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Vol. 26 No. 3
May-June 2004

From the Editor

image of Fabienne Meyers

Nomenclature. If there is one keyword that everyone can associate with IUPAC, it is surely nomenclature. As early as high school, everyone who took a chemistry class became acquainted with the IUPAC nomenclature drills that trained them to name chemical compounds unambiguously, or at least that was the idea!

Practically, the chemistry community at large knows that establishing rules that allow any chemical compounds to be named unambiguously is a challenge. That issue has been long recognized; long before IUPAC itself was established. As R. Fennell mentions in the History of IUPAC, it can be traced back to September 1860 when, under the leadership of Auguste Kekulé, the first truly international chemical conference was convened to reach agreement on the theory of organic chemistry.This accord, was in turn supposed to allow for the standardization of nomenclature and the writing of formulae.

Since those early days, and soon after IUPAC was formally established in 1919, there were nomenclature commissions on organic, inorganic, and biological chemistry. The rigorous works of these bodies gave IUPAC its long-lasting recognition as the world authority on chemical nomenclature. Today the necessity for systematic and internationally acceptable nomenclature no longer requires any justification. In 2002, IUPAC established a new division—the Chemical Nomenclature and Structure Representation Division—to oversee nomenclature development across all disciplines, and to ensure compatibility with previous work.
Hard at work, that division has just released two provisional documents available now for public review (in print page 26): one is on the numbering of fullerenes, and the other is a new edition of the Nomenclature of Inorganic Chemistry—or so-called Red Book—that supersedes the 1990 edition, and in some instances, the more recent 2000 recommendations.

As the long-lasting value of such complex documents will depend on the usability and acceptability of the recommendations proposed, you are encouraged to review these documents and share your comments with the authors before they are published. For those who might think that the discipline is tedious and provides few rewards, just think again, and do your part—take a look at these provisional documents to see how they would apply in the context of your own work—your input might be more valuable than you think.

Fabienne Meyers
fabienne@iupac.org
www.iupac.org/publications/ci


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