A number of experimental techniques exist permitting a direct detection of temporally varying molecular geometries, as a chemical reaction goes on. The most frequently used method is femtosecond laser spectroscopy, applied successfully by a large scientific community. Another technique is picosecond pulse radiolysis, employing accelerator generated electron beams. Finally, highly promising new opportunities are provided by time-resolved X-ray diffraction/absorption: the pulses having duration of a few tens of picoseconds are generated by large synchrotron X-ray sources. Theoretical analysis of experimental data is based on statistical mechanics of nonlinear optical processes. Methods of molecular dynamics simulation, both classical and quantum mechanical, are also required. These methods have penetrated unequally in the three disciplines just mentioned: widely present in laser spectroscopy, they are less extensively used in pulsed radiolysis and in time resolved X-ray spectroscopies. The purpose of the present Conference is to bring together experts of laser spectroscopy, pulsed radiolysis and time resolved X-ray spectroscopies. These communities are not in the habit of attending the same meetings and do not have many scientific and personal contacts. We hope that our conference will improve the situation in this respect. The challenge is certainly worth attempting: observing the first instants of a molecule's life is the very heart of chemistry!
During the last fifteen years, a considerable amount of
results both experimental and theoretical has been obtained for
one-dimensional systems (1d). These remarkable progresses have been
supported by major efforts in three directions: