Albert Hofmann, the Swiss chemist known as the father of LSD, has died aged 102.
He passed away at his home in the village of Burg im Leimental, near Basel in Switzerland, according to reports by Doris Stuker, a municipal clerk.
Hofmann discovered LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) in 1943 after ingesting a tiny amount that had leaked onto his hand during an experiment at the Sandoz pharmaceuticals laboratory in Switzerland.
In his book, LSD: My Problem Child, Hofmann described the sensations. “At home I lay down and sank into a not-unpleasant-like condition, characterised by an extremely stimulated imagination.
“In a dreamlike state, with eyes closed (I found the daylight too unpleasantly glaring), I perceived an uninterrupted stream of fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense kaleidoscopic play of colours. After some two hours, this condition faded away.”
A few days later, Hofmann intentionally took a dose of LSD and had the world’s first “bad trip”.
LSD was popularized in the late 1950s and 1960s by Harvard professor Timothy Leary, who encouraged people to “turn on, tune in, drop out”. Rock stars such as the Beatles and the flower children of the era’s counterculture embraced the drug and extolled its virtues, but horror stories also emerged of heavy users suffering permanent psychological damage.
It was banned by the U.S. government in 1966, with many other countries, including Canada, following suit shortly afterwards. Hofmann believed this was unfair, and that the drug should be used for medical research.
As well as LSD, he was the first person to synthesize psilocybin, the active constituent of magic mushrooms. In his retirement, Hofmann served as a member of the Nobel Prize Committee.
Hofmann is survived by two of his four children, and was predeceased by his wife Anita.