What's hot and what's not?

[W. L. Duax]This issue contains the last of the reports filed by the session chairs at ECM-18. These reports were submitted in a timely fashion, but could not be included in the last issue due to space limitation. Also included in this issue is a description of the martensitic effect. A microsymposium was devoted to this topic at the ECM 18 in Prague. Jaume Pons kindly agreed to prepare a one page article on the effect in terms that could be easily understood by the average crystallographer. I found the phenomenon fascinating and his description to be lucid and informative. I welcome similar brief articles on other aspects of crystallographic theory, techniques or applications for inclusion in future issues.

Sidney Abrahams in a letter to the editor (page 2) expresses concern that the meeting reports in the IUCr Newsletter are incomplete and notes that in the age of www, it should be possible to place all abstracts and all meeting reports on the web in a timely fashion.

In an aside in his remarkable chapter in Reviews of Crystallography, Vol. 7, 1998, entitled "The Crystal Packing of Organic Molecules: Challenge and Fascination Below 1000Da" Angelo Gavazotti expresses the same concerns that meeting reports in the newsletter are incomplete. Gavazotti goes further and suggests that there is a bias in reporting, favoring macromolecular crystallography. Gavazotti's entertaining, thought provoking, and provocative chapter is well worth reading, with something to offend almost everyone (or so he hopes). Gavazotti chides the IUCr Newsletter editor for relegating non-macromolecular reports to "future issues of the newsletter" that never reach Italy.

Gavazotti seems to call for a holy war against macromolecular crystallography. I don't believe the promotion of discord between different parts of the crystallographic community is in the best interest of the discipline. The beauty of crystallography is that it provides reliable information about all kinds of materials. It is often the most reliable and detailed information that can be obtained. Editing material for the newsletter challenges me to think about many of those applications and I never fail to be enlightened and informed by the wide range of applications of crystallography and to see areas of cross disciplinary overlap among them. I like to think I gain from considering crystallographic applications outside of my own research field.

The ACA meetings are heavily weighted toward macromolecular crystallography due to economics. The Powder diffraction community seems to be drawing away from the larger community to discuss formation of an international powder society. Coverage of mineralogical crystallography is meager at most national and international crystallographic meetings. Small, cozy specialist meetings have great appeal, but they can be insular, elitist and just a trifle smug. In my estimation, the IUCr Congress is the only venue that brings all aspects of crystallography together. In my opinion, you can't have too many crystallographers or too many in one place.

Uniform handling of abstracts and early posting to the web is becoming common practice. Beginning with the 1995 meeting in Montreal, the ACA has placed all abstracts on the web well before the meeting. Some meeting participants request that their abstract not be released to the web until the opening of the meeting. Unfortunately, meeting reports require additional effort from session chairs. An extended final report on ECM-18, including all abstracts can be read at http://krystal.karlov.mff.cuni.cz/ecm/. The ACA meeting reports that appear in the last issue were condensed from a long report in the ACA Newsletter (Fall, 1998). The ECM and AsCA reports were prepared from reports of the chairs of sessions and plenary lectures. At ECM there were 60 microsymposia and 10 plenary lectures and 22 reports were submitted. At the AsCA meeting there were 15 microsymposia and 4 plenary lectures and 6 reports were submitted.

Choose your session chairs carefully if you want to have your area of crystallography well represented in meeting reports.

William L. Duax, Editor