The World

Today’s Geo Quiz has a trippy quality.

We’re talking psychedelic. And when you think about psychedelic music, for instance, you think the 60’s. But the hallucinogenic drug that’s associated with that time was actually discovered in the 30’s.

LSD was first identified by a Swiss chemist in his laboratory. So for our quiz … we want you to puzzle on the whereabouts of that lab.

LSD tabletsLSD tablets

It’s a city in north-west Switzerland along the Rhine River. The discovery of LSD was just a blip in the history of this city.

Today it’s a major chemical and pharmaceutical center. So try to name this Swiss city that borders Germany and France.

We’ll remember the Swiss father of LSD …when we reveal the answer…

All right, let’s get straight to the answer to our Geo Quiz today. We were looking for the city of Basel, Switzerland.

It was home to the Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann. Hofmann died yesterday at the age of 102.

Albert HofmannAlbert Hofmann

Hofmann was best known for discovering the hallucinogenic drug, LSD. As The World’s David Leveille reports:

In 1938, Albert Hofmann was doing research on medicinal plants at a laboratory in Basel. He was studying a particular plant fungus when he accidentally absorbed some of it through his fingertips. It produced a strange effect. Days later he swallowed a larger dose of what came to known as LSD. The drug kicked in during Hofmann’s bicycle trip home from the lab:

“I went home and sat down and I had amazing visions, pictures and colors. It lasted a couple of hours and then it stopped and I thought well this must be something from the lab so I went back and checked. That was it. That was LSD.”

In his long life, Hofmann advocated the medicinal use of LSD. He believed the drugs hallucinogenic properties could help treat mental illness and that LSD could be used as a tool for discovering how the mind works.

LSD: LSD (d-lysergic acid diethylamide), commonly called “acid,” is a powerful hallucinogen – a drug that radically changes a person’s mental state by distorting the perception of reality to the point where, at high doses, hallucinations occur.LSD: LSD (d-lysergic acid diethylamide), commonly called “acid,” is a powerful hallucinogen – a drug that radically changes a person’s mental state by distorting the perception of reality to the point where, at high doses, hallucinations occur.

“It was used as a pharmaceutical drug in the first 15 years as a pharmacological aid in psychoanalysis. Many patients under LSD could be healed.”

But soon people found some other uses for Hofmann’s discovery. In the 1960’s artists and musicians experimented with LSD as a recreational drug. Timothy Leary urged people to turn on, tune in and drop out. The Beatles dropped acid to achieve enlightenment. The Mamas and the Papas, the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane all credited the drug with stretching their music in new ways.

Paul McCartneyPaul McCartney

Pink Floyd’s producer Joe Boyd says LSD rocked and rattled pop music:

“Its effect was huge and immediate I would say. I mean Pink Floyd is known as a psychedelic group of that period but it start ed out as blues band. All these groups that used to be pop groups or blues groups suddenly were doing things that sounded kind of weird and strange and then Sergeant Pepper was the magnum opus of that.”

The psychedelic wave even washed up on Turkey’s musical shores.

{Music: Boris Manco & Kaygisizlar, “Trip (fairground)” from “Hava Narghile: Turkish Rock Music, 1966 to 1975}

At one time the CIA made use of LSD in secret mind control experiments. But medical experts began to warn that LSD caused long-term psychological damage. Te US banned the drug in 1966 and it became illegal in many countries by 1971.

Amanda Feilding is a consciousness researcher, and the director of the Beckley Foundation. She was also a close friend of Hofmann’s. She says Hofmann was sad that LSD was hijacked by pop culture.

“I think that was a terrible disappoint ment to him but basically he was a scientist and mystic . He could see the importance of LSD if well used, and what it could mean for humanity. He had faith it will come about.

Feilding says that Albert Hofmann was on a lifelong quest to spread the word about what he called the “medicine for the soul”:

“What Albert was so conscious of was that man has lost sight of the spiritual call. He’s become too mechanical and technological and he sees the importance of transformation thru higher state of consciousness whether attained thru meditation or the use of psychotropic substances.”

Hoffman himself continued to experiment with LS on an occasional basis. On his 100th birthday, hundreds of researchers, scientists, and artists from around the world travelled to Basel for a symposium to review and explore the promise of LSD.

For her part, Amanda Feilding says she’s now researching the effects of LSD on humans using brain imaging technology that wasn’t available to researchers in the 60’s.

Hofmann is said to have been pleased by the Swiss government’s decision last year to allow LSD to be used in a psychotherapy research project. He died at the age of 102 hoping, that LSD would one day be scientifically validated as a magical elixir.

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