Letter from the President

Letter from the President

[Henk Schenk] Henk Schenk
I congratulate Michael Woolfson on winning the sixth Ewald Prize. As most of you know, Michael made many great contributions to direct methods. I recall the famous program MULTAN that solved so many crystal structures all over the world. He will receive the prize this summer on 6 August at the Opening Ceremony of the Geneva General Assembly and Congress of the IUCr. As Ewald laureate he will also present the opening lecture of the Congress. I have known Michael personally since 1970 as we shared (with many others) the excitement for direct methods. Not only is his work fantastic, but also the way he socialized direct methods through the famous summer schools was remarkable. Many of us became friends because we attended one of these schools. I am looking forward to listening to his talk.

Through direct methods I also had the pleasure to meet P. P. Ewald. He was the invited speaker at the Workshop on Direct Methods in Buffalo in 1973. With twenty other young scientists I listened to very interesting talks. At the time, Paul Ewald was already 85 years old, a very nice and bright person and a brilliant lecturer. He was not only one of the founders of X-ray crystallography but also the main driving force behind the International Union of Crystallography. In 1944 he started discussions about setting up an IUCr-like organisation and an independent crystallographic journal. He was the President of the Provisional International Crystallographic Committee, which in 1947 prepared the official start of the IUCr and the launch of Acta Crystallographica. He was the first Editor of Acta and also President of the IUCr from 1960-1963. I invite you to read his Editorial Preface in the first issue of Acta Cryst. in 1948, maybe through Crystallography Journals Online.

Here I give two citations:

'Much is yet to be learned about the general mechanism of crystallization, including the reasons for the transitions of a substance from one crystalline form to another; about the mechanical, electrical, optical and plastic properties of crystals in relation to atomic forces and structure; about the internal perfection and imperfection of crystals and the consequences thereof; about chemical bonds, surface forces, diffusion and chemical reactions within the solid; about the diffraction of atoms, electrons, neutrons and, possibly, of other particles by crystals. Many problems arise from the study of substances which show a periodicity less perfect than the three-dimensional one of true crystals. Fibres, high polymers, and high molecular substances in general require the study of the weak intermolecular forces which are determined by the surface of the molecule rather than directly by its internal constitution, and the same is true for the mesomorphic states of matter.'

'Acta is intended to offer a central place for publication and discussion of all research in this vast and ever-expanding field. It borders, naturally, on pure physics, chemistry, biology, mineralogy, technology and also on mathematics, but is distinguished by being concerned with the methods and results of investigating the arrangement of atoms in matter, particularly when that arrangement has regular features. Ever since crystals became the object of scientific investigation it has been felt that they are the most precisely defined form of matter, and that the understanding of their atomic structure introduces clarity and detail into concepts which must in other cases be expressed in more general terms. This is particularly apparent in all types of diffraction experiments, but it is also true for elastic, optical, electric, magnetic and thermodynamic properties, and the whole field of crystal structure may be regarded as the ultimate development of stereochemistry, amplified by a wealth of quantitative geometrical information.' I hope to meet you this summer in Geneva.

Henk Schenk
schenk@science.uva.nl