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Crystal XXI

A student's view from Australia

I particularly liked the fact that there were no simultaneous sessions at the Crystal XXI, the 1999 annual meeting of the Society of Crystallographers in Australia (SCA). There was never a dilemma concerning which talk to go to at the expense of missing something else just as interesting. The unofficial name 'The Bush Crystallographers' evokes all of the feelings I experienced from meeting this closely knit group of Australian and New Zealand crystallographers.

It is hard to say which presentations stood out as being the most interesting. I was fascinated by Cameron Kepert's talk on Desorption in Microporous Molecular Framework Materials for the crystal structure content, elucidation of physical properties from experiment and the beautiful models used to represent these structures. It was spellbinding to watch Mark Spackman's Pictorial Representation of Intermolecular Interactions in Crystals. Visual representations are powerful tools in understanding and interpreting interactions as well as communicating them in a most attractive form.

The combination of techniques described in some of the talks, was of particular interest. Ian Grey's presentation on Combining Electron Microscopy with Powder X-ray and Neutron Diffraction to Solve and Refine Complex Oxide Structures was very emphatic on this point. Fascinating too was Steve Wilkins' presentation on Quantitative Phase Contrast Imaging using both Laboratory and Synchrotron Sources of X-rays because it exposed techniques in X-ray imaging that yield an enormous amount of information lost in conventional methods. I enjoyed the 1987 Lecture, Crystallography with Electrons - From the House of the Dead by Douglas Dorset and Peter Colman's From Crystallography to Collins Street, striking titles for two very different, very absorbing lectures.

Discussions with delegates concerning my work helped me see it in a broader context and clarify and define areas of future work. Such an intense pooling of ideas at conferences like this, is a tremendous eye-opener, especially in the awareness of complementary techniques. The environment at this conference could not have been more conducive to leisurely discussions and the generation, exchange and absorption of ideas. I would like to thank Philips Analytical for providing a student prize and all the sponsors for supporting this wonderful meeting.

Philip Nakashima, U. of Western Australia
from the SCA Newsletter