Albert Hofmann’s high-speed bicycle trip
On 19 April 1943, Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann tested the LSD he had invented for the first time - and he experienced some confusing moments.
In 1938, Albert Hofmann, a researcher at the Sandoz corporation based in the canton of Basel-Stadt, began a series of studies to develop a stimulant from a crop fungus. The 25th substance in the series was lysergic acid diethylamide or LSD-25, which he tested on himself in 1943. Feeling dizzy in the laboratory, he decided to go home – on his bicycle. Although he thought he was going slowly, he was actually cycling at breakneck speed. Everything he saw was distorted, as though in a curved mirror. He later described his neighbour as looking like a "witch with a colourful visage" – thus documenting the first LSD trip in history.
Sandoz continued to produce the substance for medical use until 1966. It became a hippie drug in the 1970s and was banned worldwide, even for medical purposes. Recently, however, a Swiss psychiatrist was able to carry out another patient study using LSD – with positive results.
Albert Hofmann's closing speech at a symposium in his honour in Basel, Switzerland.