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Letter from the editor | 145

Revolutions: genomics, ideas and behavior

MOMajor science exhibitions can be highly illustrative of man’s extraordinary capacity to bring ideas to fruition. An example is the Genome Revolution, an exhibition that opened on February 29 in São Paulo’s Ibirapuera Park and that will continue until July 13. A neophyte unfamiliar with setting up this type of event might think it would be impossible to put the exhibition together on time, if two or three days before the scheduled opening this person were to visit the beautiful building designed by Niemeyer that houses the exhibition. The building’s original architecture was restored in a record 60 days. In the midst of the irritating noise of saws, handsaws, drills and hammers lie an impressive number of wooden boxes of all sizes emptied of their contents, all of which came from the USA for the exhibition. Workers are all over the place, working on the floor, walls and electrical fixtures, besides assembling parts and equipment. Our hypothetical visitor would most likely shake his head skeptically, muttering in discouragement that “this isn’t going to work out,” contrary to the show’s coordinators, who would utter an optimistic “of course it will.”

Things worked out time wise. The exhibition came from New York’s Natural History Museum, with additional material from Brazil’s Sangari Institute, and from multiple corporate and institutional sponsors, including FAPESP. The opening was held on the evening of February 28 and the exhibition was opened to the public on the 29th (page 42). It was ready – although the organizers themselves explained that some things still had to be completed and others improved. Still, this was not a problem, as exhibitions can function as a kind of a process – a process which entails ideas and brings up new questions, or changes the questions, as Carlos Henrique de Brito Cruz, FAPESP’s scientific director, pointed out. Indeed, it is to raise new issues – leading to discussions – that Pesquisa Fapesp has joined the exhibition’s promoters and has been appointed to organize the lectures and debates that are part of the Genome Revolution. Important players in the contemporary creation of scientific knowledge, Brazilian and foreign speakers, from March to July, will contribute to debates on issues that are essential for the present and future design of human societies and that are mostly unfolding within the scope of technological and scientific production. But let us now say a few well-deserved words about this edition. First, the cover story should be read very carefully: it focuses on an extensive survey of various Brazilian ecosystems from the Amazon rainforest, to the Northeast’s scrub savanna and the South’s pampas; this survey, which for some unexplained reason was sidelined for almost one year, clarifies that so far  30% of the country’s native vegetation has been devastated. Most of this deforestation occurred in the last 50 years, points out science editor Ricardo Zorzetto. Is this a lot? A little? Readers will get enough data to reach their own conclusion. The subject matter of the cover story includes an article by policy editor Claudia Izique, who accurately describes the systems that monitor the Amazon Region’s deforestation, which has been the object of heated controversy and political uproar for the last two months. All of this is described from page 20 onwards.

Another riveting article published in this issue was written by technology editor Marcos de Oliveira and by special editor Fabrício Marques, on the expansion and significance of corporate start-ups for Brazil’s economy and their innovative potential. Some real examples of firms from different parts of the country have emerged from start-ups to join the business world, which provides a special flavor to the  report by the two journalists.

Alexandre Kalache’s interview is a must – he advocates a consistent policy focusing on aging well. Kalache was interviewed by senior editor Neldson Marcolin. The month during which International Woman’s Day is celebrated is highlighted by humanities editor Carlos Haag, who writes about a study showing that women who choose to live alone are far removed from the old myth of spinsterhood, and can feel happy and loved. Finally, the Letters to the Editor section mentions the controversy surrounding  last month’s cover story.

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