VIDEO: The Accidental Discovery of LSD

Bicycle Day is just around the corner, but it's not quite what you think. Rather than a holiday honoring two-wheeled, environmentally friendly transportation, it's a day to commemorate the birth of the Psychedelic Age. Bicycle Day (April 19) marks the anniversay of Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann's discovery of the mind-blowing effects of Lysergic Acid Diethylamide, better known as LSD. 


On that date in 1943, Hofman was continuing ongoing work on a migraine medicine made from a fungus when he accidentally discovered the psychelic substance. After accidentally exposing himself to it and feeling odd effects, he intentionally dosed himself with what he thought would be a negligible amount (250 micrograms) of LSD-25 and unwittingly ushered in a new era. 

"Beginning dizziness, feeling of anxiety, visual distortions, symptoms of paralysis, desire to laugh," Hofman reported in his lab notes. 

Although early in the experience, that would be his last lab entry of the day. Overcome by the drug, Hofman asked his assistant to help him home. Because no cars were available due to war-time shortages, the pioneering chemist made his way via bicycle, tripping brains all the way and altering the course of human history. Thus, Bicycle Day. 

The video below, a joint production of the American Chemical Society and PBS Digital Services, describes the chemical pre-history of the experimentation that led to the Psychelic Age, Hofmann's central role, and the vicissitudes of psychedelic research after LSD escaped from the lab to the masses. As the video notes, after decades of delay, psychedelic research is on the ascendant again. 

Enjoy, and remember Dr. Hofman, a man whose work changed the world:

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