Seventy years ago last week a certain Albert Hofmann decided to re-examine a chemical synthesised by colleagues at Sandoz Laboratories in Switzerland.
The chemist accidentally absorbed some of the substance through his fingers and soon felt a little... irregular...
"...affected by a remarkable restlessness, combined with a 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, 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..."
Whilst he was actually looking for a new analeptic, a central nervous system stimulant, Hofman had instead discovered the remarkable properties of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and set in motion the world's first acid trip.
Albert Hofmann died in 2008
Recognising the significance of his discovery he set about conducting a proper experiment three days later - with one major flaw.
Hofman surmised that 250 micrograms of LSD would be a safe "threshold" dose.
It's actually closer to 20.
In what has gone down in drug folklore as "Bicycle Day" Hofman had to be escorted home by bike as a car was not available.
This turned out to be a rather tricky journey as he battled the belief he had been poisoned and his next door neighbour was actually an evil witch.
Eventually he calmed down enough to appreciate the effects of the his second acid trip...
"...little by little I could begin to enjoy the unprecedented colors and plays of shapes that persisted behind my closed eyes. Kaleidoscopic, fantastic images surged in on me, alternating, variegated, opening and then closing themselves in circles and spirals, exploding in colored fountains, rearranging and hybridizing themselves in constant flux..."
Initial research into LSD examined the possible clinical uses of the drug but its recreational use would become what defined it.
It became inextricably linked to the music scene of the 1960s. Its supposed ability to expand the user's consciousness was keenly explored by leading musicians such as Jimi Hendrix and The Beatles.
Authorities predictably banned the substance and use was driven underground or into labs.
Acid enjoyed a renaissance in the 1990s when it became the drug of choice along with MDMA in the rave culture and remains to this day a common, though still ilegal, recreational drug.
Here is a selection of videos of people (and one cat) indulging in LSD all in the name of science...
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