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Letter from the editor | 200

A captivating challenge

It is a pleasure to present our readers with this issue (Number 200) of Pesquisa FAPESP. In part, because round numbers—and here I refer only to multiples of ten, disregarding other sophisticated acceptances more common among math experts—sound like good benchmarks of time, that ephemeral and inescapable environment in which we are all immersed. Those numbers, with those zeroes that know the beginning, end, and new beginnings, always seem to provoke reflection on the path traveled and flights of imagination interwoven with a critical gaze so that we can create new routes capable of more completely achieving a well-defined purpose.

I recall that on introducing, exactly eight years and four months ago, issue Number 100 of this publication, a milestone that elated us, I summed up the dynamics of its development in an editorial entitled: “A collective work, carried out with pleasure.”  And if that phrase makes sense, I would say that Pesquisa FAPESP, with the passage of time, has become even more of a collective effort in terms of its production.  This is because the work of its executive team of journalism professionals, assisted by efficient administrative support and operating within the context of the guidelines and overall strategy adopted by FAPESP—implemented by its Executive Board (CTA), and policies formulated by its Board of Trustees (CS)—has since then been supplemented by many other talents, to make the magazine the special product it is today.

Among other things, I believe it is essential to highlight the abilities displayed in the rigorous and judicious evaluation of the importance of the research projects that we wish to transform into subjects of articles. This is the task of the coordinators associated with the Scientific Board (DC) of FAPESP who serve on the magazine’s scientific committee. But that circle that supports us with respect to the scientific quality of the topics we propose is actually wider and includes coordinators from the DC field whom the Pesquisa FAPESP journalists also call upon—perhaps, a bit too often! It is also vital to make special mention of the skills exercised by the editorial board of Pesquisa FAPESP, which examines the magazine in the broader context of the media and scientific culture here in Brazil and, from that standpoint, defines horizons for transformations and conquests. This board, which took office in early 2011, is young: it is made up of scientists and journalists whose proposals have rapidly expanded the magazine’s ambitions.

However, there are contributions from many other sources that make this vehicle of communication what it is, issued month after month since the Notícias FAPESP newsletter, first published in August 1995, became the Pesquisa FAPESP magazine in October 1999.  Quite some time ago, in 2000, when speaking to an audience of Spanish-American journalists (yes, the audience included, for example, the valiant Spaniard Manuel Calvo Hernando, who passed away at age 88 last August 16, pleased with having finished his doctoral dissertation at age 70—may he rest in peace), I said that the FAPESP magazine was a strictly journalistic product that was produced in the fertile dialogue that takes place with a certain degree of tension between two disciplines, journalism and science. It has become feasible owing to an institution of the science and technology system. It was important, then, to allude to the encounter, to the cooperation, rather than emphasizing a potential journalist/source conflict.

Now, many years later, I don’t have many changes to make in that speech, since I believe that Pesquisa FAPESP has been able to exist in this form only because of the tremendous willingness of researchers from every field of knowledge to refrain from taking offense at the occasionally impertinent queries from journalists who are their partners in this worthwhile task of helping scientific knowledge to flourish and to circulate within the society that it transforms so greatly. In recent years, Brazilian scientists have become increasingly aware of the obligation to report to society on their work. And the scientific reporters are seeking to become better journalists in order to discover which questions are the essential ones that they need to ask scientists who do indeed want to contribute to the expansion of scientific culture in Brazil.  In short, it is important to stress that Pesquisa FAPESP is also a product of the scientific and communicative skills of the scientists who are its sources and, lastly, of the attentive reading—evidenced by many astute, influential and generous comments—by its readers.

Therefore, to all who have devoted their efforts to building this magazine—a captivating challenge, in my opinion—I raise a toast, along with an invitation to discover what there is that is special in this issue number 200.

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