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Transdisciplinary trip around Brazil

In an objective synthesis, the cover story of this issue of Pesquisa FAPESP deals with the registration, by a physicist, of an unexpected drop in the intensity of the terrestrial magnetic field in the Northeast and Southeast regions of Brazil, observed while striving to understand its variation over the last 500 years. Within the same objective spirit, it is worth adding that this event motivated the establishment of a method to analyze archaeological materials in Brazil, which in turn, confirmed or even defined the probable dates of old buildings in certain Brazilian cities, some of them without any previous historical documentation whatsoever.

But allowing me the freedom to adopt a more enthusiastic tone and greater focus for the context of this narrative, I would like to tell readers that it is in this report, prepared by special editor Carlos Fioravanti, that physics, geology, archeology and architecture intersect to tell a gripping tale about the magnetic history of Brazil. From the journalist?s text, we can almost see a physicist, plus architects, archaeologists and geologists, armed with hammers and chisels, sometimes wielding a water-cooled drill, to remove small chips of brick from churches and colonial houses in the old city center of Salvador, Bahia, in order to send them to research centers in São Paulo and Paris, and thus tell us later with great precision, about the magnetism and the date that the Catedral Basílica no Terreiro de Jesus (Basilica Cathedral in the Land of Jesus) was constructed. Or about the renovations to the home of the irreverent fifteenth-century poet Gregório de Matos e Guerra, in Pelourinho. It is worthwhile reading the unfolding of this exemplary transdisciplinary project beginning here.

An important highlight in this issue is the article written by the editor of science and technology policy, Fabrício Marques, about Indicators of science, technology and innovation in São Paulo, to be released by FAPESP during the month of July. This volume is the result of some remarkable research, carried out by dozens of experts, on a variety of topics essential to drawing an accurate portrait of the multifaceted area of science, technology and innovation in the state of São Paulo. In more than 800 pages, the book draws attention, for example, to the influence that the private sector has had on various fields of research in recent years: today the majority of researchers from São Paulo are employed by private companies, or more precisely, 53% of researchers according to figures from 2008. To understand the dynamics of this process and the many others that contribute to the basis of increasing contributions to global science and technology production by researchers in São Paulo, readers should look here.

I also recommend a second article by Fabrício Marques, located in the technology section of the current issue, beginning here. This article addresses flu vaccine production at the Butantan Institute, which is already in operation, and should guarantee that Brazil becomes fully self-sufficient in the prevention of influenza virus in elderly people in 2012.

Enjoy your reading!