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Contributing to science and society

Sven Lidin

It has been an extraordinary spring and although the world is slowly opening up, we are far from normality and I expect that the world has been permanently changed from our shared experience of the COVID-19 pandemic. We have converted to online teaching and meeting, and we have a much better understanding today of what that entails, in particular the weakness of digital socializing. We can meet online and efficiently make decisions, but these meetings are seldom sources of energy.

I hope we will find that we can travel less and still maintain cohesion in our international community, but I am convinced that we cannot do without physical meetings altogether. In the post-corona age we may be better equipped to strike a balance between necessary travel and online meetings.   

The triennial Congress and General Assembly of the IUCr has been postponed for a year and we are very lucky that the Prague organizers were able to book a slot for the same time period in 2021. This required some reorganization of other meetings and we are most grateful for the cooperation of everyone involved.

The importance of a fact-based world view has become painfully clear during a period when the political systems throughout the world have been under pressure in new and unexpected ways. How to act during a world pandemic is a very complex question, but the importance of facts as the basis for political decisions is clearer than ever and our science contributes to this in important ways.

The last issue of the IUCr Newsletter contained a Letter to the Editor in which Marv Hackert related the fantastic story about how the structure of the spike protein of the new coronavirus was solved in record time, starting from just the sequence – a wonderful benchmark of methodology and an excellent example of what we can contribute to science and society.

3 July 2020

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