On Friday, 16 April 1943, Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann felt ill and left his Sandoz laboratory mid-afternoon. Lying down at home, he reported that “there surged in upon me an uninterrupted stream of fantastic images of extraordinary vividness and accompanied by intense, kaleidoscope-like play of colors.”
Suspecting a link between these effects and a chemical on which he had been working—initially synthesized in 1938 and then put aside—the following Monday he ingested an extremely small amount of the chemical: 250 micrograms (0.25 mg). Forty minutes later, during his “bicycle day” ride home and for the next six hours, disordered and multicolored images ran through his head.
Hofmann’s seemingly minute dose of lysergic acid diethylamine (LSD-25, lysergide) was actually five to ten times higher than a normal dose. LSD is the most potent hallucinogenic substance known, acting in the brain at seemingly infinitesimal doses.
Research continues into possible beneficial effects of LSD for alcoholics, terminally ill patients, and others. It remains a fascinating drug but one whose societal utility has yet to be determined.