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Letter from the editor | 107

The power, luminous or somber, of the imagination

This first issue of 2005 offers a gift to our readers: two fine tales, to read for the first time without taking a breath, and to reread afterwards with infinite calm, delighting in the delicacy of the relationship glimpsed in the refined dialog that constitutes the first, allowing oneself to be dragged in, in the second, by the dense sea of words that constructs a powerful fantasy around a real inventor, driven by socialist convictions, in the 19th century. This is fiction of a high level, which to our mind adds value and a subtle elegance to the magazine, grounded on the balance amongst multiple approaches to our intellectual production. Science, technology, humanities and – why not? – a bit of literary creation at first hand, in short, knowledge produced in this country in many shapes, that’s Pesquisa FAPESP.

I move on to this issues cover story and I realize that, if fiction is a narrative that reinvents, ravishes reality, brakes free from it or surpasses it, in a way we remain in its environs, in the text that begins on page 38, although in a somber rather than luminous way, closer to a nightmare than to a dream. In the six pages dedicated to a world-wide survey on psychiatric disturbances that is being done by the World Health Organization (WHO), the editor for science, Carlos Fioravanti, informs that its first results reveal that, even in the most isolated cities in the world, mental disorders begin back in childhood, and generally show the same stages of development, regardless of the lifestyles or economic conditions in which the populations live, to create, in adult life, what it calls prisoners of their own uncontrolled imagination. Meaning that, in the worst psychiatric disorders, there is no more linkage to reality, and the mind creates its tragic fictions. But what the study from the WHO opens up is the prospect of early detection of the process of losing emotional control, and thus of avoiding the emergence of more serious problems. Promising news in the disheartening picture of mental health in the world.

Anyhow, the reader’s good imagination, in every way, is now being summoned to accompany the new results of an archeological survey, that is, the study of nine skulls in the region of  Lagoa Santa, state of Minas Gerais, and one from Caatinga do Moura, in the state of  Bahia, which suggest, with great force, that the first inhabitants of America were not indeed Mongoloids. And that Luzia – a personage created in the 1990s by Brazilian scientists following the finding, in 1975, of the skull of a young woman who may have lived about 11,000 years ago in the region -, with their looks that recall African blacks and Australian aborigines, may be no exception or aberration, but the rule. This new and fascinating chapter of Brazilian Pre-history is reported by special reporter Marcos Pivetta, beginning on page 44.

And to conclude the highlights, we recommend special attention to the article that opens the Technology section, on page 64, in which assistant editor Dinorah Ereno details how Unicamp’s Innovation Agency, Inova, in only one year of activity, has managed to close 13 licensing contracts with companies, for the exploitation of 26 patents – all of them, by the way, relating to products of great social relevance.

As to the rest, the whole team of Pesquisa FAPESP wishes our readers a fecund and pleasant new year, and also promises to strive for this 2004 was a year that saw some important events in the life of the publication – the special issue number 100, the launch of the book Prazer em conhecer [Pleasure in Knowing], a compilation of interviews originally published in the magazine, the launch of the Pesquisa Brazil program, the result of a partnership with Radio Eldorado, awards… Our expectation is to be able to find, at the end of 2005, that we have continued to be fecund.