous and ocular diseases. Before getting into tormenting thoughts about the idea of living with a face parasite, or starting to look for a method or dermatologic product to eliminate them, we have to make it clear that these hosts are inoffensive if their population is controlled. That is to say that they are part of our natural skin fauna. Studies worldwide show that most of the human population has DNA rests of at least two Demodex species in their body and that generally, they are acquired during breastfeeding and this makes them one of the most common ecto-parasites in the human being.


MITES LIVING IN OUR EYELASHES

The effect of mites´ presence near the eye of humans is still a topic of study and debate. In fact, only 34 years after their discovery, scientists were able to detect their presence in the human ocular area. Two species were identified: Demodex longis and Demodex brevis. Since then, there has been controversy among dermatologists, ophthalmologists and other specialists. Some consider mites harmless, while others recognize that they play an important role in the manifestation and complications of diseases such as blepharitis, rosacea or folliculitis. Complications start with the exponential growth of the mite population which is associated with a set of cutaneous affections known as demodicosis, which range from irritation and inflammation of eyelids to the manifestation of scales on the eye borders, which in an advance stage lead to eyelashes loss. The numbers with respect to these diseases are worrying. It is estimated that worldwide, 60% of adults over 50 suffer from chronic eczemated blepharitis, a

RECENT STUDIES UNDER MOLECULAR BIOLOGY TECHNIQUE SHOW A POSSIBLE CONNECTION OF DEMODEX INFECTION AND SKIN CANCER.

Demodex mites taken from eyelashes of blepharitis patients. Photos taken at Uninorte lab.

disease that although being known by specialists for decades, was only recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) 12 years ago. In Colombia, the panorama is not different: this is one of the most frequent pathologies, according to the information provided by Clínica Oftalmológica del Caribe. The quality of life of the person who suffers it is compromised by symptoms such as eyelid inflammation, which are invaded by multiple microorganisms producing scaling, irritation, itching,

redness and burning sensation in the eyes, mainly due to detritus of this microorganism. It is impossible to eliminate all of them. You get them through the use of pillows, towels, linen or contact with other people. Treatment of symptoms traditionally include topic and oral medicine to control the infection and improve the quality of life. These treatments cause irritant effects, a certain degree of toxicity and a limited effectivity due to the resistance developed by the mite.

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Mouth

Hair Demonex folliculorum

D. FOLLICULORUM

It measures around 284 micra. Demodex is sensible to light, so it lives upside down in the hair follicles attached to the skin and the eyelashes with the help of tiny hooks located throughout the body.

2

DEMODEX SP

Demodex folliculorum and its shorter form Demodex Brevis live in our follicles and sebaceous glands.

1

Poro capilar

1 Gnatosome Head or encephalotorax.

Hair

2 Podosome Anterior part of the abdomen, that bears 4 pairs of legs.

-

Sebaceous gland Demonex brevis

3 Opistosome Abdominal section with transversal striations.

DEMODEX BREVIS

It is even smaller than the D. folliculorum. It lives in the sebaceous and Meibomio hair glands. It is even more solitary than D folliculorum and generally, there is only one individual, frequently a female, living in a pore.

3

Capilar follicle

Estimates of Demodex carriers worldwide:

40

60

years of age

years of age

One third of young adults

Half of adults

Two thirds of aging people

ours 60 h

Nymph

12 hou rs

Adult

hou

72 h

60

ou

rs

Proto-nymph

Larval 3 6 h o urs

20 Universidad del Nor te

Egg

Demodex brevis

rs

Demodex follicurorum

LIFE CYCLE

It is unknown how many eggs are laid by the female Demodex in its 350 hours of life (15 days), but it is thought that very few because of its large size: 194.7 by 41.8 micra.

CARRIERS

20

years of age

Technological development 100% from the caribbean

Facing this situation, a scientific and medical team of the Caribbean region conformed by experts of the Clínica Oftalmológica del Caribe, Universidad del Norte and the Centro de Investigaciones Farmacéuticas Procaps (CIFPRO) develop a research focused to solve this problem. Although they have clear that the Demodex presence is associated with blepharitis, researchers are convinced that their presence is associated with this disease far beyond the assumptions of ophthalmologists. Recent studies under molecular biology techniques, consider a possible connection with the manifestation of skin cancer. The group of experts of the Clínica Oftalmológica del Caribe together with Luis Escaf, scientific director and Martha Lizarazo, director of the ocular surface and blepharitis unit, activated the alarm. They decided to structure an investigation line focused on improving the life quality of patients affected by blepharitis. After confirming that the different products available worldwide did not generate significant improvement, after infected eyelash collection from patients and after observation of the different stages of Demodex life cycle, parasitic index and survival, they referred to the experience of the Immunology and Molecular Biology Group of Universidad del Norte, highly recognized at national and international level for having jointly developed with Procaps Pharmaceutical, the first massive consumer product in Latin America in the area of Allergology: Acar Klean.


Irritation Scabs

This is the most common cause of demomicosis worldwide. Its clinical manifestations affect mainly the face, but it can also be present in other areas of the body such as the neck and chest. It starts with follicle redness followed by the apparition of small pustules. Irritated skin Pustules apparition Swollen follicle

Size of Demodex Folliculorum female: 0,294 mm.

Swollen eyelids

Four pairs of legs with three articulations each

This is one of the main reasons for visiting the ophthalmologist due to a high population of Demodex species. It produces inflammation of the eyelid borders, a burning sensation, scabs and loss of eyelashes. This disease is known as blepharo- conjunctivitis.

Size of Demodex Folliculorum male: 0,219 mm.

PARASITES? FOLLICULITIS CAUSED BY DEMODEX BLEPHARITIS CAUSED BY DEMODEX ROSACEA FOLLICULITIS

The experience in the implementation of this technological development was the base to define a working route for the scientific team at Uninorte, which under the coordination of Doctor Eduardo Egea, have devoted to develop basic and applied research focused to obtain solutions for allergic diseases for more than 18 years. In 2012, the three institutions presented their Project to the tax deduction call from Colciencias with the aim of developing and evaluating a formula that would allow the control of infestation of the ecto-parasite Demodex. The first step was a review of scientific literature followed by the selection and identification of essential oils. This process was developed by the Immunology and Molecular Biology Group in Uninorte lab. The mites were extracted from the infected eyelashes of patients provided by the Clínica Oftalmologica del Caribe. They were isolated and grown with special preservation media. Finding a formula to dehydrate and destroy the mites and their eggs was not an easy job for Dariluz Mendoza and Gloria Garavito, scientists who worked for three years in the Immunology and Molecular Biology Laboratory. They had the support of Humberto Maldonado, research assistant, who carried out more than 1500 trials for the collection of the most effective components extracted from different plants, which are used in the form of essential oils.

It mainly affects the face and it is characterized by the redness, inflammation and infection of hair follicles. Although it has not been demonstrated that Demodex causes it, it has been proven that the person who suffers it has a much larger presence of these mites in his or her body. Follicle inflammation Infected follicles

The eradication of this mite is almost impossible. In less than two months, it will colonize the body again through towels, pillow, linen or direct contact with others. TREATMENT

Martha Lizarazo, director of Ocular Surface and Blepharitis Unit of the Clínica Oftalmológica del Caribe.

The pathogenic role of these mites is still a matter of controversy. It has been demonstrated that their infestation in humans can be asymptomatic or it can contribute to the manifestation of certain cutaneous diseases known as demodicosis. It has also been associated to rosacea and skin cancer.

Ointments with a base of ammonia mercury. Disadvantage: Limited duration due to mercury toxicity. Topical Metronidazole. Disadvantage: Irritant and toxic effect in the long term. Essential oils, mainly tea tree. Disadvantage: Although it is the best mite killer against Demodex species, it can be toxic in high concentrations.

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SALUD

Background information about the research team We applied the oils on the Demodex to evaluate the killing effect through an ex-vivo and in vitro experimental design which allowed us the potential of each development in different concentrations and with different techniques�, explained Egea. “Posteriorly, the active principles with the highest killing action were determined, concentrations (concentrations which are currently protected in more than 140 countries by the cooperation treaty concerning patents) were refined and it was proven that the final combination dehydrated and eliminated the mites and their eggs in all the phases of their vital cycle�. Alfredo Bertel, corporative consultant of Research, Development and Innovation of Procaps, joined the group with the objective of projecting the availability that this technological development, in the perspective of its application in clinical medicine, could be used in a potentially marketable product. Finally, the research team formed by the three institutions managed to do the different analysis of the essential oils extracts and after many trials, they obtained an original development with a killing power for Demodex (adult mite and larvae) and a destructive power on the parasite eggs. It is expected that by 2019, they will be able to release it into the market a commercial product with these properties that will benefit the life quality of the people suffering from disease associated to the excessive presence of the mite in their eyelashes. 22 Universidad del Nor te

The project is supported by almost 27 years of working experience of the Immunology and Molecular Biology Research Group in the area with considerable outcomes in our context: 12 patents (three national and nine international), five patent petitions currently in course and a technological product already in the commercial area (Acar Klean); besides, it also participated in the technical and scientific evaluation in the application of the B Hepatitis vaccine, as well as in the design and implementation of the program of prevention and control of this virus infection through the vaccine. Its research focus has concentrated in the identification of the molecular and genetic bases of the immune response in chronic non-communicable diseases whose results can result in public


MITES LIVING IN OUR EYELASHES

health actions and in technological transferences to the productive sector. Concerning the mites study, the group has patented three technological developments focused on the prevention and control of allergic diseases which include a device for detecting mite contamination of dust; a kit for mite detection in intramural environments and oligopeptides (small fragment of proteins of the allergen in mites) obtained and synthetized in the lab. These two, generated shared patents with the Institute of Metabolic Errors of Universidad Pontificia Javeriana. The oligopeptides have represented a transcendental outcome for the Andean region because it wasn´t until 2002 that synthetic oligopeptides were synthetized in this part of the continent; the technology was also patented in the United States and Europe. “Synthetic oligopeptides are able to cause an immunological response with antibodies production in an organism. This is to say that they could be used for the development of future new treatments to prevent allergic diseases generated by mites”, says Egea, and adds that all this researching experience was the scientific support that together with Procaps experience and the Clínica Oftalmológica del Caribe what made possible reaching in a short time a technological development with killing power or Demodex. “this is a clear example that science, scientific research and technological development are not possible working alone. It is a knowledge dialogue and team work”, concluded Egea.

Gloria Garavito, Eduardo Egea, Humberto Maldonado y Ana Sofía Moreno, part of the Immunology and Molecular Research Group at Uninorte.

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NEGOCIOS


A LOOK AT THE FASCINATING WORLD OF NEIGHBORHOOD STORES

Management theories focus on medium and large scale companies. Professor Dagoberto Páramo works on the first academic theory about micro companies in Colombia, starting with neighborhood stores and some popular businesses. By Oriana Lewis Ramos Journalist lewiso@uninorte.edu.co

A

common childhood memory for most Colombians is that of being in the neighborhood store and having stayed there, buying stickers for the collection of the moment or having a long talk with the neighborhood friends. There was – and there still is- something special, almost fascinating in that action of going there and discover what was on the counter of “Mister Pedro”, or the anticipation of opening the refrigerator and look for the favorite popsicle and the warmth transmitted by the customized attention of the store owner. What are the mysteries ruling the economy and real functioning of stores and other neighborhood businesses? This is what Dagoberto Páramo Morales, Professor of the Business School of Universidad del Norte wants to know. He has devoted more than 20 years to a research in Colombia and some countries of Latin America in order to find answers. Knowing this is important. This is the story of ants and elephants. Neighborhood businesses in Colombia struggle against large surfaces which threaten them to take their customers away every day, but they remain in business because these small size entrepreneurs understand the needs of their main consumer: the next door neighbor who lives nearby. Another reason is that they together are a majority: 91.9 of businesses in the country are micro size enterprises, they have less than ten employees. Small size enterprises are ranked second in the local market with a presence of 6.2%, which leaves a reduced space for medium and large size businesses where management theories are focused. This is a pending task for all business administration programs in the country which persist in teaching in depth concepts such as strategic focusing the direction of projects, vision or mission which don´t usually exist in neighborhood stores. Besides, human management,

marketing and finances have totally different forms to apply the different theories they study. Páramo has discovered and structured the first academic theory about the micro and small size enterprises, the Mypes, which even though they are basically neighborhood stores, the findings have been ratified in studies developed in bakeries, beauty centers, popular restaurants and stationary shops in different regions of Colombia and in some Latin American countries.

Its majesty, the neighborhood store

Neighborhood stores are the predominant business in the country and they represent 21% of the existing enterprises. Nevertheless, due to the processes of economic and social openness experimented by the national economy, some experts predicted their disappearance. According to Páramo, the failure of this prediction is due in part, to the fact that the store owner does not organize his strategy around a commercial relation, but around a sociocultural one. The results of investigations developed by Páramo show that the relation store owner-consumer evolves through the concept of neighborhood of a united community whose members constantly interact in their daily life. “A big enterprise uses the social factor as a mask, as a disguise, as a make- up. On the other hand, the store owner does it the other way, the mask calls for the economy. What he cares about is the social relation and he gets support in this relationship”, he explains. It is precisely from this relationship from where commercial practices have emerged which have rooted deeply in our community. Just remember the times when the store owner has given you a loan because you don´t have any money or the times when we have asked for the “ñapa” and it has been granted.

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NEGOCIOS

Even though the figure of the owner is important in any business, in the Mypes it is even more. According to Páramo, the role of the store owners depends on a greater extent, of the socio-economic stratum where their businesses are located. While in the higher strata their sales are usually the reposition of articles from the weekly supermarket shopping, in the lower strata sales are constant. They are the daily providers of basic products for the community. They even grant weekly credit based on the reliability of their clients”, he added. One of the factors of success of these stores is the miniature presentation of their products. It is very common to sell cooking oil by soupspoons, shampoo in envelopes which really gives a hand to a great part of the Colombian population who by 89% correspond to 1, 2 and 3 strata. Store owners, since the beginning, have been responsible of THE STRUCTURE the miniaturization process suffered by the preOF THE ECONOMIC sentations of products of AND SOCIAL daily use. From the time RELATIONSHIPS IN when they used to buy bulk rice and then pack it THE COUNTRY WOULD in 1 pound, half a pound HAVE TO CHANGE or a quarter of a pound TO CAUSE THE bag presentations to the DISAPPEARANCE OF point of selling two ounces of chicken, a teasTHE NEIGHBORHOOD poon of oil, 100 pesos STORES. of tomatoes, for example, always following their idea to favor the final consumer to make him a regular customer” explains Páramo. Another characteristic of this and other micro businesses is that their organizational unit is not the function, but the job position. There, employees have different roles and functions according to the needs. Likewise, they don´t focus on trends in the market, they focus on the events happening in their nearby nucleus. “This type of businesses don´t work with the market, but with their customers. They don´t pay attention to trends or where they come from or what happens in China. They are interested in the 30 people around them”, said the researcher. The market also changes radically. With the Mypes, the famous four Ps of marketing (price, product, place and promotion) don´t apply; they are ruled by proximity or available nearness. In his research, Páramo identified two types of proximity: internal and external. The first refers to the relation of the owner with his employees and the second one to the relation of the business with external agents, such as providers, clients and colleagues. “Large enterprises have understood what to learn to manage from the proximity, but my vision is not that microenterprises do it, but that proximity is the axis

26 Universidad del Nor te

of their administration. It is its heart”, points out Páramo. For him, the permanent contact of Colombians with neighborhood stores, has become a tradition that follows social and cultural motivations. Many customers visit them as a habit because they have been going there since they were kids, to listen to music, to drink a soda, a beer, to eat, to do shopping or to have fun. Added to the presence of these stores in all neighborhoods of all strata of the country, it is a logical consequence that the store continues to be part of the national identity, at least in the nearest future. “The structure of the economic and social relations would have to change in the country for the neighborhood stores to disappear”, said the researcher.

Reaching the theory

One of Paramo´s certainties is that to understand how Mypes work, the existing theories mustn´t be taken as starting points, but the observed tasks. “This way, we will be able to help them only by starting from them and above all, from the owner”, explains him. His research has been based mainly on the scientific methodology called as the “founded theory“ conceived for the creation of new theories or the refinement of the existing ones. The researcher has developed a deep observation of facts. Gestures, ways the interviewed speak, social and cultural aspects of the enterprise management. “We observe people do what they do. We analyze what the errand boy does, what the cashier does without having to ask“, adds Paramo. He has created his theory from their common behavior patterns. It will be published in his book in 2019. He only has one purpose> that this theory becomes an undergraduate lecture on the management of micro and small enterprises. Nevertheless, something is clear to him. “I don’t believe that we have anything to teach to the owners, they have something to teach us“, he states, “what we can do is to create models for those interested in replicating them“.


OPINION

SCIENCES

for life

Today, different cultures and ways of being converge in the same reality. A frame with ever increasing work demands concerning time and dedication, while the number of face to face social and virtual relations increase. We notice that relations with oneself and with others are characterized by the lack of solid affective links to nurture them and allow their permanence in time, which directly or indirectly influence the ways to relate in the social and work areas. For this reason, in different professional contexts more attention is paid to the so called soft competences or abilities. In this context, we think it is necessary to highlight that academic formation and scientific research should include elements of social sciences, among them the ways human beings relate to each other, the objectives or meanings expected in these relations or the different determinants and possibilities implied in today´s relational world. To adequately understand interpersonal relations it is a priority to approach the social saturation experience implied in these relations and have into account at least (1) the social demands and the dynamics of current interpersonal relations, mediated in part, and in many situations, by technology and the wide “contact” possibilities it offers; (2) the high work requirements and today´s unlimited educative and professional formation possibilities; (3) the widening of the goals and opportunities that people assume without being conscious of them many times and the consequent anxiety produced when feeling it is possible (and in some cases feeling that you must) to hope to travel (for business, pleasure or studies) even farther and to have a greater number of contact with people from other cultures and places; and (4), the way in which all that is generating a sense of devaluation, frustration, emptiness and fear of ostracism when relating with these social and work demands increasingly wider and more extensive, which in turn leads to a progressive deterioration of the feeling in daily life relations. With this reality, research about the experiences, needs and pretended meanings in the relations of daily life become relevant. Science has the obligation to understand

By Alberto De Castro Human and Social Sciences Dean amdecast@uninorte.edu.co

that its contribution is fundamental to clarify the way we are dealing with daily life, paying special attention to small details such as the urgency to make punctual decisions, sensations of disappointment or intolerance facing other perspectives, the anxiety to face many possibilities without clarity of what is wanted or the certainty that it is the most appropriate. We should be able to notice the radical and significant social, work, emotional and cultural changes evidenced in all data and statistics about the deterioration of the wellbeing, the permanent presence of different behaviors characterized by suffering, difficulties to adapt, dysfunctionality and the increase of adolescent pregnancies, poverty, socioeconomic inequality, intolerance crimes in public spaces and mental disease (especially the overwhelming rise of people with anxiety disorders, depression, attention deficit and hyperactivity, suicidal crisis at earlier ages, sexual abuse and family violence). We are in times of transition which imply deep social, political, environmental, cultural, emotional and economical changes which lead to reflect about how to help prevent adverse events and to help generate physical, educative and social conditions which favor wellbeing in human beings. We must think about the need to include perceptions, social dynamics, political interests, habits, customs, and new personal and social interests at the time of presenting research proposals having to do with innovations in topics such as health, educative projects, work conditions, software development to improve learning, creation of new architectural spaces and construction of vital, recreational and social scenarios, among others. After all, it is expected that scientific advances will contribute not only to the understanding of the complexity of the political life and the new advances in health and technology, just to give some examples, but also that they will facilitate the understanding of the apparent simplicity of daily life. In other words, if science doesn´t understand that far beyond the concrete contributions in every discipline it must contribute to make daily life be worth living, science will be even farther of the ultimate end for what it was created: the wellbeing of humankind.

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PSICOLOGĂ?A

28 Universidad del Nor te


THE

MARKS OF VIOLENCE against women

More than the scars in the body, couple violence generates a long term print in the brain of its victims: it could be due to the direct impact of blows on the head or due to the stress suffered in the brain structures.

By Omar David Alvarez Journalist odalvarez@uninorte.edu.co

While you are reading this article, one woman is being physically or psychologically abused by her spouse or an ex. It is even worse that for 88% of them this is not the first or the last time. These alarming numbers led Nathalia Quiroz, a PhD student in Psychology at Universidad dl Norte, to elaborate on the sequels that violent against women leaves in the victims beyond bruises or scars in their bodies. In her search of scientific evidence, she found bibliographical material from the United States which dealt with the parts of the body where women are mostly hit. Like a boxer who receives innumerable blows that in the short term apparently look super-

ficial, a woman who is a victim of repetitive violence suffers from alterations in her brain which prevent her from living a normal life, functionally speaking. Nathalia Quiroz and her tutor, Carlos de los Reyes, Psychology professor at Uninorte, decided to research at local level, and find out about the cognitive alterations in the victims. The importance of this research is mostly in the fact that “these types of lesions are not visible like an open wound and therefore, they are not reported or cared for most of the time, at the moment of the police report�, explains de los Reyes, a neuropsychologist.

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PSICOLOGÍA

To know some more of the possible patterns of violence against women, the researchers went to the Attorney General´s Office to analyze 170 reports of abuse from spouses or ex-spouses. Starting with that information, they established the areas of the body where females are mostly hit. They identified that 77,6% of the lesions are in the head, face and neck obtaining a first indicator that the brain is more exposed to suffer traumas due to the blows. The report also allowed them to establish that 60% of women report at least one symptom related to cranial-encephalic trauma, such as loss of consciousness, vomit or nausea. All these data were definitive for the researchers to consider that micro brain AFTER THE ABUSE, traumas caused to women vicMANY WOMEN SUFFER tims of violenFROM STRESS AGAIN ce could, in the AS THEY ASSOCIATE long run, affect their brain funcPLACES, OBJECTS AND tions because in OTHER ELEMENTS TO these situations THAT MOMENT. THE NEW of chronic stress the body libeWAY TO MEASURE IT IS rates cortisol. EXAMINING THE IMPRINT “Violence geneLEFT BY CORTISOL rates, from the HORMONE, WHICH p syc h o lo g i ca l point of view, REMAINS IMPREGNATED affections in the IN THEIR HAIR. fu n c t i o n a l i ty, but additionally, it increases cortisol levels, a hormone related with stress; when it becomes chronic, it produces cerebral damage”, explains de los Reyes. This led to a second stage of their research where they intended to establish a qualitative level of the consequences presented in women victims of violence. Through institutions such as Barranquilla Mayor´s Office, they contacted 22 women to be part of the research through clinical interviews. In association with Universidad del Norte Hospital they developed these activities to evaluate memory, attention, executive function and functionality. Quantitative analysis showed that in women victims of abuse there are alterations in the attention, memory, processing speed and executive function capacities. “This causes that basic functions such as choosing your child´s uniform to go to school becomes a real challenge because you cannot remember,

30 Universidad del Nor te

which one he has to wear”, says Nathalia Quiroz, remembering one of the testimonies she heard. Another important finding in the investigation is that they identified that even if a little or a long time has passed after the abuse episode, victims feel the same level of stress they felt in that moment when they remember it. “In the interviews we have identified that many women feel stress again when they remember it because they associate places, objects and other elements at this moment”, explains Quiroz. For this reason, they are offered psychological therapy during the interview sessions if they require it. The effect of violence in women in the long term is that –even if they are not in danger anymore because their spouses are in jail- the memory of the aggression still causes the same hormonal effects in them and causes chronic stress”, adds De los Reyes. He continues “Besides, chronic stress is associated with mental diseases, neurodegenerative diseases and immunological system disorders such as cancer. Currently, the attention protocols of women victims of partner violence don´t include a neuropsychological diagnostic. For this reason, one of the objectives is to improve these initial protocols so these factors are taken into account when treating women. “Maybe because they are invisible they are not treated with the same urgency, but it is necessary to evaluate symptoms such as vomit, loss of consciousness and the repetition of the violence episode”, explains de los Reyes. The important thing is that these neuropsychological affections can be treated, “the difficulty is that today not even these brain alterations are diagnosed, so adequate treatment to correct them are not offered”, mentions Quiroz, for whom one of the final objectives of the research is to get more attention for the victims, better studies and more proportional reparation to the damages caused.


THE INVISIBLE MARKS OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

Where does research lead?

The next step is to find the quality of cortisol liberated by a woman victim of violence events in order to establish the risk level they have for being exposed to this hormone in their brains. This can be attained with a new technique which is more precise compared to traditional methods. “Cortisol is usually measured in blood or saliva, but results vary a lot because the levels registered are the ones at the moment of taking the sample and not at the moment of suffering the episode”. Cortisol in hair is the technique researchers are applying to find the traces of this hormone in the victim´s hair. “The process is relatively simple, a sample of hair of the posterior part of the head is taken, you

choose the second layer of hair and cut it next to the hair root; after that it is analyzed in the laboratory with a series of reactants”, explains Nathalia Quiroz about the process. The samples are being analyzed in the laboratory of Universidad de Granada, Spain, which has associated to the research. The scientific explanation is that cortisol leaves more precise traces in hair and does not vary easily. That is, when a woman suffers a violence episode, the hormone increases and leaves a “footprint” in hair which can be detected up to three months after the episode. “With this method, we obtain more reliable data which can help to determine the patient´s risk level”, concludes de los Reyes.

Figures behind the abuse

77,6% Relation with the aggressor

Ex partner

49%

of abused women were hit exclusively in their head

22,4

Partner

51%

Other parts

Place of lesion Face 50% Head 36% Neck 13% Chest 10% Limbs

Episode of abuse

40% First time

12%

Repeat offender

88%

Back 13% Origin of lesion

Fist 80%

With object 10% Kick 5% Other 5%

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FĂ?SICA

HIDDEN WAVES in coastal processes

Research on the impact of waves in the morphology of beaches is considerable. A team of physicists seeks to explain the effect of another type of waves that have been neglected in the study of coastal processes.

32 Universidad del Nor te

Zona de swash


HIDDEN WAVES IN COASTAL PROCESSES

By Oriana Lewis Ramos Journalist lewiso@uninorte.edu.co

Zona de rompiente

The coastal area. Although the coastal area is only a tiny portion of the totality of the ocean, it is where most of the significant changes that occur in the open seas are reflected. More specifically, these changes take place in two areas in particular: the point at which the wave begins to become foam; and the area in the dry part of the beach that is reached every few times by scraps of some rebel wave. That is to say, the area of breakers and the area of swash, respectively. Both are zones of key importance in describing changes on beach morphology since it is there where the transport of sediments, coastal erosion and floods occur with more intensity. “The processes that go on in these areas are phenomena that require high resolution description which is not supplied by large scale modelling”, explained researcher Luis Otero, from Universidad del Norte, department of Physics and Geosciences. That is why, under the lead of this Doctor of Marine Sciences and Technologies of the University of Cantabria, the team has devoted a great part of his scientific work to study these areas. One of the phenomena of the coastal zones that lately call their attention are the little studied infragravitatory waves, or IG, that should not be confused with thegravitational waves that occur in space, at cosmic scales. But what are the marine IG waves? “To understand them, wemust first explain what gravitational waves are,” says Otero,who heads the project seeking to understand their role in the morphodynamic changes of the Colombian Caribbean beaches.

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FÍSICA

Installation of measurement equipment in a field outing

Otero points out that gravity waves compose swell detectable by normal sight and caused by the wind. Instead, infragravity waves are practically undetectable visually, because it is a swell that comes contained within the “common” waves, and is released only when approaching the area of breakers and visually perceived in the area of Swash. Precisely, the importance of infragravity waves in coastal processes lies in the effects that are generated after that energy release. Although until a few years ago all sediment transport formulations and variations were made according to gravitational waves, recent research has realized that for certain hydrodynamic conditions and for certain types of beaches, infragravity waves may be more important. Such is the case of what happens on the beaches of Bocagrande in Cartagena. Because they have a fairly steep slope, they have a wide breakers area, where the IGs have a great space to evolve and develop, contributing significantly to the formation of currents in the area close to the beach. “In Cartagena, when tides occur and Bocagrande is flooded, that flood is caused by IG waves, because of the type of beach,” says Otero. One of the debates found in the world literature on IGs is whether they are partly responsible for the dangerous undertow or return currents. Those that take place in beaches where the breakers zone is smaller, that drag the swimmers

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out to sea and that are among the main causes of death in the beaches by drowning. According to Otero, in these cases the IG waves tend to be trapped on the coast and tend to generate changes in the shape of the beaches, generating an undertow. However, he clarifies, there are studies that affirm that there is no relationship. “That’s part of our research,” he says. Another objective of the research is to find out how IG waves on the beaches of the Colombian Caribbean contribute to the formation of currents. To do this, explains Sergio Ospino, PhD student in Marine Sciences at Uninorte, an improvement is sought in the formulations of the numerical model, so that they take into account the infragravity waves. “We have done and will do further measurement campaigns with state-of-the-art instruments to profile a good part of the hydrodynamic processes on these beaches. The resulting data can be compared with the results of the numerical model used, so that it is adjusted to represent reality,” he says. The team of researchers will then be able to use the numerical model with greater confidence and obtain a wide range of scenarios that will allow them to evaluate the role of the little studied IG waves in the morphological changes of the beaches of the Colombian Caribbean. In other words, what we don’t see is just as or more important when it comes to getting into the water.


PANAMA SPECIAL

Science without frontiers Panama City has proven a magnificent laboratory for Colombian scientists to conduct research answering many of the questions of the American past. Geologists, biologists, archaeologists and paleontologists from Uninorte have participated in mega interdisciplinary projects that begin to clarify aspects related to continental biodiversity, the climate of the past or the globalization processes during the beginning of the Spanish conquest. In this special of four reports, Intellecta features the advances and findings of four investigations in which universities and international organizations also participate.

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PANAMĂ SPECIAL

THE FIRST TIME

the world was global

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The human flow through the isthmus of Panama in the 16th century made it possible to connect four continents at the same point. There, social dynamics emerged that are footprints of the plurality of identities that characterize Latin America. By JesĂşs Anturi Editor anturij@uninorte.edu.co

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PANAMÁ SPECIAL

Archaeologist Juan Guillermo Martín began to study burials in the Cathedral in 2000, within the framework of a project of the Pa Viejo to which he was linked for 11 years. Between 2017 and 2018 they carried out new excavations for the project “An artery of

I

n 1671, the Englishman Henry Morgan carried out one of the most remembered pirate attacks of the many that the Spanish colonies suffered in America: he almost completely destroyed Panama City. Earlier, other pirates had failed to invade this important site on the colonial trade route, to the point that the Spaniards themselves were unbelieving that it was possible to do so. And since at that time they had not heard that “better safe than sorry”, the most important port in the Pacific did not have walls to protect it. Also, the geographical characteristics of the isthmus kept the city at a certain distance from the Caribbean, where the corsairs, enemies of the Crown faced a difficult march on the city. Historians say that Morgan spent about a month in the city, looted it, burned it and left. Then Panama moved its placement and the ruins of the old city, which was founded in 1519, were abandoned, as a slight reminder of the life that once inhabited it.

Bethany Aram, PhD in History and professor at the Pablo de Olavide University in Sevilla, Spain, knows that Panama Vieja is a privileged location to conduct in-depth historical studies on the earliest stage of Spanish presence in Latin America. It has a context clearly delimited in time and many questions to ask about what they call the first globalization, that moment when America became the meeting point of the four continents. Aram, who is a specialist in researching documents from historical archives in order to know the past, is not satisfied with the preponderant role of the Spanish in the official history of the American colony. He looks for primary sources that make it possible to contrast what the documentation offers; she believes in the convenience of a plural history, and she trusts that Panama can give it to her. That is when she gets acquainted with the work of Juan Guillermo Martín, PhD in Archaeology and Director of the Mapuka Museum

Burials provide evidence of an intensive use of the ground at very shallow level.


atronato Panamá f the empire”.

THE FIRST TIME THE WORLD BECAME GLOBAL

of the Universidad del Norte, who for more than 10 years studied burials in Panama Viejo to identify the population that lived in the area during the colony and the pre-Hispanic era, and invites him to be part of a research project that seeks to contrast the evidence of archaeology with that which rests in the historical archives. Thus begins the project “An ARTery of Empire”, financially backed by the European Research Council within the framework of the Horizon 2020 program, which since 2016 gathered an interdisciplinary team of scientists to understand what was experienced during the period between 1519 and 1671 in Panama, from where the Spanish conquest of the South American continent was forged, in the midst of a context of Spanish population expansion that encouraged the construction of diverse identities. “What really interests us is the question of the first globalization and the challenges and strategies of survival, enrichment and social promotion developed by the actors of different origins who interact in the isthmus due to the strategic importance of the area. The period of greatest concentration is between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, because at that time the people and products of four continents, initially involved in very limited contacts, begin to enter into connection and conflict in an unprecedented way and with a particularly important intensity in these regions,” says Aram. Achieving a photograph of the past with a greater degree of fidelity led to the linking of other disciplines. The revision of the historical archive and the archaeological analysis were joined by experts in bio-archaeology, biogenetics and isotopy, whose objective is to build a huge database that can be crossed to respond to the hypotheses suggested by each researcher. Nearly 20 researchers from the Pablo Olavide University, the Universidad del Norte, The Curt-Engelhom-Center for Archaeometry of Germany (CEZA), the University of Pavia, Italy, and independent advisors have been drawn into this unique mega-project to understand the colonization process in Latin America.

The artery of the empire

Panama was the most important port on the Pacific side for the Spanish kingdom during colonial times, as a strategic link in the transit to the Caribbean from the south. All the gold and silver that came out of Peru and Bolivia, and all the goods imported from Spain to that part of the continent, passed through there. The route crossing the isthmus was protected by two fortresses at its threshold at the Caribbean: the Fort of San Lorenzo, located at the mouth of Chagres River, and the fort of the bay of Portobelo, which at its inception was in Nombre de Dios, but was relocated because of the constant attacks by pirates, especially Francis Drake. The route between Portobelo and Panama, known as the Camino Real, was totally terrestrial and served to move the king’s treasures brought from the south. The famous Portobelo Fairs, which lasted 40 days, were held there. The importance of the trade in Portobelo made this town an attractive target for the pirates. The entrance by the Chagres River was a faster route to Panama and was protected by a fort that seemed unbreakable to enemies. Archaeologist Tomás Mendizábal, researcher of the project, says that several military exploits took place there, since there was always an interest in attacking Panama. “One of the most famous battles that took place here was the seizure of the fort by Henry Morgan, at the end of 1670, when he came to attack Panama. Morgan assembled the largest fleet of ships and pirates ever seen in the Caribbean and sent his men to attack from behind. It was a bloody battle that, according to the chronicles, lasted three or four days. The pirates took the castle and when Morgan triumphantly entered the mouth of the Chagres River, he collided with a reef that ended up sinking his flagship, Satisfaction.

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Ancient Panama City

PANAMÁ

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SAN JUAN DE DIOS HOSPITAL

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They were Panama City's true center of power. Here resided the agencies of the royal government: the Real Contaduría, the Real Audiencia, the jail of the court, the residence of the governor and other official dependencies. This vast complex, which emerged throughout the 16th century, was protected by a palisade, and a moat separated it from the rest of the city. Its location was the most salubrious, due to the rock floor that served as the base for the complex and its dominant position over the city and the sea; its location was designed to erect a fortress that would have sufficient capacity to store goods and treasures.

Panamá Viejo

Since its beginnings The San Sebastián Hospital, which was founded in 1521, had scarce economic means and could only cover emergencies and minimum needs, so more patients died than those healed. In 1620 the authorities called on the order of San Juan de Dios to take charge of the hospital. Nine years later the monks achieved a decrease in mortality. About 20 friars treated between 30 and 150 patients, mainly poor, humble women and soldiers.

CONVENTUAL ENSEMBLE OF THE CONCEPTION

Headquarters of the only female religious congregation in Panama during the colony. The nuns of Our Lady of Conception founded their community in 1598. Around 1640, construction began on a lime mortar church, which was unfinished when the attack of 1671 took place. It came to occupy two blocks of the city and in its ruins can be seen a large cistern, unique in its kind, within Old Panama, built in the mid-seventeenth century.

6 2 1

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THE CONVENTUAL COMPLEX OF THE MERCED

At the western end of the city, the Mercedarian friars, who arrived in Panama in 1522, erected a large church in the second decade of the seventeenth century, to which four confraternities belonged. Apparently it was the least affected structure during Morgan's attack. The facade of the church was moved to a new location in the current Casco Viejo of Panama City, where it is still standing.

CATHEDRAL

In 1535, with the arrival of Bishop Fray Tomás de Berlanga, the construction of the cathedral building began. In the beginning it was made of wood, but the fire destroyed it in 1540. The current cathedral was built between 1619 and 1626 on the initiative of Bishop Francisco de Cámara.

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ROYAL HOUSES

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CONVENTUAL ASSEMBLY OF SAN FRANCISCO In 1535, with the arrival of Bishop Fray Tomás de Berlanga, the construction of the cathedral building began. In the beginning it was made of wood, but the fire destroyed it in 1540. The current cathedral was built between 1619 and 1626 on the initiative of Bishop Francisco de Cámara.


The fort of San Lorenzo protected the entrance to the isthmus through the mouth of Chagres River. It was seized by Morgan at the end of 1670.

Archaeological fieldwork, carried out in two periods between 2017 and 2018, resulted in the collection of 175 individuals, including more than 60 primary burials (complete individuals), the most valuable for extracting population data. In addition, loose remains were found that make up a sample of about 400 individuals. From the beginning of the excavations, archaeologists confirm historical information. For example, in the Cathedral, burials are only 35 centimeters deep, a fact that is immediately related to the 17th century descriptions of the bad smell in the place; and the fact that many of the boCommon dies are disarticulated, speaks of an intensive use of the burial sites: the people’s history bodies were constantly removed to Few historical reput others in. Two events are known cords concern themthat could explain this accumulation selves with the ordiof burials: two epidemics that struck nary life of people in the city in 1641 and 1655, in which a colonial city. There many people died. will still be those who Javier Rivera, Doctor of Archaeothink that these were logy and professor of History at Unipopulations founded norte, has specialized in the bio-anand inhabited only by thropological study of human bone Europeans. The huremains. For him action starts as soon man remains that Juan as the bones are taken to the laboraGuillermo Martín has tory. His eyes are so well trained that found in the burials of he can easily tell if the bones belong Panamá Vieja clearly to a man or a woman; he observes indicate that this was a little more carefully and launches not the case, but that an approximation of the age; already they were mixed poin the detail he infers diseases that pulations, much more Javier Rivera carries out a bio-anthropological analysis probably the individual suffered in heterogeneous than of the bone remains found; he looks for clues as life. It is like putting together a jigsaw was thought and histo the characteristics of the individuals. puzzle with incomplete pieces and torical documentation without having clarity about which suggests. is the image you are looking for. The key is to refine the eye. In the field, “One of the great contributions of archaeology is Rivera takes a general look at the burial to determine how the body was that of providing information that we do not normally placed, if there was a container or if it was shrouded. find in the historical records of the archives, The archives The results tell a striking story: 55.42% of individuals are female or give the version of the winner and in some cases exahighly likely to be female; 30% have been identified as male individuals. ggerated. Archaeology shows us those other dynamics Even more interesting is the relatively high black population, just over 18 %, that are not recorded, and basically gives voice to thowhile 12 % have European affiliation, and 5.7 % are aboriginal. se who have no voice in the past,” says Martin whose “It is necessary to consider the difficulties involved in this type of analysis team excavated the Cathedral of Panama Vieja, a site where you do not have all the osseous elements at your disposal, but this is that was selected because most of the city’s deceased what gives us a representative sample of the population, who were in adpopulation was buried there, and allowed the collection dition buried in the Cathedral, which was supposed to be an exclusive space of a very diverse sample with clues of a closer relabecause they had to pay for burial rights and so on. With historians we are tionship between Europeans, Africans, Indians, Mestizos working to identify who those African women were,” Rivera says. and Asians. RE VISTA INTELLEC TA

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PANAMÁ SPECIAL The remains of at least 400 individuals were unearthed by archaeologists in the Cathedral ruins.

The sample indicates that the majority of remains are from individuals who died in an age range of between 18 and 35 years. The most frequent bone lesions respond to entheseal changes (related to aspects of physical activity) with 26.29% of the total sample; followed by infectious lesions with 25.71%; and lesions associated with nutritional stress such as porous hyperostosis (24.57%) and criba orbitalia (7.43%). More deep analysis permits to infer the height, associate daily activities performed by the individual and what type of injuries occurred in life. As generally happens in science, archaeologists are aware of their limits and are cautious to launch more detailed hypotheses. So they welcome the result of genetics and isotopy. The first, by Alessandro Achilli, PhD in Genetic and Biomolecular Science at the University of Pavia, will provide more accurate answers on the genetic profile of samples and help identify population migrations. On the isotopy side, Corina Knipper, a CEZA researcher specialized in human and animal diet in the past, leads the analyses of carbon and nitrogen to know what the populations ate; and strontium to identify the source (this element is fixed in the bones, teeth, nails and hair of human beings throughout life, but that of teeth does not change and allows us to identify the place where it grew). This technique will allow verifying, for example, if one of the Negroid individuals found was born in Panama or if he arrived from Africa or Europe. With a similar approach, Javier Aceituno, PhD in Prehistoric Archaeology and researcher at the University of Antioquia, extracted starches and phytolites (biomineralization of vegetable origin) from dental calculus in the human remains of Panama seeking to identify the diet of this population. “Microscopic remains of plants such as these are preserved in archaeological sites and with these particles we can identify the plants they ate in the past. So far, we have recovered starches from corn, yucca, legumes and achira. The first two are among the most important plants in the Americas.

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Pre-Hispanic Life

Evidence of early settlement in Panama fluctuates from 11 500 to 12 000 years. At the time object of study, the city colonized by the Spaniards was already an aboriginal community with at least 1500 years of occupation. Martín tells us that this pre-hispanic community had a close relationship with others of the northwest of Colombia; a fact that is identified in the fairly homogeneous language of the ceramic style or decorative motifs. “The Spaniards settled there because they were looking for a consolidated place, domesticated, very convenient in such a hostile environment, because this region is very rainy, with dense vegetation. These earlier settlers teach them about survival, about the most appropriate fishing techniques to take advantage of the marine resources, the cultivated fields. This facilitates the process of conquest and subsequent colony. The isthmus was not only important for the Spaniards. It is a key point of the settlement of America, both human and faunal. If the biodiversity of the continent can be explained by the animal migrations that it facilitated, part of the melting pot of races and cultures to which Latin America is home, is a reflection of what happened to these populations during the colony.


THE FIRST TIME THE WORLD BECAME GLOBAL

Reassesing the archive The destruction of Panama in 1671 erased much of the city’s historical archive. So the historians of the project have focused on the archives that remain in Spain and Peru and allude to what happened in the isthmus. The task involves the review of more than 10,000 documentary archives, including letters, orders, judicial acts, lawsuits, lists of deceased assets, inventories of assets, wills, almonedas, interrogations, accounting, sentences, distributions, visits, powers of attorney, relationships of merit, lawsuits between parties, judgments of residence, seizure, contracts, seats, purchase and sale, appointments or purchases of positions. Bethany Aram is aware that they may not be the first to seek answers there, but she understands that the same document has many possible readings and many possible interpretations. “The important thing is that history is plural, that there are many stories, the more the better, especially if we are talking about stories of ordinary people.” Each researcher and each generation asks their particular questions to the source, and researchers in this project are clear about what they want to know: what survival strategies were forged and how they occurred among different populations, or when can strategies of hybridization, collaboration, and even rejection, resistance, be studied and identified? Amelia Almorza, postdoctoral researcher of the project, is studying the Lima Archive, where she looks for information on the circulation of European products in the Viceroyalty of Peru and the role of Spanish women in the introduction of new consumption habits in the colonial world. Panama was the throat of Peru, almost all its population entered through it, and it was the bridge that communicated this rich territory with Spain. “In the second half of the 16th century, Peru experienced impressive economic growth thanks to all the silver that began to flow from the Potosí mines. The great merchants begin to organize their impressive financial and mercantile networks between Sevilla, Panama and Lima, thanks to the foundation of commercial companies and the distribution of factors throughout the territory,” says Almorza. This relationship explains why in the Lima archive there are documentary collections to study the Audience of Panama.

It is true that the process was a traumatic one for the natives, who were forced into a different system, and were imposed a religion and a language, which led to the quick disappearance of part of these populations from Panama. However, the colonizing dynamic of the Spaniards and their ambitious building activity demanded indigenous labor from other places in the Antilles. So they brought people from the current Nicaraguan territory, to which would be added the African work force. Even between these late populations there were interesting exchanges. A particular case relates to the practice of dental sharpening - modification of teeth to give them a beak-shaped appearance, mainly incisors - which is still maintained in sub-Saharan Africa and which indigenous natives adopted. Some aspects of the first globalization have been misunderstood as European influence on the American continent, but the impact that America had on the conquerors and on the European or Asian continent, or that originated in the new lands is neglected. When the Spaniards and foreigners arrived they had to adapt if they wanted to survive, and although they brought a cultural baggage they had to change their processes of adaptation, which is very evident in the architecture or the food. “Today we refer to Bolognese sauce or Swiss chocolate or “patatas bravas” as typical products of European countries, but these would not have been possible without the influence of the American continent. That is what we understand as the first great globalization”, adds Martín.

An inclusive history

The purpose of the project “An Artery of the Empire” is not to exclude the history of the colony that has been told based on the documentation provided by historians; it is rather to reconstruct an alternative version, as told by the imprint left by the more general population, which normally has no place in books. In all the scientific disciplines involved, attention has been focused on a single object of study that will ultimately serve to reconstruct experiences more akin to the plurality that identified American realities from the early age of colonization. They are verified answers that will be available to anyone interested, thanks to a large database that is being built with the findings of all parties. “Panama is an obligatory reference for the common history of Spanish-speaking America. This project is going to help us know the history of the rest of America and how we are all related since the beginning,” says Julieta de Arango, executive director of the Patronato Panamá Viejo. Likewise, the project has raised new questions that will later deserve the attention of other researchers, such as the dynamics of social gender insertion or the survival of the different populations involved in the process. As for now, what is important is that chronicles of a more meaningful past in America begin to be propositioned to the true descendants of those that forged the identity that defines the present time of the cities in this part of the world.

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T

rash is the best way to know about a society. What we throw away tells everything about us: what we like to eat, the clothes we wear, how we have fun and which are our working tools. No wonder why garbage dumps are the most interesting sites for archaeologists when trying to understand and extinct society. This is exactly what Guillermo Martin, a Uninorte archaeologist and director of the Mapuka museum found: the garbage dump of the most ancient settlers of the Central America islands to date. Ironically, the garbage dated 6200 years BC, rests in the middle of one of the great luxury touristic destinations in Panama. The name Pearl Island, located in the Pearl Archipelago, in the heart of the Panama Gulf, makes travellers remind of exotic animal images and clear private beaches with blue waters and white sand. Nevertheless, while admiring the local fauna, very few will probably know that it used to be even more diverse. And that this island, where an exclusive touristic complex is being built has the real name of Pedro Gonzalez. This place has been the guardian of very ancient evidence of the activities of a society and the most ancient human and animal bones found to date on the islands of this country. The dump is a window to the past which has allowed to explore, not only the way these islanders used to live, but also to measure the impact of human settlements on a very delicate ecosystem. “Island ecosystems are totally fragile because there is little space and biodiversity is not very high”, says archaeologist Martin, who leads the project with the funding of the Smithsonian Institute for Tropical Research. “Nevertheless, this island had more fauna diversity in the past. With the arrival of human beings 6200 years ago, the extinction of many species accelerated”. The rest found include those of an extinct dwarf deer, which was an important part of the diet of the first inhabitants of the island.

Archaeologist Sergio Andrés Castro, in charge of the analysis of the rests of the fauna in Pedro González.

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In the Perlas Archipelago of PanamĂĄ, the most ancient remains of islanders of the continent were found, as well as fauna fossils perfectly conserved and thousands of stone tools. These findings allow taking a look at the big environmental impact these groups occasioned after their arrival.

The footprints of

the first islanders of Centro AmĂŠrica By Oriana Lewis Journalist lewiso@uninorte.edu.co

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PANAMĂ SPECIAL

Reconstruction of a midget deer skull, this animal was consumed by the first islanders.

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THE FOOTPRINTS OF THE FIRST ISLANDERS OF CENTRAL AMERICA

The loss of biodiversity on islands is not a novel issue. Researchers around the world have conducted similar studies on Easter Island, Mauritius and other oceanic islands with little influence from the mainland. But for English archeologist Richard Cooke, a scientist with the Smithsonian, who has lived in Panama for 43 years and is linked to the study, the novelty of this project lies in the fact that it is the first data we have of human presence in islands within the continental shelf. “This is a multifaceted project that can serve many researchers,” explains Cooke. “We have a strong hypothesis and that is that this human population wiped out deer that had lived in isolation for a long time. There are also other animals that disappeared, such as two species of turtles and a capuchin monkey. The research project began in 2007 as the boom in construction and tourism reached the Las Perlas archipelago and archaeological sites began to be destroyed. To prevent the loss of this invaluable information, Cooke devised a strategy for archaeological prospecting in the area, and contacted Juan Guillermo Martín to coordinate the initiative. In 2009 Martin and his team found the midden or dump. But it wasn’t until 2015, after four months of continuous fieldwork, that they were able to conduct the largest excavation, covering 28 square meters and six meters deep. They were then allowed to recover the wastes of daily life from approximately 600 years of human occupation, in the time range from 5600 to 6200 years before the present, a period classified as late preceramic. D

Two moments, two hypotheses

During this preceramic occupation two important moments were characterized. The first one had a wide presence of terrestrial animals that were taken advantage of by the inhabitants of the island. “The first humans benefited from a wider biodiversity than the present one, which included more mammals. That’s why they based their diet on terrestrial fauna,” says Sergio Andrés Castro, an archaeozoologist in charge of analyzing the project’s millions of fauna remains. Castro explains that from the taphonomic processes (the events that affected an organism from the time it died until they are found in the archaeological deposit) researchers have been able to determine which animal remains ended their days in the dump and the conditions under which they were consumed. Everything went well with the consumption of the abundant terrestrial vertebrates, until, 5900 years ago, an abrupt change took place: the deer practically disappeared and other resources, now marine, such as mollusks and fish from the sea, such as catfish, began to be exploited, illustrates Castro. At that time, dolphin hunting was also recurrent, a practice that had not been reported within the activities of the American pre-Hispanic peoples. The large amount of remains found and the vertebrae with the evidence of the hunting harpoon corroborate that it was a constant and well developed practice. Researchers attribute this change in diet and stone tools to two reasons. One is that it involved two distinct waves of migration, where each group of people arrived with their specialized techniques of resource utilization. The first group would have left 5900 years ago and then the second would have arrived. The other theory points out that it was the same group of people who, due to the depletion of resources, had to adapt and implement other survival alternatives.

(Micro) stone workers

Thousands of tiny flakes and knives were also found in the excavations, most of them measuring no more than one centimeter. It is believed that these microliths were used to make composite tools, such as graters for corn and tubercles. “Based on ethnographic accounts and other archaeological findings, these graters were made and repaired entirely by women,” says Georges Pearson, in charge of analyzing the project’s lithic tools. Although Pearson has analyzed thousands of stone artifacts during his extended academic career, the researcher claims that the possible implications of what he found in Pedro Gonzalez are surprising. “When carvers on the continent looked for stones for their tools, they usually avoided the bad ones because they had access to various materials to choose from. On the other hand, the most common raw materials on this island were agate nodules of mediocre or even unusable quality. Island carvers then adopted various tool-making strategies to maximize the number of usable pieces, which archaeologists consider unique. For example, a process called ‘heat treatment’ consisted of burying the agate in the sand and setting a fire over it and after that carefully performing the fractures. “The most difficult problems faced by the carvers were the natural fracture planes, which often dictated how the nodules would break. Instead of trying to force their will on these agate, the carvers had to modify their manufacturing strategies around these natural fissures,” Pearson explained. In other words, work with nature, not against it. In the stone tools were also found phytoliths from corn (rigid structures that were once part of the plant and became minerals over the centuries) and from some tubers not yet identified. Martin and Pearson hope to extract from there evidence of other vegetables to see how they complemented the diet of these people. “The fact that they are sowing corn also implies the transformation of the environment. This is a small group and the impact is probably not that big, but these are things that need to be taken into account to understand how human arrival on the island affects it,” Martin said.

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The oldest woman in panama

In addition to the remains of rubbish, excavations found a woman’s bones. She was 25 to 35 years old and less than a meter and a half tall. She has become the owner of the oldest skeletal remains of the insular Panama. Javier Rivera, a researcher in the Department of History at the Universidad del Norte, is in charge of analyzing these bones. “We have the bones of at least four individuals, but it is only clear that those of the woman belong to the same person,” he says. The interesting thing, according to Rivera, is that some of the bones found show evidence of having been incinerated. Although cannibalism was originally thought of, not enough evidence was found to support this hypothesis. According to Rivera, it could be more like funeral practices. “In the earliest sequence, on the other hand, the bones found are not incinerated but there is a number that has cut traces. Here, however, we cannot speak of cannibalism either. We would need more evidence,” he said. The bones are under intense study to determine what type of tools were used for the cuts and whether or not there was use of the meat. Also samples will be taken from the woman’s tooth to identify her diet, and her muscle activity will be analyzed to determine what she was doing on a daily basis. To these three major fronts of the project - fauna, stone instruments and human remains - the researchers plan to add one more: climate. In this way, they hope to be able to recreate almost the entire environment of these first Central American islanders. All this, thanks to a dump. One might wonder what the archaeologists of the future will read in our own garbage.

Archaeologist Sergio Andrés Castro analyzes fossil remains.

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THE FOOTPRINTS OF THE FIRST ISLANDERS OF CENTRAL AMERICA

THE DUMP FOUND IN PEDRO GONZÁLEZ HAS BEEN USED TO MEASURE THE IMPACT OF HUMAN SETTLEMENT ON A DELICATE ECOSYSTEM.

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natu THE LARGEST

experiment By Ă ngela Posada-Swafford Scientific journalist and Intellecta editing counselor www.angelaposadaswafford.com

The formation of the isthmus of Panama is a high point for understanding the biodiversity of the Americas. During the canal expansion works, fossils were found that geologists and paleontologists are analyzing in search of answers about the natural dimensions of this formation.

PhD in Ecology - Paleoclimate, Jaime Escobar, studies leaf fossils to reconstruct the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere 18 million years ago.

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in history

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Aldo Rincón es doctor en Geología de la Universidad de Florida y sus colegas resaltan de él su capacidad para encontrar fósiles en campo.

Foto: Christian Ziegler.

A huge cargo ship approaches quietly downstream the most important and best documented events in through the Panama Canal. Its superb size makes rethe evolution of terrestrial systems. The truth is that its searchers pause for a moment to admire it. Now they effects were radically profound because they allowed look like motionless statues scattered across the steep the exchange of fauna between North and South slopes of Culebra Cut, wearing neon green vests and America, transforming the biogeography of two hewielding geology hammers. No matter how many fosmispheres, altering ocean circulation and changing the sils have already been extracted, any chance is a good global climate. It is amazing how something so small one to look for more. Even if you are taking care of a can unleash such consequences. visitor. Even if this hillside begins Most scientists accept to be colonized by pastures. the theory that today’s PaOne will be able to read ad nama began to slowly emernauseam about the monumental ge from the sea some 25 to PANAMA’S ISTHMUS feat it meant to search for, find 23 million years ago, when LOOKS SMALL AND and process the fossils resulting two plates of the Earth’s from the engineering works of the crust slowly collided against THIN ON A MAP. BUT canal expansion. But to be there, each other, forcing the PaIT IS ONE OF THE in those still open cuts or thocific plate to slide under the MOST POWERFUL se outcrops surrounded by canal Caribbean plate. The pressure straw, is something that has no and heat caused by this coGEOGRAPHIC price. Especially if the experience llision led to the formation of STROKES OF GLOBAL includes the accompaniment of submarine volcanoes, some CARTOGRAPHY: IT the same geologists and paleonof which grew to break the IS 60 KM WIDE, AND tologists who made many of the surface of the sea and form discoveries. For the better, seveislands over millions of years. 5000 SCIENTISTS ral of them are from Uninorte, or Meanwhile, the movement FROM AROUND have close ties to the university. of the two tectonic plates THE WORLD HAVE “The excavation of the caalso lifted the seabed, exnal was an opportunity I couldn’t posing some pieces. Over REFERRED TO IT IN pass up,” says geologist Carlos Jatime, strong ocean currents THEIR RESEARCH ramillo of the Smithsonian Tropiremoved massive amounts ARTICLES. cal Research Institute, STRI, and of sediment from the coasts, honorary professor at Uninorte, filling the cracks between the gesturing to the researchers crounew islands and creating a ching in the field. thin tongue of land connecting North and South Ame“Our work consists of describing the stratigraphy, rica. the colors, drawing the rock and searching in it for the The problem now is to determine exactly when fossils; where they came from, why each one of them that union happened. The prevailing hypothesis is that is here. So we reconstructed the entire landscape along the isthmus was completely closed about three million this entire canal, for five years, from Colón, 40 km to years ago. But Uninorte geologist Camilo Montes (forthe north. All that you see green was exposed rock merly of the Universidad de Los Andes) turned things and that has now been covered by “paja canalera”. And upside down when he recently published a series of we had to work in record time because the engineers studies based on the age of the rocks unearthed ducovered the slopes with cement to avoid landslides. ring the canal expansion works, according to which, he says, the north-south connection took place much earlier, between 15 and 10 million years ago. The dilemma of dates To date the rocks, Montes and his group used the The formation of the slender isthmus of Panama, geochronology of zirconia, tiny crystals present in sand which united two continents and divided an ocean, and sedimentary rocks. When zirconia form, they store would seem like a geological sneeze, but it is one of

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THE LARGEST NATURAL EXPERIMENT IN HISTORY.

a little radioactive uranium in their hearts. And since uranium loses energy (decays) at a very exact rate, it is perfect for knowing how long ago it was formed, and therefore, for dating the rock to which it is associated. Despite criticism from the scientific community that supports the age of three million years, the findings of Jaramillo’s group support Montes’ theories. Jaramillo analyzed both fossils and evolutionary trees of 3589 species found in North and South America that had crossed the land bridge. And he discovered that there were large displacements of flora and fauna between the north and the south, including one 23 million years ago. “Mammals, however, did not cross in both directions until just 2.5 million years ago, suggesting that migration for mammals was controlled by factors other than having a land bridge (e.g., changes in forest type),” Jaramillo explains. Critics of the new hypothesis argue that there are species of animals and plants that use leaf rafts and floating wood to cross oceans, so a land bridge is not always necessary. And those large animals only began crossing the isthmus massively three million years ago. But perhaps it is that large herds of animals refused to cross from one side to the other before three million years because the environmental conditions in the isthmus were simply not favorable: perhaps there were intolerable droughts that made the pass insurmountable. That, at least, is the theory of Andes University biologist Andrew Crawford. “I think we have solid arguments, but the differences of ideas have nothing to do with personal ones,” Jaramillo says the morning of the field trip in Culebra Cut. “This is like the first time Panama emerged from the oceans, central Panama,” he illustrates, picking up a handful of reddish clay. The red rocks we see at the base are 20 million years old; they are

Aldo Rincón, arriba, halló esta quijada de un pequeño camelido.

the paleo soil. This is the first time we have a continental portion of soil here in central Panama. Here the camp begins at 6:00 a.m., he clarifies, “because it is when one has the contrast, the oblique light, that fossils are seen. “You come here at 11 o’clock and the light is so intense that you can’t see anything. But you also have to be skillful. That’s why being here with Aldo makes all the difference because he has a unique ability. I have not known another person who has that quality, of finding fossils walking, just like that. It’s impressive. He’s collected some of the most important fossils.

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Human fossil detector

Aldo, naturally, is Aldo Rincon. He is now a professor of geology at Uninorte, but previously worked and studied at the University of Florida (UF) in Gainesville, the academic center that leads the studies of fossils extracted from the canal. Independent and amusingly irreverent, Rincon has earned a reputation as a human fossil detector. “Since I’m a geologist, what I did was to develop a system of trial and error,” he explained to me one recent morning in his small office in Uninorte, marvelously crowded with papers, publications, country clothes and his spoiled rocks (calling them ‘stones’ is a sacrilege), some collected even since he was a child, and which his father had the brilliant idea of saving. “I ask myself where to look for a fossil and what I do is look at the sedimentary structures and sequence, trying to identify where I am most likely to find a fossil. And then I devote myself to the detail of following those layers. I study the sedimentology in detail, do my homework and take it very hard,” he says, and remembers that he collected his first fossil at the age of six, during a pot trip with the family in Arbeláez, when he got bored with adults and went with his little dog to look for interesting things.

Que camello!

“One day I was in the country, in what we call the formation of Las Cascadas, and I fell; and when I got up, rubbing my hip, I saw at my feet a fossil of a jaw of what looked like a small crocodile with black canines and an elongated jaw. I was very impressed that it had two sets of canines and I said, ‘This is weird’. The fossil turned out to be a camel. One of the oldest mammals in all of Central America. “Aldo found the camel in question on 20 million-year-old rocks in central Panama,” Jaramillo says another afternoon in his office. “Divine the camel. It came from North America. When he arrived in Panama what he found was a humid tropical forest. Today South American camels are in high places: alpacas, vicuñas, and llamas. Or in cold, dry areas of Patagonia. A camel in the rainforest? What a camel!” A camel in the rainforest? Here it was! It came walking from Nebraska and Texas and Florida before there was a wall” (laughs). In fact, Rincón found two species of camelids, which he named Aguascalientia panamaensis and Aguascalientia minuta, and which belong to an evo-

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lutionary branch different from modern South American camelids. “The crowns of their teeth are very short and round, and that’s why we think they would have lived in the jungles of the ancient tropics, eating leaves”. Rincón got carried away by his intuition about Las Cascadas, and started collecting there in his “HERE THE CAMP free time, “and eventually the teeth of BEGINS AT 6:00 the famous monkey A.M., HE CLARIFIES, came out”. “BECAUSE IT IS The “famous WHEN ONE HAS monkey”, described by Rincón in Nature, THE CONTRAST, is none other than THE OBLIQUE LIGHT, Panamacebus transiTHAT FOSSILS ARE tus, the first monkey discovered in NorSEEN. “YOU COME th America. Prior to HERE AT 11 O’CLOCK this discovery it was AND THE LIGHT believed that New World monkeys had IS SO INTENSE evolved in isolation. THAT YOU CAN’T “Learning that there SEE ANYTHING.” were monkeys living CARLOS JARAMILLO in North America 20 million years ago is an amazing discovery that changes our understanding of the continent’s biological history,” Jonathan Bloch, curator of vertebrate paleontology at the University of Florida, told the BBC. In general, what was found in the isthmus was a mixture of North and South American elements. Most mammals came from North America, while other vertebrates came from below. The interesting thing is that the canal is a laboratory for understanding how species migrate, why some do and some don’t, continues Jaramillo. “And that has many implications for invasive species in our modern ecosystems. When ecosystems lose diversity it’s easier for them to be invaded by species from elsewhere.


THE LARGEST NATURAL EXPERIMENT IN HISTORY.

An army of young researchers

Studying a window of time requires efforts from all disciplines. Among other researchers in the project, Colombian biologist Catalina Pimiento of Swansea University, England, studies megalodon teeth, the largest shark of all times, a nightmarish creature that came to measure at least 15 meters. Pimiento theorizes that female sharks would come to bays to have their young, and stay in tropical waters until they grew which is not surprising because it’s basically the same thing that happens to species like lemon sharks on Bahamian sandbanks, studied by Samuel Gruber of the University of Miami. In an e-mail, Natalia Hoyos Botero, with a PhD in geography from UF, says she was in charge of managing the geographic database and its analysis to generate the geological cartography that emerged from the field work. “I personally learned how important it is to work with people who are constantly challenging established paradigms, people who can see the big picture and who have a genuine interest in solving scientific questions”

cause it is assumed that they are very similar to the ones that we will have a hundred years from now”. It is believed that we are going to have a world very similar in terms of temperature and CO2 concentrations to the one we had during the Middle Miocene. So these leaves are a window to the past that will help us predict what will probably come in less than a century”. His latest research, published in November in the American Journal of Botany, points to the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere of that distant neotropical past at more than 400 parts per million. “A concentration that helps to reconcile the high temperatures reconstructed for that period of time and the climate models that relate high concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere with high global temperatures”. In short, the magnificent fossils of the Panama Canal open up even more questions than they answer. And that’s great. That’s what good science should do. “Molecular genetics, paleo-oceanography, paleo-climatology, animal behavior, are some of the many fields where the isthmus is crucial,” concludes Carlos Jaramillo. “All that is conjugated here”.

The leaves speak

The canal fossils have not only served to understand the biogeography and geology of this piece of the world, but also to study the climate of the past. Colombian student Liliana Londoño, of the University of Chile, along with a group of researchers and Uninorte professor Jaime Escobar, used the size and number of stomas (the pores in the leaves where CO2 and water enter and leave) of incredibly preserved fossil leaves, and their geochemistry, to reconstruct the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere 18 million years ago, when the planet was much warmer than it is today. “It’s important to know the concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere in that time period be-

The formation of the Isthmus of Panama allowed the exchange of fauna between North and South America, so it is a key point to understand the origin of the species that inhabit or inhabited the continent.

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PERFIL

Detective of the

deep past Discovering and describing thousands of pollen grains; forging amazing hypotheses about the domination of flowering plants; understanding what global warming does to tropical rainforests; describing the Amazon in a new light: just a few brushstrokes from the fascinating work of Uninorte honorary professor Carlos Jaramillo, geologist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama.

By Ángela Posada-Swafford Scientific journalist and Editorial consultant of Intellecta www.angelaposadaswafford.com

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ou could say that the Smithonian Institute for Tropical Research, STRI, in Panama City is a kind of 221B Baker Street and that the geologist and paleobotanist Carlos Jaramillo, honorary professor at Uninorte is its Sherlock Holmes. A very brilliant Sherlock who athletically hikes the hills of Corte Culebra with his magnifying glass and hammer and later spends long hours in front of a microscope reading the evidence about the deep past provided by rocks. Based on clues ranging from microscopic grains of pollen to petrified trees and fossils of colossal reptiles, Jaramillo and his team of detectives weave millions of years of evidence to reconstruct the history of tropical ecosystems. His work provides a vital perspective for understanding the counterintuitive response of these habitats to the strong global warming of the past, and preparing us to deal with a future of climate change: in 2006 and 2010 Jaramillo published a series of provocative studies in Science according to which, the hotter it was on the planet, and the more carbon dioxide the at-

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mosphere had, the more biodiversity increased in the tropics; and vice versa, when the level of CO2 cooled and decreased, the diversity of species decreased; although, he clarifies, that response occurred over very long periods of time, unlike what is happening with the dizzying warming that we are currently experiencing. In addition to his personal research, Carlos Jaramillo has managed to create a series of international networks of postdoctoral students and researchers, most of them Colombians, to work on gigantic projects, including the excavations of the Panama Canal (which are the subject of another article in this issue of Intellecta) and those of the El Cerrejón coal mine, which led to the discovery of the world’s oldest rainforest, dating back some 60 million years. Can the climate change of the distant past predict the future of tropical rainforests? Why are there so many species of plants and animals in the tropics? Can we use fossils to find natural resources such as oil, coal or water? These are some of the science questions that guide Jaramillo’s laboratory in the venerable Smithsonian building on Ancon Hill.


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390,000 Grains of pollen to identify

I don’t waste time looting the brain of this researcher who generously received the Uninorte communications team after a morning of field demonstrations and tours of the Smithsonian collections. The first one that catches my attention is the pollen repository on the first floor. Neatly placed in red boxes like books in a library, there are thousands of microscope glass plates with pollen grains from around the world, but with an emphasis on the Americas. The amazing collection of grains and spores from 25,000 plant species was created over more than 40 years by Alan Graham, a retired professor at the University of Kent and now curator emeritus of the Missouri Botanical Garden. By collecting material from herbaria everywhere, Graham effectively assembled the largest collection of tropical pollen in the world. Each plate is accompanied in a file by a card with information about the plant species represented by pollen. One of Jaramillo’s crusades is to transcribe and digitize all that crucial information, so that researchers anywhere can consult it without having to physically travel to Panama, to look card by card. Pollens are very resistant and are always preserved in the fossil record. That is why they are among the best friends of the detectives of the past and present. “We use them to date rocks and know the age of sediments. In anthropology they can help us understand what ancient humans ate. The Drug Enforcement Administration, DEA, uses them to track the movement of illegal cargo across borders and learn where it originated,” the researcher explains, adding that his team is also literally photographing every grain of pollen, and adding that information to a database that is public and online. Carlos Jaramillo’s other crusade is even more daring. It is something like the palynological equivalent of climbing the Christopher Columbus peak in the Sierra Nevada: to make a complete description of each and every pollen that existed in and around Colombia during the Cretaceous period before and after the impact of the Chicxulub meteorite, 66 million years ago. The idea is to reconstruct the evolution of the tropical rainforest before and during the fateful impact that killed the dinosaurs. For the past 15 years he and his students have been collecting rock samples from 17 locations in the Americas, representing different periods of this window of time. From each of the 1300 rock samples, Jaramillo separated

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Carlos Jaramillo is one of the world’s most renowned Colombian scientists.

300 grains of pollen. That is, in total, he has 390,000 individual grains of pollen to identify. “Since hardly anyone had done anything about it, many species are new, and so the work has been super slow,” he explains, showing stacks of index cards covering a long table in the middle of his office surrounded by high windows open to the surrounding forests. Each card has a meticulously crafted pencil drawing of a pollen grain, with descriptions of the species, and sometimes a photo with some microscopic detail, glued to the back with a clip. The kind of wonderful, exhaustive, handmade taxonomic work you saw on botanical expeditions of the past. “I look at each grain, I draw it, I compare it with another to see if it is the same, if it has the hair here or there, if it is round or elongated, smooth or with holes, if it has spikes or not; in general I use about 70 characteristics to classify each grain. It’s fun. And there are very few paleopalinologists of the tropics in the world. About 20. Imagine that. In Colombia there are five,” he says laughing. “But without this basic science work you can’t do anything else. Someone has to do it. Jaramillo and his group have found at least 1500 new species of tropical pollens from Colombia and the Americas. In fact, 80% of the pollen grains collected have not been described before. “This monograph is a once-in-a-lifetime job. I have a little pounded finger because I say this year I’m going to finish,” he emphasizes, laughing and hitting the table with his index finger. “We already analyzed the pollen but now we have to compare it with other species in the world. For example, there is a very good collection from the Egyptian Cretaceous that has things very similar to what we have here. We had to make sure that what we have here no longer has a name in Egypt. The same goes for collections in Munich and Paris. And in Sydney, whose cretaceous pollen resembles that of Colombia because it was all part of Gondwana.


DETECTIVE OF THE DEEP PAST

TROPICAL RAINFORESTS ARE AN ACCIDENT OF HISTORY The abominable mystery of flowers

To have this profile of Cretaceous pollen in the tropics could help to understand fascinating things such as the radical transformation that forests underwent with the appearance of flowers. No one has fully comprehended how it is that a forest that 145 million years ago was composed of ferns and gymnosperms, where there was not a single fruit, became the bounty of petals and pulps and sugars from the forests of 65 million years ago to the present. Darwin himself called it “the abominable mystery of flowers”. But, thanks to pollen, Jaramillo has the interesting hypothesis that while the Chixculub meteorite in Yucatan killed the dinosaurs, at the same time it created the flower empire. The impact vaporized the ground, raising an enormous wave of dust that plunged the planet into almost immediate darkness that lasted between six and nine months, followed by decades of poor, dull light. The global temperature dropped from 27 degrees Celsius before the collision to just five, and it took three decades for the climate to recover. Perhaps in this deplorable darkness, the hungry insects that once fed on the decomposed bodies of dinosaurs blindly followed the sweet scent of small flowers that were just beginning to grow, the scientist thinks. And then they pollinated them with their legs and antennae. When the light flooded the world again, the rainforest was something else. “It was a completely different world,” Jaramillo says in an article in Smithsonian magazine. “Almost all plants before the impact had become extinct after the meteorite. There were also big differences between the forests of North and South America. The latitudinal gradient (the increase in biodiversity between the tropics and the

poles) that we see today between the north and the south did not exist. It seems to be something that is related to the presence of flowering plants. “The researchers thought that the first flowers were like magnolias, but now they know that they were small, perhaps aquatic, with tiny petals, and probably scattered by insects. Perhaps angiosperms (flowering plants) ended up having an advantage over gymnosperms (without flowers) because they increasingly adapted to growing in constantly changing habitats. They became stronger, grew faster and climbed to the canopy. And once there, there would be no way for the others to compete.

A saltwater amazon

Listening to or reading Carlos Jaramillo is an endless delight. In 2017 I interviewed him for Scientific American magazine about another interesting study he conducted in the company of Uninorte geologist Jaime Escobar. The work presented evidence of how the Caribbean Sea got into what are now the eastern plains of Colombia, not just once but twice, flooding the land to the Amazon 18 and 14 million years ago, respectively. The sediment cores obtained by the two researchers contained keys such as shark teeth and piles of evidence of organisms that had to learn to live in a saline environment. The evidence forces us to consider the Amazon of those years as a lacustrine and dynamic environment, and has triggered many conjectures about its formidable biodiversity. Jaramillo has been with the Smithsonian in Panama for 13 years. He lives in one of the areas reverted by the Americans, in a house where tucans and wild turkeys arrive. His wife, María Inés Barreto, is an ornithologist graduated from the Universidad Javeriana, and helps him with the logistics of the laboratory and the mundane things of everyday life. I ask how she sees Colombia in matters of paleontology, and if, given the number of recent discoveries, she sees that the country can become a power in this discipline. He answers yes, “even though the investment is still low. That’s why Uninorte is becoming a very important university at a geological and paleontological level, because of Mapuka’s collections, because of its professors with doctorates, because of its growing level of publications, and because it is contributing to build a critical mass of professionals in paleontology. We are going to grow a lot in this decade. Sherlock Holmes himself could not have said it better.

Paleontology at school Edited by Carlos Jaramillo at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, and Luz Helena Oviedo at the Humboldt Institute, and with the support of Uninorte, among other institutions, “A long time ago” is a beautifully illustrated book that traces the history of Colombian paleontology. The work is designed to take this alternative history of the national territory to schools. It included the participation of 28 specialists in the area, of which nine are from the Universidad del Norte. “There is nothing more pleasant than to see the history of Colombian life documented and illustrated as many of us have dreamed of since we were amateur fossil hunters”, Brigitte L.G. Baptiste, General Director of the Humboldt Institute.

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Negritas Puloy: popular transformation of color and masks

During the last three decades, performance and the adoption of popular imaginaries mutated a conception of the working class into an emblematic disguise of the Carnaval de Barranquilla. By José Luis Rodríguez Journalist rodriguezjl@uninorte.edu.co

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he black lycra simulates the skin, high heels elevate walking and the short red dress with white round dots attracts the attention. These elements, along with a pair of fleshy red lips, like ripe strawberries, are the preamble of a playful act in the Carnaval de Barranquilla. This is one of the most representative disguises of the Human Heritage festivity: The Negritas Puloy. For Isabel Muñoz, the tradition bearer of this character and founder of the group, it means everything: it is an incentive, a therapy or the opportunity to share this festivity with many people. As she steps on the Vía 40, she says, she forgets her sorrows, problems and stress of the previous days. She can cry from emotion when she sees the happy faces of the audience and then, she can say “it was worthwhile”. RE VISTA INTELLEC TA

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FROM SERVITUDE STEREOTYPE TO A SENSOUS WOMAN. Mónica Gontovnik Hobrecht, professor of the Humanities and Philosophy Department in Uninorte and PhD in Interdisciplinary Studies in Art, knows this feeling. In 2016, the professor led a research funded by Uninorte where she approached the mechanisms and characteristics that allowed this neighborhood disguise to have a place in the iconography of the largest popular festivity in Colombia. “They are in the Carnaval since 1984, they rehearse in the neighborhood streets and as some other groups have imitated them, they call themselves Las Negritas Puloy from Montecristo. They neither are dancers, nor have they perfect bodies, but their disguise has evolved along with the city”, says Gontovnik while she looks at some photographs on her computer. The Negritas Puloy added “Montecristo” to their name to make reference of the neighborhood where Isabel and her sister Martha live and who are bearers of the tradition started at the beginning of the sixties by a group of women of the Boston neighborhood, among them, Natividad López, Isabel´s mother in law. In the search for an original disguise for carnival, the original artists were inspired in a disguise magazine, the popular imaginary of a maid and the brand of a detergent called Puloy (in English Pull Oil, means grease removal). “The transformation of this word to Puloy, says the researcher, is a clear example of popular appropriation of language”

Genesis

According to the study, at the beginning the idea was to be able to assist to the popular dances in the neighborhood, where women were not allowed without a partner. As travesties are common during these festivities, they considered people would think they were men in women disguises. Those days, the outfit consisted of a simple dress with an apron and a bandana which is a reminder of the image of black women performing different household chores. They covered their faces with a black cloth mask, their arms covered with black socks simulating hand gloves and their legs were also covered with black leggings which simulated the black skin. They carried mops, combs, pots, pans and hand towels with which they simulated to be cleaning other people´s houses. Beatriz and Edith de la Peña, both in their seventies, explained Gontovnik how, with their sister Carlota, they were part of this group of women who participated in the festivities dressed as “negritas” in the Boston neighborhood. In a photograph from 1964 compiled during the research, they recognized themselves and they remember Anita Consuegra, Enid Ariza and Natividad, who went out early dressed “with a simple dress

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not as sophisticated as today´s” with long black socks, a short, ruffled, white dress with red round spots and scoop neck, a turban, a red mouth (which was part of the cloth mask which covered their faces), big hoop earrings, socks imitating gloves and flats. In the Colombian Caribbean this disguise became a generic reference to household chores and the physiognomy of women with dark skin who were usually from rural areas and came to the city in search of better working opportunities for providing support for their families. But most of these references are not present in the disguise today, neither in the way they perform in front of the public and even less in the mind of those who re appropriate the popular disguise. According to Gontovnik, who participated in the 2016 Carnival parade disguised as a negrita Puloy with this group, “this carnival manifestation has been maintained with great effort for more than 30 years, thanks to a disguise that changes with time and the parades where they participate. This kind of memory is not celebrated with a statue, it I not fixed to return to it, it is updated cyclically. What maintains it, is exactly its ephemeral nature.


NEGRITAS PULOY, POPULAR TRANSFORMATION OF COLOR AND MASKS

Blackness y evolution

Gontovnik confirmed that using the Negrita Pulpy disguise had become popular during the 70s in the dancing groups and social clubs in Barranquilla. By the 80s the “traditionalization” of popular costumes was consolidated and was reinforced by the popular growth of the festivity. Carlos Franco, who was one of the main folk choreographers of the region, founded the dance group Las Negritas Puloy and the Cipotes Marimondas in 1983 with the aim of rescuing traditional disguises which were becoming extinct. The professor argues that part of the acceptance of the disguise is based on the ideology of cultural mix with which they pretend to “cover a reality of racial exclusion in Latin America” and that different experts have theorized in the region. “Colombian ethnicity, formed by black, indigenous and white people is used in nationalistic speech to make people believe that this race mix is an element that identify an egalitarian Colombia since that flows in our blood. But in daily life, being black or indigenous is linked to lack of opportunities”, summons the researcher. Under this segregation perspective, “the same as it is better to have less indigenous or black physical traits to be able to have better opportunities of economic and social ascent”, the Negritas Puloy dance has been transforming itself. They change the cleaning utensils for showy umbrellas and their flats for platform high heels. They also left the black cloth masks behind to show their real faces with makeup applied to be in tone with the culturally acceptable beauty perception”. They wear a curly black wig, they shortened their skirt and they playfully show red thongs over black leggings whenever they pose for photo and send a flirting kiss. “It changed from being the stereotype of the black servant to become the hot mulata, as I say, so that Barranquilla women of the 21st century can identify with it as a victory in the urban popular imagination”, concluded Gontovnik.

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Tile

identity

In the Republican period, houses in Barranquilla decorated their floors with mosaics painted with artistic and elaborated forms to give grandness to the spaces. A custom clouded by modern life, but some people want to revive. By José Luis Rodríguez R. Journalist rodriguezjl@uninorte.edu.co

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sing his fingers as brushes, Alberto Gutierrez colors the cast put on a cement board. For 35 years, he has demonstrated to be a master of a traditional art that carpets, with beautifully decorated tiles, the floors of properties of Republican and transition to modernism architecture. The 58 years-old artisan is the last “mosaic officer” of a family that has laid this know-how: make cement tiles or “hydraulic mosaic” used in the Republican period (1848-1940) in Barranquilla. Brightly decorated with distinctive colors and patterns, mosaics were a sociocultural differentiating element. Now they are only seen in the heritage houses of the city, nostalgic memories of another time. Its use drowned since the end of the 20th century, when the building industry began to demand for serially manufactured products.

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Although most of the enterprises and businesses which made them disappeared, the mosaics installed on the floors of big houses continue telling a narrative of patterns and elements of design that remains beyond the passing of time. A narrative that for three years has focused the attention of the team headed by the architect Rossana Llanos, professor of the Architecture Department of Universidad del Norte, who looks for maintaining alive this founding aspect of Barranquilla’s architectonic memory. The Project called “the color of the cement tiles in the Colombia Caribbean region” is focused on the recognition and enhancement of cultural, historical, graphic and chromatic aspects represented by the designs of traditional cement tiles. It aims at not only distinguishing this mosaic as a piece of heritage value of the Colombia Caribbean region, but also highlighting the traditional craft of tile master artisans as cultural heritage. “Being an interdisciplinary group, the first step was to establish a methodological structure. We carried out a study of the art and researched which are the places that have this kind of floor in the region. As an initial case study, we chose Barranquilla considered as the national epicenter of the arrival of migratory currents that brought new construction styles, materials and techniques”, the professor explains, at her office whose walls show dozens of images of the studied tiles. The research group consisted of the co-researchers Martha Rodriguez and Mauricio Garcia, professors of the Graphic Design department, Libardo Reyes of the Industrial Design Department, Sergio Chirivella of the Architecture department, and the students and collaborators Camilo Guevara, Melanie Hernandez, Omar Barboza and Nestor Barros, graduated in Industrial Design and manager of Neca. Part of this group participated in the International Color Conference in Lisboan (2018, AIC), where the project was chosen as a research of high cultural, social and chromatic value. Besides, it was shown in the backyard “Alvaro Gómez Hurtado” at Colombia National Capitol, from November 6th to 16th, in the exhibition Traces: Footprints on the Heritage.

The artisan Alberto Gutierrez prepares the mix that will give color to a new set of tiles.

48,3% 66 Universidad del Nor te

of buildings with Republican typologies use the phytomorphic graphic pattern


TILE IDENTITY

Making a mosaic At the beginning of the 20th Century, Colombian industry had yet not been consolidated, which caused the import of many products and materials, among them the hydraulic tile, as ornamental element. It had a traditional size (20 cm X 20 cm) and it became the aesthetic hallmark of a great number of buildings in Barranquilla that, as main entry gate, was one of the first cities to adopt tiles. “I have worked in four enterprises devoted to the art of making mosaics, but this art has been lost, because of the ceramic implementation. Now, in the last five years, I think it is coming back” the artisan Gutierrez claims in his workshop, after interrupting the mix compaction. Hundreds of mosaics are stacked on a shelf near him, while his fellows fill the casts, polish tiles and work with another hydraulic press, which resounds in the background: the making of cement tiles has its own industrial symphony. In Llanos and her group research, 30 buildings of two sectors of Barranquilla were chosen: Historical Center and El Prado neighborhood, including the San Jose Church or the Garcia Building, where inventories were carried out, graphic and photographic surveys, and color proofs. The team classified the buildings as Republican and Modern Movement periods, and also made a sub-classification: Art Noveou and Art Deco Based on the literature about ornamentation and hydraulic floors, the group determined the corresponding graphic patterns and analyzed the chromatic palette of each of the floors. “Together with teachers and students of Graphic Design, the group made the vectorization (the process of converting from a bitmap image to a vector representation) of each pattern and each model. This is a very rigorous exercise from the graphic point of view because it breaks down the forms to apply a geometric analysis,” Llanos says.

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IDENTIDAD DE BALDOSA

Results

After analyzing mosaic floor of the different buildings, the researchers defined three main graphic patterns in them: some mosaics have plant-like forms; others are more geometric; and others, lineal. Their color palette varies between seven tones. Colors become more complex according to the importance of the building or the socioeconomic stratum of the owner. In the transition period to Modernism, graphics change passing from plant-like patterns to geometric drawings. According to the researcher “this explains why, in a same building, it was normal to find different patterns of hydraulic tiles, especially in those of higher socioeconomic strata.” “The floor as an architectonic element took a differentiating center stage in society. Each house studied takes the floor as an element that establishes a hierarchy for spaces. Very social spaces such as the living rooms and the dining rooms are usually more decorated and colorful, unlike kitchens and bathrooms which managed only one tone or very subtle lines.” One of the main conclusions of the study is the “motor” that boosted the chromatic and graphic variety of the hydraulic tile in Barranquilla in the Republican period extended to the modern movement, was “fed” by the desire of progress and modernity of the society of the time, which for representing its high sociocultural level, purchasing power and certain exclusivity, resorted to it as a representative element of personality. It is also clear that due to the fast transition between import and national production, the cultural contextualization of the foreign factory opened an aesthetic universe of the tile with more vivid and cheerful, characteristics of the Colombian Caribbean region.

“The mosaic has contributed a lot to the city’s architectural richness. I think MOST DESIGNS OF the main contribution HYDRAULIC TILES is that it is an extremely durable product, SHOW INFLUENCES because today we OF ARTISTIC can see houses in EL CURRENTS AS ART Prado are more than NOUVEAU AND ART one hundred years old and their floors DECO, AND AT THE remain intact,” NesSAME TIME, ARE tor Barrios Fernandez INFLUENCED BY expresses. He is a graduated in IndusTHE ROMANESQUEtrial Design of UniBYZANTINE, norte and manager RENAISSANCE, of Neca, a company GREEK AND engaged in the manufacture of mosaics, ISLAMIC ART. located on the road Galapa-Barranquilla. Neca was founded two years ago and at present employs 14 people, including seven artisans engaged in making mosaics, among them, Alberto Gutierrez, who continues giving color to each piece with his hands paled by time. A “mosaic officer” that, together with Llanos and her working team, does not give up the fight to preserve the identity of Barranquilla, a city that one day was a model of dynamism and modernity.

Making a mosaic 1. Cast and pigments: each tile is made of a mix of cement (White or grey), calcium carbonate, fine silicate sand and pigments. The pigmented mixture is placed in a cast or “trepa”.

3. Drying: tiles are stacked in a selected box, what guarantees that they do not touch each other and are given 24 hours’ rest.

2. Press: the cast is placed in a hydraulic press where the mixture is compacted under a minimum pressure of 120 kg/cm2.

4. Pool: Finally, tiles are immersed in water for the set of cement occurs.

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Secrets

dragged by the

Magdalena river

By Pablo Correa Torres Journalist pablocorreatorres@gmail.com

The Magdalena River is now part of the Global River Observatory, an initiative to monitor the climate change and the impact of man on the Nature. Researchers of Uninorte have the mission of studying this “giant”.

70 Universidad del Nor te


SECRETS DRAGGED BY THE MAGDALENA RIVER

J

uan Camilo Restrepo resorts to a family analogy to explain his task as researcher: “When you go to the doctor because some illnesses, but you do not know what they are, the doctor takes your urine and blood samples, because the signals of the human body go there. That same role of veins and urinary system is accomplished by rivers. All what happened to the soil, with the agriculture industry, cattle, deforestation, and pollution come to the rivers.” The Magdalena river, his obsession when he studied his Master in Earth Sciences in the Universidad Eafit, and then when fulfilled a doctorate in Uninorte and now as member of the research group in Geosciences, drags in its brown waters signals of Colombia health status. The Magdalena river starts at Las Papas highlands, at a height of 3685 meters and traverses a vast territory, about 1612 kilometers where 70% of Colombian population is living, before discharging its secrets into the Caribbean Sea. Juan Camilo describes it as “a poorly-studied giant”. Each year hundreds and hundreds of studies about the Mississippi river, the Amazon River, and the Yangtze River are found in scientific journals. Few people devote attention to Magdalena River. Just a data should serve to balance the interest in this “giant”, Amazon River discharges around 900 million tons of sediments into the Atlantic Ocean each year in front of Brazilian coasts. Magdalena River drags a seventh of that amount, around 143 million tons, that discharge into the Caribbean Sea from Bocas de Ceniza. The difference is that the Amazon makes this discharge through a mouth 134 kilometers wide, the Magdalena, instead, through only 600 meters. The work of Juan Camilo and his colleagues Luis Otero and Oscar Alvarez has focused on understanding the dynamics of mouths and estuaries. They want to know better the changes caused by a million Colombians´ decisions and actions, from mining to agriculture throughout the Magdalena river basin, “anthropic intervention” as they call it, but also a major change force, the climate change, on these ecosystems. In 2016, they analyzed the suspended sediment transportation in two decades to better understand how much the discharge of the river into the Caribbean Sea is varying. The following year, they published another work about the sediment load in seven Colombian rivers to propose a new vision about the variability and flows to the Caribbean Sea.

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This year, they have published the results of a research about the dynamics of estuaries and sediments. They found that the suspended sediment concentration of Magdalena river is “of the same order as the one informed for the estuaries Yangtze and Yellow, classified as the ones that have the highest values of suspended sediments in the world”. “As a consequence of these works, we were contacted by a global network, the Global River Observatory,” Juan Camilo says. Bernhard Peucker-Ehrenbrink, of the Marine Chemistry and Geochemistry Department of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in the United States, proposed them to join the group of researchers who are collecting data of 18 big hydrographic basins, among them Amazon, Congo, Danube, Ganges, Kolyma, Lena, Mackenzie, Obi, Yangtze, Yenisei and Yukon. The observatory mission is clear: “advancing understanding of how climate change, deforestation and other disturbances are impacting river chemistry and land-ocean linkages. This knowledge is vital for tracking the health of Earth’s watersheds and for predicting how chemical and water cycles of the Earth will change in the future.” With a human population approaching 9 billion people that knowledge is more vital than ever. Any disturbance can be translated into a change in the destiny of millions of human beings. It is not easy to discover secrets from the Magdalena River. It is wasteful. And it is also expensive. The most direct strategy that consists in taking periodical water samples in different points of the river and analyze them in a chemical laboratory, is a problem. A day on a boat to collect samples in the mouth can cost more than five million Colombian pesos. Completing a series of data during some years, taking daily samples, would ruin any Colombian researcher. To save this obstacle, a student of the doctorate in Sea Sciences of Uninorte, Ana Carolina Torregroza, has focused her efforts and talent in finding alternative and cheaper methods to collect information of the river mouth. Although it sounds paradoxical, going away from the river was easier than trying to come closer. More than 643 km above the Earth, Modis, a satellite as large as a scholar omnibus launched on December 18th of 1999 and that will continue revolving around our planet until 2020, gives images of free access containing information about each corner of the Earth and, of course, about the Magdalena River. Modis tracks a wider variety of the Earth’s vital signs than any other sensor. It captures 36 spectral bands.

River samples are used to measure nitrates, phosphates, dissolved oxygen, heavy metals and isotopy, as well as organic and inorganic carbon.

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SECRETS DRAGGED BY THE MAGDALENA RIVER

Ana Carolina Torregroza makes measurements of physical and sedimentological parameters in the Magdalena River, in Calamar.

“We try to see the water quality through the images”, Ana Carolina explains. The amount of chlorophyll dragged by the river, salinity, suspended sediment concentration and temperature, all of them are variables able to be indirectly measured from images, in the same way someone could deduce a soup composition from a series of photographs taken regularly. In this way, Ana Carolina and Juan Camilo are now studying the Magdalena River. “It is complicated to use traditional methods when there are scarce resources, hence the importance of satellite images. With that, we have a wider scope in time. We have day by day information. A limitation is that satellites only give us information of the river surface, and not of all water column.” Ana Carolina complains. Beyond the limitations of this method, together with the occasional samplings that the researchers can carry out, permits them to understand two of the main impacts of the river: sedimentation and erosion, two phenomena that touch the heartstrings of the Caribbean economy. Sedimentation affects the navigability of the river and has a direct impact on the harbor. The erosion degrades the beaches and the coastline in a region that largely depends on the national and international tourism. Until today, and more than a century ago, the ignorance and the lack of data have led to governments making awkward decisions again and again. The most recent episode, Juan Camilo says, was dredging the river to deepen the channel from 9 to 12 m. During three months, several hundreds of million Colombian pesos were invested in that task, and when it was finished, the river swept all away in less than a month. “We need science and these data to make more technique and supported decisions about problems in the mouth”, Juan Camilo claims. “The nature of a mouth is changing. The only constant is change.”

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A tiny

PARTICLE for a great WORK With the help of nanotechnology, researchers have designed a device, ten times smaller than the thickness of a human hair that has the ability of trapping mercury molecules present in water bodies.

By María Margarita Mendoza Journalist medinamm@uninorte.edu.co

Worldwide, illegal mining is the main source of mercury release into the environment. This element of liquid consistence and silver tones is used by miners to extract and separate the gold from the rocks in which it is found; the extraction uses a chemical process in which significant quantities of this metal are emitted into the atmosphere, water and soils. According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), in 2010 the emissions of mercury were 3200 tons on earth and 3700 tons in the oceans and figures seem to increase. Colombia is the third country in the world with the highest indexes of mercury pollution, after China and Indonesia; and it is the first one per capita. Data from a research published in the journal “Science of the Total Environment” (Mercury contamination from artisanal gold mining in Antioquia, Colombia: The world’s highest per capita mercury pollution) state this is because annually artisanal mining activities emit between 50 and 100 tons of this metal that end up in the country’s rivers, lakes and seas. Three researchers of the Physics and Geoscience department of Universidad del Norte work on the area of new material aiming at designing a nanoparticle, an object hundred times smaller than a grain of sand with the capacity of attracting and retaining mercury molecules present in the country’s water bodies in order to clean them from pollution.

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COLOMBIA IS THE THIRD COUNTRY IN THE WORLD WITH THE HIGHEST INDEXES OF MERCURY POLLUTION, AFTER CHINA AND INDONESIA; AND IT IS THE FIRST ONE PER CAPITA.

Nano sized science

A nanoparticle is an extremely small amount created from molecules of elements. They are measured in nanometers, a measure unit smaller than the microscopic one and equal to one billionth of a meter. This allows scientists to create minute technological pieces with several uses in field such as agriculture, robotics, medicine, or in this case, water purification. Carlos Pinilla, physicist and professor of Uninorte, is one of the researchers behind the invention of this water cleaner nanoparticle. He explained it would have a size between 500 nanometers and one micron, that is, one tenth of a human hair thickness. To accomplish the big task of attracting mercury its structure will be compounded by only three elements: quartz, magnetite (magnetic material) and a molecule called thiol present in fruits and vegetables such as passion-fruit, garlic or chives.

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Glosario Nanopartícula: es un dispositivo sumamente pequeño creado a partir de moléculas de los elementos. Estas se miden en nanos, una unidad de medida más pequeña que la microscópica, y que equivale a la milmillonésima parte de un metro Tiol: es un compuesto presente en frutas y verduras cotidianas como la maracuyá o el ajo. Está formado por moléculas de hidrogeno, oxígeno y azufre, esta última forma enlaces con el mercurio, por lo que logra atraer y retener este metal.

“We would want to work with material that was cheap, that was found locally, organic and harmless for human beings and water; the three elements meet these criteria because our body is used to them daily”, the Ph. D in Physics pointed out. To select the elements which compound this nanoparticle, Pinilla has been working since 2017 with his colleagues of Uninorte, the also physicist, Alfredo Lora and the mechanical engineer, Juan Galvis. They have designed a model of spherical nanoparticle that has a magnetic center made up of magnetite, a mineral naturally found as rocks. As magnetite is sprayed inside the nanoparticles, these will be recovered from the rivers and lakes in which they will be released once they have made their task of collecting mercury. This recovering process is possible with the help of magnets and it will also enable to reuse the nanoparticles. Pinilla points out that the magnetite will be isolated from the water by using glass that would be elaborated from quartz crystals, the second most common mineral on Earth and made up of silicon and oxygen molecules. Over this nano sized cover, the molecules of thiol will be disposed. Thiol is a compound that besides containing hydrogen and Sulphur also has one oxygen molecule, which is linked to the one present in the quartz keeping the structure from falling apart. Pinilla says that creating hundreds of nanoparticles, it will be possible to see them as a sort of a very fine powder of dark tones.

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THE NANOPARTICLE WILL HAVE THE ABILITY OF ATTRACTING AND RETAINING BETWEEN 100 AND 150 NANOGRAMS OF MERCURY PER CUBIC METER. “The nanoparticle will float and as the Sulphur molecules in the thiol also make strong chemical bonds with mercury, they will take charge of attracting it. We have done a systematic study of the thiol present in vegetables and finally we have found that garlic thiol is stronger to attract this metal in the water,” the researcher explained and added that the idea is to be able to synthetize this compound from the species locally planted.

The problem of mercury

The expert also insisted on the repercussions of mercury spills both on the nature and on the human health, because this metal results toxic by inhalation, contact and if swallowed. According to the World Health Organization, the allowable annual limit of this element is 1000 nanograms per cubic meter (one gram contains one billion nanograms); but the constant exposure affects the central and peripheral nervous system, the immune system, lungs and kidneys, and the consequences are especially severe in pregnant women and children. According to Pinilla, the problem is more sever when the metal is brought into contact with the water of rivers and lakes, because certain bacteria ingest these molecules and excrete them producing methylmercury, a neurotoxic compound which stays in fish and then reaches humans who eat the contaminated fish, and in this way mercury continues to build up. The work of this nanoparticle is so significant because in spite of its tiny size it will have the ability of attracting and retaining between 100 and 150 nanograms of mercury per cubic meter (ng/m3). In this way, if in a liter of sea water there are 0,0000000001 grams of mercury –enough amount to be considered toxic- one nanoparticle alone could “absorb” a tenth of that metal, thus the higher the number of nano devices added, the more decontaminated the liter will be. “In some places of the country water mercury pollution ranges from 3000 to 5000 ng/m3; so, in theory, if you put 10 of these nanoparticles at a time, they could absorb one thousand nanograms of mercury per cubic meter,” Pinilla claimed.


A TINY PARTICLE FOR A GREAT WORK

The contribution of the computational chemistry

Since late 2017 the project to design this nanoparticle is funded by the UK Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council and the technological support of the University of Bristol. England. Thanks to this support, the design of this nanoparticle and the calculations to prove the reactions of its molecules was done by simulations of computational chemistry, a branch of chemistry that allows creating digital simulations of the elements. Time before, when scientists wanted to create a new material or substance, they had to develop it by means of practical experiments, in a constant trial and error process; thus, this alternative methodology is more effective and cheaper because it allows the handling of atoms and molecules to create new compounds. To obtain it requires a big computing power to calculate the complex equations related to each experiment. In this field, the University of Bristol has the BlueCrystal, one of the most powerful computers in England, which permits to develop these calculations in short time. The researchers of Uninorte have had access to this computer from their computers in Barranquilla for modelling the nanoparticle. “The calculation is complicated due to the laws of quantum mechanics, and that is why it would take a lot of time to do these calculation by hand, so we use fast computers,” expressed Neil Allan, professor of Chemical department of University of Bristol, who has been supporting and advising the initial phase of this project. For his part, Carlos Pinilla highlighted that now that the design is finished, the researchers are concentrated on the process of manufacturing, for which they are having conversations with other European institutions interested in financing the realization of this idea. Once manufactured, the testing period will begin, in which, advised by researchers of the Engineering Division of Uninorte, they will study the variation of the hydrodynamic of each water body in which this nanotechnology is going to be used, because its ability of attraction and the task of later gathering of devices could change if these are in a lake or in a river. The researchers also consider this type of technology could be used in the future to eliminate other polluting elements in the water, such as lead or other metals; all would depend on the functional molecule available on the surface and that react similarly to thiols. Meanwhile Pinilla and his colleagues will continue working in the realization of this nanoparticle which although tiny was conceived for the big task of cleaning the country’s water bodies from the mercury pollution. “My great dream is to be able to take a bucket full of water and mercury, put inside dozens of nanoparticles and observe how it becomes clean; that is what I want to obtain in two years’ time. When I see this complete, it is probable that we can think in how to solve another problem by using Science”, Pinilla concluded.

Comparing little things Magnetite Glass

Thiol molecule

The nanoparticle that absorbs mercury would measure between 500 nanometers and one micron in diameter. The DNA double helix is about 2 nanometers.

The human hair may be until 80 microns in diameter.

The size of a grain of sand varies between 0,063 and 2 mm.

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The real cargo of the 78 Universidad del Nor te


THE GREATEST COLOMBIAN MUSEUM IS IN THE DEEP OF ITS CARIBBEAN SEA

By William Gómez Pretelt Professor of Mechanical Engineering. MsC in Maritime Affairs wpretel@uninorte.edu.co

I

n front of my eyes, resisting the submarine inclemency the last 300 years, there were the remains of the mythical galleon San Jose. On the screen of the powerful multi-beam echo sounder of our oceanographic ship there appeared a lump bathed in the false colors used to indicate the seabed morphology. “Are you sure of what you are seeing?” I asked the operator sat on my side, a seasoned marine expert in hydrographic surveys. “There is no doubt, my Captain; this is the same place of the discovery”. Invaded by the melancholy, a tear ran down my cheek, I did not know whether emotion or sadness. In my mind, there were vivid the images of my grandfather and his fantastic stories of the night of the battle and the galleon wreck. I had revived that moment in my head by years and now I had it here in front of me, on a monitor in the middle of the Caribbean Sea. San Jose was the ship closest to my heart; it had generated an absolute passion for the ocean on me, as well as for the nautical charts on which, as a child, I marked what I thought its position was. Years later, that same passion would make me an oceanographer and Captain of the Colombian Army.

The Caribbean Titanic

The sinking of the San Jose galleon, where 600 people died, is considered one of the greatest losses in the human maritime history, only comparable to the accident of the RMS Titanic and just as tragic, in that moment, as the 9-11 events in New York. Besides invading every corner in the known world in those times, the event brought about an economic depression in Europe, and nearly 100 year later it would be one of the causes of the Spanish Empire collapse. Its explosion and sinking the night of the 8th of June of 1708 in front of the UK fleet remain an enigma until today.

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Over the years, the story had transformed into sotime of the year. It is also known the wind was “weak” mething like a urban legend, becoming part of the DNA in sailors’ terms, came from the Northwest with intenof Colombian Caribbean people. Even Gabriel Garcia sity between 4 and 6 knots and there had been some Marquez included the legend in his books Love in the isolated rains, which in some moments of the night Time of Cholera and One Hundred Years of Solitude, in made the visibility partially difficult. which, some experts claim, Gabo would have left cues This information has been possible due to some about the galleon location. historical accounts of logs of Spanish and English ships The San Jose galleon had been found in 2015, by that were present at the battle and that are conseran alliance of the Government, the ICANH (Colombian ved in the Archivo de Indias and in the UK National Institute of Anthropology and History), the National Archives. In fact, the historian Carla Rahn Phillips tried, Army with the oceanographic ship ARC Malpelo, the starting from these documents, to estimate positions WHOI (Woods Hole Oceaand depths related to the battle nographic Institution) and a and to the wreck of the galleon, strange consulting firm, M. a very difficult thing due to the A. C. (Maritime Archaeology crudeness of navigation techniOVER THE YEARS, Consultants) of which noques in that time. THE STORY HAD body had ever heard, questioned by the scientific world TRANSFORMED and identified as a treasure According to her, the BritiINTO SOMETHING hunter company. sh Admiral Charles Wager and LIKE AN URBAN However, the great chahis fleet commanders knew llenge posed by the galleon the geography of Cartagena LEGEND, BECOMING San Jose and the sub-aquade Indias area, as well as some PART OF THE DNA tic archaeology goes beyond depths of the theater of operaOF COLOMBIAN a finding, and has two pretions by observations. The nauCARIBBEAN PEOPLE.. mises: the first one, to detical charts of that time lacked termine if today, a scientific scientific accuracy, their bathyproject is technologically metries were inaccurate and the and economically feasible, hydrography was just beginning; or if we must wait for some only some naval officers were years before intervening the already aware of the scientific wreck, invoking the archaeologic mantra of conservation development required by the nautical sciences. in situ, and the second one, to imagine responsible ways It would be marvelous to be able to make what of a public access to this place. is known as “re-analysis”, a scientific method to determine how the time and the climate have changed With eyes of an oceanographer through the years and their variability from the climaAs an oceanographer, what strike me are the mete change phenomenon. The re-analysis have been teomarine conditions the night of June 8th of 1708, possible in different projects, such as NOOA (Natioduring the Baru Battle or Wager Action where the nal Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) that has galleon sank. It is known there was no wind, what been able to reconstruct the rainfall occurred between made difficult war tactical maneuvers that day; the 1902 and 1903 during the Antarctic expedition on ocean-atmospheric conditions also had not allowed board the RTS Discovery. much visibility due to the high humidity typical of this

Remains of porcelain that travel in the San Jose galleon Photo courtesy Woods Hole Oceanographic.


THE REAL CARGO OF THE SAN JOSE

The San Jose and diving

One of the origins of diving would be a technological project of the British inventor John Lethbridge who in 1715, when having heard the story of the San Jose galleon, decided to contribute to the extraction of the gold and designed the first diving suit. The apparatus would reach an initial depth of 60 feet (18 m) and it would reach 500 m of depth over the time

My story with the San Jose — Do you love the sea, captain? — Yes, I love it. The sea is everything! (Captain Nemo). Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Jules Verne. My story with the San Jose galleon had started two generations ago. My grandfather Manuel H. Pretelt, writer and historian, had initiated his studies at the beginning of the 20th Century in the Conciliar Seminary located in the cloister of Santo Domingo in Cartagena de Indias that was then a town in ruins, devastated over time and with its walls destroyed and useless. There, my grandfather had been fascinated by the famous legend of the San Jose galleon, the story that had been spread quickly in every corner of the Caribbean region since 1708. A warm morning of June, in Cartagena, almost 300 years after the Baru Battle, I was learning to read in my grandfather’s library and there I heard for the first time

the fantastic story. It was1984 and rumors were heard all over the city about that the galleon and its treasure had been found. The American treasure hunter company “Glocca Morra” had announced the finding of the galleon in 1982 and had sold the rights to the Sea Search Armada, which under the direction of Jack Harbeston and the permission of the Colombian government, had brought an oceanographic ship, the “State Wave” and a submarine steered the “August Piccard”, developed only for scientific purposes by the Swiss oceanographer Jacques Piccard. The advanced technology at the service of this hunter treasure Company came with the maximum advances of underwater exploration at the moment, a ROV (Remote Operated Vehicle) and saturation diving techniques that permit depths of almost 500 meters. Surprisingly, one of the origins of diving would be a technological project of the British inventor John Lethbridge who in 1715, when having heard the story of the San Jose galleon, decided to contribute to the extraction of the gold and designed the first diving suit. The apparatus would reach an initial depth of 60 feet (18 m) and it would reach 500 m of depth over the time. Years later when I was in the secondary school, one of the principals of the school spoke passionately of the San Jose galleon and even he had introduced Jimmy Malone, a teacher of English literature, as a son of one of the treasure hunters who had been with him in the search of the galleon. Later, I knew this principal’s family had been involved with the Sea Search Armada, in the early 80’s, in the active search of San Jose galleon. All these events, but mainly the seed planted by my grandfather, had bewitched me forever, and I would love the San Jose galleon like a captain loves his ship.

The scientific revolution

San Jose’s cargo did not come to Europe, but instead would cause a “scientific revolution” in harbor, which has to move in three axes: science, technology and development of theories about maritime law. It is there, in these axes, and not in gold, where the discussions about the galleon must be really centered. To study the San Jose in situ as we should, instead of pulling it out from the bottom of the sea in a hurry, would allow to carry out science in areas such as archaeology, oceanography, hydrography, geology, marine biology, chemistry an finally, history. The study of the galleon in situ would be a kind of trip to the past, which allows opening that time capsule. Its responsible observation would help to determine issues such as physical and chemical conditions than can affect wreckage in Caribbean Sea conditions; the fauna interaction around the wreck; the processes of sedimentation, marine stratification and the decay or conservation of organic and inorganic materials. It would be like coming back to the future from 1708, disseminating important data about those times. Corey Malcom, an American expert in marine archaeology, affirms that a project of the magnitude of that of San Jose could last between 20 and 25 years. RE VISTA INTELLEC TA

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San José galleon Illustration of the Baru Battle that recreates the attack of UK ships to the Spanish fleet led by the San Jose galleon.

ssel Data of ve tion: 1669-1699 on was uc tr ns co of n Joaquin galle e Dat its twin, the Sa mes of the husband e, tim e m sa At the e the na d Joaquin wer built. Jose an of the Virgin Mar y. er ain) and of the fath in Usurbi (Guipuzcoa, Sp Francisco il, n, ap so M s : hi rd d ya an Ship tegui Pedro de Aros eta and añ zt Ga Carpenters: de o José Antoni and gave Supervisor: ships to Cadiz who took the , ga za al ib rr Itu anish Army. them to the Sp ons nn ca 62 : Artillery 0 men Capacity: 60 1037 tons ty: Load capaci

UK ship HMS Expedition, headed by Captain Henry Long and the UK fleet in the Caribbean Sea led by Commodore Charles Wager on board the Expedition.

San Jose structure

The exploration

Section of a galleon of the San Jose class. Original of Rafael Monleon, Restores and Conserver of the Nautical Museum, painted in 1895.

5

Oceanographic ship

A ship fitted out for this type of procedures. It has laboratories to analyze information, platforms for remote control handle and technique conditions for research.

6 20 7

1

19

8

4

ROV

(Remoted Operated Vehicle)

2

9 10

3

21

22

11 18 12

23 14

13

15 AUV

16

17

(Autonomous Underwater Vehicle)

Overall length: 38,9 m

1. Mizzenmast 2. Mizzen sail 3. Battle flag 4. Mizzen topsail 5. Topgallant sail

6. Topmast 7. Topsail 8. Cofa 9. Spar 10. Mainmast

Remote operation robot controlled by a cable connected to the ship. Its two mechanical arms move until 2 tons of weight. It can submerge until 3000 meters.

11. Mainsail 12. 2nd battery 13. Bilge pumps 14. 1st Battery 15. Winch

16. Ballast and cargo 17. Hold and “aguada” 18. Foremast 19. Foretop 20. Foretop gallant

21. Foresail 22. Bowsprit mast 23. Spritsail

An unmanned autonomous underwater vehicle that reaches depths of until 6000 m. It has a sonar system to obtain information from great areas of underwater floor.

Sleeve: 11,6 m

Plan: 5,8 m

Prop: 5,5 m

Made with Spanish Wood, consisted of three bridges, weighed 1.006 tons, had stone ballast and 62 brass cannons.

Interdisciplinary team

Researchers involved in the archaeologic study: historian, archaeologists, geologists, biologists and oceanographers.

Underwater remains Photogrammetry made of 6000 photos taken at 80 cm of each object by using a ROV. It can be observed, among others, the cannons of San Jose Galleon. Photo: Property of Colombian Institute of Anthropology and History (ICANH)

The remains of the ship are now at about 600 m below the surface of the sea.


THE REAL CARGO OF THE SAN JOSE

Science in the San Jose Research

A study in situ of San Jose Galleon with the components of science, technology and maritime law would bring a great scientific and academic development, where Colombia would be considered as an “Egypt of the marine archaeology of the 21st century� and the San Jose galleon a graveyard and at the same time heritage of humanity. Thus, it is a priority to create spaces allowing registering, classifying, compiling and managing up dated information available to research. Projects such as the Observatory of the San Jose galleon (www.elgaleonsanjose. com), among other initiatives, permit monitoring mechanisms for those who are interested on further advance the science and technology battle. All this together with the cooperation of other countries and a wide-ranging scientific work of historical reconstruction of the wreck, would bring the archaeologic development around the Colombian maritime territory, which even could be an international referent.

Cannons of San Jose galleon in the place of the wreck. Photo courtesy: Woods Hole Oceanographic.

Technology The development of underwater technologies would be at first line, taking advantage of Barranquilla as axis of the off shore oil industry that has allowed the coming of underwater technologies with modern techniques to find hydrocarbons, such as the Core piston at more than 3000 m deep and its analysis in situ on board the research ships. In Colombia, the Universidad Bolivariana of Medellin has been developing these techniques, testing recently an ROV at 400 m deep; the Universidad del Norte also initiated, in 2018, an ambitious project to design and construct an ROV Class I, focused on the underwater archaeology and equipped with a powerful camera allowing the development of photogrammetry to the different wrecks of the Colombian Caribbean region. In the same way, the role of the National Army would be fundamental in the development of this work; in fact, its research centers and its oceanographic abilities with a modern fleet with more than six research ships surpass countries like Chile and Peru at regional level.

Maritime law and international cooperation

The creation of one Admiralty Court with the aim of solving some cases, not only that of San Jose galleon, but the hundreds of wrecks in the Colombian maritime territory, (Cartagena de Indias, from low Salmedina, passing through Bocachica and extending until Rosario Islands and San Bernardo archipielago). To search the inclusion of Colombia in the international context by means of mechanisms such as Submerge Heritage Act by UNESCO, 2001, and the ratification of the III Sea Convention of 1982, multilateral agreements that protect the submerge heritage and permit an broad cooperation in science and technology, as well as the reform or repealing of Law 1675 of 2013 about submerged heritage, are urgent initiatives that would allow Colombia to exercise an international leadership in this topic.

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Log of San Jose galleon To Spain San Agustín

FROM SPAIN

ATLANTIC OCEAN

La Habana

San José galleon

CUBA JAMAICA

CARIBBEAN SEA

San Jose path in its trip to America (1706)

Cartagena

Portobelo

Treasure path until Spain (1711)

PANAMÁ On March 10th, 1706, after a delay of six years, the Navy Mainland (16 battleships and 10 merchant ships led by Jose Fernandez de Santillan, Count of the Happy House and Captain of the San Jose) and the New Spain Fleet (3 battleships and 13 merchant ships) sailed together from Cadiz. For security reasons, merchant ships sailed armed, grouped and escorted by naval forces.

COLOMBIA ECUADOR PERÚ

The 17 ships fleet led by Santillan sail from Portobello to Cartagena, on May 28th of 1708. The British Commodore Wager is warned by Pudner’s spy ship on June 3rd. On his way, the Spanish fleet finds weak winds in a South direction. From Veracruz

2th 3th 30th 1th junio junio 29th mayo junio 28th mayo mayo 31th mayo Portobelo

BATALLA DE BARÚ 8th junio

4th junio

Ruta de la flota del San José

Cartagena

Summary relation of His Majesty royal treasure carried by San Jose galleon.

COLOMBIA

5th junio

6th junio

7th junio

Puerto Perico

PANAMÁ

Gold treasure from Peru and silver treasure from Bolivia (Potosi)

At 17:00 hours, Englishmen meet the fleet. After two hours of combat against the English Expedition, the San Jose suffers a great explosion and in a few minutes sinks.

During the War of Spanish Succession (1701-1713), England and Holland attacked Spanish ships in the Caribbean to avoid that significant American treasures come to Spain. The English Commodore Charles Wager, who was based on Jamaica, was on the outlook in the zone since April 6th.


OPINION

By Raymundo Abello Llanos Ph. D Head of Research, Development and Innovationrabello@uninorte.edu.co

The impact

of scientific knowledge

S

cientific knowledge plays a fundamental role in the economic and social development of countries; thus, the universities, the productive sector and the State must carry out concerted and sustained efforts not only for their strengthening, but also for articulating their production as an added value of Colombia’s productive transformation. Consistent with this idea, the Universidad del Norte has opted for strengthening the management and results of research and development (R+D) through the production, divulgation, use, transference and social appropriation of scientific and technological knowledge in order to impact the country reality and its Caribbean region. In this sense, The Universidad del Norte has defined as its hallmark that the generation of knowledge was directly oriented to its application for being useful to the industry, government and society. Precisely, the axis of the institutional Development Plan is the impact of knowledge and social projection; in that way, Uninorte incorporates two basic attempts: the increase of the scientific knowledge volume through the sustained production of publication of the highest level in ISI-SCOPUS journals, and the use and application of knowledge that allows contributing the improvement of Colombia and the Caribbean region’s life conditions, as well as the economic advance of the national enterprises. With this in mind, the institution recognizes three activities, identified by the Organization for Economic

Co-operation and Development (OECD): the basic research, the applied research and the experimental development, making emphasis on its strategic interest on the technological innovation and the social transformation by means of a knowledge production system that includes alliances with the government, industry, other universities and society. As a consequence, we opt for the increase of doctoral research, the access to international financial sources, the improvement of research groups’ quality according to the criteria of the National System of Science and Technology (SNTC), the increase of the high-quality intellectual production of teachers-researchers in ISI-SCOPUS journals, and the increase of number of patents and technological products with possibilities of being transferred to the productive and social sector. According to the current Colombian economic, productive and social conditions, especially of the Caribbean region, it is necessary that the production of scientific and technological knowledge in Uninorte maintains its orientation to solve the problems of the environment within the framework of the technological innovation and the social projection. The strategy for the following years will be supported on a system that continue privileging the production, dissemination, use and social integration of the scientific and technological knowledge. In this issue of Intellecta, results of research projects are shown as an evidence of the great institutional commitment with R+D.

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SOCIEDAD

THE LONG RET

¿

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GED-FOR TIREMENT By Leonardo Carvajalino Journalist carvajalino.leonardo@gmail.com

“I

f the question is ¿is it good or bad to retire?, The answer is: it depends”, in this way Julian Fernandez defines the results of a research carried out together with Laura Bonilla, Betty Manrique, Martin Romero and Ana Sosa. They analyzed data of 21410 men and women older than 60 from six different countries. This article published in the indexed journal SSS-Population Health continues the debate started worldwide in the 1980’s about the need of widening the retirement time. Since then, this discussion at the political plane has begun to permeate the medical world with the idea that keep working until advanced ages is healthy. During his studies of Magister and Ph.D., Fernandez, professor of the Public Health Department at Universidad del Norte, was interested in the employment status and its relation to mental health in older adults. In the specific case of the research “Employment status, socio-economic level and depression in older adults: A multicenter study based on the Study on Global

¿

More than 20 thousand people older than 60 years from six countries were analyzed to determine the relationship between the employment status and depression in older adults.

Ageing and Adult Health”, the study variable was the amount of strong depressive episodes among retired older adults. “My great worry is the way social determinants affect mental health of people older than 60 because this is a period of great changes where the loss of faculties occurs. These are negative changes especially when the old adult does not have the social, cognitive and psychological resources to deal with this loss period”, Fernandez argues. According to Bonilla, researcher of Universidad Industrial de Santander, the depression among older people is a public health problem, generally invisible because the depressive symptoms tend to be attributed to the ageing status. “It is normal that the old man is down or experiences some pain:” On the other hand, the depression is related to the impairment of other concomitant diseases, which causes the increase of use and costs of health services. In this context, the necessary debate arises

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SOCIEDAD

The study

“STATICALLY WE HAVE SHOWN THAT IT IS NOT POSSIBLE TO CLAIM THAT THE RETIREMENT PRODUCES MENTAL AFFECTATIONS IN PEOPLE, BUT THAT THE SITUATION CHANGES ACCORDING TO THE CONTEXT, GENDER AND TYPE OF RETIREMENT AND WORK”.

The research team used the SAGE platform (Study on Global Ageing and Adult Health) of World Health Organization that registers data of adults older than 50 in six countries: China, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, Ghana and India. In each case, it took account of six main variables: if the retirement was voluntary or forced, if it was progressive or abrupt, the country’s socioeconomic context, type of work performed, whether or not s/he has a pension, and the surveyed gender. Retirement may affect mental health because revenues decline, as a result the access to health and nutritional services becomes difficult. Besides, when someone retires, s/he loses latent benefits of the employment: intellectual and physical activity, recognition and social network. “Under this logic, it seems that retiring is bad”, professor Fernandez claimed. Nevertheless, retirement is neither equal to all jobs nor to all socioeconomic contexts. To continue in a ‘bad’ job or in one that does not give benefits as a decent income or intellectual growth, is harmful because it is more stressful to continue working than retiring. “The problem is that many people are in an environment in which both conditions, to continue working and to retire, constitute risk.” It is also important to take into account surveyed gender because this population (older adults born at the end of 1940’s) was born in a cultural context where the differentiation of gender roles was more marked.

The results

From the publication we can draw some conclusions: China and Ghana retired men and Russia retired women are less prone to depressive episodes. In the same way, being a housewife in South Africa and Mexico tends to protect people from the episodes. However, according to Fernandez, these sentences contribute to a key idea: “we statistically have shown that it is not possible to claim that the retirement produces mental affectations, but that the situation changes according to the context, gender and type of retirement and work”.

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¿THE LONGED-FOR RETIREMENT?

For example, retirement may be stressful in a depressive episode than those ones who continued country where people are recognized in terms of how working,” the researcher stated. they contribute economically then the person is not “To cease working, especially if it is voluntary, proconsidered a provider anymore. Instead, in a country in gressive, planned and with a pension will not cause a which older adults are valued because of their contrigreat impact in retirement,” Fernandez explained. “This bution to society, the retirement is not a loss of their is the best scenario for the older adult.” status as contributors of social value. Researchers also confirmed what some previous The future of the debate studies have claimed: for men, due to the social exStudies like these help the pertinent government depectancy they have of assuming the role of providers, cision makers to understand an older adult’ depression the impact of retirement is much more significant. and can make interventions for working conditions do Regarding women depression, Professor Fernandez not become a risk factor. has different hypotheses. The first one turns around This is especially important in moments in which the idea that working in a patriarchal society may be there is a worldwide discussion about the retirement estrogenic-stressful because it is perceived that the age. According to Bonilla, some publications have made woman would be challenging her traditional role, so, reference to the widespread concern for a potential ecoworker women face a greater risk than housewives. nomic crisis as a consequence of the accelerated demoThe second one is that even when women have graphic transition we are now experiencing, since there begun to work, this has not been necessarily translaare many more people who receive retirement benefits ted into a reorganization of housework, especially in than the ones who contribute to the system. For this patriarchal societies. “Many of those women we clasreason, governments must begin to work on the condisified as workers are also doing house work. Then, the tions on which an older adult retires, especially in Latin problem is the worker women have a double function. America, in the midst of demographic transition: we are Not that being a housewife moving from a population protects against depression, who tended to be young to but rather being exclusively one that is ageing. housewife is less stressful SOME PUBLICATIONS “Governments must plan than being a worker woman and anticipate these changes HAVE MADE who in addition has to make to be prepared to face the REFERENCE TO THE other house work”, he poinimplications. Mainly if in older ted out. WIDESPREAD CONCERN age there are problems such According to Bonilla, as depression, which worsen FOR A POTENTIAL another determinant factor the people life quality and of ECONOMIC CRISIS AS for older adults’ mental stacourse, increase health costs tus is their social network, A CONSEQUENCE OF and are not detected as they specifically their civil status. should,” the researcher, MaTHE ACCELERATED “We found that peogister in Epidemiology, conDEMOGRAPHIC ple who retired and did not cluded. TRANSITION WE ARE have a steady partner, had a greater risk of suffering a NOW EXPERIENCING.

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DEMOCRACIA

Rural citizenship War By JosĂŠ Luis RodrĂ­guez R. Journalist Rodriguezjl@uninorte.edu.co

Professors of Uninorte participate in the program for adapting ex-combatants of FARC (Colombian Revolutionary Army Forces) in Colombian Caribbean villages. They attempt to strengthen rural civil society hurt by violence. At the same time, they offer citizenship competencies in pursuit of construing an effective peace.

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F

rom Tierra Grata, rural zone of La Paz villaspace for recreation. Especially, she ge, it can be observed Perija Mountain Ranmakes emphasis on her motivation ge, a mountain chain where the FARC’s Cariby the fact that the private busibbean Block operated for a long time. On its ness, some universities and other sand roads, the ex-combatants built a cockpit, sectors of the population are woa pool room, some stores with the basic goods, an rried about the reconciliation and outdoor reception, a waste treatment plant, a soccer effective reincorporation. field, a bakery, and even a space for tooth care, and a That is the case with More Rural kindergarten. The smell of wet earth is the usual smell Citizenship, a program developed of the place after rain, and on some wall paintings, through workshops conducted by drawings alluding to the history of the ex-guerrilla can professors ascribed to the Thinking be observed. Center UN Caribe of Universidad Carolina Vargas Cabrera, with the riffle under the del Norte, allied with the Institute arm, came to this rural zone, about 40 minutes from of Political and Institutional DeValledupar two years ago, in order to begin her reincorvelopment (Idepi, by its acronym poration to civil life, after the treaty signed between in Spanish). So, since 2016, the the Government and the FARC ex-guerrilla, a political Center has interacted with the civil party at present. She says society, FARC she changed the army fighex-combating into the political fightants and the FROM MORE RURAL ting, bullets into root crops institutionaCITIZENSHIP, WE planting, and a life of war lism of villainto another searching a ges in which START TO OFFER peace with social equity. there are WORKSHOPS OF Currently, in Tierra Gralocated the CITIZEN EDUCATION ta, one of the 26 territories Country Zones in which ex-combatants of Transition TO GIVE CITIZEN were concentrated befoand NormaCOMPETENCIES re giving up the arms and lization and TO THE FARC that at present functions the Transias Territorial Space of Tratory Points of EX-COMBATANTS ining and Reincorporation Normalization (ETCR by its acronyms in (Pondores and Spanish), the 40 year-old Gallo, locawoman from Tolima admits ted in Fonseshe wants to finish her career of Public Management in ca –Guajira, and Tierralta –Cordoba) order to get into politics. She smiles as the freckles rise established by the National Goon her cheeks. Her brown eyes shine when she shows vernment in the Caribbean region. six seedlings with carrots, chives, tomato, pepper, leThe Center gives the participants ttuce and cassava in her settlement. But after a few tools that allow strengthening the seconds, her eyes fade and she frowns. processes of constructing rural ciShe points out that as time is going by some of tizenship and producing best practhe 220 people living in Tierra Grata have doubts tices of problem solution through about the effectiveness of the treatment because of the informed dialogue. This way, the “new Government political winds”. She also claims the participants can increase their many youngsters have already finished their seconincidence ability in the formulation dary school and need help to start a career; she also of public policies that permit go says that the 51 children of the village need a better ahead to a stable and lasting peace in the region. Professors of Uninorte are going around Tierra Grata together with members of UN Mission and ex-combatants of FARC.

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DEMOCRACIA

“In April, 2017, I participated in a workshop of More Rural Citizenship”, Carolina says with a slight smile. “I remember we refuted a lot of things to the teacher, Angel Tuiran, especially about the State. We told him no, but today we are immersed in this story, “ñerdale”, we realized the teacher was right. For example, when he claimed that we could not be detached from the State. The state itself is perfect, people managing it are imperfect.” Before, some villages in rural areas were completely isolated of the institutional offer because of violence. Today, some decades afterwards, the reappearance of these country regions depends mainly on the education and information of their leaders and inhabitants. More Rural Citizenship has given local administrations and communities tools to manage the development of their territories and to attract the State attention.Luis Trejos, professor of Political Science and International Relations, and director of UN Caribe, explains that in order to achieve an “efficient peace construction”, it must strengthen the rural civil society hurt by violence, since it has been detected, among its needs, the elaboration and formulation of projects to obtain resources, the learning to interact with the administrative instances and to write constitutional acts such as protection and right to petition. “From More Rural Citizenship, we start to offer workshops of citizen education to give citizen competencies to the FARC ex-combatants, empowering the Community Action Boards (JAC, by its acronym in Spanish), making their management in front of the local administrations more efficient. All this in search of their social and political activity be translated into local development,” says Trejos in a settlement o Tierra Grata, during a visit to the community with professor Angel Tuiran, director of Political Sicence and International Relations Department, and Silvia Gloria, Head of Law, Political Science and International Relations Division. 92 Universidad del Nor te

Some wall paintings of the rural zone have drawings alluding to the history and leaders of the ex-guerrilla group.

Methodology

Ana Pont, chief of the Regional Office of UN Mission for the Caribbean, with headquarters in Valledupar, affirms that with the work Uninorte is doing, the academy may have a stronger role that allows helping to tell the world what is happening and which the priorities in implementing the agreement are. Among these priorities, there is the opening of debate spaces, in which the actors can share their ideas. “We are very interested in the dialogue with the academic sector. One of our challenges has been the lack of public information and of pedagogy about the agreements. There is a lot of disinformation in the region that makes the situation more complicated. The mission is making this work with some interlocutors, but there is much to do and it would be good that you take an important role,” Pont says in the headquarter meeting room, in front of her work team and Uninorte professors. She confesses that the most surprising thing for the Mission, in general terms, has been “the level and

imagination of FARC for trying to develop different things.” For example, one of the topics that arise unexpectedly and of great interest for ex-combatants is ecotourism. About 15 professors of Law, Political Science and International Relations Division have interacted with nearly 300 people from these rural zones, who at present make efforts to construe peace from the local. The first methodological step is the diagnosis phase. Then, previous visits are carried out, in which, professors meet the most important actors in the territory, with the intention of detecting social leadership in order to construct an agenda of needs for the training process.


+ RURAL CITIZENSHIP - WAR

These agendas serve to work on the workshops with the Community Action Boards. Professors go to the rural zones on Saturdays and eventually on Sundays. These thinking laboratories last about 36 hours, which include a final balance of each working session where the knowledge taught is evaluated. In the accompanying taken place in the program, it is highlighted the support to the formulation of the development plans with a territorial approach. “The true component is made in memory key, by understanding that there is not a single truth, but memories and that is a battle field. There are multiple victims and victimizers, so, exercises can be carried out through which you can make your memory. You do not have to wait for someone who came from outside, and the ideal is that memory is not just for you, but for the sub region, with the UN MISSION INSISTS communities and those who want to participate�, ON WORKING IN Trejos explain to CaroliTHE PEDAGOGY OF na, both share now with AGREEMENTS. community members. Then, Carolina smiles again. She says she knew that this fighting was not going to be easy, because the most difficult fighting is the political one, but all united, inhabitants of the region and Tierra Grata, are going ahead in order to construe society. Construing more rural citizens.

Bakery store is one of the productive units launched by the ex-guerrilla community. RE VISTA INTELLEC TA

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BOTĂ NICA

The campus plant treasure The Green areas of Uninorte host dozens of trees of the Caribbean region, which have recognized medicinal uses, and even have inspired songs and writings. Following, there is a list with the 10 most representative species of the campus. By Laura HernĂĄndez - MarĂ­a Margarita Mendoza Journalist medinamm@uninorte.edu.co

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ore than 52 years ago, before the University moved its facilities to Km 5 on the way to Puerto Colombia, this space was a little forest of lush trees and vegetation. The yellow robles (Tabebuia chrysotricha), at present the symbol of the institution, covered the floor with their yellow flowers and lived together with trupillos (propsopis juliflora), ceibas, higuerones (Ruprechtia apetala) and another dozen species that even today exist. They always have been silent witnesses of the campus growth. Currently, Uninorte hosts more than 60 species of trees, 65% of them are native of the region. The other 35% are originally from other countries, but have been adopted locally, that is the case of the mango tree, almond or palms, which are originally from India, mountain region of Central Asia and the Caribbean Islands, respectively. But, no matter wherever they come from, they offer valuable resources and services, as the botanist and head of Chemistry and Biology Department of Uninorte, Maria Cristina Martinez, explains. “Campus trees are a mixture of the native flora that existed before and what has been seeded. The idea has been to have green areas with trees to provide shade, regulate temperature, beautify the campus and make

it more comfortable.” Besides these functions, Joachim Hahn, Vice- President of Uninorte, considers that trees have permitted the campus to become a big classroom, because with them, students develop sensibility to conserve nature and learn about the vegetation of the local ecosystems, such as the tropical dry forest, to which most of the species grown herein belong to. “The human being has always been linked to Nature and today, many youngsters have the possibility of interacting with vegetation in the campus, creating affective links with it.”, says Hahn, who is also a biologist. Many of these native trees are recognized because their leaves, bark or fruits have medical and nutritional uses, while others have served as inspiration to Caribbean writers and artists, who have included their names in vallenato songs, poetry and other literature works. So, to highlight their characteristics, Intellecta shows 10 trees that, besides being native species of the region, are present in different green areas of the campus, becoming a valuable vegetal resource. The following texts were elaborated with information from the book “Useful Colombian Plants” by Enrique Perez Arbelaez” and from “Atlas of Wild and Cultivated Medical Plants, in the Tropical Region” by Eberhard Wedler.

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BOTÁNICA

Matarratón Gliricidia sepium

Cooking of its leaves is used to lower fever; to treat chickenpox, fractures, rheumatism, measles, influenza, throat pain, skin diseases, boils, gangrene, and malaria. It is also an expectorant. It has abortive and antiallergenic properties; serves for the cold, diarrhea, gastritis, lung diseases, stomach ache and headache. The tree is also used in the country as fire wood, to build fences and to demarcate roads. Its fried flowers are eaten in some countries. The plant is used as pesticide against rodents, from there its common name (mouse killer).

Trupillos

Prosopis julifolia Its cooked peel is used in baths for wound, skin problems and sunburns. It is known as antacid, antibiotic, astringent and antiseptic. Its cooked cortex is a laxative and the infusion of its wood lowers fever. Its trunk latex serves for eye problems, infections, burnings, diarrhea, stomach inflammation, laryngitis and useful against hemorrhoids. In Low Guajira, the specie is a fundamental source of food for people and cattle, and its cortex is used to cover roofs. In Mexico, it serves to prepare the drink “mesquitatole” and some pies called “mequitamales”, made of farina of this tree.

Roble Morado Tabebuia rosea

Cooking of its cortex is used in baths to alleviate bruises, skin diseases, fungi, and to heal wounds. It is also used as an anti-hemorrhagic and antibiotic drink, as well as for treating diarrhea, menstrual cramps, colds, fever, headache, and even it is anti-carcinogenic. It is applied to dogs to alleviate rabies. The cooking of its leaves, flowers and roots alleviates snake bites and is useful against anemia. The species is used as ornament in gardens and campus; its wood is used to produce fine furniture, crafts, and boxes, among others. Its name is used to call the new collection of poems of Editorial of Universidad del Norte.

Macondo

Canivallesia plantanifolia It is considered one of the most representative trees of the Caribbean region and Colombia. It lives in our campus since June 15th, 2018, to represent the transition process lived by the university governance. Gabriel Garcia Marquez used this species to name the fictitious village of “One Hundred Years of Solitude.” Its central seed is food and the cortex of the young tree is used as mooring. In some places, its dead wood is used as compost, and the branches and cortex of dead trees is used as food for pigs.

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THE CAMPUS PLANT EL TESORO VEGETAL DELTREASURE CAMPUS

Roble Amarillo

Handroanthus chrysanthus Its bark is often used for medicinal El principalasuso su cortezaeffective es el purposes, it isdeconsidered medicinal, al considerarse eficaz para for treating rheumatism, arthritis, tratar reumatismo, artritis, inflamacioinflammations and infections. Uninorte nes e infecciones. “Símbolo de nuestro considers this species as the symbol of pasado terrenal y prenda de nuestros its earthly past and pledge of its future futuros ideales”, es lo que represenideals". Because of this, its name has ta esta especie para Uninorte, por lo been replicated in scholarships, medals que su nombre ha sido utilizado para and even a book collection. Vallenato becas, medallas y colección de libros. singer Jorge Celedón mentions Roble El cantante vallenato Jorge Celedón Amarillo in his song "Ay Hombe", and menciona la especie en su canción “Ay other artists from the Caribbean have Hombe”, e igualmente otros artistas the tree in the lyrics of their songs, del Caribe han el árbol en las letras de referring to it as “cañaguate”. Its hardsus canciones, refiriendose a el como wood has been used to build cañaguate. Su madera dura era houses, usada furniture and fences. On the para construir casas, muebles campus y cercas.of Uninorte, iguanas and hummingbirds En el campus de Uninorte las iguanas feed on their leaves and flowers. y colibries se alimentan de sus hojas y flores.

Camajorú

Indio encuero

Theconoce infusion leavesdeissus well known Se queofla its infusión hojas aliviafor inrelieving la insomnia, asthma, andpara as somnio, reuma yrheumatism, el asma, también sirven an appetite while the of its estimular el stimulant, apetito; mientras quecooking la cocción de flowers has been used to treat lung conditions. sus flores se ha empleado para tratar afecciones Also, the resinLainresina its trunk pulmonares. de has su anti-inflammatotronco cuenta con ry properties,antinflamatorias. and its light wood is used ligera in these propiedades Su madera construction of canoes and carpentry elements. emplea en la construcción de canoas y elementos Camajorú´s leaves are commonly used toutilizafeed de carpintería. Sus hojas son comunmente cattle and their ground to molidas flavor das para alimentar ganadoseeds y sus serve semillas chocolate, theyel have a certain taste of sirven para since saborizar chocolate, ya que tienen peanuts. Its large leaves, which are more than cierto gusto a cacahuate. Sus grandes hojas de 40 centimeters long, provide shade to mitigate más de 40 centímetros de largo proveen de somthe para high mitigar temperatures the Caribbean. bra las altasoftemperaturas.

In locatEnthe el Magdalena MagdalenaDepartment, es usado para ed on enfermedades the northern part Colombia, curar del of riñón. Los itextractos is used de to sus curehojas d kidney tienendiseases. proThe extracts of its leaves have piedades antinflamatorias. La cocanti-inflammatory and the ción de su corteza yproperties de la raíz puede cooking its bark roots can be ser usadaofpara tratarand enfermedades estomacales algunas used to treaty resfriados. stomach En diseases and zonas In delsome Caribe utilizan su Caribbean madecolds. areas of the ra wood para crear (artesas) its will berecipientes used to create drinkdonde se deposita el agua being water containers. Indiopara Encuero´s ber. La es usada para preparar resin is resina used to prepare herbs, while barnices, mientras queused las hojas y its leaves and fruits are as fodder frutos aprovechan to feedse farm animals. como forraje para alimentar animales de granja. Su tronco es maderable para elaborar triplex, y en construcciones; la pulpa es usada para hacer papel.

Sterculia apétala

Bursera simaruba

Bonga

Ceiba pentandra

The cooking of its bark is used to prepare baths that El cocimiento de su corteza se utiliza para preparar baños strengthen the hair and neutralize skin diseases. The que fortalecen el cabello, o para contrarrestar enfermeinfusion of its leaves helps those who suffer from persisdades de la piel. La infusión de sus hojas ayuda a quienes tent flu, bronchitis, nasal congestion, pneumonia and padecen de gripas persistentes, bronquitis, congestión naeven toothache. The fruits of this species produce a sal, neumonía e incluso dolor de muelas. Los frutos de esta wool that has been mattresses and especie producen unaused lana to quefillsepillows, ha utilizado para rellenar life preservers, and as insulation for refrigerators. The oil almohadas, colchones y salvavidas, o como aislante para in Bonga´s seeds is useful for making soap. Its roots refrigeradores. El aceite de sus semillas es útil para la faconserve de water during dryconservan seasons. agua durante las bricación jabón. Susthe raíces temporadas de sequía.

Higuerón

Acacia roja

Theleche milk del of the fig tree used para to La higuerón es isusada createunaderivado patentedpatentado derivativecomo named crear “hi"higueronia", is popular for gueronia”, que which es popular para eliminar eliminating intestinal worms and gusanos intestinales y otros párasitos. other latex serves to Su latexparasites. sirve paraIts aliviar Leishmaniasis, alleviate de leishmaniasis, stings picaduras hormigas y ant mordeduras de Algunos hacen andculebras. snakebites. Someindigenas Indians make vestidos Su madera dresses con withsuitscorteza. bark. Its wood isse utiliza parafuels, combustibles, used for carpentrycarpintería and the y la elaboración instrumentos musielaboration of de musical instruments. cales. Esta especie también aparece This species is also mentioned in the mencionada en la "El canción vallenataby“El vallenato song higuerón", higuerón”, delOro. Binomío de Oro. Binomío de

ts leaves, taken in infusion, have laxative properties; Sus hojas, en infusión, propiedades lawhile its tomadas flowers are known tienen for causing abortions xantes; mientras que sus flores son conocidas como .Because of the color of its flowers, this tree has an abortivas.Por el color de sus flores, este árbol tiene un ornamental use, but its wood is durable and resistant to uso ornamental, pero su madera es duradera y resiswater, so it is useful as firewood and to raise fences. Its tente al agua, por lo que es útil como leña y para lepods are used to feed cattle, and its seeds have been vantar cercas. Sus vainas sirven para alimentar ganado, used as material for necklaces and accessories, as well y sus semillas han sido aprovechadas como material de as for musical instruments such as maracas. The acacia collares y accesorios, así como para instrumentos mualso inspired the writer Meira Delmar, who included it in sicales como las maracas. La acacia también inspiró a the verses of the poem "Romance de Barranquilla". la escritora Meira Delmar, quien la incluyó en los versos del poema “Romance de Barranquilla”.

Ficus glabrata

Delonix regia

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