At the Paris headquarters of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the International Year of Crystallography was formally launched on 20 and 21 January. More than 1000 people attended the ceremony.
The event featured eminent scientists, industrialists and personalities from around the world. Keynote lecturers included Prof. Brian Kobilka, 2012 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, on his vision of crystallography and its role in elucidating biological mechanisms.
The opening ceremony focused on the need to bring the discipline of crystallography to public and political prominence, as it is a field of science that is central to many important developments in materials, pharmacology, and other areas, said SPIE member John Dudley, Univ de Franche-Comté (France), who also spoke at the celebration. Dudley serves as chair of the International Year of Light, recently approved by the United Nations and planned for 2015.
"Different sectors of the scientific community now have 24 months of celebration as the IYCr leads into the International Year of Light, which will highlight the multidisciplinary nature of research even further," Dudley said.
The Year of Crystallography will include events all around the world, including three regional summit meetings -- in Karachi, Pakistan, from 28 to 30 April; Campinas, Brazil, from 21 to 24 September; and Bloemfontein, South Africa, from 15 to 17 October. These meetings are to serve as platforms for exchange between decision-makers and scientists and are intended to favour the development of crystallography research.
"This year marks the centenary of the birth of modern crystallography," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a message for the launch. "We celebrate 100 years of ground-breaking advances."