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Letter from the editor | 116

A stellar explosion

At the beginning of September, the small but energetic community of Brazilian astrophysicists commemorated a feat that once more attests to their high qualification: on the 4th, less than seven hours after a satellite from Nasa having sent an alert to all the astrophysicists on duty about possible indications of a gamma ray explosion on the boundaries of the Pisces constellation, the young researcher from São Paulo Eduardo Cypriano, connected with Soar, captured the first images of what later would be seen to be a more much important stellar explosion than had been supposed. Actually, it was simply a question – as was found following the measurements from Soar, an observatory in which Brazil is one of the majority partners and which enjoys important support from FAPESP – of the oldest and most distant explosion of a star ever captured on Earth. And the whole of this story is very well told by special editor Marcos Pivetta, beginning on page 40.

By the way, there is more in this issue about this kind of important participation of the country’s researchers in major international scientific projects: the technology editor, Marcos Oliveira, tells how Brazilian physicists are involved in a gigantic study of subatomic particles, beginning on page 64.

The Workers’ Party ( PT) is also the object of an article in Pesquisa FAPESP, and for a very simple reason, whether from the journalistic point of view, or from the academic point of view: it is because, since its birth in 1980, the party that is now the protagonist in a crisis that is attracting the eyes of the entire nation to Brasília, was one of the country’s political institutions that was most studied by sociologists, political scientists and philosophers, from here and elsewhere. On this point, I still remember French thinker Felix Guattari, in the auditorium of Ceas, the Social Studies and Action Center, in Salvador, on a night at the beginning of the 1980’s, hailing the foundation of the party as an effectively new fact in the history of the left, or even more, in the history of politics, if we can talk that way, on an international level. And explaining, explaining tirelessly, this vision to an auditorium packed with anxious faces of around 30 years old who wanted, after so much suffering imposed by the military dictatorship, to recover faith in the transforming capacity of political action. But let me come back onto the rails of the exposition: if it has all been so much studied, we imagine, perhaps, that the academic world has some new light to throw on the nature, the immediate reasons and the deeper ones for this crisis, and its possible outcomes. In fact – it has… And it is precisely this that one can find in the irreprehensible article by the Humanities editor, Carlos Haag, beginning on page 80.

There are many other articles in this issue that merit highlighting in this space. However, this time I am going to use it to highlight an essential part of the identity of this magazine that almost always remains in the shade: art. I suggest a look that is more attentive than the habitual one at the visual aspects of Pesquisa FAPESP, which has in command an extremely fine Hélio de Almeida, our art director, supported by a competent team made up of Tânia Maria dos Santos, the head of art, plus José Roberto Medda and Mayumi Okuyama, plus photographers Miguel Boyayan and Eduardo César. Look, for example, at the photos for the ping-pong interview, in black and white, on pages 15 and 87. Do they not create a different atmosphere on these pages? And what to say about the illustrations of the article about disarmament, on pages 91, 92 and 93? They are veritable sculptures, created by Hélio himself for this issue and then photographed. Quite close by, on pages 81, 82 and 85, a lengthy look at the illustrations by Laurabeatriz will certainly add esthetic fruition to the reading of the magazine. In short, Pesquisa FAPESP is thought out to offer relevant reading about the science technology and research in humanities in our country, giving support of unquestionable esthetic plasticity.