Today is not April 19, aka Bicycle Day, the day in 1943 when Albert Hofmann deliberately ingested lysergic acid diethylamide and decided to ride his bicycle home to relax and recover.
Albert Hofmann Changed Things
Albert Hofmann was born on January 11, 1906 in Baden, Switzerland. He attended the University of Zürich and graduated in 1929 with a doctorate in medicinal chemistry.
Sandoz Laboratories in Basel, Switzerland hired him for a program that was developing methods for synthesizing compounds found in medicinal plants. It was there that Hofmann stumbled upon LSD-25 (the 25th such derivative tested) in 1938.
Albert Hofmann Changed Things
He put it aside for five years until on April 16, 1943. On that day Hoffman accidentally consumed LSD-25. Hofmann experienced unusual sensations and hallucinations.
In his notes, he related the experience: “Last Friday, April 16, 1943, I was forced to interrupt my work in the laboratory in the middle of the afternoon and proceed home, being affected by a remarkable restlessness, combined with a slight dizziness. At home I lay down and sank into a not unpleasant, intoxicated-like condition characterized by an extremely stimulated imagination. In a dreamlike state, with eyes closed (I found the daylight to be unpleasantly glaring), I perceived an uninterrupted stream of fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic play of colors. After some two hours this condition faded away.”
He came to the conclusion that it could be of significant use in psychiatric treatment and spent years investigating LSD’s hallucinogenic properties. He disapproved of the casual recreational use of LSD.
Albert Hofmann Changed Things
Hofmann did believe that in addition to LSD’s possible psychiatric uses, it could also be used in spiritual contexts. He proposed those ideas in his book LSD, mein Sorgenkind (LSD: My Problem Child, 1980).
The following is a brief video where he discusses his surprise at discovering an alternate reality in which the world transmits through our senses (acting like an aerial) and our consciousness acts like a TV screen.
Albert Hofmann Changed Things
Hofmann died of a heart attack on April 29, 2008, but even today, the idea of using LSD as more than a recreational compound–using it for therapeutic use–is still a fringe part of scientific research.
[Jason Falkner performed the instrumental cover of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds heard over this entry. (YouTube link)]
In 1886 Louis Lewin, a German pharmacologist, published the first systematic study of the the cactus from which mescal buttons were obtained (his own name was subsequently given to the plant: Anhalonium lewinii).
The plant was new to science, but not to the Indians of Mexico and the American Southwest. It was (according to Aldous Huxley’s 1954 essay, The Doors of Perception), “a friend of immemorially long standing. Indeed, it was much more than a friend. In the words of one of the early Spanish visitors to the New World, “they eat a root which they call peyote, and which they venerate as though it were a deity.”
November 16, 1938: Albert Hofmann, a chemist working for Sandoz Pharmaceutical in Basel, Switzerland, was the first to synthesize LSD-25. He discovered LSD, a semi-synthetic derivative of ergot alkaloids, while looking for a blood stimulant.
He set it aside for five years, until April 16, 1943, when he decided to take a second look at it. While re-synthesizing LSD, he accidentally absorbed a small amount of the drug through his fingertips and discovered its powerful effects.(see April 16, 1943)
November 16, 1945: in a move that stirred up some controversy, the US shipped 88 German scientists to America to assist the nation in its production of rocket technology. Most of the men had served under the Nazi regime and critics questioned the morality of placing them in the service of America. Nevertheless, the U.S. government, desperate to acquire the scientific know-how that had produced the terrifying and destructive V-1 and V-2 rockets for Germany during WWII, and fearful that the Russians were also utilizing captured German scientists for the same end, welcomed the men with open arms. (see January 31, 1946)
Religion and Public Education
November 16, 1947: in support of Vashti McCollum’s case, a Baptist group said that programs of religious instruction in public school buildings were "an invasion of the time-honored doctrine of the separation of church and state." (see Nov 20)
November 16, 1961: President Kennedy decided to increase military aid to South Vietnam without committing U.S. combat troops. (NYT Article) (see Nov 18)
November 16, 2000: Bill Clinton became the first sitting U.S. President to visit Vietnam. (Vietnam)
Sons and Daughters In Touch
Spring 2003: Sons and Daughters In Touch led an historic two week journey to Vietnam. Guided by Vietnam combat veterans and nurses who served in the war, more than 50 Gold Star ‘sons and daughters’ were able to stand in the precise location where their fathers were lost. While in Vietnam, the SDIT delegation also visited Ho Chi Minh City, the Mekong Delta, Cu Chi, Da Nang, Quang Tri, Khe San, China Beach, Hue City and Hanoi. (see August 20, 2009)
November 16, 1963: tickets for The Beatles’ Christmas Show sold out. CBS News bureau London – at the suggestion of Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein – sent a news crew to the British seaside resort of Bournemouth where they film a Beatles concert, thousands of screaming fans, and a few Beatles’ comments on camera. This film clip is later sent to New York. (see Nov 21)
November 16 – 22, 1963, “Deep Purple” by Nino Tempo and April Stevens #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. [In 1968 Richie Blackmore suggested the title as the name for his new band named after his grandmother's favorite song.]
November 16 – 29, 1968: Electric Ladyland the Billboard #1 album. (see June 20, 1969)
November 16, 1973: US release of Lennon’s fourth album, Mind Games. (see Nov 24)
Whatever Gets You Through The Night
November 16, 1974,: John Lennon was at No.1 in the US singles chart with 'Whatever Gets You Through The Night.' Elton John played on the session and made a deal with Lennon that if the song reached No.1, Lennon would have to appear on stage live with Elton. Lennon kept his side of the deal and appeared live with Elton. They played three songs together: ‘I Saw Her Standing There,’ ‘Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds’ and ‘Whatever Gets You Through the Night.’ Backstage after the concert, Lennon got back with Yoko Ono after a temporary split. (see Nov 28)
November 16, 2016: the Nobel Academy said on its website that it had received a letter from Dylan explaining that due to “pre-existing commitments” he was unable to travel to Stockholm in December. “We look forward to Bob Dylan’s Nobel Lecture, which he must give ― it is the only requirement ― within six months counting from December 10.” (see Dec 10)
November 16 Peace Love Activism
Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing
November 16, 1977: reported in the New York Times: The state rested its case in the Birmingham churchbombing trial today after presenting a witness who said that she saw packages of what appeared to be dynamite at the home of Robert E. Chambliss two weeks before the explosion in September 1963 that took the lives of four black children. (see November 18)
US Labor History
NFL Strike Ends
November 16, 1982, the National Football League Players Association ended a 57-day strike that shortened the season to nine games. The players wanted, but failed to win until many years later, a higher share of gross team revenues. (see December 19, 1984)
November 16, 1990: The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act required federal agencies and institutions that receive federal funding to return Native American "cultural items" to lineal descendants and culturally affiliated Indian tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations. Cultural items include human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony. A program of federal grants assists in the repatriation process and the Secretary of the Interior could assess civil penalties on museums that failed to comply.In 1992, the celebration of the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Christopher Columbus to the Americas prompted protests from many Native American tribes and supporters, prompting cities including Denver and San Francisco to stop their quincentenary celebrations. (see Feb 11 – July 15, 1994)
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