Images, Microbes and Mirrors proposes to explain paradigms of different knowledge fields with concepts established in immunology and neuroscience

One of the books main ideas is that the nervous system can operate mechanisms similar to the immune system, as internal images of external antigens (such as microbes), to represent the world and recognize real-life objects


Even as a proposition to be a scientific promotion piece, the book proposes new concepts created in the authors reflections and interdisciplinary approach

Launched in December, the book Images, Microbes and Mirrors, by professors Claudio Tadeu Daniel-Ribeiro and Yuri Chaves Martins, permeates the immune and neural systems. The idea goes back to when the team lead by Professor Daniel-Ribeiro, from the Oswaldo Cruz Institute (IOC, in Portuguese), Fiocruz, organized an Inter-institutional Doctorate, in Belém, in a partnership between the Pará Federal University (UFPA), Pará State University and the Evandro Chagas Institute (IEC), in the year of 2000. In 2004, the Director of the Tropical Medicine Center at UFPA, Professor Luiz Carlos de Lima Silveira, neurophysiologist that joined the team, invited Professor Daniel-Ribeiro to comment the paper Neurosciences in Brazil – A technological revolution at our reach, that he would publish as President of the Brazilian Society of Neurosciences (SBNeC), in the first edition of the Neurosciences Journal, launched in Brazil. After preparing his comments, Professor Daniel-Ribeiro says he handed the text to young Yuri Chaves Martins, his former student at the Fiocruz Scientific Talent Program (since the age of 14), saying he had enjoyed writing and intended to unfold it into two papers: one about knowledge evolution and one exploring the idea of using internal images in the nervous system, to be published in the same journal. Along with Professor Lima Silveira, the three planned two books: The Reflexive Almanc and what they came to call The little book, which ended with 336 pages, five chapters and comments from 13 scientists of different fields, including Dr. Lima Silveira, who passed away in 2016 and had the book dedicated to his memory.

Professor Martins explains that the book is about the immune and nervous systems, approaching subjects from mental images creation process to humankind evolution and from knowledge evolution to the formation of antibodies during immune response. According to him, it is difficult to find good books of Brazilian scientific disclosure and, for this reason, they tried to write one that explained scientific concepts for non-specialists, in the different approached fields, for students and general public, always curious and receptive to scientific evidence-based information, if presented under an adequate and non-frightening language to lay people. We wanted to simultaneously make the book disclose some conclusions we had reached while examining paradigms from different knowledge fields from our background in immunology and neurosciences, but with the scientific accuracy prevalent in the Academia. This is, yet keeping the idea of writing a scientific-disclosure, the book offers new concepts created in our reflections and interdisciplinary approaches, he stresses.

According to Professor Daniel-Ribeiro, the book is somehow innovative for explaining phenomena from a knowledge area using concepts established by another. To him, the paradigms from a science area can be used to understand and advance in a different area, and using this approach the book leads to interesting conclusions. For example, Chapter 1 analyses science evolution from the chaos theory perspective to suggest that science behaves as a chaotic system and that, for such, is hard to predict its behavior in the future. We used this same approach when, in Chapter 3, we propose the nervous system creates and evolves its repertoire of internal images of the real world from a set of perceptions and a framework of innate primitive images. This is, the transposal is on the concept of internal images, proposed by Niels Jerne four decades ago, when creating the idiotypic network theory, a well-established immunology paradigm, although in very different basis for the so called image formation. The result was a proposition that the nervous system could operate mechanisms similar to the immune system, which we also consider a cognitive system, to represent the world, he details.

The authors celebrate the honor of several notorious authors accepting to present or comment the book: Reading what Marcelo Marscinsky, ex-president of the Brazilian Society of Immunology (SBI), Emeritus Professor at the Rio de Janeiro Federal University and member of the Brazilian Sciences Academia (ABC) and National Medicine Academy (ANM), and Sidarta Ribeiro, Full Professor at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte and director of the Natal Brain Institute (ICE, in Portuguese), wrote about the book fills us with pride, but also makes us confident that we can pass forward our work of compilation and critical analysis of information, reflection and proposition of new concepts and paradigms, said Daniel-Ribeiro. Martins stresses that Dina Czereznia, science philosopher at Fiocruz, physician and Epidemiology Doctor, gathers the knowledge attributes and discipline to philosophize with biological data. We read her afterword, with such distinct glorification of our work, as one who listens to a tuneful symphony. We believe this means our book could be appreciated by experts of the several knowledge areas we have approached, complements Daniel-Ribeiro.

Finally, the authors stress the greatest lesson to be learned from the book is encouraging interdisciplinary transit; trying to persuade hyper specialist youngsters (inevitable result of the current, deep and narrow way to produce knowledge) to open a window to transdiscplinarity. With the books interdisciplinary approach, the authors expect to promote the debate on the several themes discussed by experts from several knowledge fields and disseminate the numerous paradigms of different science areas approached in the book. Those interested can acquire the book at the Fiocruz Virtual Bookstore [Livraria Virtual] or from Fiocruz-partnered bookstores in the Country. The full list can be found here. Soon, Images, Microbes and Mirrors will also be available in Brazils main bookstores.…