Pages from the Lab Notebook of Alexander Shulgin
A Glance Through the History of Psychedelic Chemistry
Reproducibility is the heart of the scientific method, so all good chemists must keep a laboratory notebook. If you don’t record the details of your lab work it might not be possible for other researchers to reproduce it later. While the work of many scientists may languish in the yellowed pages of forgotten journals, there will never be a shortage of chemistry enthusiasts eager to repeat Alexander “Sasha” Shulgin’s syntheses. Starting with his freshman chemistry classes, through his employment at Dow Chemical, and into the years of independent psychedelic experimentation with his research group, Shulgin meticulously documented his syntheses in a series of notebooks that are currently being digitized and made publicly available. Presented here is an assortment of unpublished pages ranging from his first psychedelic synthesis to his later investigations of MDMA derivatives and γ-ray-emitting radiopsychedelics.
This is the earliest page in Shulgin’s collection. It is a photocopy he made at Dow around 1989 while he was collecting his previous research for PiHKAL, his phenethylamine magnum opus. The page illustrates the formation of the nitropropene precursor to TMA, or 3,4,5-trimethoxyamphetamine, which was his ﬁrst foray into the synthesis of psychedelic amphetamines. TMA is an active compound, but it lacks the beatiﬁc serenity of its 2-carbon homologue, mescaline.
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