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Letter from the editor | 120

More lines on the TV, more light from the sun

Changes in sight: within a few months, a new TV reaches the country, with promises of an image with better quality, interactivity, and wider possibilities for broadcasting messages. Already in this month of February, the federal government should announce the main guidelines of the Brazilian Digital TV System (SBTVD in the Portuguese acronym) and the subsystems to be adopted in relation to one of the three standards of this television technology existing in the world, that is to say, the American, the European and the Japanese.

Very well, what does this have to do with science and technology carried out in Brazil, if the standards are foreign? It has much more to do than one may imagine, as is shown by the editor for technology, Marcos de Oliveira, in the important cover story of this issue of Pesquisa FAPESP, beginning on page 64. After all, to format the Brazilian System that is now the  first step to finish on analog transmission in television – it should still remain standing, in principle, for the next 15 years, harmoniously side-by-side with digital transmission -, a technological research network was set up perhaps only surpassed by the network set up from São Paulo, in 1997, to carry out the genome projects in Brazil.

No less than 1,200 researchers, representing 75 institutions, amongst universities, research institutes and companies, got together, between 2004 and 2005, to format the system within the cultural, social and technological specificalities of the country. Will this have a profound impact? A technological one, yes, no one doubts. With regard to the cultural effects, the specialists are divided. To understand why, the most advisable thing is to read the carefully produced article.

In times of small technological revolutions, capable of producing some effect on Brazilian society, the debate about citizenship, understood as the participation of the individual in the creation of his/her society, also helps for a sharper perception of what country we are actually forming. Some recent sociological studies propose that the disbelief in the institutions generated by the current political crisis is not exactly a novelty, as reports the editor for humanities, Carlos Haag, from page 80 onwards.

For this reason, you have to go a bit further back to understand why citizenship is little developed amongst us. Or why, in a country of so many inequalities and dissatisfactions, there has never been a popular movement capable of promoting a reform in the national life.

There are ailments that repeat themselves with such frequency that it makes one suspect that the organism in which they manifest themselves is outside of a common standard. But it is not always that physicians have sufficient sensitiveness and attention to arrive at this conclusion. This is what occurs, for example, with primary immunodeficiencies, observed above all amongst children up to 3 years in age, in which a congenital genetic fault prompts a worrying repetition of episodes of pneumonia, otitis and other infections, and, even so, are often mistaken for problems common in childhood. Studies that address this question are the object of the article by Ricardo Zorzetto, the assistant editor for science, and Francisco Bicudo, beginning on page 36.

To finalize, worthy of highlighting is the article by Alessandra Pereira, about extremely interesting research that reveals patterns of behavior of ants in the Atlantic Rain Forest, and the text by Gonçalo Junior, about an impassioned thesis on the solar symbolism in the songs of Caetano Veloso. Yes, it really is that. Do you remember? “Light from the sun that the leaf brings and translates into brand new green, into life, into light.” More summery, impossible.