30 April 2008

Albert Hoffmann, RIP

Quick news item, with no particular connection to DC:

Swiss chemist Albert Hoffmann, who discovered and synthesized LSD in 1938, has died of a heart attack in his home in Basel. He was 102.

Hoffman famously injested the chemical by accident in mid April of 1943 (absorbed through his skin, if memory serves), and experienced distortions of perspective, as though the room were reflected in a circus mirror. The following Monday, he deliberately repeated the experiment to test his idea of what caused the hallucinations. Later that day, Hoffmann experienced what has become the most legendary bicycle ride in history, beholding "fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic play of colours".

April 19th has been immortalized as "bicycle day" amongst The Faithful. At least the good doctor made it to this year's BD before departing...

His accomplishments also include the development of medicines to stabilize blood pressure and brain circulation, but his legacy will always be Lysergic Acid Diethylimyde-25.

He had referred to LSD as his "problem child" after seeing its popular use as a recreational chemical. He feared that Timothy Leary's propaganda had killed LSD's potential in academic research circles. Eventually, he came to embrace the scene somewhat. This year, Hoffmann was scheduled to speak at the World Psychedelic Forum in March, but his poor health prevented it.

Notably, Hoffmann was also credited for isolating psilocybin, the active compound in psychoactive mushrooms. And for THAT, he deserves a place in paradise along with the greatest human achievers...

G'nite, uncle Albert.

1 comment:

Reya Mellicker said...

May he rest in psychedelic peace!

I believe the use of hallucinogens in the 60's and 70's punched a hole through the old paradigm of our culture that allowed many progressive movements to gain momentum. The music was a big piece of that time, too.

Whenever I feel sorry for myself because I'm so deep into middle age, it's good to remember that I came of age at the end of the 1960's. That was an incredible time of hope and vision. We really believed love would fix everything.

My use of hallucinogens was not recreational. I believed that by completely unwinding my head, I could participate in changing the world.

We were so sweet back then, so very sweet.