Bookmark and Share


[Bill Duax]

This issue of the IUCr Newsletter includes reports on the opening celebration of the International Year of Crystallography at UNESCO headquarters in Paris, and the first meeting of Crystallographers of Central and South America.

The IYCr 2014 provides an opportunity to explain to the world how crystallography has improved so many aspects of our lives and why so many crystallographers have been honored with Nobel Prizes. Science Fairs and museums in many nations are welcoming exhibits of crystallographers' accomplishments; crystal growth competitions are being held for students of all ages in dozens of countries; many countries are issuing commemorative stamps; crystallographers in India and the PDB staff have produced commemorative calendars for 2014; and commemorative glassware etched with crystal structures is being produced.

Nature and Science have each published special issues. The articles in these issues present the history of crystallography from the perspective of the authors. While well written and highly informative they are not without bias. It is ironic that the special issue of Nature includes an article entitled 'Crystallography needs a Governing Body'. Although Science is a US publication, the articles in the special issue neglected the important contributions of many US crystallographers, including those who have won Nobel Prizes.

The IUCr. The International Union of Crystallography is one of the oldest and most active scientific 'governing bodies'. While there may be fewer than 20,000 crystallographers in the world, there are millions of users of crystallographic results. The exceptional foresight and care with which crystallographers have compiled and stored their data and results of their studies on minerals, materials, drugs, hormones and proteins in major data bases, and the efforts they have made to be sure that these data were accurate, reliable, uniformly recorded and accessible to individuals throughout the world at little or no cost, is noteworthy. The IUCr has played a major role in establishing protocols and formats for data deposition and supported their distribution. For over 20 years the IUCr has supported the production of this newsletter as a means of enhancing communication and cooperation of the international community of crystallographers.

Latin American Regional Affiliation of the IUCr. The first meeting of crystallographers in Central and South America was held in Cordoba, Argentina, in October of 2013, in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Argentina Crystallographic Association. The meeting was held to discuss the formation of a Latin American Regional Affiliate of the IUCr. Representatives from most Latin American countries attended and discussed the details of how a regional affiliate might be formed and governed. The proposal will be submitted at the IUCr Congress in Montreal in 2014. The founding of a Latin American Regional Affiliate of the IUCr may well be the most significant accomplishment of the IYCr 2014.

William Duax