Imprimir Republish


Science as an adventure

There are many ways to disseminate scientific knowledge in society and, perhaps, one of the ways that Brazil took the longest to discover is books of dissemination. I am referring specifically to beautifully written books in a language that can be understood by the lay person, with narrative forms whose pace captures the reader’s attention and tries to hold his interest until the end. These books unashamedly resort to different forms of fictional style and have no qualms about weaving through different dramatic structures to produce an extraordinary scientific research saga highlighted by endless mishaps. It makes no difference whether the adventures take place in broad cosmological domains, in the nano-dimensions of the inside a human cell or in the lofty peaks of algebra. All fields, in principle, hide keys and doors that can be unlocked by ordinary readers to spread scientific culture throughout society.

The promising news in this field is that the Brazilian science book market has gained impetus in the last ten years and is expected to grow, according to Fabricio Marques, our scientific and technological policy editor. Fabricio is also the author of this issue’s cover story, which begins on page 18. Fabricio was alerted in this respect by simultaneously voiced hints from Marcelo Knobel, the dean of undergraduate studies at the State University of Campinas/Unicamp, who coordinates the collection of science books published by Unicamp’s publishing company, and from physicist Cylon Gonçalves, whose multiple activities include the coordination of a similar collection to be published by Oficina de Textos, a smaller publishing company. As a result, Fabrício went on a quest to find out what was available regarding this issue within our national borders. His investigation resulted in some good news, even though the performance of the domestic market is still light years away from what takes place in the United States, the United Kingdom and even in the neighboring country of Argentina. It is worthwhile checking it out.

In terms of science, the highlight of this issue centers on a matter that brings no good news: HIV/Aids. However, the search for a vaccine against the virus that has infected 60 million people and caused the death of 27 million people has rebounded in the last two years. Now, new strategies have once again raised hopes that someday an effective product will be achieved to provide truly effective protection from this disease. The details of these strategies are described in the article by Ricardo Zorzetto, our science editor. Ricardo’s article, which starts on page 40, also tells us which international groups are at the forefront of this search and which Brazilians are part of this endeavor.

I would like to call our readers’ attention to the article on the meteorological radar of the Institute of Astronomy, Geophysics and Atmosphere Sciences at the University of São Paulo (IAG-USP). The radar was designed and developed by Atmos, a company from the State of São Paulo. As narrated by Marcos de Oliveira, our technology editor, from page 66 onwards, the equipment monitors clouds, approaching storms, wind speed and, among other measurements, it can forecast rain three hours in advance. This is an extremely important instrument for Emergency Management authorities and for the prevention of tragedies linked to meteorological conditions.

Lastly, I would like to invite our readers to turn to the policies section, to read a critical analysis of the FAPESP Genome Program, 10 years after the program’s pioneering project on Xyllela fastidiosa was the cover story of Nature; this was the first time that Brazilian science was placed on the world map of relevant knowledge production. Indeed, Nature focused on this achievement and its productive results in the editorial published in the July 15 issue. The X. fastidiosa project was full of adventurous components, which takes us back to the opening statement of this letter.

Enjoy your reading!