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Letter from the editor | 133

Of sleep, dreams and energy

Let us imagine, on the one hand, a pair of researchers anxious to discover what happens with the body and the mind of someone who spends days and days without sleeping. And on the other, not very far away, a band of men and women ready to start a race of adventures – that is nothing less than one of the most exhausting sporting modalities heard of in these days of extreme sports. It seems madness, no doubt, but within this competition there is almost no sleeping for many days. Very well: from the encounter of these researchers and sportsmen, in the beautiful Chapada Diamantina, to begin with, a scientific experiment arose that little by little went on revealing how physical exercise can, up to a point, in actual fact, protect the organism from the damage usually caused by sleep deprivation.

It is intriguing, as can be seen in the cover story of this issue of Pesquisa FAPESP, in the article prepared by the interim editor for science, Ricardo Zorzetto, along  with our collaborator Francisco Bicudo. The information published in a series of scientific articles, the authors of the article report, is useful not only for athletes accustomed to submit themselves to extreme tests, but also for all those who work in very long shifts, which obliges them to constant irregularity in their sleeping habits, such as physicians, nurses, pilots, firemen and so many other professionals.

It is also worth highlighting in this issue some texts referring to techno-scientific efforts expended in Brazil, on different fronts, for the production of clean and at the same time economically viable energy. Going in this direction is the article by the editor for scientific and technological policy, Claudia Izique, onwards, about the possibility of resumption of the works on the Angra 3 power plant and the ideas that exist today in the government about the expansion of the nuclear source in the Brazilian energy matrix, from the present-day 2% to something around 5% ? in 2030, that is.

Housed under the same roof is the report by the assistant editor for technology, Dinorah Ereno, between pages 28 and 31, on studies to make viable the production of alcohol from sugarcane bagasse and straw, one of which is part of the so-called Bioethanol Project, the main target of which is the development of the enzymatic hydrolysis technology for extracting ethanol from cellulose. To complete it, an interesting multifaceted long-term view about the energy question, along with a very singular interpretation about the model of Petrobras’s powerful research center and about its interaction with many other research centers, is presented by the company’s president, José Sérgio Gabrielli de Azevedo, in the ping-pong interview of this issue.

In the technology section, worthy of highlighting is the work of the Millennium Factory Institute, a large virtual network made up of 600 researchers, connected with 39 different research groups, striving to carry out, amongst others, studies about organizational management and transformation and engineering of the life cycle of products, which end up drawing together manufacturing industries and research institutions. The article is by Yuri Vasconcelos.

And as to the humanities, it is much worth the trouble to employ a few minutes in reading the article by the editor Carlos Haag, onwards, about a certain, shall we say, “juvenilization” or, worse, “adolescentization” of the contemporary world. The question here is one of studies and analyses that seek to understand why there is in our times such a great pressure for everybody to remain or to seem young, simple adolescents, until aging is inescapable. It is as if a culture of adolescence had ended up swallowing the adults of our planet Earth.