In 1900, David Hilbert presented at the « International Congress of Mathematicians » held in Paris, his famous list of the 23 mathematical problems which still begged for a solution. Some of these problems have been solved quickly. Two of these problems actually remain open.
In 2000 , the Clay Mathematics Institute set up a list of 7 new open problems and offered a Millenium Prize to whoever should come with their solution. It is certain that the enunciation of these problems has been a very strong incentive for mathematicians throughout the 20th century, and that this process will continue to be profitable for their discipline.
As the 21st century dawns, many chemists have doubts concerning the future of their discipline, and even move away whether they like it or not.
I am convinced that the announcement of 10 major problems that face Chemistry in the 21st century could be the spark for a new dynamics, which will motivate research whether by opening new tracks or showing the way for the elucidation of problems apparently out of reach, thus leading to a better knowledge and a widened control of the world of matter. I could not draw up myself even a list of 10 problems (Hilbert alone had been able to find 23...) ; my industrial experiment of of pharmaceutical chemistry suggests the following :
- The prediction of the crystalline structure and polymorphism of smallmolecules,
- The prediction (starting from the molecular formula) of the structure of globular proteins
- The prediction (starting from the molecular formula) of the physical properties of the liquids and the molecular solids... in fact breaking the mesoscopic wall between 1 and N.
I trust all of you to easily complete the list. Is this suggestion able to strike the spirits and to be amplified and diffused by the academic and industrial « sociétés savantes » ? It is what Ihope for the future of Chemistry.
Professor of Chemistry
VP. Chemical & Biotechnological Process R&D