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The unfolding of a great theory

Successfully mating individuals of (apparently) the same species is not always possible. When this mismatch occurs, a new species may be branching off from the original one. Or, in other words, the impossibility of reproduction could be an auspicious sign that the phenomenon known as speciation may be taking place The most exciting aspect of this story is that a sometimes subtle genetic alteration leading to this reproductive failure, marking the beginning of the formation of a new species, does not require thousands of years or even centuries to occur, as the classical canons of Darwin’s theory of evolution would have us believe. The phenomenon can be observed in very short time frames, according to the results of the studies that gave rise to this issue’s cover story, contributed by special editor Carlos Fioravanti.

I think that following the various possible developments of a fascinating theory, when even its most fundamental concept—species—has not yet been defined definitively, is like a pleasurable adventure along the paths and by-ways of the accumulation of scientific knowledge. And that alone would justify the invitation to readers to see what several new Brazilian studies on speciation can tell us, starting on page 18.

There are also two other reports  in the science section to which I would like to draw readers’ attention. Both are to some extent related to unraveling the physiological processes that usually, understandably, arouse special interest. The first, with a biochemical approach, discusses studies that describe how and why a diet high in fats, rather than producing satiety, ends up increasing hunger. The report, starting on page 46, was written by the editor of Pesquisa on-line, Maria Guimarães, and the science editor, Ricardo Zorzetto. The second, with a more genetic approach, is a study that shows the effects of an antibiotic on the longevity of the famous worm C. elegans. The report, starting on page 50, is also the work of Carlos Fioravanti.

I would also like to highlight, in the technology section, the interview with Professor Carlos Paz de Araujo, a Brazilian from the northeastern city of Natal who moved to the United States and became a successful entrepreneur and researcher there in the limited field of manufacturers of memory for computers and other electronic devices, as well as a professor. Written by technology editor Marcos de Oliveira, the interview that tells the story of this engineer, intrigued by “the future of the future,” can be read starting on page 24. And finally, I would like to call your attention to a very informative report prepared by assistant editor Dinorah Ereno about the junior companies that are growing within the Brazilian university environment (page 68). The future is indeed now, as suggested by the title of the article.