The Great Road Trip Downunder - A Crystallographic tour of Australia and New Zealand
The 26th IUCr Congress is hosted by the Society of Crystallographers of Australia and New Zealand; as such, we would like to share with you some of the crystallography connections in our part of the world.
The Great Downunder Road Trip
A Crystallographic tour of Australia and New Zealand
The IUCr 2023 Congress is being hosted by the Society of Crystallographers of Australia and New Zealand, and we’d like to take the opportunity in these regular e-zines to pull a focus on some of the crystallography connections in our part of the world.
Adelaide – A city to Bragg about
‘The gift of expression is important to them as scientists; the best research is wasted when it is extremely difficult to discover what it is all about …’ W.L. Bragg
Our next stop in this crystallographic tour of Australia and New Zealand is the city of Adelaide! Adelaide, which is located on the traditional lands of the Kaurna people, has a strong connection to crystallography - with one of the founders of the field, W.L. Bragg, being born here in 1890. His father, W.H. Bragg, had moved to Adelaide in 1885 to take up a professorship at the University of Adelaide, with W.L. also beginning his studies in physics there too.
As many of us will know, W.L Bragg together with his father, WH Bragg, and Max von Laue put together the methods and equations that describes how the phenomena of diffraction can lead to an understanding of where atoms are in a structure. W.L. Bragg still is the youngest recipient of the Nobel Prize for Physics, he was 25 when he was recognised for his efforts in determining the first crystal structures from diffraction.
Adelaide is a beautiful city to visit, with a CBD surrounded by parkland and the city circled by world-famous vineyards. As well as a trip along the river, you could take in some of the renowned museums such as the Art Gallery of South Australia, displaying expansive collections including noted Indigenous art, or the South Australian Museum which is devoted to natural history (and hosts a fantastic mineralogy department).
For those of you wanting a sporting fix, the Adelaide Oval hosts cricket and Australian rules football matches throughout the year. Wine regions around Adelaide, include the Barossa Valley, is steeped in history and German heritage, swathed in rolling landscapes of vines, orchards, pasture and bushland and full of great characters. To the West of Adelaide lies the coast and the St. Vincent Gulf, with miles of beaches, including one where a young W.L. Bragg discovered a new cuttlefish, which was named Sepia Braggii after him.
You can read much more about W.L Bragg and his father in the book ‘William and Lawrence Bragg, Father and Son - The Most Extraordinary Collaboration in Science’ written by Australian author, John Jenkin.
A Crystallographic Tour of Australia and New Zealand
Perth – the city that welcomed the crystallographic community in 1987
Thirty-five years ago, the Australian crystallographic community were delighted to welcome the international community to our shores. The event has had an enduring legacy for our society, which enabled us to establish the ‘1987 fund’, which has brought a high-profile crystallographer to our shores for each of our local Crystals meetings. Perth was a perfect location for the Congress, despite being one of the most isolated cities in the world. Still, it has been a strength of Australian X-ray crystallography for many years, under the auspices of Ted Maslen, Allan White and many others. A homage to quasicrystals can be found in the Bayliss Building of the University of Western Australia (UWA). The floor is covered in a beautiful Penrose tile floor and a 20 meter tall replica of the DNA structure.
1. Penrose tile flooring at the UWA Bayliss building. Image credit: Pier Leach
2. The logo of the 14th IUCr Congress, held in Perth, Australia, in 1987
3. One for the geo-crystallographers might be the spinifex textured komatiites at Serpentine Bay, south of Kalgoorlie. Both platey olivine crystals and pseudomorphism by serpentine. Image credit: Barnes et al. GSWA Record 2016/12
Wider afield, the state of Western Australia is the location for some of the oldest rocks on the planet, with the Jack Hills zircons dated to be 4.4 billion years old. If you are willing to drive (a lot) there are numerous geo-crystallography marvels across the state from the stromatolites in Shark Bay and komatiites at Serpentine Bay to the karstic landforms at the Purnululu National Park. Before closing in November 2020, Western Australia was the world’s largest single producer of natural pink diamonds from the world-renowned diamond mine - Argyle Mine. Whilst mining operations may have ceased; the diamonds can still be bought…for a price!
Perth is an ideal stop-over location for delegates joining us from Europe, with direct flights from London and Rome (starting June 2022). Take a day or so to rest and energise before the next four hour connecting flight to Melbourne. It’s a city of beaches, good food and a drive away from some great wine regions.
The Dish – Parkes, NSW