Chemical Congresses, International

Chemical Congresses, International


The first international chemical congress was held Sept. 3–5, 1860, in Karlsruhe. It was convened on the initiative of 47 of the leading chemists of Europe, including R. W. von Bunsen, C. A. Wurtz, J. B. A. Dumas, S. Cannizzaro, F. A. Kekulé, J. C. G. de Marignac, and E. Mitscherlich and the Russian scientists N. N. Beketov, N. N. Zinin, N. N. Sokolov, and Iu. F. Fritsshe (C. J. Fritzsche). The congress was convened to resolve disagreements on the interpretation of the concepts of the atom, molecule, and equivalent, which had greatly hindered the use of published information and the teaching of chemistry. According to a report prepared by Cannizzaro, the congress gave clear and correct definitions of the terms. One consequence was that Avogadro’s law became widely used in physics and chemistry, particularly for determining molecular weights. The congress was of decisive importance to the acceptance of the atomic-molecular theory in chemistry. In all, 127 chemists participated; the seven-man Russian delegation included A. P. Borodin, N. N. Zinin, D. I. Mendeleev, and L. N. Shishkov (one of the secretaries of the congress).

The first congress on applied chemistry was held in Brussels in 1894; subsequent congresses were held regularly thereafter, the second taking place in Paris (1896), the third in Vienna (1898), the fourth in Paris (1900), the fifth in Berlin (1903), the sixth in Rome (1906), the seventh in London (1909), and the eighth in Washington, D.C., and New York City (1912). The ninth congress was to have convened in August 1915 in St. Petersburg but was canceled because of World War I; preparations for the congress were directed by P. I. Walden, V. N. Ipat’ev, and D. P. Konovalov.

In 1920 in Paris representatives of the chemical societies of several countries formed the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC). One of the tasks of IUP AC has been the organization of international congresses devoted to theoretical and applied chemistry. The last congresses convened before World War II were the ninth (Luzern, 1936) and the tenth (Rome, 1938). IUPAC congresses have been held regularly only since World War II. The 11th congress took place in London (1947), and the 12th through 25th were held in New York City (1951), Stockholm (1953), Zürich (1955), Lisbon (1956), Paris (1956), Munich (1959), Montreal (1961), London (1963), Moscow (1965), Prague (1967), Sidney (1969), Boston (1971), Hamburg (1973), and Jerusalem (1975). The emphasis of individual IUPAC congresses reflects trends in the development of chemistry. Some of the congresses have been primarily devoted to specific new areas of chemistry; others have dealt with the most diverse chemical problems.

The importance of IUPAC congresses and the interest they generate are indicated by the large number of papers delivered (366 at the 15th congress, 488 at the 17th, 501 at the 18th, 620 at the 20th, and 647 at the 23rd). The 20th congress (Moscow, 1965) was particularly impressive, with approximately 3,500 delegates from 38 countries; problems were discussed that previous congresses either had not considered at all or had examined inadequately. The program assigned sections for the discussion of surface phenomena and disperse systems; radiation, space, inorganic, and analytical chemistry; and the theoretical foundations of chemical engineering. There was also a symposium on low-temperature plasmas. Of the 620 papers delivered, more than 200 were authored by Soviet scientists. At the 26th congress (Tokyo, 1977) there were 3,250 participants from 54 countries. Four sections (physical, analytical, and organic chemistry and the chemistry of macromolecular compounds) were assigned, and symposia were held on problems associated with the environmental control of new sources of energy and raw materials, and the study of substances and processes used in the medical and food-processing industries and in agriculture.

In addition to the chemical congresses devoted to theoretical and applied chemistry organized by IUPAC, there are many major specialized chemical congresses and important conferences and symposia on various chemical topics. They are organized by IUPAC and by other international, regional, and national scientific unions, associations, and societies. Leading scientists from many countries, including the USSR and other socialist countries, participate in the work of such congresses, conferences, and symposia.

Regular chemical congresses are held on analytical chemistry, biophysics, biochemistry, pesticide chemistry, the protection of plants, clinical chemistry, chemotherapy, pharmacology, heterocyclic compounds, catalysis, surface-active agents, polarography, chemical engineering, industrial chemistry, industrial wastes, the corrosion of metals, cement chemistry, mineral fertilizers, and the uses of plastics in agriculture.

International conferences are held periodically on physical chemistry, calorimetry and thermodynamics, chemical thermodynamics, photoconductivity, the application of physicochemical methods in chemical analysis, solvent extraction, nonaqueous solvents, thermal analysis, the chemistry of coordination compounds, the growth of crystals, solid compounds of transition elements, carbon, organometallic chemistry, physical organic chemistry, spectroscopy, mass spectrometry, electrophotography, ceramics, resins, plastics, and the chemistry of environmental pollution and human ecology.

International symposia are organized periodically on the following topics: analytical chemistry; microchemical methods of analysis; nuclear magnetic resonance; kinetics of gases; free radicals; the reactivity of solids; nonaqueous electrochemistry; plasma chemistry; radiation chemistry; chromatography; conformational analysis; the compounds of alkali metals, boron, phosphorus, and fluorine; natural compounds; organosilicon compounds; organic synthesis; synthetic methods for the series of alicyclic, unsaturated, and cyclic compounds; carbohydrate chemistry; medical chemistry; pharmaceutical chemistry; microbiological technology; macromolecular compounds; wood chemistry; desalination; the chemical aspects of air pollution; chemical control of the environment; and pesticide chemistry.

Important regional gatherings include European congresses on molecular spectroscopy and corrosion, conferences on the kinetics of elementary chemical reactions and on the use of computers in chemical engineering, as well as conferences devoted to spectroscopy (Australia), chemical engineering (USA), chemistry and physiology (Latin America), chemical engineering (Scandinavia), and wood chemistry (Canada). Numerous conferences are also held for scientists from the member countries of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON).


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