At 9 am this morning, Albert Hofmann, chemist and creator of LSD, died in his home in Switzerland.
Hofmann died at the grand old age of 102 and saw the psychedelic drug he called his “problem child” spark the interest of psychologists and psychiatrists, inspire a generation of 1960s flower children, and earn the ire of the authorities across the world who banned it as a prohibited drug.
What he didn’t see (at least at the time) was that the CIA dedicated millions (billions?) of dollars in funding to investigate the chemical as a possible ‘mind control’ drug in a huge and often vastly unethical research project known as MKULTRA.
LSD had an impact on music, culture, politics, science and psychology and Hofmann remained committed to LSD research right until the end, supporting the first clinical trial of LSD for 30 years which started recently in Switzerland.
I suspect they’ll be some extensive obituaries published when the press get wind of Hofmann’s death which will hopefully do justice to his life and work, so we’ll keep you posted.
UPDATE: A couple of good obituaries from The New York Times here and The Washington Post here. This on the Hofmann’s first experience of the drug, the first ever LSD trip, from the WashPost:
He wrote in a journal about this first known encounter: “At home I lay down and sank into a not unpleasant intoxicated-like condition, characterized by an extremely stimulated imagination.
“In a dreamlike state, with eyes closed (I found the daylight to be unpleasantly glaring), I perceived an uninterrupted stream of fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic play of colors. After some two hours this condition faded away.”
Three days later, April 19, he bicycled home after consuming 250 micrograms of LSD in a now-famous “trip” that has become known as Bicycle Day. The route he took home was later named in his honor.
Link to tribute on MAPS homepage (via BB).
Link to The New York Times obituary.
Link to The Washington Post obituary.