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Letter from the editor | 105

Visions of our past

The cover story of this issue of Pesquisa FAPESP seems to me particularly agreeable, light, easy to read. It is part of the work of the team that prepares this magazine every month, of course, showing in clear journalistic texts, intelligible for specialists and laymen, some of the best scientific and technological research projects carried out in this country. Often, though, this is an arduous mission, given the complexity, really tough, of the explanations and scientific texts, many times riddled with formulas, equations and very specific and sophisticated. Not this month, surely, in which, in the section on Humanities, we have managed to join up science with art, in the fine article by special editor Marcos Pivetta about Brazilian cave art.

It was only recently, a little more than 20 years back, that more attention began to be given to the prehistoric images painted in caves or outside them, and engraved on stones in the Brazilian territory. Before this, attention was almost always turned towards other forms of archeological vestiges. An injustice, as the two recently issued books demonstrate, exploring in simple language this graphic world constructed by our forebears and showing the diversity of techniques, shapes and themes that it consists of in the Amazon and in the Northeast. In this world, paintings and engravings on rock, done thousands of years ago, spread over all the regions of Brazil, represent people interacting amongst themselves and with animals, in scenes of hunting, dancing and sex.

In Scientific and Technological Policy, it is worth highlighting an article that shows effects that go far beyond what was expected of a scientific dissemination done with great competency and criterion. Editor Claudia Izique reports how the open access electronic publishing systems for Ibero-American scientific magazines, the SciELO Network, has reached the mark of 200 titles a month. In Brazil, there are 131 magazines of the SciELO database, which is registering about 1 million accesses a month. The network started to work with Brazilian publications, but it has evolved to incorporate magazines from other Ibero-American countries. Today, Brazil, Chile, Cuba and Spain are covered by the network, but Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, Peru and Venezuela will shortly be taking part in it.

Present in the best scientific magazines from this country and from abroad, the studies about the analysis of proteins are now mobilizing over 200 research groups in this area, baptized as proteomics. Now they want to identify the structure, the functions and the modes of interaction of these molecules, encoded by the genes. In October, two new pieces of equipment began to work at the National Synchrotron Light Laboratory, in Campinas, which make it possible to identify the sequence of amino acids. This puts the country amongst those with technology for analyzing in detail the structure of the proteins. Groups from any part of the country, report assistant editor for Science Ricardo Zorzetto and reporter Ruth Bellinghini, will be able to work with the two mass spectrometers – financed by FAPESP in a total of US$ 1.3 million -, provided that the proposals are approved by the laboratory. The prospects are for these studies to help to find solutions in the area of health and agriculture.

In Technology, plants once again merit highlighting in the pages of Pesquisa FAPESPA shrub originating from the Atlantic Rain Forest, pariparoba, reports assistant editor Dinorah Ereno, has proved to have a protective action against the ultraviolet rays of the UVB type, the ones that are most harmful to the skin. He discovery, made by the School of Pharmaceutical Sciences of the Unversity of São Paulo, has already led to a patent request and interested a Brazilian company, which won the tender process for granting a license for using the root extract in the development of products for cosmetic use. One example of a good marriage between university, company, and researchers. Good Reading.