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Letter from the editor | 75

Science, politics and football

The six largest Brazilian political parties, to judge by the composition of their current seats in the Chamber of Deputies, reveal ideological and programmatic coherence, and a surprising convergence between political orientation and the social-occupational profile of their representatives. These characteristics, that might sound like heresy to those tuned to habitually reading to the national political coverage – and have become accustomed to cultivating an image of fragmentation and fragility in the Brazilian political party system -, have emerged after a consistent and recently concluded sociological survey, as presented in the cover story of this issue, by our reporter Claudia Izique. The survey is extremely timely in this year of multiple elections and of heated, even furious, discussion about the new rules for party alliances. Research in sociology, political science or any field of humanities obviously does not have to have a commitment with the timing and the freshness that necessarily frequent journalism. However, at times, their conclusions are exactly this, timely and updated, as well as their academic and scientific value. In this case, they become a tidbit for journalism. Consequently, it is natural that the research into the parties has conquered the cover of Pesquisa Fapesp, after a dispute with stories in the more frequent areas to this prime spot.

For example, in this issue an important scientific finding in the genetics field could have been the cover issue: the identification and description of the gene PKHD1 which, when it suffers mutations in both of its copies, unleashes a severe and rare hereditary illness (mainly in the newly born and children), the polycystic renal illness named autosomal recessive. The international work that led to this result was coordinated by a Brazilian researcher and had the participation of seventeen colleagues from the United States and Europe as reported by Marcos Pivetta. Still on Science, it is worthwhile highlighting a piece of work that has managed to place South America on the map of Rodinia, a super continent that existed on the Earth some 1 billion years ago, therefore well before the better known Gondwana, formed some 750 million years ago, exactly from the fragments of Rodinia. Also we can highlight in astrophysics a piece of work carried out in Rio Grande do Sul that shows how matter is swallowed up by a black hole in the center of the galaxy. But given the rarity of the theme in scientific domains and the high amount of interest that it provokes, even more in these times of pre World Cup, the story on a study that looks at the profile of football practiced today in Brazil, from the point of view of the physical demands placed on the players in each team position, is also a highly recommended reading.

The opening story of the section on Technology details some research projects on new technologies for the treatment and reuse of domestic and industrial effluent, supported by FAPESP. The specialists believe that, beginning in June, charging for the use of river water, which initially is going to hit the inhabitants of one hundred and eighty municipalities in the states of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais, supplied through the basin of the Paraíba do Sul, should clearly push forward the adoption of new water treatment technologies, as Yuri Vasconcelos reports. To conclude, in Humanities there is a report on the research project which has resulted in the book Barroco Memória Viva (Baroque, Living Memory), taking us on a beautiful journey through the colonial towns with their architecture and other manifestations of esthetic baroque and, mainly inside the churches were the nuclei for spreading Brazilian colonial art and culture. Have a good read!

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