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Vol. 31 No. 2
March-April 2009

Conference Call | Reports from recent conferences and symposia 
See also www.iupac.org/indexes/Conferences

Chemical Nomenclature and Structure Representation

by Karl-Heinz Hellwich

After its last meetings in Beijing (Aug 2005), Prague (Sept 2006), and Turin (Aug 2007), the IUPAC Chemical Nomenclature and Structure Representation (Division VIII) Committee took place 31 July–1 August 2008 in the medieval town of Büdingen, Germany, about 45 km northeast of Frankfurt. In addition, several working groups met 27–31 July. The groups were composed of 24 scientists from Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, UK, and the USA. Particular thanks go to Evonik Industries, which sponsored the meetings.

Karl-Heinz Hellwich in the historic “laboratory” at Ronneburg.

A major topic of discussion was the distribution and use of IUPAC recommendations that are aimed at the advancement of communication among chemists world wide as well as between chemists and other scientists. Therefore, one of the most important projects is the interdisciplinary book Principles of Chemical Nomenclature, which is aimed at beginning chemists. The working party defined a unified concept for the presentation of the various nomenclature systems for compounds from all areas of chemistry. Completion of the manuscripts for all chapters was planned by the end of 2008, with the editorial work to be done in 2009.

Another important project is the revised and extended edition of the Nomenclature of Organic Chemistry (the IUPAC Blue Book). The new feature of this project is the selection of Preferred IUPAC Names (PINs). In this context, the nomenclature will become more systematic. The goal of this is to ensure that the nomenclature system will not only remain consistent but at the same time will include few exceptions. In order to provide an unambiguous and unique name, discussions must be highly detailed. An outlook on the more systematic approach for organic chemistry can be found when studying the most recent edition of the Nomenclature of Inorganic Chemistry (the IUPAC Red Book), published at the end of 2005.

While the development of PINs for organic-chemical compounds is nearing completion, the development of PINs for inorganic compounds, and polymers, are in the early stages. The working party on inorganic PINs discussed in detail different approaches to the choice of central atoms and to the treatment of delocalized ligand systems. They also discussed at length the possibilities for designating the attachment positions of ligands. It became evident that a strict additive approach to naming ligands may create names that are very difficult to decipher. In a joint meeting, the working parties on organic PINs and inorganic PINs discussed a redefinition of the boundry of responsibility between them.

Geared and armed, Div. VIII vice president Richard Hartshorn gets ready for the task ahead.

A small working group discussed symmetry properties of rotaxane components and the possible description of the resulting stereoisomers. The results of all these meetings were reported to and further discussed by the Division Committee. Some projects on polymer nomenclature were also discussed briefly.

Because computer codes are of growing importance for the description of chemical substances (e.g., the InChI), the division established an InChI subcommittee. Stephen Heller was appointed to chair this subcommittee.

The group had several excursions into the historic center and the surroundings of Büdingen during breaks from the meetings. Most of the participants were fascinated by the millions-of-years-old filigree structures of the desert roses (baryte formations) exhibited in the Jerusalem Gate, Büdingen’s historic town gate. At the Glauberg, an excavation site and a reconstruction of a Celtic calendar building from the 5th century B.C. were visited. Thanks to a donation by the Springer-Verlag, it was also possible to visit the renaissance castle of Ronneburg. The guided tour was accompanied by people in historic dresses giving an impression of life in the Middle Ages and the renaissance. Participants could even test the comfort of wearing historic dresses! During the subsequent dinner, a bard contributed to the atmosphere with his minnesongs.

In summary, it was a successful and fruitful meeting that, thanks to the excursions, as one of the participants expressed in his thanks to the organizer, seemed “more like a holiday.”

Karl-Heinz Hellwich <hellwich.iupac@web.de> is a titular member on Division VIII. He is from Offenbach, Germany.

www.iupac.org/web/ins/800


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