Insulin Crystals

2014: International Year of Crystallography


The United Nations makes proclamations to denote certain dates or periods as the international-something-or-another (that may or may not be the technical term). You’ll see many of them on Days of Note. The year 2014 has a few official observances, including being the International Year of Crystallography (IYCr).

Biological Crystals
Biological Crystals.
Image copyright International Union of Crystallography.
Used with permission.

Crystallography is the science of examining the arrangement of atoms in solids. And given that solids are pretty much everywhere around us, as well as in us, this is a pretty important discipline of science! It’s also called “the most beautiful discipline”, because as the name suggests, crystals and the atomic arrangements that made them are also studied.

Crystallography is used when developing new materials or technologies, creating medicines or foods, making art or even preserving it, along with a whole other raft of uses.


Being a year-long event, there are many opportunities to commemorate crystallography. Here are a few ideas:

  • Check with your local university’s science department to see if they are holding any events like public lectures to mark IYCr
  • If you prefer learning more online, watch this webinar titled “What Crystallography Can Do For You”.
  • You can also learn more about crystallography on the IYCr official website and the International Union of Crystallography’s Youtube channel (linked below).
  • Visit your local museum and check out their minerals exhibition to admire their crystal beauty
  • Better yet, try growing your own crystal! Check out this video tutorial provided by the International Union of Crystallography. Yay for home science experiments!
Insulin Crystals
These insulin crystals were made in space!
Image is in the public domain.


International Year of Crystallography official website

International Union of Crystallography Youtube channel


Chase’s Calendar of Events 2014, p. 69

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