A century of science in Folha – 02/16/2021 – Marcelo Viana

For years I have argued that it is time for us to have a soap opera protagonist of any genre who is a mathematician. Not (only!) For the eternal glory of my profession, but above all as a good-humored reminder of the need to bring science closer to everyone’s daily life.

Henri Poincaré wrote that “thought is nothing but a lightning bolt in the middle of a long night, but that lightning bolt is everything”. And it has to be shared to educate everyone.

It is never too much to emphasize the importance of society understanding the importance of science and its role in our material and spiritual, individual and collective development. This task is primarily a matter for scientists: who but us can present the wonders of scientific knowledge and how much has it already done for humanity?

The receptivity of the Brazilian public, which is always eager and in need of knowledge and culture, is beyond doubt. Even I who write on a topic known to be ungrateful to communication often get dozens and dozen of messages from readers with answers to the challenges I am facing, requests for new topics, and questions on related topics .

Perhaps less well known in the academic and scientific world, but no less important, is the receptivity of our great written, spoken and visual communication tools to scientific content addressed to the general public. We still have a long way to go to achieve the presence of science in mass communication in advanced countries, but the vehicles are available.

I am grateful to Folha de S.Paulo for the space that has opened up for weekly communication with all of Brazil, with complete freedom to write on the subjects that interest me and which I think readers may also be interested in. Folha’s story of honoring science and encouraging free discussion of ideas was a huge motivator for my interest in taking over this space almost 4 years ago. The task of writing one article per week doesn’t always fit well on a heavy schedule, but it has already become an integral part of my job as a mathematician.

Next Friday (19) Folha de S. Paulo will complete a century of its existence. It is an honor to be part of the group of columnists the newspaper has put together over the years to bring readers to these pages a part of the Poincaré Blitz.

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