Science has a way of making heads turn away. The more complex it gets, the more abstract it becomes. And if you’re not constantly putting effort into working out the fine intricacies of it all, you might just get too overwhelmed to commit any interest to it. Science communication has been around for a while, then, trying to work out different ways to bring people closer to scientific issues. Today, we see an impressive production of films, videos, podcasts, lectures and exhibitions pulling together with that noble mission of demystifying science.
When I was very young, in Brazil, I didn’t like science. To me, it was all boring stuff from school. Meaningless words to be memorized and written on homeworks and tests. My school kept throwing environmentalism-related homework at me, but that only made me hate it even more. I didn’t really grasp the meaning of it; I just knew that it was getting in the way of me playing with my friends and watching TV.
Brazil is one of the largest and most fascinating countries in Latin America and one which you could spend months exploring. I spent two weeks there 10 years ago and only managed to get a glimpse into its rich heritage and its colourful cultural past.
Since there are several international airports and connections, you can get to Brazil from many places as far away as South Africa or, of course, from the US and Europe.
Getting a Brazil visa is also easy and can be obtained on arrival for many nationalities. When there, especially outside of the main cities of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, prices are reasonably cheap.
If you only had a few days and wanted to do like me, these are three fantastic places to visit in Brazil.
1. Fernando de Noronha
If you ever dreamed of a laid-back, remote and beautiful island paradise that would have to be Fernando de Noronha.
IT’S TRULY INCREDIBLE what a coat of bright paint can do. Even the darkest, most depressing towns can turn into cheerful and charming places when brightened up by some lively colors. So, if you want to turn your frown upside down and find peace and quiet, visit the following under-the-radar, colorful towns. They are sure to tickle you pink and make your friends green with envy.
1. St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada
The capital of Newfoundland and Labrador, St. John is one of the oldest cities in North America, having served as a seasonal landing for European fishermen in the mid-16th century. The St. John Heritage Foundation takes the city’s history seriously, and that includes maintaining the vibrant colors of the houses of the city’s over 200,000 inhabitants. Many houses were originally painted with the same bright paint used to demarcate ships on the blustery open waters, and these bright hues soon became emblematic of the city’s quirky personality.
There are a number of cities across the world that attract tourists with their vibrant and vivid architecture.
In certain places, such as Italy’s Burano, residents are required by law to paint their homes in bright colors.
Many of the colorful destinations are UNESCO World Heritage sites, from Trinidad in Cuba, to Brazil’s Pelourinho.
Exploring new cities is always a pleasure, but when those destinations are Crayola-colored and candy-striped, it’s even more of a treat. Countries around the world — from Chile to South Africa to the picturesque colonial town of Trinidad in Cuba — are home to cities that have done away with the practical in favor of the fun, whether due to a city-wide artistic streak, a cultural love of color, or a Hollywood payout.
Curaçao’s anything-but-white city of Willemstad, for example, is a visual tonic. Rumor has it the governor demanded the vibrant hues to soothe his migraines. And the jewel-like homes that fill Burano, Italy, are also the result of a government decree.
As part of an ongoing effort to make content more accessible, LAM will be making select stories available to readers in different languages.
There are a number of arresting images in Sara Zewde’s proposal for a memorial at Valongo Wharf in Rio de Janeiro, but my favorite is the one with the water. In it, ghostly figures in white are faded back over a scrim of water overlaid on the sea. Above their heads is a diagram of points and lines that ricochet out from a dense cluster triangulating across the sky. The palette is one of muted blues and grays. It feels both transcendent and somber.
The diagram comes from one of the spatial analyses that Zewde did on samba, the distinctly Brazilian musical form with African roots that lives in the city’s streets and squares. It depicts the roda de samba, an informal dance circle of musicians and spectators who become musicians. The character of samba is both sad and happy, a shout of joy and a lamentation.
A documentary that follows three individuals who live in modern-day Brasilia, ‘Brasilia: Life after Design’ brings a human face to a Utopian ideal. Ahead of its London premiere, we spoke to director Bart Simpson to find out more.
The London premiere of Brasilia: Life after Design will take place at the East End Film Festival in London, on Thursday 26th of April. Ahead of its general release in selected UK cinemas in May, the premiere will offer viewers a unique opportunity; they will be able to watch the film and a special panel discussion, before having their questions answered by the film’s director, Bart Simpson, and producer, Aimara Reques.
Brasilia has been on the international festival circuit since its world premiere at the Sheffield International Documentary Film Festival in 2017 – and has been very well received. The film offers a “meditative look at what it’s like to live in someone else’s idea”, focusing on the capital city of Brasil, Brasilia.
An 18-hour drive from Rio, and 2,000 kilometres from the Amazon rainforest, the city of Brasilia is a concrete city that was envisioned as a ‘utopia’.
The human world continues to evolve and as population increases, there is a dire need for more space. Here is a list of five modern, purpose-built cities that have also sparked debates around public interest:
Astana – Often dubbed the world’s weirdest capital, the Kazakh capital was moved here in 1997. The urban plan was drawn up by Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa, and the city is known for its futuristic buildings.
Brasilia – Arguably the most famous planned city in the world, it was founded in 1960. It is distinguished by its modern architecture, chiefly designed by Oscar Niemeyer, and it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. Yet the city is dogged by an inadequate mass transportation system, segregation, and neglected public spaces.
Canberra – The site for the capital was chosen as a compromise between rivals Sydney and Melbourne, Australia’s two largest cities. Construction began in 1913 but was beset by delays, and the Commonwealth parliament moved to Canberra in 1927. Despite its high standard of living, the city is little known overseas and little loved even within Australia.
Naypyidaw – The capital of Myanmar was moved from Yangon to the centre of the country in 2005.
Forest ecosystems are home to the vast majority of the world’s terrestrial species, but they are also under the greatest pressure from human activities. Ranging in size from the Vallée de Mai, Seychelles (18 hectares), to Lake Baikal, Russian Federation (8.8 million hectares), World Heritage forest sites have a total surface area of over 75 million hectares, or 1.5 times the surface area of France.
But forests are also part of our urban lives, and we are making more efforts to protect the green areas of our cities, and appreciate them as part of the living, breathing fabric of sustainable urban areas. Protecting cultural and natural elements are both critically important for sustainable cities, as pointed out in the World Heritage and Sustainable Development policy, and the Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape.
We often live side-by-side with forested areas. Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park is a rugged and extensively forested area at the edge of Kingston, Jamaica (population 580,000).
Wetlands—places where the land is covered by water, either salt, fresh, or somewhere in between—cover just over 6% of the Earth’s land surface. Sprinkled throughout every continent except Antarctica, they provide food, clean drinking water, and refuge for countless people and animals around the world. Despite their global significance, an estimated one-half of all wetlands on the planet have disappeared.
Amid the loss, one specific wetland stands out: the Pantanal. At more than 42 million acres, the Pantanal is the largest tropical wetland and one of the most pristine in the world. It sprawls across three South American countries—Bolivia, Brazil and Paraguay—and supports millions of people there, as well as communities in the lower Rio de la Plata Basin.
WWF is working on the ground to conserve the region through the creation of protected areas and promoting sustainable use of natural resources.
Check out these facts about the Pantanal that every wetland enthusiast should know!
1. The Pantanal is larger than 29 US states and at least nine European countries.