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  • Writer's pictureMiguel Fernández

Congress causes

The opening ceremony, at the brand new São Paulo Expo, had something new: the stage was surrounded by rows of armchairs. Some thought it wouldn't work. But it did. All in suits and ties or party dresses. I accompanied two international guests, Eng. Ventura Bengoechea, representing the AWWA (American Water Works Association) and engineer Becerra Coelho, director of Coorasan (Cooperativa de Águas de Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia), who came to talk about an institutional model that does not exist in Brazil: public companies do not state, or user cooperatives. We were seated next to a corridor that divided two sections of the auditorium. In the adjacent sector, also next to the corridor, was sitting a dear, pretty and friendly young engineer, professionally militant/activist of ABES and politically PT (Workers' Party). When the politicians spoke (and ex-president FHC was enthusiastic into the microphone, reminding Fidel), everyone clapped, except for his colleague. Then I remembered when I was a child and read Walt Disney comics, especially Donald Duck and his characters, Uncle Scrooge the miser, Gastão the lucky one, Professor Sparrow, the “inventor”... In an episode that, I see , I didn’t forget, professor Pardal tried to invent a “dark lamp”, which consisted of a lamp that, once “lit” (turned on), instead of brightening the environment, would absorb the present light darkening the surroundings, a contraption that even today I consider it a waste not to have been developed by industry or universities. Imagine the savings on curtains!!!

There, at that moment, in that auditorium, I concluded that my colleague had developed a device analogous to what Professor Pardal was looking for: a “device of silence”. Like a black hole, it absorbed the sound of the surroundings. Another good idea for a master's-doctoral thesis: imagine the savings in acoustic insulation!!! Imagine the practicality!. As Nelson Rodrigues would say, only the blind do not see! The colleague managed to absorb the sound of the speeches, the applause, the whispers, transforming the surroundings into silence! For the first time we were witnesses of the operation of such an invention on this planet (will Disney charge royalties?). And it was like this until maestro João Carlos Martins and the camerata attacked Vivaldi and Villa Lobos: the colleague came out of her trance and applauded enthusiastically, interrupting the experience of the “silence hole” (politically more correct than black hole)... On another occasion, we witnessed a hilarious episode: a colleague, whose name we will not mention, started his lecture and, as there was an English-speaking and Spanish-speaking audience, he asked, seriously, if those present preferred that he speak in English or in Spanish. Spanish. Our lecturer, then, spoke about 10 words in portunhol, switched to Portuguese and was in Camões' language until the end, without realizing it, despite the generalized giggles, especially from the moderator who (maldade) made several interventions in English and in Spanish without the person noticing...

Miguel Fernández, consulting engineer, chronicler and columnist Rio de Janeiro, published in ABES Bio Magazine, on November 24, 2017.

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