LSD and Scientific Advancement

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LSD. Acid. Lucy. Whatever you decide to call it, lysergic acid diethylamide has been illegal for years in most countries world-wide despite a lack of science supporting its schedule 1 status. (Schedule 1 drugs are classified by the DEA as drugs with a high potential for abuse and no medicinal uses. LSD was approved as medication to treat a range of mental disorders in both the US and Europe prior to its ban in the 70’s.)

Despite the illegality, several of the greatest minds known to man have openly attributed LSD with making them who they are today. Here’s a list of 4 great STEM-minded people who fell down the rabbit hole and came out just a little bit bigger:

  1. Kary Mullis. PCR, or the polymerase chain reaction, was invented by Kary Mullis in the 1980s. PCR is one of the most significant contributions to biological science in modern history, and Mullis frequently references LSD as a major contributing factor to his conceptualization of the PCR technique in interviews. It is even discussed in his autobiography.
  2. Francis Crick, you’ve probably heard of Watson and Crick. The dynamic duo that proposed the double helix structure of DNA. What you probably haven’t heard of is that Crick was famous at the time for throwing wild parties featuring LSD.
  3. Steve Jobs. Again, if you live in the 21st century you should know who this man is. And now you know that he has openly admitted to having used LSD repeatedly in the desert with his coworkers just before starting Apple. Whether or not the iPhone would have been invented without these adventures has never been directly confirmed but prior to his death he admitted in interviews that the experience was life changing, eye opening, and an experience he was overall glad he didn’t miss.
  4. Last but certainly not least, Albert Hofmann. The inventor of LSD himself. While working on synthesizing medications to improve heart and lung function, Albert Hofmann accidentally ingested the drug and discovered its psychedelic properties. He discusses his intention and personal uses of the drug in his autobiography and believed strongly in its potential as a psychotherapeutic.

There are many other notable people throughout history who have attributed some of their greatest successes to a love of LSD both in and out of the STEM field. Recently several researchers in Europe have opened new trials to experiment with the drug in a psychotherapeutic setting with preliminary success. While the future of LSD is unknown, it is safe to say our lives today wouldn’t be quite the same without it.