Meetings That Changed The World

meetings cover image

In this focus

This series covers six scientific meetings that had such a great impact, they can be said to have changed the world. Each piece is written by an expert who attended the conference in question. The authors recall what it was like to live through these momentous occasions, and reflect upon the events' broad and lasting legacies. Discuss here.

Image: David Parkins


Brave new worlds

A new series of essays looks back at scientific meetings that had world-changing consequences.

Nature 455, 137–138 (11 September 2008) doi:10.1038/455137b


Meetings that changed the world: Santa Fe 1986: Human genome baby-steps

The 1980s saw plenty of discussion on sequencing the human genome. But, according to Charles DeLisi, one conference was crucial for converting an idea to reality.

Nature 455, 876 (16 October 2008) doi:10.1038/455876a


Meetings that changed the world: Madrid 1995: Diagnosing climate change

John Houghton chaired the tense IPCC meeting without which there would be no Kyoto Protocol. Here he recalls how science won the day.

Nature 455, 737 (8 October 2008) doi:10.1038/455737a


Beijing 1987: China's coming-out party

Two decades ago, Deng Xiaoping welcomed nations to an international meeting in Beijing. Mohamed Hassan recalls how China's leaders set out their plans for the nation to rejoin the world's scientific elite.

Nature 455, 598 (2 October 2008) doi:10.1038/455598a


Meetings that changed the world: Bellagio 1969: The green revolution

Agriculture in developing countries was transformed when scientists met aid officials and convinced them to invest in research. Lowell S. Hardin was there, and believes today's food crisis demands a similar vision.

Nature 455, 470 (25 September 2008) doi:10.1038/455470a


Meetings that changed the world: Asilomar 1975: DNA modification secured

The California meeting set standards allowing geneticists to push research to its limits without endangering public health. Organizer Paul Berg asks if another such meeting could resolve today's controversies.

Nature 455, 290–291 (18 September 2008) doi:10.1038/455290a


Meetings that changed the world: Paris 1951: The birth of CERN

François de Rose chaired the meeting that founded Europe's premier facility for experimental nuclear and particle research. Here he relives the five days of drama that changed the world of physics.

Nature 455, 174–175 (11 September 2008) doi:10.1038/455174a