LSD and the bike ride that changed the world


In the spring of 1943, Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann took a bicycle trip like no other. While working in the pharmaceutical department of Sandoz Laboratories in Basel, Switzerland, where he was hoping to develop a circulatory and respiratory stimulant, the 32-year-old first synthesized the compound D-lysergic acid diethylamide, or LSD, in 1938. Five years after creating that first batch, Hofmann returned to the compound for further experimentation. After producing a small amount of LSD, his workday was soon interrupted as he began experiencing “unusual sensations,” he wrote in his 1979 memoir LSD: My Problem Child. Feeling slightly dizzy, and remarkably restless, Hofmann decided to call it a day. It was the correct decision. Upon arriving home, he had entered a “not unpleasant intoxicated-like condition, characterized by an extremely stimulated imagination.” When he closed his eyes, he entered a dreamlike state and for about two hours, he “perceived an uninterrupted stream of fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic play of colours.” He hypothesized that while handling the compound in his lab, he may have accidentally absorbed LSD through his skin.

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