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Albert Hofmann and the Bicycle Day

Portraitfoto von Albert Hofmann

1. Introduction

The world still owes a great deal to Albert Hofmann and his famous bicycle tour. The Swiss chemist accidentally discovered the properties of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD),
when he was cycling home from work on April 19, 1943. This day is now celebrated as “Bicycle Day” and has become a worldwide celebration of the legacy of the bicycle ride that changed the world. In this post, we’ll share some of the history and background to this day, and look at its impact on society around the world and its continuing importance in modern culture.

2. Who was Albert Hofmann?

Albert Hofmann was a Swiss chemist who became famous for discovering the properties of LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide). Born on January 11, 1906 in Baden, Switzerland, Hofmann studied chemistry at the University of Zurich, where he received his doctorate in 1929. After completing his studies, Hofmann joined the pharmaceutical company Sandoz Laboratories (now Novartis), where he was entrusted with the development of new drugs. During his time at Sandoz, Hofmann synthesized LSD for the first time in 1938. He was 102 years old and died on April 29, 2008.

3. The discovery of LSD

As part of drug research with the ergot fungus and with the aim of developing a circulatory stimulant, Hofmann synthesized various amide derivatives of lysergic acid in 1938, including – as the 25th substance in this series of experiments – the diethylamide LSD-25. In animal experiments, the substance caused restlessness among the animals, but showed no usable or pharmacologically interesting properties and was therefore not investigated further. On April 16, 1943, 5 years later, Hofmann nevertheless decided to produce LSD once again and unknowingly came into contact with a small amount of LSD-25. He observed strange phenomena such as sudden restlessness and malaise and decided to abandon his work and cycle home.

Three days later, on April 19, Hofmann set up a research experiment with 250mcg of LSD, assisted by his lab assistant, making him the first researcher of this substance in the world and opening the doors for further experiments.

4. The importance of the Bicycle Day

Since its inception, Bicycle Day has become a global phenomenon. This day celebrates the discovery of LSD and its impact on culture and society. And, of course, the day is a reminder of who we have to thank for this discovery.
Many people celebrate this day with a bike ride, attend music festivals or work with research chemicals such as 1T-LSD.

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