The Fulbright meeting was held at the Centro Nacional de Pesquisa em Engergia e Materiais (CNPEM) and one of the collateral benefits was that we got a tour of the place. The center is located in several buildings on a big campus with lots of green space. On the campus are included o Laboratório Nacional de Luz Síncrotron (LNLS), o Laboratório Nacional de Ciência e Tecnologia do Bioetanol (CTBE) e o Laboratório Nacional de Biociências.
Most of the budget comes from the Federal government with about 15% coming from private firms. Academic researchers can use the facilities, but they bring their own equipment. The analogy is that the Federal government pays for the car and the users put in their own gas. I saw all kinds of research going on in biotechnology and biofuels. Foreign researchers are welcome and many come from other parts of Latin America. There are fewer visiting researchers from other parts of the world, but our Brazilian friends are hopeful.
I have to admit that I don’t really know what I am looking at. I see lots of bottles and machines. They tell me that they are crystallizing proteins. I believe that is true, although I am not sure what that means. I did see a fish that glows in the dark. That was cool. It has to do with its trans-genetic nature. At least that is what they told me.
Another big and impressive thing is the Synchrotron. I took a picture. This was the first of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. It is a type of particle accelerator. They told me that it had a wide range of uses in research. I can appreciate that it is a good thing. There is a TV series I sometimes watch called “the Big Bang Theory”. Visiting this place and talking to the people there reminded me of that show.