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Letter from the editor | 128

Innovations of today, great inventions of yesterday

The tip came from Fernando Reinach, biologist and executive at the company Votorantim Novos Negócios, during an informal conversation: why don’t you people write an article about the industrial center at Sertãozinho? The reason was the impressive capacity installed there to produce innovative technology in a field in which Brazil occupies, without the least shadow of a doubt, the position of world leader, or that is to say, the generation of energy based on the sugarcane, situated within the powerful sugar/alcohol agroindustry.

We decided to do it. And the result is the delightful cover story of this month’s edition, in which Dinorah Ereno, our assistant technology editor, offers us abundant material over which we can reflect with respect to the possibilities of economic growth that the investment dedicated towards innovation – particularly in the field in which we have considerable comparative advantages – opens up to the country. According to her  report, Sertãozinho, a small town in the north east corner of the State of São Paulo, some 320 km from the capital, with less than 100,00 inhabitants, is translating in a consistent and concentrated manner within its landscape, the transformations that have occurred in the sugar/alcohol industry over the last few decades, a time in which the old brick chimneys of the sugar and alcohol distilleries have given way to the place of modern companies, sharpened with the most advanced technologies to guarantee greater productivity in the field and uncountable gains in the industrial process. It’s well worth checking out.

In the environment of technology, indeed, the centenary flight of 14-Bis offers us the perfect pretext to talk about, in this edition, one of the most important, if not the most important Brazilian inventor. We are of course clearly referring to Alberto Santos-Dumont, who, according to the consensus of opinion among researchers in the area, gave the greatest individual contribution for the development of aeronautics in its primordial days. Thus, it is at the minimum just to dedicate to his trajectory some little known stories and even some new ideas about the genial inventor, the 12 pages of a special supplement that this editions reserves to him, a result of some excellent investigative work by our chief editor, Neldson Marcolin.

I remain still a little in the dominions of technology because it would be unjust not to highlight here a report that cannot be missed from our technology editor, Marcos de Oliveira, about research that has widened knowledge with respect to Brazilian cachaça and is contributing, in a decisive manner, to an increase in its quality.

Finally in science, I can come in with a very important alert: women’s hearts are being badly dealt with, when they really should be, in truth, overseen with the maximum attention. The heart here is in the real sense, organic, even though many women are inclined to think that the phrase will fit like a glove in the metaphorical sense of the word. More important in this space is to inform that studies in Europe and the United States, as well as some surveys carried out in Brazil, indicate, according to the report by our special editor Ricardo Zorzetto, that we need to call the attention of doctors to women’s cardiovascular health, given the fact that for years it has been the cause of death of women almost with the same frequency as that among men and yet they continue to receive, in this in particular, less attention than men.

And a super piece of news has sprung up from researchers involved in deterring a pest that over the last few years has badly attacked the cacao plantations in the south of the state of Bahia, to the point of decimating a significant part of these plantations and inflicting heavy economic losses to the region – the witches’ broom. And which, in accordance with the report from Carlos Fioravanti, our science editor, who went to Ilhéus and its surroundings to see close up what is happening, via simple and ingenious techniques, are managing to persuade the cacao trees not to give a home to the pest.

And to finish with the beautifully written pages of humanities: it is worth especially highlighting the examination that the philosophers and social scientists make of this moment of the explosive question of ethics in politics, in line with the article from our humanities editor, Carlos Haag, and another about the unsuspected profile of Leopoldina, the Empress of Brazil, traced out starting from the very own letters of this Machiavellian political articulator. And to finish, it’s worth returning to the start of the magazine, in order to read the polemic interview with the geneticist Francisco Salzano.