Letter from the editor | 78

Chance and success

A discovery that helps to save the lives of victims of hemorrhagic shock (great loss of blood), made in the 70’s, has nowadays had important developments. It is now known that a hypertonic solution – sterilized water with a high concentration of salt, may also control cardiac arrhythmia, modulate the inflammatory response of the immune system during the hemorrhagic shock, and diminish the damages of lesions in the brain and the heart. This discovery, so simple and effective, arose like so many other findings of science: by chance. By mistake, a nurse applied an excessive dose of sodium chloride in the fluid used in a session of hemodialysis. The patient’s arterial pressure, which until then had been low, rose after the error. The incident ended up stimulating research into hypertonic solution, which generated an article in the American Journal of Physiology, in 1980. Currently, the solution is the subject of study in two projects financed by FAPESP, and taking place at the University of São Paulo, which are investigating the causes and benefits. This story of how chance meets up with success starts on page 36.

Another discovery, also in the ambit of medicine, is less agreeable. There are in circulation in Brazil several forms, more aggressive, rarer and recombinant, of HIV-1, the most common Aids causing virus. The research work was carried out in eight states and is the first of national scope done through the Vigilance into Resistance Network. It is important to know about all of the variations of HIV-1 so as to take the appropriate measures of prevention, diagnosis and especially of treatment.

Adding all up the reports by our Science editor, there is more good than bad news. In Policies, Pesquisa FAPESP shows us that the program Information Technology in the Development of the Advanced Internet (Tidia) has evaluated 123 proposals sent in to the Foundation, in reply to the tender of October 2001, and has begun to launch the first projects. The first of them would make any researcher’s mouth water: it proposes the use of a statewide optical fiber network, already installed, for the development of technological research and academic and educational communication. Check out the other two projects that are beginning to come off the computer screen on page 24.

In the section on Technology there is the description of delightful pieces of work that have come from the Federal University of São Carlos. One refers to a device that protects electricity power networks against lightning; the other is a project on modifications in the refractory ceramics used in steel works for the production of steel, which will result in large savings. Both make up part of the Ceramic Materials Center, one of the ten Research, Innovation and Diffusion Centers (Cepids).

As the search for technologies that will turn organic agriculture more widespread in the countryside is increasing, Pesquisa FAPESP shows how the researchers at the São Paulo State University of Jaboticabal, are using fungi as exterminators of worms to help free flowers and horticultural fruit growing from these pests. The authors of the work are now awaiting a commercial partner in order to begin to produce the preparation on a large scale.

During an election year, we could not ignore the long term work that continues to be carried out by a team from the Human and Social Sciences of the Catholic Pontifical University of São Paulo about the media and elections. The political case already analyzed by the authors of the study refers to the 2000 race. They show, in the Humanities section, how the press could have influenced the final result of the São Paulo municipal election.

And to finish with there is a stimulating interview with Muniz Sodré, from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, one of the main thinkers in communication within the country. He explains his media theory, founded on the idea of mediabios, almost equivalent to a human “third nature”.