Mike Glazer

Here we are, one year on from the invasion of Ukraine, and it remains to be seen what the outcome will be. For sure, whatever it is, the international situation will be changed. However, it is my hope that as far as our science of crystallography is concerned, we shall be able to return to some sort of normality. The IUCr exists to further cooperation between all countries in our science, treating all members equally and with respect, no matter our private feelings. I look forward to the time when I can again greet my colleagues and many friends in Russia. I hope it will not be too long.

This summer, our triennial IUCr Congress will take place in Melbourne. The organisers have been extremely busy and have put together an exciting programme. The IUCr Congresses usually have attendances of about 2000 or more, so organising such an event is challenging. However, I am sure that it will be a great success. If you can make it to Melbourne, please do so.

I recall my first Congress. This was in 1966 in Moscow. Yet, despite it being at the height of the cold war, I was able to befriend several Soviet colleagues, and that visit has always stuck in my memory. I recall traveling with fellow PhD student, Howard Flack, and our PhD supervisor, Kathleen Lonsdale. We were due to arrive at Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport, but for some reason, we landed at Moscow’s other airport, Vnukovo. Professor G.S. Zhdanov was supposed to meet us at the airport, so we had to wait a long time to allow him to travel across Moscow to get to Vnukovo. On the car ride into the city, our interpreter taught us a lot of awful Russian swear words (Howard and I often used them in signing off messages to each other!). My impressions of the country then were mainly one of chaos: arrangements failed to be made, and hotels declared that they had never heard of us. Frustrating, I know, but we relied on the generous help of our crystallographic friends. One of them, Sergei Soloviev, spoke excellent English and translated several Russian talks at the Congress, and we struck up a good friendship, meeting up often at conferences in the years that followed. We disagreed on our politics, but nonetheless, armed with the occasional bottle of vodka, we enjoyed each other’s company. I last saw him during a European meeting in Moscow many years later. At the time, he was working at the Chornobyl reactor as part of the team trying to deal with the problems that had been caused there. He had heard, somehow, that I was in Moscow, and so he made a special trip to come and see me. Unfortunately, he died not long after. Since the Moscow Congress, I have been able to attend every IUCr Congress, apart from the one in Prague. I hope to make it to Melbourne, but I must confess that age makes the idea of 23 hours in an aircraft a bit more challenging than in the past.

In this issue of the Newsletter, the Hargittais once again have sent us a fascinating account, this time on the structural helix and its role in the now famous (or is it infamous?) story of the solution of the DNA structure. Istvan and Magdolna seem to have an infinite number of great stories to tell us, and they are always worth reading.

We also have several meeting reports from several countries: France, Korea, Argentina, Japan, Costa Rica, and two from Africa. At the SCANZ meeting in Australia, I should mention that Richard Welberry, famous for his work on diffuse scattering, received the Bragg medal. This shows nicely how vibrant the science of crystallography is and how international we are.

I am sorry to say that news has arrived in the last couple of weeks of the deaths of three great members of our crystallographic community: Olga Kennard (UK), Uri Shmueli (Israel) and André Authier (France). One of the problems with getting older is the frequency with which one starts to lose friends. We have an obituary for Olga in this issue, and I hope that we shall have obituaries for Uri and André in the summer issue of the IUCr Newsletter.

21 March 2023

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