As you may have noticed, the wealthy island of Cuba lost its glamorous adjectives in 1959 when a group of criminals and murderers around Fidel Castro and Che Guevara overtook the country and changed an oasis of prosperity to a land of friends of the communist Czechoslovakia, among others. ;-)
Today, the GDP of what used to be an equivalent of Florida is below $10,000 per capita (PPP) while the nominal GDP per capita is just $5,000; the population is 11 million. Compare it with Mexico which is not exactly an example of a rich, safe, and stable country. Its GDP is $14,000 per capita (PPP) and the nominal one is $10,000; and the population is 110 million. One may accumulate a factor-of-two difference in GDP in 50 years if the growth differential is 1.4% every year.
Nevertheless, there are signs that recently slightly liberalized Cuba is overtaking countries such as Mexico in some disciplines, maybe even in theoretical physics. Well, one swallow doesn't make a Spring. But it is an impressive swallow, anyway.
A new, seemingly German hep-th paper
It's a totally sensible technical task, the results - if correct - seem to be pretty important for the heterotic model building. And the authors clearly know what they're talking about. Look at the paper: its quantitative content looks formidable.
But it's just fun to look at the list of the four authors. Their names don't seem to be uniformly German. Michael Blaszczyk is clearly Polish in origin. The last two names sound German or at least Germanic but the second name is Ms Nana Geraldine Cabo Bizet. That's pretty Spanish. But not Spanish Spanish. :-)
She wrote some two papers about QCD and received a diploma from the Abdus Salam ICTP in 2007. But the pre-history is more fascinating. In 2006, she received a Masters degree in physics at University of Havana where she got a more ordinary diploma in 2004. To make the story even more amusing, it was 5 years after she completed the Vladimir Ilyich Lenin high school in 1999. :-)
And she works in Bonn, Germany, like the other authors.
But if you think about it, the idea that a co-author of a serious and complex (look at the tables and equations) paper on heterotic supersymmetric string theory model model building was almost fully educated in Cuba is kind of mind-boggling which is why I am mind-blogging about it. It's the same island that is trying to hide its slums - which were photographed by the Czech supermodel Helena Houdová who stored the memory card of her digital camera in her bra (TRF).
A supermodel may show that the island belongs to the third world; nevertheless, people who grew up there may work on heterotic supersymmetric models and still be associated with the institutions in their homeland. Meanwhile, Mexico is supporting pseudoscientists promoting medieval superstitions about loop quantum gravities and spin foams, the kind of mental garbage that was also promoted by a very painful, negative, and vacuous preprint by Carlo Rovelli today, too. Haven't we already outgrown this ideological cranky junk, Mr Rovelli? It's 2011 now.
I am actually impressed that the Cuban officials allow her to be associated with the imperialist science that string theory is. That's not to say that string theorists themselves are not left-wingers; most of them are. But they could only achieve all these remarkable achievements because of a generous enough funding by rich countries and because of capitalism-like, competitive pressures that have existed in the theoretical physics research itself as well.
So I hope that it's also a sign that once communism sizzles out, Cuba will choose to switch from the "second world" where it has belonged for 50+ years to the "first world" and not the "third world".