Meeting report

Centennial of X-ray Diffraction

Rome, Italy, May, 2012

[Italy organisers and speakers] Speakers and organisers of the meeting.

The centennial of X-ray diffraction was celebrated in Italy in the Palazzo Corsini, the headquarters of the Accademia dei Lincei (founded in 1603). The conference was organized by the Accademia dei Lincei and Accademia delle Scienze di Torino, and supported by the Associazione Italiana di Cristallografia (AIC), European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO), University Roma Tre and the European Crystallographic Association (ECA).

Speakers included two Nobel laureates and a recipient of the 2011 Ewald prize. Talks covered most aspects of X-ray diffraction, historical issues and cutting-edge research. The speakers and topics included: G. Allegra (Milan), 'The structures of crystalline polymers'; G. Artioli (Padua), 'Science and cultural heritage'; A. Bacchi (Parma), 'Design of an active pharmaceuticals'; M. Bolognesi (Milan), '100 years of X-ray diffraction, 50 years of structural biology'; T. Boffa Ballaran (Bayreuth), 'Diffraction at extreme conditions: a window into the Earth's interior'; M. Cammarata (Rennes), 'Laser pump and X-ray probe: insights in the dynamic nature of matter'; G. Chapuis (Lausanne), 'Aperiodic structures'; F. Frontera (Ferrara), 'Laue lenses for gamma-ray astronomy'; C. Giacovazzo (Bari), 'Phasing in crystallography'; R. Huber (Martinsried), 'Architecture of proteins, the building blocks of life'; S. Merlino (Pisa), 'Mineral crystal chemistry'; N. Robotti (Genoa), 'The discovery of X-ray diffraction'; P. J. Steinhardt (Princeton), 'Quasicrystals: a brief history of the impossible'; B. Vallone (Rome), 'Time-resolved crystallography for protein structure'; D. Viterbo (Alessandria), 'X-ray crystallography in Italy'; J. Ernst Walker (Cambridge), 'Biological machines with rotary motors' (EMBO Lecture). A special issue of Rendiconti Lincei - Scienze Fisiche e Naturali based on the talks will be available at

[Italy participants] Attendees at the lectures in the Palazzo Corsini.

Up to 150 scientists and graduate students contributed to lively discussions and found time to enjoy the recently renovated Renaissance gardens of Villa Farnesina opposite the Palazzo Corsini and to admire the frescos of Raffaello, B. Peruzzi, S. del Piombo and Sodoma. A delicious dinner was offered to the speakers by Accademia delle Scienze di Torino.

The committee (M. Brunori, G. Ferraris, A. Mottana (chair), R. Oberti, R. Righini, P. Rossi, G. Setti, A. Zecchina) organized a superb and comprehensive review of the past, current and potential future accomplishments of X-ray diffraction. The meeting was an excellent introduction to Italian initiatives to be held during the forthcoming International Year of Crystallography.

Roberta Oberti