In the letter that accompanied the January edition, for various reasons that are well explained in the reports that I then went on to highlight, I spoke of my liking for beginnings. And now, encouraged by the cover of this edition, I run the risk of unavoidable repetition because it is impossible to escape the idea that beginnings, in particular of those rare projects, which are magnificent on account of their admirable grandeur and daring, are really enormously exciting. I guess that for any human being the sensation, or rather, the clear awareness at a given moment of taking part in the birth of something fundamental, in individual or collective terms, can take on such amazing dimensions that it becomes intoxicating. But in connection with this somewhat unusual category of people who are journalists, I know, rather than merely imagine, that this group sees itself as being at the point of origin of things, and being able to narrate this in public creates a powerful feeling of participating in the very contexture of the history of mankind. And no matter how exaggerated we may consider this feeling to be, for better or for worse, it ends up shaping a certain facet of the professional pride that characterizes journalists, who throw themselves with great intensity into the performance of their job, though they would not admit to this even under torture.
I try to imagine how our science editor, Ricardo Zorzetto, felt when he came face to face with the LHC (Large Hadron Collider), the world’s largest particle accelerator, or the four gigantic particle detectors that are a part of it: all this and a lot more in a 27 kilometer long tunnel 100 meters underground, in the European Nuclear Research Center, generally known as Cern, in Geneva, Switzerland. I am curious as to what he thought at that moment about the future of particle physics supported by such powerful infra-structure. Did he envision something brilliant that would reveal the secrets of the origin of our Universe? He did not give any details as to how he felt at that precise moment, but I am sure that it had a positive impact on his report, which covered, among other things, the possibility that Brazil may play a part in the LHC. It is worth checking the article out, from page 18 onward.
It was this concern at seeing the country on the international arena of knowledge and wealth production that led to the establishment of the survey Mobit – Brazilian Mobilization for Innovation, published in late April, whose result is a true diagnosis of the similarities and differences between the academic and business environments of Brazil and of the seven countries surveyed that currently produce world class research and innovation. The most important details of the study are described by our policies editor, Fabrício Marques, starting on page 34, including the concept of innovation that the survey’s coordinator highlights, and that goes far beyond the mere idea of technology with which it is usually associated.
Indeed, some concepts seem too narrow and obsolete to contain the mobility of knowledge between science, technology and innovation. Under what heading, for instance, should we put the transgenic animals that are being increasingly bred not just as models for the in-depth study of human diseases, but as true mini-factories of certain substances, especially of pharmaceuticals? The report on this topic, aimed at locating those research groups in Brazil that are already working on this front, drawn up by the technology editor, Marcos de Oliveira, opens the technology section on page 84. But this report could easily be covered by some of the magazine’s other editorial departments without any major problems.
Lastly, I recommend that you very carefully read the interview with the sociologist José de Souza Martins, which begins on page 8. After that it is worth skipping to page 102 to read a bit about Lévi-Strauss, in order to get a more gratifying view of our humanities output. Attention should then be given to the report, on page 96, by Carlos Haag, the humanities editor, about a study that reveals much of the past wealth of São Paulo state’s coffee plantations, and of course, to the second special supplement on the Genomic Revolution.Republish