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IUCr 1996 Report - Commission on Neutron Scattering

The chief activities of the Commission were preparations for the Seattle Congress and General Assembly and, in particular, the two microsymposia and the satellite meeting to be held at the National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST), Gaithersburg, Maryland, USA, 5-7 August 1997.

The Commission also continued its work on the two projects International Standards for Neutron Elastic Scattering Cross Sections (NISC) and Internationally Agreed Exchange Format for Neutron Synchrotron Data.

The closed meeting of the Commission was held on 5 August on the first day of the Neutron Scattering Satellite Meeting. Present were: E. Prince, B. Lebech, B. Forsyth, Y. Endoh and J. W. White (Chairman).

The meeting considered the following agenda:

1. The length of the General Assembly and Congress Meeting and the relationship to satellite meetings.

2. Arrangements for the Neutron Scattering Satellite Meeting for 1999.

3. The coordination of international neutron scattering meetings.

4. Membership of the Commission.

5. Present status of neutron scattering institutions and their funding.

6. Any other business.

Abridged Minutes

Agenda Item 1. In reference to past meetings and the present meeting, there is a growing concern that the length of time people have to spend away if they go to a satellite as well as the main meeting can be as long as 2 to 3 weeks. It is thought to be too long and there needs to be some discussion with the Executive Committee about other models. The relative contributions of microsymposia and the satellite were discussed. Different models, e.g. bringing the satellites into the main meeting in some way was discussed.

Agenda Item 2. J. W. White reported that in conjunction with the 1999 meeting in Glasgow the Commission might like to consider a Neutron Scattering Satellite meeting. The members of the Commission supported this idea after it had been formally put to them by J. W. White.

J. W. White then reported that he had had informal discussions with Dr A. Taylor (Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, UK) about the possibilities of Rutherford looking after the arrangements locally for a 1999 satellite meeting. Dr Taylor had said that the Rutherford Laboratory would be willing to organize a local committee if the General Assembly of the IUCr agreed to a proposal for a satellite meeting in 1999.

Agenda Item 3. The Chairman asked the members of the Commission whether they thought there was some role for the Commission to help to coordinate and to avoid clashes between the growing number of neutron scattering meetings that were being planned worldwide. After some discussion, the Commission agreed that there was a role and individual members agreed to help in the process.

It was agreed that the Commission would assemble a calendar for the next 5 years to see where likely clashes might occur.

Agenda Item 4. The Chairman brought up the question of the future membership to the IUCr Commission of Neutron Scattering in the light of the suggestions from various National Committees

Agenda Item 5. The Commission was informed about a number of major concerns on the funding of neutron scattering institutions in Europe, Canada and the USA and the question was posed as to what action, political or otherwise, might be taken by the Commission and the IUCr to affect matters.

The concerns were:

(i) The position by AEC (Canada) to discontinue their support of the basic science aspect of neutron scattering at the Chalk River Laboratory. There were a number of moves by Canadian scientists to have this reversed as it could lead to the demise of a major facility on which many Canadian academics and industrialists depended.

(ii) Recent reports and proposals for neutron scattering facilities in the USA were discussed. Some members felt that some of the decisions were apparently likely to lead to major opportunities for USA leadership being lost. The USA was already well behind Europe in pulsed neutron source use and the recent decisions do not look as if they would quickly correct this.

In Europe, the recently reported (Nature, July 1996) decision by the German government to reduce its contributions to international science agencies, e.g. CERN, ILL and ESRF, was a grave change of policy. As concerns the ILL, the effect was multiplied by about a factor of three because the budget is made up by approximately three times the lowest figure from any of the three major countries, UK, Germany and France. ILL was just coming back into full scientific activity after a three year shutdown and had excellent plans to deal with fuel reprocessing etc., which should guarantee the very long life time of the newly refurbished facility.

Members of the Commission were asked to think about these matters, to consult and to come back later in the week with any suggestions for action that the Commission might take.

Agenda Item 6. The Chairman raised the position of the Agenda for the open meeting at Seattle. He reported that he had not yet had a reply to his recent e-mail (4 July 1996) asking for a specific date for the open meeting. It appears that all members of the Commission had some difficulty with communications in respect of the present General Assembly and Congress arrangements.

The Satellite Meeting at Gaithersburg

The satellite meeting was a great success. The meeting attracted 101 papers (posters and oral presentations) and was attended by about that number of people. Of the 42 oral presentations, more than half were by young scientists. The meeting not only concentrated on novel techniques, as in the past, but presentations were encouraged to show how new science was being carried out through new instrument developments. Highlights on the instrument side were novel position-sensitive detection methods, high pressure, polarization analysis, monochromator and related developments and themes which ran through the meeting related to giant magneto resistance as studied by diffraction, small-angle scattering and inelastic scattering; hot topics on high-temperature superconductivity, reflectometry and the recent developments for new neutron sources in Asia, Europe and the USA.

Neutron Scattering Microsymposia at Seattle

Two very successful microsymposia were organized for the General Assembly. In each case, there was a very good attendance throughout the microsymposium and in the case of the neutron reflectivity meeting the Nobel Laureate Cliff Shull was present throughout and expressed his gratification at the quality and content of the presentations. It is clear that recent advances in neutron techniques and the continuing power of isotope contrast variation are opening up new scientific insights.

Other major meetings

In autumn 1996, the first major neutron meeting organized by the European Neutron Scattering Association (ENSA) took place in Interlaken, Switzerland. The meeting was a resounding success with more than 800 participants. In August 1997, the National Conference on Neutron Scattering (ICNS) will be held in Toronto, Canada, which will be supported by a number of satellite meetings at the National Institute for Science and Technology, Gaithersburg, Maryland, USA (High Resolution Inelastic Scattering) and at the Intense Pulsed Neutron Source, Argonne National Laboratory, Illinois, USA (Materials Research Using Cold Neutrons at Pulsed Neutron Sources). Whilst the Commission is not directly involved in the organization of any of these meetings, a number of members of the Commission are active on the Organizing Committees.

The workshop sponsored by the European Neutron Scattering Association and the European Science Foundation has now produced a handsome volume relating to the present and future (ten year forward look) applications of neutron scattering. A number of members of the Commission took an active part in this workshop which was interesting in that it brought together neutron specialists and a large number of non-neutron specialists who contributed to the discussions.

Neutron News

The publication of Neutron News continues to be an important contribution to the development of neutron scattering science worldwide. I would like to thank the Editor, Dr G. Lander, for his cooperation with the Commission. I should also to thank all members of the Commission itself for their help during the last three years and wish those members who are retiring well for the future.

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