400 miles away from ISIS, Edinburgh hosted the 2013 International Conference on Neutron Scattering (ICNS) at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre, nestled in the heart of the city. The conference brought together over 800 delegates from 34 countries.
As a premium sponsor of the conference, ISIS was represented by a large open-sided stand a few strides from the main entrance. Whether it was owing to the model target, airbus wing or the large bowl of ISIS sweets and USB pens, the stand proved popular with delegates and was often the meeting place for a chat over coffee between conference talks.
ISIS staff were well represented with nine invited and contributed talks across a wide range of subject areas. Toby Perring gave the outstanding plenary lecture of the conference, based on mapping spin dynamics, looking at the insights these studies have provided, the current status and future prospects for the technique. Timothy Charlton discussed his recent research on the giant proximity effect and critical opalescence in magnetic materials using the complementary techniques of low energy muon relaxation and polarized neutron reflectivity. In the Instruments for Inelastic scattering Rob Bewley gave an update on the performance of LET over 18 months of user experiments.
Sean Langridge opened the session on reflectometry instruments, highlighting recent developments in instrumentation at both ISIS target stations and resulting scientific insights, and concluded with a look at plans for developing the first target station. In the Surfactant Phases session Sarah Rogers gave an invited talk on using SANS to study CO2 compatible systems, while in Detectors and Sample Environment Stephen Boag presented the latest developments in the 3He neutron spin filter program at ISIS. Also, Stuart Ansell presented a new model for target station 1’s target, moderator and reflector design and compared this to the existing design.
The final afternoon saw Victoria Garcia Sakai give a talk on Solvent effect on protein fast dynamics: Implications for biopreservation, covering her studies of lysozyme in three different solvents, water, glycerol and trehalose, and Ross Stewart spoke on his 20 year quest to understand how the complex frustrated magnet beta manganese leads to surprisingly simple properties - more here.
In addition to the formal talks STFC hosted an Impact Workshop during which members of the STFC, ISIS and spoke about how it is becoming ever important to produce impact stories from scientific research, and means of communicating that impact to a variety of stakeholders. The workshop sparked some good discussion about popular science and engaging the younger generation, which progressed throughout the week.
It wasn’t only the talks and exhibitions which made ICNS 2013 a success, but the social events too. In the shadow of Salisbury Crags, delegates enjoyed wine and canapés whilst exploring Our Dynamic Earth during the welcome reception. Another evening, whiskies of various ages and tones were enjoyed during a tasting, which gave another opportunity for poster discussion and a look around the exhibition.
Mid-week, Edinburgh Castle raised its portcullis and ICNS guests were spoilt with a private wander within its walls. Dominating the city from its great rock, the castle provided spectacular views of Edinburgh, and the group were even treated to an intimate look at the crown jewels, just one of many castle secrets.
The conference closed with a dinner at the National Museum of Scotland. With its soaring pillars and high windows, the light-filled atrium of the Grand Gallery hosted a hundred tables of guests who enjoyed a traditional Scottish dinner, surrounded by artefacts and features of the natural world. The long entrance hall became centre stage for a late night ceilidh – a traditional Scottish dance to fiddles and guitar. The Flying Scotsman and Strip the Willow dances linked arms of neutron scatterers from all over the world, to enjoy the end of an excellent conference.