Apr 29, 2008


Albert Hoffman, the chemist who first discovered, and first tripped on, LSD has died at age 102.

A few passages from an obituary in the L.A. Times:

The twenty-fifth compound he synthesized, in 1938, was lysergic acid diethylamide (in German, lyserg-saure-diathylamid), or LSD-25. Because this compound had a chemical structure similar to an existing drug called Coramine, Hofmann had hoped that it would be a stimulant for the respiratory and circulatory systems.


Prompted by what Hofmann later described as a "peculiar presentiment" that LSD-25 might have properties other than those established in the first investigations, he decided to look at it again.

On Friday afternoon, April 16, 1943, Hofmann had just completed synthesizing a new batch when, he subsequently wrote his supervisor, "I was forced to interrupt my work in the laboratory in the middle of the afternoon and proceed home, being affected by a remarkable restlessness, combined with slight dizziness.

"At home, I lay down and sank into a not-unpleasant intoxicated-like condition, characterized by an extremely stimulated imagination. In a dreamlike state I perceived an uninterrupted stream of fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic play of colors. After some two hours, this condition faded away."

Everything wasn't kaleidoscopes:

"Everything in the room spun around, and the familiar objects and pieces of furniture assumed grotesque, threatening forms," he wrote in his autobiography, "LSD -- My Problem Child." "They were in constant motion, animated, as if driven by an inner restlessness. The lady next door [became] a malevolent, insidious witch with a colored mask."

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