Lachlan Cranswick (1968-2010)

[Lachlan Cranswick]

Lachlan Cranswick, a National Research Council scientist at the Chalk River Laboratories, Ontario, Canada, disappeared in January of 2010. An extensive search conducted at that time was fruitless and it wasn’t until six months later that his body was discovered in shallow water by two people canoeing on the Ottawa River near Welsh Bay. What happened to him remains a mystery.

[Cranswickite 1]
[Cranswickite 2]
[Cranswickite 3] Images of Cranswickite MgSO4.4(H2O), a new mineral from Calingasta, Argentina. Cranswickite is described in a paper by Ron Peterson (Queen’s U.), submitted to The American Minerologist.

Lachlan was extraordinarily active in distributing powder and single-crystal computer programs throughout the world. He organized satellite workshops at international congresses and round robins concerning the Rietveld method, Structure Determination by Powder Diffractometry (SDPD), and Search/Match. He was one of the original founders of the SDPD and Rietveld mailing lists and various internet news groups including sci.techniques.xtallography. He chaired the Commission on Crystallographic Computing for the IUCr and was webmaster for the Canadian National Committee for Crystallography and for the 2009 ACA meeting in Toronto. He edited Newsletters produced by IUCr Commissions on computing, powder diffraction and teaching. From 1998 to 2003 the CCP14 gave him an opportunity to apply his talents cataloguing the most efficient computer programs. Although not a developer of programs, he constantly cajoled developers to make improvements in their algorithms, and to provide better documentation. His concern about the difficulties of doing science in developing countries prompted him to distribute his NEXUS CD to many countries, including Cuba, where internet access is difficult or impossible. His regularly updated CD contained a huge list of open software and documentation about crystallography. Lachlan was also interested in philosophy, history, literature and poetry. His personal website, developed when he was in Melbourne (, is a mixture of humor and seriousness. Quality of life was always important to him. He chose to move to Chalk River, Canada, with its spectacular natural beauty, over another job opportunity at Berkeley. An avid dinghy sailor on the Ottawa River, Lachlan also enjoyed walking, cross-country skiing and curling.

From an article by Armel Le Bail and Ian Swainson