|Countries that invest less in science have more human poverty. Figure by Jorge Meléndez based on worldmapper.org|
Astronomy is THE interdisciplinary science per excellence. It is based on physics and maths, but it can also involve other areas such as chemistry, meteorology, geology, biology, history and archeology; it has also a strong technological component, as advanced technology is required to built large telescopes and state-of-the-art instrumentation. Astronomy can greatly contribute to improve education at different levels, helping students to interconnect apparently unrelated areas. More importantly, Astronomy fascinate children, being thus an excellent vehicle for introducing them to science and technology, which are fundamental to develop a country.
Soccer is a national passion in Brazil, where soccer players are celebrities. It is OK to follow soccer as a career, but certainly a country needs other role models besides soccer players. We urgently need inspiring role models in science, we need successful scientists performing cutting-edge science. If we aspire to make major discoveries, we certainly need appropriate facilities. Brazilian astronomers were very excited back in 2010, when Brazil signed an agreement to join ESO, the largest and more productive observatory on Earth; unfortunately, Brazilian authorities are taking too long to ratify it.
|The Southern sky as seen from Brazil. (c) Babak Tafreshi|
Brazil's exports are mainly primary mineral and agricultural products. We need more than just exporting coffee and bananas to develop a country. The development of technology in Brazil is way behind other countries; most high tech products are either imported or just assembled here. We need to invest heavily in education, science and technology, and Astronomy can help to educate our children, and stimulate our most talented minds to follow careers in science and technology.