What is X-ray Crystallography and how did it transform our world?

Date: August 22, 2014
Time: 6:00pm


Chemistry Lecture Theatre
Chemistry Building,
University of Tasmania
Churchill Avenue, Sandy Bay TAS


Professor Stephen Curry of Imperial College (London) will be speaking about X-ray Crystallography at this free lecture open to the public.

This is the International Year of Crystallography, come learn about what that means and hear about the links with our Australian scientific history.


Professor Stephen Curry is a Professor of Structural Biology at Imperial College where he teaches life sciences. His main research interests currently are in structural analysis — mainly using X-ray crystallography— of the molecular basis of replication RNA viruses such as foot-and-mouth disease virus and noroviruses.

Curry is also a regular science writer. Since 2008 he has been writing about his research and the scientific life past and present on his Reciprocal Space blog and at the Guardian. He has a particular interest in the history of X-ray crystallography and made several short films on the subject in collaboration with the Royal Institution.

In addition Curry is a founder member and vice-chair of Science is Vital, a UK group that campaigns on scientific issues, and is also on the board of directors of the Campaign for Science and Engineering.


The International Year of Crystallography commemorates not only the centennial of X-ray diffraction, which allowed the detailed study of crystalline material, but also the 400th anniversary of Kepler’s observation in 1611 of the symmetrical form of ice crystals, which began the wider study of the role of symmetry in matter.

The technique of X-ray crystallography, first used to work out the atomic structure of simple crystals and minerals, has since been applied to the far more elaborate molecular structures found in chemistry and biology. It is arguably one of the greatest scientific advances of the 20th century. In this lecture I will recount the curious origin of the technique (including its Australian roots), explain how it works and discuss how crystallography opened up an entirely new landscape for scientists to explore.

Event audience: Everyone