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Letter from the editor | 127

Science, cinema and celebrations

Common, at each campaign, is a certain controversy about the election polls and the performance of the institutes that do them. Can these polls be trusted? Do their results influence the media? Do they create trends in the electorate? And what do the political scientists and the other attentive scholars of the so-called humanities have to say about these soundings, with a solid statistical basis, that came into the Brazilian political process for good, following the redemocratization in the 1980’s? It was precisely this that the editor for humanities, Carlos Haag, set about investigating, consulting academic studies and listening to their authors, to offer the readers of Pesquisa FAPESP a compact and wide-ranging view are what the polls are for the present of politics, how and why they work, not forgetting a brief glimpse at their history. It is worthwhile checking it out, scudding over the fluent text, what sustains this frisky dance of figures that the media presents us with at increasingly shorter intervals in the course of the campaign, up until the eve of the election.

In a field of transition from the human sciences to the biological sciences, I want to highlight the revealing article by special editor Marcos Pivetta on the mega-study of the fishing potential of the Brazilian coast, sponsored by the federal government and whose results are in a publication issued a few days ago. The not very heartening news that it brings is that there are few fish off the Brazilian coast, given its warm waters, poor in food for these animals. But, in compensation for this scarcity of resources, part of them is valuable and, accordingly, Brazilian fishing may grow in qualitative terms.

In this same humanities/biological sciences frontier zone, worthy of record here is the sensitive report from the editor for science, Carlos Fioravanti, together with Mariana Martinez Estens, a journalist from the Frontera daily paper, of Tijuana, Mexico, about the large-scale propagation of viruses and bacteria on the long frontier that separates Mexico from the United States, and the consequent explosion of diseases of every kind, facilitated by conditions of survival in the region of a stunning dramatic quality, be it of a temporary or permanent nature.

In technology, editor Marcos de Oliveira details the beginning of the activity of one of the most noteworthy partnership ever entered into in this country between scientific institutions and a company – in this case, Petrobrás. No fewer than 76 institutions in 17 Brazilian states are going to get a total of R$1 billion, in a three-year period, to carry out research projects with a focus on increasing Brazilian production of oil and gas and on developing a large number of new forms of energy.

To highlight within a collective work a small item signed precisely by the person that is doing an overall assessment of this work can be embarrassing. But in the case of the interview that Fernando Birri granted me, it is worthwhile overcoming the embarrassment, on account of his words, his fantastic vision of the future at the age of 80, and of the size of his work in the construction of the cinema in Latin America, whether making films, planting cinema schools, or examining theoretically, with great shrewdness and originality, the paths of this cultural expression, so insistent and persistent in our continent.

And, finally, the register that was what I have most wanted to make since the beginning of this letter: Pesquisa FAPESP, competing with many of the major Brazilian publications, has conquered first and second places of the Award for Reporting on the Biodiversity of the Atlantic Rain Forest, in the printed journalism category. The winning articles were by Alessandra Pereira and Carlos Fioravanti. They are completed with other news that may suggest that we are chanting praises to ourselves. But it is not a question of that. It is a case of celebrating good news and the recognition that we have made some hits, in a work that this team strives to do well because it loves to do so. Hip hip hooray!