Happy Birthday, Acid
As with nearly every game changer throughout history, the first acid trip wasn’t supposed to happen.
Albert Hofmann first synthesized lysergic acid diethylamide, or LSD, in November 1938 while studying the medicinal uses of a crop fungus. That was all well and good, so the Swiss scientist set the stuff aside for a number of years to focus his attentions in the lab elsewhere. It wasn’t until sixty-nine years ago today, on April 16, 1943, that Hofmann would circle back to LSD on a lark, accidentally ingest himself a headful of the substance, and unknowingly embark on the first trip.
The chance encounter had Hofmann so intrigued with LSD that days later he’d properly sauce himself and set out on the bike ride to end all bike rides. He’d go on, until death in 2008, to champion the alleged therapeutic qualities of acid.
It’s this first pass, though, that was really the root of all ensuing sea changes in popular consciousness. Did Hofmann have any idea, then, of just how thoroughly he’d blown the doors open? Not likely. And doubtless the man was—and would be—ashamed of the tidal wave of legitimate abuses (I’m thinking of the Stones’ Their Satanic Majesties Request, oh and every hula-hoop girl) that rippled out across the younger crowd as the drug popularized.
Still, we can chalk up a number of accomplishments, advances, and feats to Hofmann’s mistake. Well, maybe. There are trips—the creative fuel of Steve Jobs and Timothy Leary—and then there are legendary trips, the outcomes of which are monumental enough as to seem two hairs shy of too-good-to-be-true. And yet we want to believe them. They’re just too good.
Because it’s Monday, and neither you nor I are functioning, here’s a criminally incomplete rundown of these most curious trips and the fruits they wrought.
Read the rest over at Motherboard.
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