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Letter from the editor | 126

The art of seeing that which was invisible

The cover story of this issue of Pesquisa FAPESP, which had competition from all sides, began to take shape, unusual as it may seem, during the recent visit of the Dalai Lama to Brazil on April 28th. The Federal University of São Paulo (UNIFESP) and the Palas Athenas Association had organized for the morning and afternoon of that day an intense debate about science and spirituality, with the general title of Compassion and wisdom in the construction of individual and collective health. It was to be opened with a talk from the Dalai Lama and commented about by almost a dozen respected university researchers, most of whom were linked to the areas of psychiatry and neurology. Examined from various angles, opposition, proximity and the possible links between science and spirituality, what quickly put my impressionable journalistic spirit on alert was the absence of José Roberto Leite, an assistant professor at the Psychobiology Department, concerning the research that he has been conducting for almost eight years in the field of meditation.

Shortly after the visit I spoke with UNIFESP’s graduation pro-rector, the neurologist Luiz Eugênio Mello, who is a member of Pesquisa FAPESP’s editorial board. In the face of my interest regarding meditation and to other research with brain images, he passed on valuable clues about who had obtained good results in this area in Brazil. Some time afterwards I interviewed professor José Roberto, who told me about the very interesting results concerning his studies. But I wanted, in the same manner as had been produced in the United States, clear images of the brain that show what happens differently when someone is meditating. And I decided to wait for these images, which in a short time could arrive in the researcher’s hands. During this time, a conversation with the director of the Israeli Teaching and Research Institute (IIEP) of the Albert Einstein Hospital, Carlos Alberto Moreira, offered me a good panoramic vision on the multiple research projects that, within the institution, has the brain as the objective and had structured themselves around the various technologies for obtaining brain images. Many conversations with the IIEP researchers later, and also guided by the proposals of the CInAPCe Program (see issue 124 of our magazine), which is most certainly going to vastly increase, and in many directions of brain research based on image technologies, I managed to concentrate my attention on research projects that make use of images obtained by functional magnetic resonance in order to analyze functions that in some manner make themselves visible in the cortex.

In this issue we deal with another type of network that, when looked at closely, seems to guard some analogy with neural networks. We are dealing with the phenomenon of blogs, which have multiplied on the internet at an astonishing speed and, at this point, have already constitute a new means of communication – which the specialists have been calling a blogosphere. Less in opposition and more in common with the mediasphere, the blogs, as demonstrated in the perfectly constructed text by our humanities editor, Carlos Haag, have demystified both journalism and, more and more, guide the news of different media outlets.

As well, it is also worthwhile paying special attention to the well founded foreseeing from our technology editor, Marcos de Oliveira, with respect to a major energy change that should take place at the start of the next decade. He relates how and why hydrogen must then turn itself into an important fuel to generate electrical energy and to move vehicles, substituting, little by little, diesel and gasoline, among other products. Don’t miss it.

And to finish, it is worth reading the report by our special editor Fabrício Marques, as to the way in which the SciELO library, with the tally of no less than 6 million monthly accesses, is making Brazilian scientific production more and more visible and known. To a certain extent this edition talks about the varied processes of making proposals visible within the environment of science. Good reading!