The Sixth General Assembly and International Congress of the International Union of Crystallography, which convened in Rome during the period from September 9 to 18, 1963, was a far cry from the first Congress of the Union which was held at Harvard University from July 28 to August 3, 1948. The Union actually had been founded two summers earlier at a conference held in London in 1946. The first and sixth meetings form an interesting study in contrasts. At that delightful first Congress, there was a total of about 85 papers presented, including a few invited addresses. Everyone gave his own paper. Actually, there was ample time for this personal presentation. While there were some joint sessions, these occurred only on two mornings of the six‐day meeting and the conflicts were not serious. By way of contrast, at the Sixth Congress there were somewhat more than five hundred papers grouped under 21 different topics and at times as many as five simultaneous sessions. Another aspect of the most recent Congress, one which markedly influenced its general character, was the almost universal application of the rapporteur system. This system had been initiated three years earlier at the 1960 meeting in Cambridge, England, and, while it had been only partly successful there, it had been hoped that the experience gained in Cambridge would lead to a more successful application of the rapporteur system at the larger meeting in Rome. Alas, these hopes were not realized. After having faithfully attended every session possible, this reporter felt that scientifically the meeting was almost a complete loss as far as he was concerned. No paper, as discussed by a rapporteur, made a vivid impression on him. It is unfortunately true that the use of the rapporteur system removes any personal contact between the author of a scientific work and the audience. There was naturally a wide range in the quality of the reports by the rapporteurs; some of them quite obviously had not taken their assignments seriously and did poor jobs. A few had worked very hard but, despite their most valiant efforts, the impact of the research being described could simply not come through.
I. Fankuchen; Crystallography. Physics Today 1 January 1964; 17 (1): 37–38. https://doi.org/10.1063/1.3051366
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