The Sceptical Chymist | Tateshina 2009: Behind closed doors

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I spent last week-end at the 9th Tateshina Conference on Organic Chemistry in Nagano, a couple of hours east of Tokyo on the train (from which I enjoyed a superb view of Mt Fuji on the way back).

This meeting is the Asian sister of the EUCHEM Conference on Stereochemistry, better known as the ‘Bürgenstock Conference’. At a time when there are many – and varied – conferences, these two adopt a very particular format (you can read our editorial on ‘meeting matters’ here, no subscription is required but you need a account).

Limited to around 60-70 invited participants, mostly from Japan, China, Singapore and Korea, the Tateshina Conference is designed to favour communication. Delegates gather in a secluded location (rendered particularly beautiful by the autumn leaves) for 48 hours, with about half a day left free so that they can engage in scientific chats, or make the most of the venue, or combine both. A large chunk of time is devoted to dialogue: a 25 minute presentation is followed by at least 15 minutes of discussion – rather than the mere 5 minutes allocated in most meetings – leading to some lively exchanges. And, this isn’t chemistry-related but I cannot not mention that we were treated to a fantastic clavichord recital, including a guest appearance from our chairman, Eiichi Nakamura, for a clavichord-flute ensemble.

This all contributed to a unique atmosphere — but I won’t tell you about the science because in order to encourage open and stimulating communication, it is agreed that any information presented isn’t for public use. Judging from the wide range of topics discussed I can reveal, however, that many areas of chemistry come under the umbrella of organic chemistry.


Anne Pichon (Associate Editor, Nature Chemistry)

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