What does DNA, iPods, Quantum Mechanics, The Beatles, the Computer Mouse and Nobel Prizes all have in common? Acid.
Microdosing has become a recent trend in Silicon Valley; taking small amounts of psychedelics, usually in the form of LSD (acid), mescaline or Psilocybin (Magic Mushrooms) to improve creativity and focus. Although micro-dosing is a relatively new concept, professionals using LSD isn’t. So what have people achieved through using LSD? Apart from deep introspective thoughts, conspiracy theories and a newly found love for psytrance, LSD has helped some of the greatest minds in the last century. In fact, tripping balls has resulted in some groundbreaking achievements, including; DNA, iPods, Quantum Mechanics, The Beatles, the computer mouse and a number of Nobel Prizes.
80 years ago on a cold winter’s day in Switzerland, Albert Hoffmann synthesized a chemical that would change the world, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD). However, the power of LSD wasn’t fully understood until Hofmann performed a self-experiment. After Ingesting more than 10 times the threshold dose, Hoffmann rode his bike home and experienced the first acid trip. That day is now known as Bicycle Day. A day that LSD proved to Hoffmann that he had discovered something significant. Ever since then, LSD has been used throughout the world by all kinds of people, not just acid-heads at Grateful Dead concerts.
The Computer Mouse
Not just the computer mouse. Douglas Engelbart also created copy and paste. Can you even imagine a world without copy and paste? It would suck. LSD was and still is popular with engineers and computer scientists because of the way the drug creates new connections in the brain, perfect for abstract problem-solving. The first LSD trip Engelbart had was at the International Foundation of Advanced Study (IFAS), which was a facility researching the connection between LSD and enhanced creativity. IFAS lead over 350 people through LSD experiences during its operation. During one of Engelbart’s LSD experiences, he developed a prototype for the computer mouse. But it didn’t end there. Engelbart later developed hypertext, network computers, the keyboard and precursors to graphical user interfaces. Engelbart’s Law is also named after Douglas Engelbart, which states that “the ability to improve on improvements (Bootstrapping, “getting better at getting better”) resides entirely within the human sphere.” Douglas Engelbart. Inventor. Scientist. Philosopher. Acid.
Chances are you probably have an apple product within reach while you read this article. And it’s all thanks to our good old friend LSD (well, partly because of it). Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple used to be a massive fan of LSD and a bit of a hippy in his youth. Most of his acid trips were during his youth with his old friend and early Apple employee Daniel Kottke. He said that LSD was one of the most important things he has done in his life.
He had taken LSD a number of times and he credits his outside-the-box thinking to his psychedelic experiences. This is what Jobs had to say about his experiences:
Albert Hofmann, the man who created LSD even reached out to Jobs before he passed away:
Dear Mr. Steve Jobs,
Hello from Albert Hofmann. I understand from media accounts that you feel LSD helped you creatively in your development of Apple Computers and your personal spiritual quest. I’m interested in learning more about how LSD was useful to you.
I’m writing now, shortly after my 101st birthday, to request that you support Swiss psychiatrist Dr. Peter Gasser’s proposed study of LSD-assisted psychotherapy in subjects with anxiety associated with life-threatening illness. This will become the first LSD-assisted psychotherapy study in over 35 years, and will be sponsored by MAPS.
I hope you will help in the transformation of my problem child into a wonder child.
After reading Aldous Huxley’s experience with LSD, Francis Harry Compton Crick – a molecular biologist, biophysicist, and neuroscientists – became intrigued with the drug. Crick had been working on x-ray diffraction and trying to understand the structure and function of DNA. During Crick’s first LSD experience, he supposedly perceived the double-helix shape of DNA while he was hallucinating. He described his hallucination of the intertwining helix structures of DNA to his wife who illustrated the concept. After further research, (not on acid) Crick and his research partners were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine “for their discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material”.
Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)
Kary Banks Mullis
“It (LSD) was certainly more important than any course I ever took.”
Just because Kary Bank Mullis said so, it probably isn’t the best idea to drop out of uni and start dropping acid. However, his experience with LSD was both profound and incredibly productive. Mullis, born in 1944, was a biochemist who won the Nobel prize in chemistry in 1993 for his invention of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technique. PCR is a technique used to cut up segments of DNA so they can be copied and easily tested. An inexpensive technique used to amplify segments of DNA used to detect viruses such as AIDS, diagnose genetic disorders and DNA fingerprinting. It is notably the most widely used technique in molecular biology testing. Mullis openly said that his successes were a result of his LSD experiences. In an interview with California Monthly, one year after he won the Nobel prize Mullis said: “Would I have invented PCR if I hadn’t taken LSD? I seriously doubt it. I could sit on a DNA molecule and watch the polymers go by. I learnt that partly on psychedelic drugs.”
Richard Phillips Feynman
Quantum mechanics is a fundamental theory in physics, describing nature at the smallest scales of energy levels of atoms and subatomic particles (Feynman, 1964). Even the name sounds confusing. Even Feynman said; “I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics.” Nevertheless, in Feynman’s autobiography, Surely You’re Joking, he stated that he frequently smoked weed and took LSD during his work. He and two of his research partners shared the 1965 Nobel prize in physics “for their fundamental work in quantum electrodynamics, with deep-ploughing consequences for the physics of elementary particles.” Bill Gates is a big fan of Feynman and he even wrote an article describing Feynman’s talent as a teacher, titled “The Best Teacher I Never Had”.
John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison & Ringo Starr
George Harrison and John Lennon were the first members of The Beatles to experience LSD. Their dentist friend dropped a dose of acid into their drinks at a dinner party. An experience that inspired their album Revolver the following year. However, their introduction to acid also created a divide in the bands dynamic that never truely healed. George Harrison and John Lennon “couldn’t relate to them (Paul Mccartney & Ringo Star) anymore,” because their LSD trip was such a mammoth experience. All members of The Beatles eventually had their own experiences with LSD which inspired a number of their songs. In an interview with Playboy magazine in 1980, Lennon explained the background to the lyrics from I am the Walrus:
“The first line was written on one acid trip one weekend. The second line was written on the next acid trip the next weekend”.
Hopefully, the war on drugs will subside enough for more research to be conducted on LSD and other psychoactive substances for medicinal purposes. The potential uses for LSD and psychedelics are not fully known, although the research already conducted has shown how it can be used to help people manage anxiety accompanied with terminal illnesses and psychotherapy. There are far too many famous LSD experiences to list and plenty more to come in the future. If you do choose to take psychedelics, test your drugs using a test kit (such as ez-test kits ), always have a sober trip sitter, start at a low dose, be smart and stay safe.