The activities in the X-ray Absorption and Magnetic Scattering group are broad and very diverse. This is reflected only partly in the following articles as a selection needed to be made from the many highlights of the last year. The Chapter is divided into three sections, each with a short introduction. The research topics of 'extreme conditions', 'dichroism studies' and 'X-ray scattering' cover many of the current and rapidly-developing areas of research in the group and give some indications of the medium and long-term evolution of the research. Nevertheless, several fields are not represented here. For instance, the wider importance of X-ray absorption (XAS) at the ESRF was recently highlighted in a workshop on "XAS at Third-generation Sources". Industrial activities, micro-XAS, extreme conditions, time-resolved studies ­ particularly from catalytic systems under real conditions (OPERANDO) ­ were all shown to be of great importance.

Another area that has been fruitful in the last few years, but falls outside the scope of the chosen articles, has been studies of oxides. Research in the last year has included cuprates studied by XAS and photoemission [1], manganates probed by EXAFS [2] and spin valves investigated by magnetic circular dichroism [3].

Finally, we look forward to many new scientific highlights in the coming years. The new 10T magnetic-scattering end station on ID20, as mentioned in the X-ray magnetic scattering section below, will bring new opportunities. Also we believe that new ideas will be stimulated by two workshops in 2004. The first is entitled "Polymorphism in Liquid and Amorphous Matter: experimental results and theoretical approaches" and the second is an "International Workshop on Resonant X-ray Scattering in Electrically Ordered Systems".

N. Brookes

[1] P.G. Steeneken et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. 90, 247005 (2003).
[2] M.C. Sánchez et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. 90, 045503 (2003).
[3] J. Camarero et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. 91, 027201 (2003).